Despite an attention-grabbing UK marketing campaign in which it acknowledged it’s ‘probably not the best beer in the world’, Danish brewer Carlsberg will not be making any changes to its Australian recipe.
Carlsberg, which has been brewed in Australia by Coopers since 2012, recently announced that it was reformulating its beer in the United Kingdom.
Carlsberg UK’s VP marketing, Liam Newton, said in a media statement the brand had lost its way in the UK
“Drinker’s interest in mainstream lager has waned because, though the world has moved on, the mainstream category hasn’t,” he said.
“At Carlsberg UK, we lost our way. We focused on brewing quantity, not quality; we became one of the cheapest, not the best.”
With Carlsberg having run a campaign since 1973 centered around being ‘probably’ the best beer in the world, the admission in the the £20million campaign is a huge gamble. However, it will not be making its way to Australia.
In a media statement, Carlsberg advised the beer subject to revision has always been a beer brewed exclusively for the tastes of UK drinkers.
“A new recipe has been introduced together with new packaging and a range of sustainability innovations,” the statement read.
“This is a UK specific situation and is not the case in other markets. We are very satisfied with the quality and performance of Carlsberg Pilsner in other markets, including Australia, and hence we will not change the recipe.”
Asked how UK tastes differed from those in Australia, Carlsberg’s VP Group Development Myriam Shingleton, said the difference related more to the lower alcohol content in the UK version.
“[In the UK] it was always only 3.8% abv and brewed exclusively for the UK and our goal was to keep it at 3.8% abv because it’s a tradition in the UK that we appreciate,” Myriam explained.
“Honestly, the UK’s Carlsberg 3.8% brew needed a radical change. A new recipe.
“Our development team here at Carlsberg Group developed a recipe that retains the unique characteristics of its predecessor, but with a smoother, fuller mouthfeel, complemented by greater depth of flavour.
“It has more malty notes, a more balanced crisp bitterness and a distinctive hop aroma that you will recognise from the Carlsberg pilsner served in other markets and in general, the new UK Carlsberg Danish Pilsner is crafted to be more like the Carlsberg pilsner we serve outside the UK.
“In Australia, and in all other markets, outside the UK, we are extremely happy with our brew quality and recent growth and given its exceptional taste profile, we have no plans to make any changes to the Carlsberg beer recipe in other markets at this stage, although we always try to improve its quality and reduce its environmental impact.”
While being happy with their brew quality, Coopers – which renewed its contract brewing agreement with Carlsberg last year – said the brand was under pressure in Australia.
“Coopers’ partner brands were under pressure as international beers became less attractive to consumers and retailers,” Coopers reported in its last annual report.
“Carlsberg struggled on the back of necessary price increases and our inability to repeat the previous year’s promotional activity.”
Carlsberg advised that the company “globally is on a journey and very soon, including in Australia, Carlsberg will look a little different”.
“This is not a relaunch. It represents a moment within a constant reappraisal and reﬁnement of all aspects of the Carlsberg brand, its products, packaging and behaviour,” a spokesperson said.
Notable on the campaign materials released, and in the media statements, is the increased focus on referring to Carlsberg as a pilsner, changed glassware and emphasizing its Danish heritage as traditional beer brands seek to buttress declining sales in the wake of growing interest in contemporary brands and craft beer.