Anheuser-Busch brewery, acting after criticism that its new, slightly-alcoholic soft drink was designed to turn children into beer drinkers, said yesterday it has suspended test market advertising and promotion of the product.

The Richmond area is one of six sites around the nation where the St. Louis-based brewery had been testing the new beverage, Chelsea, which is packaged like beer and contains slightly less than one of one percent of alcohol.

"Anheuser-Busch believes strongly that the concept behind the new soft drink Chelsea is socially responsible and that it fulfills a real need in the aduly beverage market," the company said.

"Nevertheless in the interests of corporate and social responsibility," a company statement continued, "we have suspended all test-market advertising and promotion of Chelsea, and we are studying the possibility of overcoming certain in well-intentioned objections to the product."

With its relatively small alcohol content, Chelsea can be sold to persons of any age, including children. During test marketing in the Richmond area it was stocked next to the soft drinks on supermarket shelves.

Widely advertised in the test-marketing areas as the "new not-so-soft drink," Chelsea quickly drew fire in Virginia from nurses, educators and members of the clergy who claim the drink is calculated to promote the habit of drinking alcoholic beverages among young people.