Lion Nathan (XXXX)
Summer Bright Lager
Style: Pale lager
330ml bottle 4.2% abv
The last time Lion Nathan released a new beer under its XXXX brand was in 2006 with XXXX Special Brew. It seems the brewery learned with that beer that you certainly can overestimate the average beer drinker. Special Brew was described at the time as being, “a step-up in flavour” and “a challenging beer, hoppy and malty”. These might be adjectives that describe beers that can survive in the lower-volume world of craft brewing but, it seems, not in the mainstream and the Special Brew experiment ended quietly a little over a year later.
Lion-Nathan have learned from the experience and challenging is one word that can’t be used to describe its Summer Bright Lager, released in October last year. It’s been brewed to “refresh thirsty drinkers on a hot day and keep that summer feeling alive all year round.” To that end, the ‘challenges’ of hops and malt have given way to a “smooth hop character” which balances “the light malt flavour to create a seriously thirst-quenching beer.” At under 10 IBUs and with liberal use of cane sugar to lighten the body, the palate is barely troubled by either malt or hops. Once the adjectives light and refreshing have been used, about the only other characteristic of note with this beer is the light fruity aroma carrying hints of melon, courtesy of the yeast used in fermentation. .
Despite being “totally free from additives and preservatives”, Summer Bright Lager doesn’t carry the Natural Beer Promise logo, another Lion Nathan initiative that seems to have been quietly dropped off the radar of late. The Natural Beer Promise was a worthy campaign that set the bar high for a Lion Nathan beer to carry the claim ‘naturally brewed’. It excluded the use of either modified hops or added carbohydrate-busting enzymes, brewing aids essential for any beer marketed in clear glass or as low carb. Despite being heavily processed, these brewing aids – both used in Summer Bright Lager – are naturally derived and so are not “artificial additives or preservatives’. The question is whether the average punter recognises the semantic distinction and notes the absence of ‘naturally brewed’ on the label as they read ‘low in carbs and totally free of artificial additives and preservatives’, or whether they even care.
All in all, this beer is exactly as it is billed: light, refreshing and certainly easy-drinking. Add the lower carb count and it slots very neatly into a rapidly growing market for beers that don’t taste like beer. Initially launched in Queensland, Northern Territory and northern New South Wales, success in these markets will see it expand nationally to be a locally-brewed serious competitor to Corona, at around $10 per carton less.
If it is designed to knock Corona off its pedestal, it does a good job. If I had a choice between the two, I would certainly go for the fresher, locally made one. Though, I would hope for a wider choice on offer.
A six-pack is priced at RRP $13.99 and RRP $43.99 for a carton of 24.
You’ll probably like this if: You like Corona and don’t mind holidaying at home.