Insights on beer marketing & PR by a beer-war vet

02 December

CUB weakens Foster’s Lager. Why?

I was attracted to the bright blue pallet load of Foster’s Lager at Dan Murphy’s.

But what caught my attention was the alcohol content of Foster’s Lager now at 4%.

[UPDATE/CORRECTION 7 December: IT’S CLASSIC!! A case of reading the fine print! This brew is called Foster’s Classic and apparently is being sold exclusively through Dan Murphy’s; the comments at this web site about how ‘Classic’ it is are worth a read. Thanks to beer writer Matt Kirkegaard for the heads-up.]

fosters 4 percent

Previously, as you can see from the pic below from Carlton & United Breweries‘ website, Foster’s Lager was 4.9%. (Perhaps CUB should update its website.)

That’s a whopping 18% reduction!


Brand histories ignored
Why is CUB, or rather parent company SAB-Miller, doing this?

Okay.. Foster’s glory days are long over. Nonetheless it’s fair to say it remains an iconic beer brand recognised globally as Australian.

So has CUB learned nothing from the consumer backlash when they did this to VB? Remember CUB’s letter of apology in the press when they ‘fixed’ it?

Have they not checked their history and wondered at the demise of other strong CUB brands like Abbots Lager, Reschs Pilsener and Brisbane Bitter when alcohol was sneakily reduced?

CUB has recently cut the alcohol content of Cascade Premium too.

Perhaps Foster’s Lager is set to be yet another discount brand fighting on price. Call me nostalgic but that would be a sad end to this famous brand.

Cost cutting your way to growth
There is only one reason this is happening of course. It’s to reduce the Federal Excise the brewery has to pay which is based on alcohol content. Okay .. it’s the job of business to reduce costs. Consumers understand that.

What they don’t understand is a decision to ignore them and to reduce the essential ingredient and, invariably, the taste of a brand they prefer – or used to prefer.

SAB-Miller’s global webpage says it has “A commitment to growth.” Perhaps they’ve not heard the marketing truism which states “you can’t cost-cut your way to growth.”

However I suspect those making such decisions at CUB are not listening: certainly not to consumers. Pity.cheers


30 June

ZYWIEC! BOOM! Porter with balls

My new ‘porter radar’ pinged in the local Dan Murphy’s picking up this ?ywiec brew from Poland. I took a bottle home.

The part of the label I could read highlighted its ABV as 9,5%! BOOM! Porter will balls.

Zywiec porter in its home setting: pic courtesy of Lonely Planet’s best beers

To my palate it clearly is a damn fine porter – complex and peculiarly bitter – however the gravity overshadows the smoothness. The alcohol shines through just a bit too strongly on the back palate: like an added nip of vodka or even scotch.

Dan Murphy’s web site provides the following description:“?ywiec Polish Porter has a full bodied, medium gold colour. Sharp and focussed flavours, with oily, bitter hops and a background of toasty malt.”

The ‘oiliness’ is likely to be the alcohol I believe.

Drinkable -vs- Sippable
Some of the best dark beers have higher ABV; it carries the depth of flavour we love in these brews. My preference is for a drinkable porter rather than one for sipping.

Perhaps I just need to give it another go….