Sunday, October 22, 2006

Guzzling Tiger Beer Catches on in Detroit

We say it's amazing what a fortuitous name and a little October magic can do for an otherwise average beer. Bet the Tigers could have used some after the way they played last night.


This brew couldn’t have landed in Detroit at a better time.

Tiger Beer -- complete with a tiger on its orange-and-blue label, which matches the ball club’s color scheme -- has been moving quicker than a Joel Zumaya fastball at area bars and specialty shops.

One of Singapore's best-selling beers, it entered the U.S. market in August, just as the Tigers were gearing up for a playoff run. The timing was coincidental, and its packaging is a variation of its 1930s label.

Now bars owners and retailers are hoping to get even more of it into the hands of Tigers fans during the World Series.

"Last weekend alone we sold 20 cases, which for an off-brand beer is a ton of beer," says Harry Kefalonitis, owner of Harry's Detroit, which is near Comerica Park. "They see the sign I put up about the beer, and people will say, 'Oh, give me that. Get me a Tiger Beer,' and then the whole table ends up getting it."

The pale lager is served in about 25 bars in and around Detroit, primarily through accounts that Detroit-based beer distributor Great Lakes Beverage has close to the stadium, including a couple locations inside Comerica Park. It also is available at a handful of local specialty shops, including Royal Oak's Holiday Market. It arrives in the United States by way of its importer, Anheuser-Busch.

Daniel Haberman, co-owner of Ferndale hot spot the Bosco, said he’s been a fan of the beer for years.

“We’ve been waiting for it to come to the market for a long time just because it’s such a popular beer in Europe,” says Haberman. “More and more people are drinking it just because the Tigers are doing well.”

He called it a basic drinking beer.

"It’s like Labatt, but with more alcohol," Haberman said. "It’s nothing super special. It’s just a basic, solid tasty beer.”

Royal Oak’s Holiday Market is selling six-packs for $7.99 and pints for $2.99 until the end of the World Series. The store is bracing itself for a big weekend and has a delivery scheduled for today.

“We sold six cases in two days,” Brian Croze, wine consultant at Holiday Market. “That’s big for one relatively unique, obscure product.”

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