While beer drinkers have been treated to media coverage of truck loads of beer kegs being dispatched far-flung destinations, publicans are still facing the prospect of unfilled beer orders from Australia’s largest brewer.
Brews News has received multiple reports of publicans unable to secure some CUB lines or being restricted in how much they can order. One WA club this week messaged its members advising that while it had packaged beer it was unable to secure any keg beer from its supplier and will not be receiving any for 4-6 weeks. Brews News understands that the venue is contracted through CUB.
There have also been multiple reports of publicans receiving kegs with extended ‘Best Before’ dates.
Both Lion and CUB have acknowledged that while they were able to continue brewing during lockdown, which averted shortages of packaged beer, restocking pubs nationally is an extraordinary logistical exercise.
A spokesperson for CUB acknowledged that the brewery had turned its keg lines in March off because pubs and clubs across the country closed, and it was taking some time to refill the pipeline, especially in Western Australia.
“We have produced huge volumes of kegs over the past several weeks to be able to re-stock pubs and clubs right across the country,” the spokesperson advised.
“It’s been a massive and unprecedented logistical and production exercise to restock thousands of pubs and clubs – all at the same time.
“We’ve been able to supply the vast majority of WA venues with kegs of our major brands and craft beers.
“However, constraints in WA were exacerbated after last weekend, when restrictions were significantly eased with only a week’s notice.”
The spokesperson advised that the short time frame to dispatch extra kegs across the country, combined with a surge in demand, saw WA customers told that temporary ordering restrictions would be put in place.
“We expect to remove these restrictions very soon. The situation is improving every day and we expect normal capacity to return on our major brands within a fortnight.”
Lion, which has reportedly managed the re-openings without similar shortages, has advised that with the gradual relaxation of restrictions state-by-state, it had forecast keg production to ensure good supply levels for the on-premise re-opening.
However, this week Lion was hit by a cyber attack which has affected production, but is not yes able to project whether this will lead to future supply problems.
Extended best before dates
In response to reports that publicans have been sent beer with extended ‘Best Before‘ dates, both Lion and CUB have confirmed that they have released beer brewed before the lock downs, but have confidence in the quality of the beer sold.
A statement from Lion said that after the closure of the on-premise on 23rd March, Lion chose to put its warehoused kegs into cold storage to halt the ageing process to preserve the quality of its beer.
“Lion’s own research, as well as well-known global research shows that the quality of sealed kegged beer degrades very slowly, and at 0-4 degrees Celsius, the ageing process almost stops completely,” the statement said.
“We were only able to put kegs into cold storage that were on hand in our brewery warehouses at the time. We could not preserve kegs that were returned. As has been widely reported, we had to decant these kegs (approximately 100,000) at our breweries around Australia.”
CUB also confirmed this practice, with a spokesperson saying CUB stored a small number of kegs in controlled conditions at its breweries when keg production stopped in March.
“Storing the kegs in controlled conditions ensured the beer remained fresh, which extended the kegs’ best before date,” they said.
“CUB provided full credits to our customers for full kegs returned after the shutdown in March. All beer in these returned kegs was disposed of appropriately and not reused.”
Brewers globally have faced challenges refilling the pipeline as venues spring back open, with Heineken UK confirming it had extended the best before dates on its kegged beers under similar circumstances.
If you’re a publican and have had issues restocking let us know at [email protected]