updated 2/8/2007 5:20:27 PM ET 2007-02-08T22:20:27

Anheuser-Busch’s high-end Michelob family of beers is returning to an all-malt recipe and bringing back the familiar teardrop bottle that was eliminated five years ago, the nation’s largest brewer said Thursday.

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Michelob and Michelob Light in teardrop bottles will be available nationwide by Feb. 26, while the Michelob AmberBock bottle will be available by March 5. National TV, radio and print ads, as well as outdoor advertising, will reintroduce the products.

Michelob, dubbed by the St. Louis-based company as a “beer for connoisseurs,” was originally brewed as a draught-only beer in 1896, using 100 percent malt. Rice was added to the recipe in 1961, the same year the beer was packaged in teardrop bottles.

Those bottles were scrapped in 2002 in favor of a more modern appearance.

“The teardrop bottle was originally created to make the beer immediately identifiable in even a darkened bar or restaurant, and we’re going back to those roots,” said Eduardo Pereda, director of marketing for the Michelob line. “We think the tradition of the new bottles and the all-malt recipes will give adult beer drinkers two great reasons to rediscover Michelob.”

The taste will reflect the basic style Michelob is known for, but with an added dimension of intensity, said Doug Muhleman, Anheuser-Busch’s group vice president of brewing operations and technology.

But John Meara, an analyst for Argent Capital in suburban St. Louis, said the teardrop bottle, not the change in flavor, could be the real key as Michelob and Michelob Light try to recover from sales declines due to increased competition from craft beers and imports.

“When they stopped the teardrop, sales started to falter,” Meara said. “They just kind of became another dark bottle on the shelf.”

Anheuser-Busch Cos., maker of the nation’s best-selling full-calorie and light beers, Budweiser and Bud Light, holds a 48.8 percent share of the U.S. beer market.

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