People want to know if "the world's lightest beer" plays here. Well, Anheuser-Busch does anyway. The St. Louis-based beer giant launched a test marketing campaign earlier this month in Peoria and 14 other U.S. cities for a beer with only 55 calories in a 12-ounce bottle. Select 55 is Budweiser's answer to MGD 64, a 64-calorie beer launched by MillerCoors last year.

People want to know if "the world's lightest beer" plays here.


Well, Anheuser-Busch does anyway.


The St. Louis-based beer giant launched a test marketing campaign earlier this month in Peoria and 14 other U.S. cities for a beer with only 55 calories in a 12-ounce bottle.


Select 55 is Budweiser's answer to MGD 64, a 64-calorie beer launched by MillerCoors last year.


This is the second time in three years that Anheuser-Busch has sought Peoria's counsel when it comes to a new beer product, said David Tidd, general manager of Brewers Distributing Co., the area's Budweiser distributor.


"Michelob's AmberBock was tested here before," he said. That product apparently passed the test, as AmberBock has been part of the Michelob line for three years.


"There's been a good reaction to Select 55. We've gotten good feedback everywhere we've sampled it. Naturally, we offered it at the Taste of Peoria earlier this month," said Tidd.


While regular beer packs about 140 calories into a 12-ounce can, traditional light beer offers about 95 calories per serving. The new ultra-light category is designed for the health-conscious consumer, Tidd said.


"We're looking at beer drinkers from 25 to 39 who want a low-calorie product to complement their lifestyle," said Tidd.


The two-month test, launched Aug. 10, has had the low-calorie beer distributed in bars, restaurants and grocery stores throughout the Peoria area, he said.


"After the market tests, the product could become available across the country," said Tidd, adding that, from what he's seen, 55 was likely to make the grade. "We feel pretty confident about it," he said.


Tidd said he recalled Peoria being a test market in his youth. "I know my mother would have all these sample packets from Proctor & Gamble," he said.


Sometimes, Budweiser will launch a product without any test at all, said Tidd. "Bud Light Golden Wheat will be launched in September. They're so confident in it that it's not even being test marketed," he said.


Steve Tarter can be reached at (309) 686-3260 or starter@pjstar.com.