Foster’s Group launched a rebranding of its beer arm, CUB, last week. The rebrand includes changing the word ‘Breweries” in CUB to ‘Brewers’ and adding the tagline ‘Raised in friendship’.
The move was announced in a speech by Foster’s Group chief executive John Pollaers to the American Chamber of Commerce. It was an interesting speech in that, for a business speech, it went beyond the usual “we are actively enhancing our synergies across our vertically integrated portfolio of dynamic brands.” Pollaers himself described his speech as being a little “more like a craft beer.”
Still, while it was all about plain speaking, it marked a definite attempt – after a period of neglect while the wine business occupied too much attention – to refocus the newly seperate business on beer beer. This is focused on beer….and cider.
A big part of the speech was devoted to the company’s history. I can never tell whether some of the perceived inaccuracies in speeches and media releases are the result of editing for stylistic flow, or are deliberate attempt to create a veneer of self-serving myth over the chipboard of corporate history. See what you think.
In his speech Pollaers said:
“Take VB, for example. Its history stretches back to 1854. VB was brewed with one goal in mind: to be enjoyed ice cold. It was the first beer brewed specifically for Australia’s climate. That meant developing the unique Pride of Ringwood hops to deliver a full-flavoured beer even when served cold – perfect for a hard earned thirst.”
Having written speeches for others, I know that speeches need to have a flow and that getting tied down in technical explanations and expanded histories can interrupt that flow and — if nothing else – bore your audience silly. However, this seems to go beyond that. It might just be me, but when I read the above paragraph, I’m left with the impression that VB, Pride of Ringwood hops and ice-cold beer were developed in tandem. However, CUB’s corporate lore has the Foster’s brothers introducing commercial refrigeration to Australia – thus making lager brewing possible – in 1887 (Lager was first made in Australia in around 1882). In his book The Breweries of Australia, historian Keith Duetsher says that until this time beers were “relatively strong, slightly thick and malty, and consumed at room temperature”. Pride of Ringwood hops were indeed developed by CUB but not until until 1953, almost exactly 100 years after VB was apparently first created.
VB may be brewed with the goal of refreshment in mind using Pride of Ringwood hops now, but to relate it in the above terms either shows bad editing, a poor grasp of their own history, or it is some very crafty corporate myth making.
Then there was this;
And Crown Lager is Australia’s historic premium lager. You might not know that it was originally brewed for dignitaries and diplomats, and later released to mark Queen Elizabeth’s first visit to Australia. Crown is made with fine malt and hops, the additional ingredient in Crown Lager is … time. It undergoes nearly twice the standard maturation, or “lagering”, which gives Crown its distinctive smooth, creamy finish.
“Lager” comes from the German word “to store”. To do my own little bit if historical fact compression for the sake of narrative flow, lagers date back to a time before yeast had been identified or refrigeration had been developed. Beer was stored in caves over the hot months when brewing was not possible. Today, it’s a little more advanced and lagers can be produced so quickly that it’s really a little inaccurate to talking about them being “lagered”. Many craft breweries find lagers expensive to brew because the extended lagering ties up vessels for long periods of time, making them lagers costly to brew but mainstream lagers however can be brewed very quickly
I have never been able to get a definite answer of exactly how long Crown’s maturation, though I was once told on a tour of the Yatala Brewery that it’s “an extra two days”. While ‘undergoing nearly twice the standard maturation’ no doubt makes the beer more expensive to produce than their regular beers, and the yeast used makes it a lager, it’s a little cute to refer to such as short period as ‘lagering’ in the true context of the word.
There’s more but I have a nagging feeling that I’m nitpicking again. I’m not sure why picking at the chipped corners of corporate spin to see if its real wood or laminate should leave me feeling that way, but it does.
Anyway, the media release announcing the change is below.
Foster’s Group has relaunched its iconic beer business with a new name and brand identity as part of its renewed focus as a dedicated, world‐class brewer and to celebrate beer’s meaning to Australians.
Carlton & United Breweries, the business formed in 1907 through the unification of Foster’s Brewing Company, the Victoria Brewery, the Carlton Brewery and three other Melbourne breweries, has been renamed Carlton United Brewers.
With history stretching back to the beginnings of the industry in Australia, the relaunch aims to mesh more than 150 years of heritage with a new and uncomplicated passion for making and selling the finest quality beers.
The new name is paired with the slogan “Raised in Friendship“. This is the theme of CUB’s central belief: if more people raised a beer in friendship the world would be a better place.
“Breweries” has been updated to “Brewers” to better reflect CUB’s people who underpin the success of the business, as distinct from the buildings in which they work.
Refreshed logos for both Foster’s and CUB complement the new name and beliefs and reflect a business with an exciting future. The key element of the new CUB logo is a raised ‘U’, to emphasise the word “united” and symbolise a glass raised as a gesture of friendship.
Foster’s Group chief executive John Pollaers said the company’s reinvigoration of CUB as a great beer brand – one of a number of key initiatives post demerger ‐involved a search for why people should love beer and the role beer has in our community.
“Over a number of months in each of our major locations we instigated in‐depth discussions with our people about what this brand could, and indeed should, be for Australians,” said Pollaers.
“What this name change reflects is our belief in community, in people, in the occasions where beer helps bring people together. Beer is at the heart of so many significant occasions in Australian life – from when we spend time with mates after work, to watching footy with our dad, to a barbeque with the family.
“We believe – with a passion – that if a whole lot more people raised a beer in friendship the world would be a better place,” added Pollaers.
CUB’s history goes back as far as 1824 when Cascade Brewery was founded in Hobart. VB founder Thomas Aitken opened for business in 1854 and the Carlton Brewery arrived 10 years later with a working team of Clydesdales ‐ a tradition maintained to this day. The company has since become
Australia’s largest brewer with market‐leading brands such as VB, Carlton Draught, Crown Lager and Pure Blonde. From regional and craft beers to the three highest selling cider brands, CUB covers the breadth of taste and occasions that modern drinkers expect.
Mr Pollaers said Foster’s Group is an exciting new enterprise with a bright future.
“We are fortunate to be able to build our business on the foundation of Australia’s strongest beer brand: CUB. I want us to stay focused on being not just a great beer company, but the best beer company, and the beer company loved by Australians.”