What could make the land of pleasant living more pleasant? How about an "ice" version of National Bohemian beer? Or even a "red" version?
G. Heileman Brewing Co. announced yesterday that it will try to put more fizz in the sales of its troubled regional brands by producing more than 30 new varieties, such as "Ice" and "Red" versions of National Bohemian, Lone Star and Colt 45.
Heileman currently has seven major brands, and produces about 38 different beers.
Executives of the Chicago-based brewing company said yesterday the new product push will mean more jobs at the company's six breweries, including the 500-worker plant in Baltimore, although they couldn't say how many new jobs.
Additionally, it will mean new packaging, new varieties and more marketing for many of its brands, including the local brew familiarly known as "Natty Boh," and famous for advertising its origins as "the Land of Pleasant Living."
"Over the years, National Bohemian has has not had as much attention as it deserves," said company Vice President Randy Smith.
And that's meant that National Bohemian hasn't lived up to its potential to become a beer popular throughout the mid-Atlantic, he said.
"The name has a mystique to it in the Baltimore area," he said. "It would be nice if it could travel beyond that."
Indeed, of all of Heileman's brands, National Bohemian is one that badly needs a boost.
The 108-year-old National Bohemian and National Premium brands controlled as much as 60 percent of the Baltimore-area beer market as late as the 1960s. But now, area beer distributors say, the local brew is an also-ran, chalking up only about 4 percent of the area's sales.
Natty Boh's fate has been reflective of troubles of its owner, which spent most of 1991 reorganizing in bankruptcy court, and has seen sales falter even as other big brewers rack up gains.
Foster Walton, Heileman's vice president of operations, said that by early next year, the workers at Heileman's Baltimore factory will be brewing at least two new kinds of National Bohemian.
The ice beer will be made using a method that sends the beer through a chilled fermenter, Mr. Walton said. And the "red" beer has a rosy tint because of a particular kind of malt used in the formula, he said.
The workers also likely will be experimenting with other recipes, such as a National Bohemian ale.
The local plant also will produce several new sizes and versions of other Heileman beverages, such as Colt 45, he said.