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Strongbow is a brand of cider manufactured in England by Bulmers. It is the UK's most popular cider, accounting for more than half of the cider sold in Britain. Strongbow is a dry cider. Strongbow is also unique in that it is produced with a Royal Warrant.
Strongbow is named after the Cambro-Norman knight Richard de Clare, later Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed "Strongbow" for relying heavily on Welsh archers during campaigns in Ireland, where the native Irish had few bows and relied on javelins. The cider is produced in Hereford by the English cider company Bulmers, part of Scottish and Newcastle, which in turn is owned by the Dutch brewer Heineken. It has been produced in South Africa since 2009, with a 5.3%ABV.
Strongbow is mass-produced using modern methods, and contains apple concentrate and sugar. It is fermented with a controlled yeast strain, and at least some varieties are flavoured with artificial sweeteners.
The alcoholic strength of Strongbow Cider in the UK and Canada is 5.3% ABV (10.6 proof) in cans and bottles, but 4.5% ABV (9 proof) draught in pubs.
In the UK, Strongbow is available in four different forms. Original, Extra Cold (draught only, chilled to a few degrees lower than normal draught Strongbow), Strongbow Black (formerly Strongbow Super; 7.5% ABV) and the newer Strongbow Sirrus (5% ABV), which was launched in summer 2005 to compete with C&C's Magners Original Irish Cider. Sirrus was formulated as a 'smooth' cider designed to be poured over ice, and is only available in bottles, whereas the normal variety is available in cans, bottles and on draught, and Strongbow Super is only available in cans. Strongbow cider in a can has a volume of 4.5%
In South Africa,the USA and Australia, Strongbow is also available but is brewed to a strength of only 5% ABV. In Canada, Strongbow is available at the typical 5.3% ABV. Strongbow is available in three varieties in Australia: Dry, Sweet and Original (formerly sold as "Draught"). Previously Strongbow White was available in Australia, which had a much higher alcohol content (8.5%). It ceased production sometime after 2000. In the USA and Canada, only Strongbow Original is commonly available.
Scottish & Newcastle have also extended the Strongbow range with Jacques from Strongbow, a 5.5% ABV cider with cherry, raspberry and blackcurrant flavours, made in Belgium by S&N's Stassen cider mill.
During the spring of 2006, the company also relaunched Bulmers Original in the UK, a premium packaged cider aimed squarely at the "served over ice" market which has grown in popularity over the last few years. Bulmers Original is a 4.5% ABV cider and is sold in one pint (568 ml) bottles and 500 ml cans.
In 2007, the company began trials of Strongbow Iced, a competitor to other ciders that are served over ice. This uses a specially designed pump that creates a "head" of ice made from cider on the top of the pint.
The "thudding arrows" have been a signature of the brand's television advertising since the 1960s. Towards the end of the advertisement, two arrows thud into a bar counter near a glass of Strongbow, or its bar pump. The original Norman Archer logo was designed by Colin Fulcher, better known as artist Barney Bubbles.
Commercials around 1998 featured Johnny Vaughan and the "live to loaf" line. The idea was to associate the naturally refreshing nature of Strongbow with a laid back attitude to life . During Spring 2007, the television advertising campaign was based around "total first pint refreshment (a-a-a-h)", and starred Tim Key.
Strongbow were official shirt sponsors of Edinburgh football club Heart of Midlothian from 1992-2002. During this time, Hearts would be welcomed onto the pitch at the start of every game with the same words: "Hearts are sponsored by Strongbow; the UK's number one cider."
Strongbow also sponsored Leeds United Football Club from 2000-2003.
In Canada, the brand has been marketed since 2007 using the tag line "Shatter Expectations" through an advertising campaign developed by Round Table Advertising.