Lion Nathan has launched its New Zealand premium beer, Steinlager Pure, in bars across the UK capital in an attempt to tap into growth for premium bottled beers in the country.

Steinlager Pure is priced between GBP3.50 and GBP3.90, and will only be available in 300ml bottles to the on-trade, UK marketing manager Larni Wedd told journalists at a launch event last night (21 May).

Australia-based Lion Nathan, Wedd said, sees an opportunity to reinvigorate the Steinlager brand in the UK by tapping into growing demand for premium bottled beers.

The group is aiming for initial volumes of 20,000 cases by the end of Lion Nathan's current fiscal year, to 30 September.

Advertising for Steinlager Pure, which is bottled at 5% abv, will play on its 100% natural ingredients list - water, malted barley, hops and yeast - and New Zealand's image as a pure, nature-loving country.    

Wedd said: "The UK is the toughest beer market in the world for sure, because everybody wants to be here. But, New Zealand as a brand is a pretty attractive sales pitch at the moment."

She added that key to Steinlager Pure success will be "maintaining our price premium". Lion Nathan will not attempt to launch the brand in any multiple retailers, she said.

Results released last week by rival brewer SABMiller showed that, while the UK beer market shrank by 8% in volume in the first quarter of 2009, and by 5.5% during 2008, consumer demand for premium bottled lager remains.

UK volume sales of Peroni Nastro Azzurro, which carries a similar price point to Steinlager Pure, rose by 40% in the UK for the year to the end of March, albeit from a low base, SABMiller said.

Consumers can search for outlets stocking Steinlager Pure by visiting steinlagerpure.com