We believe in transparency, and in open and honest debate. In this section we share views on issues that affect our business.
Sorry, wrong site…that’s from the SABMiller corporate website. In addition to the many other things upon which we seem to disagree, I shall add the definition of “open and honest debate”.
Needless to say, I am still awaiting answers to the questions asked of CUB on Monday.
So while CUB have lapsed into a dignified silence (at least I am sure that’s what they are telling themselves they are doing in their self-congratulatory echo-chamber), I have been off seeking answers to my own questions.
Firstly, CUB says its Byron Bay Pale Lager label is industry standard practice. I have asked them to point to any similar examples of a large brewery licensing another domestic brand with which it has no prior association by way of example, but have meet with silence.
The only example I can think of is Byron Bay’s own case, when it licensed its beer to the ill-fated Baron’s Brewing. As this seemed directly relevant to CUB’s assertion about standard practice, I asked CUB if they knew what Byron Bay’s label said on that occasion. Silence.
Now, label collectors are some of the true heroes in the preservation of Australian beer history. They collect everything and research it with passion and a single-minded focus on discovering the true story rather than having an eye on writing convenient marketing copy. They can provide as complete a history of beer in Australia as anyone.
So I asked some of the most passionate whether, per chance, they had any labels from Byron Bay. Needless to say, they did.
The collector of the ones below tells me that he acquired the label on the left in June 2006. The dating of the one on the right is self-evident based on the reference to Barons Brewing, which announced its licensing agreement with Byron Bay around 12 November 2009.
So, it seems that while Barry Schadel does not think it any way relevant to note the role played by one of the world’s largest brewing companies in the brewing and distribution of his beer, he was not at all shy telling us when it was craft-minded Barons Brewing Pty Ltd involved.
Note too that the Baron’s version includes Baron’s name and their Sydney address. Standard practice according to CUB is to use the generic and potentially misleading “NSW” and “licencees” on theirs. No wonder they speak proudly about their commitment to transparency on their website.
One last labelling aside. Even though it was open about Baron’s involvement – or perhaps because of it – the Byron Bay Brewery suddenly felt the need to include a much more easily read Byron Bay address once Barons was involved, even adding a helpful arrow pointing to the township for those who are particularly slow.
It seems the less involved Byron Bay Brewing is in the actual bottled product, the more it feels the need to explicitly reinforce exactly where the brewery that’s not brewing the beer is located. Interesting.
The other issue I have been looking into is whether people can be misled. CUB has made the rather limp assertion that it is not their intention to deceive. Intention not being relevant, yesterday I went and bought a bottle of Byron Bay Pale Lager. Was I deceived? Click the map of Byron Bay to hear what happened…(length: 90 seconds).
Can’t believe it? I couldn’t either. All I can say is that was the first staff member I saw in the first Coles outlet that I visited. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself…but do it before the corporate memo goes out. I went to other places with the same result, but none so clearly indicating the packaging. Put it to the test yourself.
If the people charged with exclusively selling the beer are being misled by the packaging, what hope does the beer buyer have?
I pose that as a rhetorical question only, given there seems to be no point in posing actual questions to those believers in open and honest debate.
We will leave it there for now, though there will be more to the story over coming months. Thanks for your patience and your support with this issue.
No, I’m off finish my research into Crown Lager that this little story so rudely interrupted. Stay tuned…