Many readers will have seen a new beer brand in some bottleshops called Steamrail. It all looks very crafty with packaging cues to place it squarely in the craft space. That said, the price is pretty amazing, advertised on the Liqourland website at $45 a carton.
But who or what is this Steamrail Brewing Company?
Last week I wandered into to my local Liquorland and grabbed a bottle of the Golden Ale. l presented it to the young lady behind the counter asking, “Is this new?”
“Yeah, we just got it in,” she said.
“Great,” I replied. “Who makes it?”
In an attempt to help an interested, but obviously stupid, customer the young lady picked up the bottle and made a show of studying the label. She turned it over in her hands, turned it back. Put it down and said, “Streamrail Brewing Company, I guess”.
Now, here’s the rub. In a Liquorland bottleshop, the lady who is paid and, presumably, given some basic product training by Liquorland was completely unable to inform me that the beer was brewed for Liquorland.
Of course, she can easily be forgiven for this error. The branding of this beer has been carefully constructed to avoid disclosing that fact. The label boldly announces “Steamrail Brewing Company”. Not Steamrail Beer Marketing Company, not Steamrail Beer Company, Steamrail BREWING Company.
As a punter in the bottleshop, if you wanted to find out a little more about this new Steamrail Brewing Company, you would – as the young lady serving me did – turn over the bottle to find out a little more. Wading your way through the nonsense spiel designed to pretend there is a backstory to the brand, and if your eyesight is very good, you will find a line referring to AUSTRALIAN BEER CONNOISSEURS.
“Hmmm, now who are these Australian Beer Connoisseurs,” you wonder to yourself.
A quick Google search from your phone (and let’s face it, who is going to do long search – or any search – on their phone standing in a bottleshop when all they want is a beer) reveals nothing about this business responsible for the brand. One needs to go to the website of the Australian Securities and Investments Corporation to find out anything meaningful about Australian Beer Connoisseurs. Personally, I love accessing the Australian Securities and Investments Corporation website from my phone when I am on my way to a barbeque.
Once you have reached the website of our nation’s corporate regulator, you can perform a business names search and find out that Australian Beer Connoisseurs is a business name registered to Liquorland (Australia) Pty Ltd.
I am obviously stupid. I cannot for the life of me think why a business selling a product in its own store would not want to put that store’s product on the name, can you?
Even more intriquing is that a search of the Trade Marks database reveals that the Trade Mark “Steamrail” is owned by Liquorland (Australia) Pty Ltd, not Australian Beer Connoisseurs.
So, we have a beer that is made under contract for Liquorland, trade marked by Liquorland sold in Liquorland, but not mentioning Liquorland anwhere. Instead you have the Steamrail Brewing Company (which is actually not a name I can find registered anywhere, “Steamrail” being the only name I can find and it is a trade mark) listing a registered business name that does not hold the product’s trade mark.
I’ll leave you pondering those questions readers. I would put the question to Coles or to their external public relations consultants (curiously, the same ones who handle most of CUB’s highly responsive and transparent communication) but, three weeks after asking “who brews it”, I still don’t have an answer to that. So, there really seems no point.
One thing I will say though. There is indeed a story behind the Steamrail Brewing Company, though it’s not the story that we are being told.