Beer nerds will know that beers aged in bourbon barrels are nothing new. They are delightful, but they're not new. They are sort of niche... or at least they were until now. As the craft beer explosion continues to reshape the American suds landscape (ie, the dominance of watered-down mass-produced beer has been threatened by a surge of beers that actually taste good), bourbon beer is the latest specialist-leaning brew to make the jump to the mainstream.
And boy is it ever mainstream. Miller is debuting Miller Fortune, which is being brewed with some special hops to give it a bourbon flavor. So they're not actually getting real bourbon into the mix, they're just trying to capture some of the flavor. And some of the booziness - Miller Fortune will have a fairly high 6.9% ABV. Miller isn't competing with the other swill beers, they're competing with the swill liquors, like the glazed donut vodka I did a shot of at Sundance*.
As an outsider to the hardcore beer nerd culture (I actually quit beer when I started my diet, so I'm really an outsider) this stuff is fascinating. The market share of these beers is eroding, and younger drinkers are avoiding them for spirits, which are less filling and more sophisticated (even cotton candy vodka). It's that sophistication Miller is trying to chase, advertising that Miller Fortune should be served in a rocks glass. I suspect that no amount of faux-sophistication can change the reality of the situation - the culture has moved away from schlocky beer, and that market is dwindling.
Miller Fortune will be the biggest new product launch for the company in years; you should be able to get a sixer of Miller Fortune in its distinct black bottle at a store near you soon. It's so sophisticated it'll go for $6.99 a six pack.
* Tasty, if we're being frank.