Newcastle Brown Ale has expanded into ice cream following an alliance with a local producer. In a surprising foray into a new product category, Scottish Courage is now producing Newcastle Brown Ale ice cream. If the launch is successful it could be the catalyst for a proliferation of increasingly diverse flavours in the ice cream market over the next 12 months.

Newcastle Brown Ale flavoured ice cream was launched in the UK last week following a six-month licensing deal between Scottish Courage and fellow North East company Doddington Dairies.

The handmade product is said to possess a subtle taste of Newcastle Brown mixed in with a more overt caramel flavouring. Containing less than 1% alcohol it will initially be available in 125ml and 480ml tubs, retailing at £1.20 and £3.49 respectively. It is uncertain how many resources will be invested into the launch, but the product has already aroused the interest of Asda, which may trial the ice cream in its northern stores.

Indeed, the product’s best chance of success is in the North East, where both companies have a strong identity. However, while the product may harness the capabilities of two award winning North Eastern companies, it will be interesting to see whether consumers can see a logical extension between this iconic brew, with its strong masculine heritage, and ice cream. Perhaps aware of this risk, both parties have restricted the initial licensing deal to only six months. Any further deal rests firmly on the success of this rollout.

The launch marks a continuing period of innovation in the ice cream category. Organic ice cream is one particular growth avenue both in Europe and the US, while Unilever caused a stir back in March when it announced the potential foray into savoury flavours including parmesan and curry ice cream. However, many consumers are likely to find that concept a complete turn-off.

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Successful brand extensions are not merely a result of sticking closely to the parent category. Some daring ventures – such as retailers offering financial services – can flourish. By taking this innovative step, Scottish Courage and Doddington Dairy could well capitalise on consumers’ increasing willingness to sample specialty products that dare to be different. If successful, consumers can expect to be provided with increasingly diverse flavours in the following 12 months.

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