Lion is today releasing a ginger beer under the the XXXX Summer brand.
This is a very interesting development in a number of ways, not least of which is the number of times that the media release below stresses the word ‘beer’.
The release has just come across our deck so I haven’t had the chance to follow up on exactly how this is made, but traditional ginger beer is made with an even healthier dollop of cane sugar than most mainstream beers (including Crown Lager even), aren’t usually made on a malt base and usually don’t contain hops. Assuming the new XXXX Summer extension is made traditionally, it would fall outside the excise definition of beer. [UPDATE: the product isn’t a traditional ginger beer, it is essentially Summer Bright Lager with an infusion of ginger extract just after filtering. I will be inserting an interview with a brewer from XXXX into this week’s podcast] Readers may recall that the definition of beer had to be reworked when alcopop makers tried to get around the Federal Government’s alcopop tax by using a beer base for their overly sweet fizzies rather than distilled spirits.
The fact that Lion hasn’t brought out a cider under the XXXX brand but has used its flagship brand to fire a first shot into ginger beers is quite telling. There hasn’t been much made of ginger beer in Australia yet, though Dan Murphy’s has been giving them a big shove this summer. Brewers have been racing to ride the cider wave instead. While much is made by brewers about “people are becoming more adventurous in what they drink and are interested in trying new flavours” to explain the growth of ciders, in truth the opposite is largely true – at least in the mainstream market.
Brewers have been chasing the changing palates of Australian drinkers for years, stripping flavour and bitterness from beers to try to meet the tastes of new generation drinkers raised on sweeter juices and soft drinks. With beer there is only so far that you can go in taking bitterness and flavour out, especially with the new definition of beer that prevents adding sweeteners. Alcopops have seen brisk trade in recent years, particularly amongst women, though these drinks have been nobbled somewhat by the alcopop tax. The feminine perception of these drinks also haven’t quite found a strong market for young men who like the idea of drinking beer, even if they don’t like the flavour. Beer is what Australian blokes drink, not vodka cruisers, and so the very low bitterness and light flavoured beers, such as Summer Bright Lager, have been popular – especially when built around a lifestyle feel. They let blokes who don’t like the flavour of beer drink beer.
Canadian Club has clued to this trend, branding its ginger ale-based RTD as a drink for blokes who are over beer, even using Boonie to try to make it the acceptable and masculine choice for blokes who don’t want to drink beer.
Cider has proved to be a big it because it has a hipper and more crafty feel, particularly the newer and international brands and craft brands, that makes it a little easier for image conscious 18-30 year old blokes to be seen drinking. It also has no bitterness and it often naturally sweet to appeal to the tastes of a new generation.
Based on ginger beer’s popularity overseas over the last few summers, Lion has seen the potential for ginger beer to be the next big thing for blokes who don’t like beer but like to be seen with a beer in hand. There seems a hope that even if its ginger beer it will pass muster, something that will be helped if they stress that this is a beer often enough.
This ginger refresher has all the right cues for this market too. It’s lower carb – which, these days is just standard – and is also cloudy, which seems to be the visual cue that something is a little special these days.
Coming after Australia Day it’s very late for a ‘summer’ launch, but the limited release will just be the floating of a trial balloon. Judging by its visibility this summer, Summer Bright Lager has been Lion’s big spend and great clear hope and the Kirin-owned brewery will be interested to see whether this release catches an updraft from all that money and brand awareness through take up. As with the release of the original Summer Bright lager, the launch will be confined to Queensland and northern New South Wales. Those living elsewhere, don’t worry. If it proves a success, by next summer you too won’t be able to escape its advertising reach.
After all that, I quite enjoy a good ginger beer. It will be interesting to see if this is a good one. I have been promised samples today, so I will follow up the release below and the assumptions above with some fact-based reporting once I have sampled it and spoken to the makers. [MK]
XXXX has a summer fling with ginger
XXXX Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer launches in Queensland
Queensland’s iconic beer brand, XXXX, has added a new flavour to its portfolio with the limited release of XXXX
Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer, hitting store shelves on Monday, 13th February.
Available in Queensland and northern New South Wales only, XXXX Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer is a lower-carb alcoholic beer which offers a classic ginger beer aroma coupled with a subtle ginger taste, making it a refreshing tipple for the summer season.
“We believe the launch of XXXX Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer is great news for Queensland beer drinkers,” said Geoff Cockerill, XXXX Regional Director.
“We’re always keen to add new beers to our range, so when our brewers were experimenting with different flavours and developed this new beer, we knew we needed to get cracking and get it out this summer!” he said.
The new addition comes at a time when an increasing number of younger drinkers (particularly young males) are looking to experiment with new beers.
“Our research told us that people are becoming more adventurous in what they drink and are interested in trying new flavours, but may be reluctant to branch out with unfamiliar brands. With XXXX Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer we want to give people the option to try something new from a brand they know and love,” said Cockerill.
The limited edition brew is made with natural ginger and is free from artificial additives and preservatives. Ideally enjoyed with lighter summer meals including seafood platters, Asian food and salads, it’s a refreshing easy-to-drink beer perfect for the warm weather.
XXXX Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer is the first ginger beer to be released by Queensland’s leading brewer, XXXX.
- XXXX Summer Cloudy Ginger Beer is available in stores from Monday 13th February until stocks last (23,000 cases on offer)
- 4.2% alcohol content
- Available in a six-pack for RRP $14.99 or a 24-pack for RRP $45.99