15 May 2009

Woolworths to buy a stake in brewer

Woolworths Ltd is set to acquire a 25 per cent stake in Western Australian-based brewer Gage Roads for about $2 million.

Gage Roads said on Friday it also would enter into an agreement with Woolworths to supply 350,000 cartons of beer each year to the supermarket chain if the offer is successful.

Under the offer, which is subject to shareholder approval, Woolworths will acquire a 25 per cent stake in the brewer through a placement of 76.4 million fully paid ordinary shares to raise up to $1.9 million.

Following the placement, Woolworths will have an appointee on the brewer's board with Woolworths Liquor Group general manager Steven Greentree becoming a non-executive director.

Gage Roads' chief executive Nick Hayler said the company was delighted to welcome Woolworths as a major shareholder and customer.

He said planning had commenced to maximise brewing capacity from the company's WA brewery operations.

Gage Roads will hold a general meeting in late June at which shareholder approval will be sought.

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5 April 2009

Aussie ale: out of the shadows

There’s more to Australian beer than Foster’s. The country, in common with Britain and the US, is undergoing a beer revolution. Small craft breweries are bringing much-needed choice to parched throats, and home-grown drinkers and visitors can enjoy far more than the “amber nectar”.

As well as the beer awards — made at a glittering affair with a four-course dinner — Beer Expo at the Melbourne Showgrounds provided a new shop window for small brewers. It was hosted by Beer and Brewer, an impressive consumer magazine dedicated to all things beery in Australia and New Zealand. I had the pleasure of hosting a series of talks and tastings and was able to sample the beers of the craft fraternity.

11 March 2009

Brewer takes bush berry beer to Poms

Boutique beer maker Barons Brewing will be playing to the poms' passion for beer when it returns to the UK this week to again represent Australia at the world's largest beer festival.

Having brewed up a storm at the JD Wetherspoon International Beer Festival last year with its Baron Black Wattle Original Ale, head brewer Richard Adamson hopes to retain top honours with its new Barons Bush Berry Porter.

Like last year's winning drop, the beer will be brewed with native Australian spices.

This year's pint is made with the bush berry, or passion berry.

"Brewing last year was a huge honour and very exciting," Mr Adamson said.

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3 March 2009


This summer sees the addition of a new beer to the Carlton Dry range – Carlton Dry Fusion Lemon.

The introduction of Fusion Lemon follows the overwhelming success of the Carlton Dry portfolio. Carlton Dry has shown exceptional growth in recent years, with 79% Value growth and 72% Volume Growth*.

Similarly, since its launch in December 2007, Carlton Dry Fusion Lime has grown to become the number one flavoured beer in both volume and value terms^.

The status of Carlton Dry Fusion Lime as the fastest growing beer by incremental volume within the flavoured segment* has led to the creation of Fusion Lemon – a well-balanced, easy drinking beer with the refreshing infusion of natural lemon.

Beer with flavour is a growing global trend and has proven hugely popular in Australia, representing one of the fastest growing segments of the regular beer category with value and volume growth of over 2000%*.

A refreshing beer with an ABV of 4.2%, Fusion Lemon’s subtle integration of natural lemon balances the bitterness of the Carlton Dry base, resulting in a smooth, crisp finish.

The launch of Fusion Lemon will be supported by POS materials (including price boards, pallet toppers, posters, fridge wobblers, tent cards and fridge magnets).

Carlton Dry Fusion Lemon is priced in line with Carlton Dry Fusion Lime, and is available nationally week commencing 16 February.

RRP: $ 15.99 for 355ml 6 pack. Each 355ml bottle contains 1.2 standard drinks.

SOURCE: * Carlton Dry has shown exceptional growth in recent years, with 79% Value growth and 72% Volume Growth. (MAT to Dec 08 vs YA) ^ Since its launch in December 2007, Carlton Dry Fusion Lime has grown to become the number one 'flavoured beer' in both volume and value terms (MAT to Dec 08). *Carlton Dry Fusion Lime is the fastest growing beer within the flavoured segment by Incremental Volume (MAT to Dec 08 vs YA.) *Beer with flavour is a growing global trend and has proven hugely popular in Australia, representing one of the fastest growing segments of the regular beer category with value and volume growth of over 2000% (MAT to Dec 08 vs YA) Note: Brands included in ‘Flavoured Beer’ segment include: Carlton Dry Fusion, Miller Chill & Barefoot Radler. Foster’s calculation based in part on data reported by Nielsen through its ScanTrack Liquor Service for the Beer Category for the Australian off premise liquor market. (Copyright © 2009, The Nielsen Company.)

