SABMiller has displayed no let up in the battle to wrest back its share of South Africa's premium beer category with the launch of an upmarket brand.

SAB Ltd, the brewer's domestic unit, said yesterday (27 March) that it will roll out Hansa Marzen Gold next month. The move comes just a day after SAB said it would launch Peroni Nastro Azzurro on draught in South Africa.

SABMiller is looking to regain sales among South Africa's premium beer drinkers after Heineken regained the rights to Amstel in the country earlier this month.

The brewing giant hopes Hansa Marzen Gold, a line extension to its Hansa brand, will plug the gap in its South African portfolio left by the loss of Amstel.

SAB managing director Tony Van Kralingen said: "Consumer testing far exceeded our expectations and ultimately, this new product is all about giving South African consumers more choice in the fast-growing premium segment."

Around 2.3m hectolitres of Amstel are sold in the country each year, accounting for 8% of all beer sold in South Africa.

Brandhouse, a venture between Heineken, Diageo and Namibia Breweries, will import Amstel into South Africa from Heineken's breweries in France, Italy and Holland.

Some 80% of all beer consumed in South Africa is sold in returnable bottles making it a priority for a brewery to have a local manufacturing presence in the country.

The Dutch brewing giant hopes to have a brewery operational in South Africa within the next two years.