The mainstream media is alive with speculation of a suite of new products from Foster’s, including three new beers and a new beer label.
It seems that Foster’s will tomorrow unveil their new Queensland-based beer brand, Great Northern Brewing Co. The brand is to operate out of the giant Yatala plant, south of Brisbane. The new brand will initially unveil a clear bottled, dry style, low-carb lager weighing in at 4% abv to go head-to-head with XXXX newcomer Summer Bright Lager. The trademark for the new brand was lodged by Queensland Breweries Pty Limited on 22 September 2010.
In a touch of irony, Great Northern Brewing Company is the name of one of the original New Zealand breweries that merged to form Lion Breweries in 1914. Lion Breweries is today part of the Lion Nathan National Foods company that owns the XXXX brands.
It remains to be seen whether the Great Northern Brewing Company of Whitefish, Montana will oppose the registration of the trademark.
Foster’s move would seem to be an attempt to create a stronger Queensland presence in response to the ongoing pressure its brands are under. The Sydney Morning Herald reporting yesterday that August beer volumes fell 7.6 per cent, marking the eighth-consecutive monthly decline. Foster’s flagship beer, VB, fell by 15.4 per cent in volume, while its Pure Blonde brand fell by almost 20 per cent.
It is also ironic that Australia’s largest brewer has had to create a new brand to try to gain better penetration into the Queensland market. The new beer is being brewed at Foster’s Yatala brewery, formally known as the Powers Brewery. Built in the late 1980s it was this site that launched Bernie Power’s eponymous beer, a brand that quickly established a market share of more than 10 per cent, breaking Castlemaine XXXX’s stranglehold over the state. It was the most successful beer launch in a century.
Fosters bought the successful brewery from Powers in 1992 after several years in intense competition and effectively killed the successful brand to concentrate on building its own brands in the state. The new Great Northern Brewing Co. beer has involvement from some of the remaining Powers brewers who are again trying to storm the XXXX citadel.
The launch of the Great Northern Brand follows recent speculation that Fosters had even considered returning to the Bulimba Brewing label, famous for the Bulimba Gold Top, dropped in the 1970s. The historic brand had been brewed at CUB’s Valley brewery, which itself was closed in 1993 following the takeover of Power’s Yatala site.
In addition to the new Queensland-based beer and brand, Fosters will launch brand extensions to the Pure Blonde and Carlton Dry Fusion ranges.
Pure Blonde White will be a lower carbohydrate, white lager brewed with wheat malt. The beer will weigh in at 4.6% abv and be priced at $15.99 a six-pack or $49.99 a carton. The new variation will try and arrest the decline faced by Australia’s biggest selling low-carb brand over recent months.
Lion Nathan National Foods is also rumoured to be launching a wheat based beer under its Hahn Super Dry brand.
The most curious of Foster’s new beers is Carlton Dry Fusion Black. Reports today describe it as a beer infused with ‘citrus, spices and lemon juice’ but Brews News has previously been advised that this new Carlton Dry Fusion line will be a cola-infused brew, which would seem to match the ‘Black’ moniker. If the beer is cola based, it would appear to be aimed at the 18-25 year old market that has moved away from traditional beer styles and flavours. It would aim to compete against spirit-based RTDs.
Fosters plans are expected to be announced by CUB managing director John Pollaers at a briefing tomorrow as part of the company’s investment day.