2 March 2009

Great Australian Bars and Pubs

Over on our West Coast, The Roey, Broome’s oldest pub, lives by the saying “if it’s going to happen in Broome, it’s going to happen at the Roey”. If you stumble across a local character by the name of Swindle, pull up a chair and order a coldie because he has enough tales about pearling and gangsters to last a week.

While sunset camel rides on Broome’s Cable Beach are world famous, it’s the tales about beer drinking camels that draw attention at the Whim Creek Pub. Half way between Karratha and Port Hedland, this pub has its own wildlife sanctuary and was once home to a camel with a penchant for beer. Don’t worry about missing the pub – it’s painted bright pink!

The biggest and best known pub in Kalgoorlie is The Exchange. It holds the record for the biggest volume of Jim Beam sold in regional WA. It was originally constructed as a shed in the late 1800s.

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26 February 2009

Bright chosen for international promotion

The alpine town of Bright will feature in an upcoming promotion of Australian working holidays in the United Kingdom.

As part of the promotion three young Britons will take the holiday of a lifetime, travelling and working across Australia.

Each of the winners will document their travel adventures on a blog which will be promoted in the United Kingdom to motivate other travellers to visit Victoria.

As part of their travels each of the winners will complete a two-week work placement at Bright Brewery.

“This promotion will showcase all that Victoria has to offer and the blog will be an exciting channel for travellers to visit to learn more about working holidays,” a Tourism Victoria spokesperson said.

“Bright was selected as Victoria’s High Country offers beautiful scenery, a rich and colourful history, gastronomic variety and countless activities all year round.”

The president of the Bright and District Chamber of Commerce Daniel Boissevain said he was looking forward to welcoming the British travellers to Bright.

“During their stay we will be showing them all the amazing experiences on offer locally.

“I’m sure we will give them plenty of adventures to blog about.”

The first traveller will start their placement at the Bright Brewery on 10 March 2009.

Bright Brewery’s head brewer David Cocks said that it will be great to have three young staff joining their team.

“They will have the opportunity to learn first hand how we make our award wining beer along with working behind the bar which is a favourite with tourists and locals alike,” Mr Cocks said.

Chairman of Alpine Region Tourism Board John Kroger said the winners will learn all about brewing beer with unusual local ingredients which will make the experience interested and informative for them.

The promotion is being run by Tourism Victoria, Tourism Western Australia, STA Travel and Tiger Airways.

The travellers will also complete work placements in Melbourne and Margaret River in Western Australia.

The announcement of this program will be followed with details of the three backpackers and the dates of their itineraries. The first backpacker is due to arrive in Bright on March 10th to commence the first two week work placement.

Little World brewing a storm

LITTLE World Beverages, the listed brewers behind the popular Little Creatures beers, increased profit by 28.5 per cent to $2.29 million in the first half.

Australians continued to drink boutique beers, despite the downturn.

The craft brewer also announced yesterday that it had taken a 20 per cent stake in the Byron Bay-based Stone and Wood Brewing Company, which gives LWB a contract to distribute selected products from the fledgling craft brewer.

"LWB has great respect for and confidence in the abilities of the Stone and Wood founders and views the relationship as very complementary, and the business as an attractive long-term investment," the company said. LWB shares closed at $1.38.

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12 February 2009

Victorian Bushfire

As Director of Realbeer Australia and resident of the Yarra Valley since the last bushfire known as Ash Wednesday in 1983, I felt compelled to provide a vivid view of the bushfire we are experiencing at the moment. As I tap out my thoughts we have already lost the Hargreaves Hill micro brewery in Steels Creek owned and operated by Simon and Beth Walkenhorst. Simon is President of the Victorian Microbrewers Association and a tireless campaigner for tax concessions to small breweries and support from local communities. He is also a concert pianist who established his tiny brewery on the grounds of his in-laws idyllic ‘retirement farm’.

Down the road in Healesville we have two local micros also under threat. Buckley’s family Brewery and Giant Steps complex owned by the legendary brewer and winery developer Phil Sexton who operates on the main street of town. His coffee shop, pizzeria, and delicatessen entice visitors in town touring the famous for the Healsville Sanctuary, an internationally recognized open planned zoo featuring Australian creatures great and small. Sexton’s superb Sierra Nevadan styled pale ale developed at his Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle, W.A. is brewed on-site and along with award winning wines from his vineyard, Giant Steps, just outside town.

To our American readers, the Yarra Valley is eerily similar in geography to the Sonoma Valley in northern California. The area is ideal for grape growing with four distinct seasons that under usual conditions are moderate in temperature and precipitation. But we aren’t under usual conditions with a pronounced drought in the region for over an eight years and record temperatures registered over the weekend of 50+ degrees Celsius with gale force winds over 120 miles per hour.

