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The World’s Largest Brewers Have a New Weapon: Weak Beer

Brewers are making lower-alcohol versions of everything from Corona to Stella Artois.
A glass of Jamie Squire Hop Thief American pale ale is poured from the beer tap ready for consumption at the Malt Shovel Brewery.

A glass of Jamie Squire Hop Thief American pale ale is poured from the beer tap ready for consumption at the Malt Shovel Brewery.

Photographer: Brendon Thorne/Bloomberg

To boost sales in Australia, a land where the ability to drink large quantities of ale can be a badge of honor, brewing giants Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and Kirin Holdings Co. think they’ve found a new weapon: weaker beer.

Pitching lower-strength brews might seem strange in a country that named a lager after Bob Hawke, a former prime minister and speed drinking champion, and where throwing back beers is de rigueur for watching sports or backyard barbecues. But a new era of healthier, image-conscious drinkers is cutting back on booze, forcing brewers to roll out weaker versions of everything from Stella Artois to local tipples such as James Boag and Hahn.