Diageo is aiming to revive flat Guinness sales in the UK with plans to test launch a red-coloured version of the iconic stout.

The UK drinks giant said today (26 October) that it would begin the trials of Guinness Red in a "limited number" of UK pubs in the "coming months". The test, just-drinks understands, is set to start early next year.

"We are expecting to trial Guinness Red in a limited number of pubs within Great Britain in the coming months, however no decision has yet been made with regards to the details of this test," the company said.

The red colour comes from the brewing process with this version being lightly roasted for "a rich red colour and a well-balanced bitter sweet character".

Diageo has faced criticism over the performance of Guinness in the UK and Ireland in recent years, despite growing sales in Africa and the US. Volumes in the UK were down 1% in the year to 30 June, while in Ireland they slumped 8%.

Diageo has pointed to the growing trend for home consumption for the lacklustre performance of Guinness on both sides of the Irish Sea.

To counter that trend, Diageo has launched a series of innovations to boost sales. This year, the company launched Guinness Surger, a device that gives a sonic blast to a pint of the black stuff in an attempt to recreate the creamy head of a pint of Guinness at home.

In Ireland, Diageo has tested a mid-strength Guinness and launched two limited editions versions of the brand under the Guinness Brewhouse Series.