Having experienced Ash Wednesday in 1983, the conditions on Saturday were extremely similar but more intense. Atmospheric oxygen reduction made breathing like inhaling from a furnace, and the radiant heat quickly penetrated the feet whatever footwear. Whether the cause be a casually flung cigarette butt or a deliberate torching of a paddock, the fire was man made and positioned in an ideal location, the midland plain at the base of hilly terrain. Add to this a lack of scheduled selective burn offs by local authorities due to overzealous environmentalists created a natural tinderbox for the flames. It is expected that over 1,000 homes have been destroyed with loss of life expected to reach 3000.

But this region is not the only area in Victoria to experience bushfire damage. The picture of the fire-fighter providing water to a koala was taken from the area outside the town of Mirboo North last weekend. Mirboo North is the home of Grand Ridge brewery. Thankfully the brewery wasn’t affected but they did loose their cattle farm/ranch which provided the steaks for the brewery’s restaurant. And as we speak, the Beechworth Brewery is under fire watch as the disaster continues to spread.

Those of us outside the fire wall feel helpless and wonder what we can say or do to help. I implore all beer drinkers around the world to unite and show your support by contributing to the Red Cross appeal offered through Realbeer. For Victorians, the Taphouse in St Kilda will be holding a beer tasting to offer financial assistance to Simon and all the other victims of the disaster.

Charles Coll

8 February 2009

Where are all the Australian Beer Festivals?

In putting this website together it became obvious that there are very few Beer Festivals taking place in Australia over the coming year. A search in our own Beer Festival Search Box reveals just 3 Beer Tasting events for 2009!

Why is this?

Australia is known for its love of beer. The national holiday, Australia Day, wouldn’t be the same without a set of bbq tongs in one hand and a cold stubbie in the other.

I think the problem is twofold. Firstly, Australians are very parochial about their beer. If you’re a Queensander then you drink XXXX, a Victorian and you drink Victoria Bitter and so forth. Such loyalty to a brand allowed the second problem to develop; no competition. For too long the majority of the beer market in Australia has been owned by just two brewers: the Fosters Group and Lion Nathan.

When a population drinks just a handful of beers and the brewers are happy to supply just a handful of beers then it is no wonder there are very few Beer Festivals - what is there to celebrate?

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2 February 2009

Australia’s number one low carb beer now in a can

Australia’s fastest growing beer^ Pure Blonde is now available more often.

From 2 February 2009, Pure Blonde will be available nationally on and off-premise in 375ml stylish aluminium cans. It will also be available at events where glass is restricted.

Group Marketing Manager Premium Beer, Ben Summons says the Pure Blonde can increases the options for premium low carb drinkers who have been limited for choice in cans up until now.

“The can provides Pure Blonde drinkers an alternative to glass where there are specific venue restrictions on glass, or for non-glass events,” said Summons.

“Pure Blonde cans are perfect for low carb drinkers seeking a great-tasting, premium beer that is suitable for barbeques, festivals, camping trips or outdoor functions.” The Pure Blonde 375ml can is excellent value, carrying the same wholesale price and RRP as the 355ml stubby, but with an additional 20ml of volume per unit.

“The Pure Blonde can also offers existing can drinkers the opportunity to ‘trade up’ to something more premium that is also low carb,” said Summons.

Since the launch of Pure Blonde in 2004, the low carb beer segment has continued to grow dramatically, having increased 72.4% in value terms and 67.8% in volume terms vs YA.

The launch of Pure Blonde cans will be supported by POS materials (including price boards, pallet toppers and decals).

RRP: $15.99 for 375ml 6-pack. Each 375ml can contains 1.4 standard drinks and 4.6% ABV

SOURCE: * Pure Blonde is ranked first in the full strength low carb segment holding 50.0% Volume share and 49.1% Value share (Off-Premise MAT to 31 Dec 08). ^Pure Blonde is the fastest growing beer (by incremental volume) in Australia having grown +36.2% in Volume terms vs. YA and +39.1% in Value terms vs YA (Off-Premise MAT to 31 Dec 08). ^The Full Strength low carb beer category has grown 72.4% in value terms and 67.8% in volume terms vs. YA (MAT to 31 Dec 08). Note: Brands included in Full Strength low carb segment include: Pure Blonde, Hahn Super Dry, Carlton Dry, Boags Classic Blonde, Carlton Dry Fusion, Platinum Blonde, Tooheys New White Stag, Cascade Green, Amstel Premium, Tooheys Maxim, Michelob Ultra, Haagen Blonde, Carlton Natural Blonde, Pure Blonde Naked, Carlton Low Joule, Xxxx Diet Lager, Bavaria Blonde Lager, Gage Roads kutt, Virgin Blonde. Foster’s calculation based in part on data reported by Nielsen through its ScanTrack Liquor Service for the Beer Category for the Australian off premise liquor market. (Copyright © 2009, The Nielsen Company.