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

08 July

Global beer brands via global kegs?

Stainless steel is pretty boring. But beer lovers should celebrate it because it redefined beer markets around the world. It created kegs that allowed beer brands to spread.

Okay – less boring: these kegs mean we now have a greater – indeed global – choice of tap beers. Beers that stay fresher, longer.

Beerlines celebrated this recently, as the two photos below reveal.

Pic one: Famous German brews, Fischer’s Stiftungsbräu and Bitburger, outside Claypots Evening Star restaurant in the South Melbourne market. Pic two: Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA from California waiting to be rolled into the cellar at the  Royston Hotel: renowned craft-beer pub in Richmond Melbourne.

Two German brews in South Melbourne

Torpedo waits at the Royston in Richmond

Kegs defined beer markets Read more…

17 June

How to make Carlton Bitter

It was ballsy. I loved it. Thunder Road Brewing Company (TRB) in Melbourne’s inner suburb of Brunswick had a swipe at major brewer Carlton & United about CUB’s claim to heritage brands.

Classic David and Goliath. The media lapped it up: which I suppose was the point. See the press clip below and the original by Eli Greenlblat here at The Age.

As seen in The Age: Brunswick vs Carlton

Brunswick Bitter: building its own heritage
CUB’s heritage brands and their labels are fantastic. What brewer wouldn’t want them? While I empathise with that envy and admire the PR pluck of TRB, they face a long and expensive road trying to get them.

BB on tap at the Builders Arms

The old labels are ‘heritage’ because they were successful brands.

Brunswick Bitter can do the same. Build its own heritage. It can; it’s a great beer. Indeed, as Crafty Pint notes, the brew, “ its hat to Australia’s brewing heritage, this time with the ‘From 1876’ a reference, we assume, to the Brunswick Brewery that opened in that year.”

I recently tried it on tap at the Builders Arms Hotel in Fitzroy.

The Builders Arms

It has the hallmarks of being a great Aussie tap beer. It’s balanced, approachable, refreshing and drinkable (indeed ‘sessionable’) but with more character than your average mainstream front bar draught. It was served too cold however and was better after warming a few degrees. Hey .. it’s Melbourne in June!

TRB doesn’t need CUB’s old brands. Every beer tap they gain today in the highly competitive draught beer market will worry the big brewers much more than a back-room tiff with lawyers. Every single tap.


02 June

Matilda Bay’s new home gets off to a growling start

Two things beer that I love: draught beer and porters. So this post is a great way to launch my new beer blog: beerlines. So welcome! Here goes ..

Dark beers – like porter – are great especially here in Melbourne in winter. And Matilda Bay has created a beauty.

I tried it first on tap at Matilda Bay’s new brewery home in Bertie Street Port Melbourne.

On tap it’s currently called Bertie Street Porter.

The Growler
Matilda Bay’s Bertie Street brewery now makes available take-away draught beer in a growler bottle. Not the most flattering of names: but whatever gets the beer home I reckon.

It’s about 1.8 litres of beer and costs $22 including the deposit on the bottle. But check that as I get the impression I was one of the first to ask and there was some scratching of heads behind the bar.

Despite years in brewing PR I’m not that familiar with growlers or takeaway draught beer in Australia for that matter.

I took home a growler of the Bertie Street porter on Friday night to share with a beer-loving friend. Most of the growler was consumed: the little that remained the next day was still perfect.

Tasting Notes: Bertie Street Porter

The porter is a delight. I’m not a fan of a dusty after-taste with porters: there was none here.

Smooth and chocolatey. It’s quite bitter but balanced and easy to drink, as a porter should be in my view.

I’m not sure of the ABV but will find out and report. Cheers!

Covent Garden porters: no wonder they got thirsty! Picture from Strandlines

PS: History of Porters

I’ve heard and read a number of reasons for how the name ‘porter’ came about. Most relate to it being the preferred tipple for the porters in London: at the docks and at the Covent Garden markets.

I’ve also heard that the beer came about as slops of all the other beers from the pub on the day that were combined to sell cheaply to the porters. Not sure if that’s true. I’m sure a brewing historian will advise me. The same tale includes a version that these porters demanded something more stout giving rise to yet another style. Influential drinkers clearly.