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Believe it or not, finding Foster’s beer in Australia – what international drinkers think of as the country’s beer
of choice – isn’t easy. In its proverbial homeland, the Southern Cross-spangled cans elude shop shelves and,
in 2015, just 10 venues across the entire country poured it on tap. But the brand that promoted Australia’s
laid back drinking culture to the world has decided to relaunch locally, upping production in Melbourne by
300% in the coming months.

The brewer Carlton and United Breweries, now owned by Japanese behemoth Asahi, will target hip-pocket
nerves, going after low-cost competitors. Thirty cans of Foster’s will retail at $53, compared to Lion’s XXXX
Gold at $42.95 and CUB’s own Victoria Bitter at $59.99.

Today, the 132-year-old pale lager, which Asahi acquired from Anheuser-Busch InBev earlier this year, is
distributed across Europe, the US and the UK, where it’s the nation’s second most-popular brew. Despite
being brewed in Manchester, UK ads still feature Australian accents, sand and sun, with slogans like “beaut
coldies” and “here’s to a bonza weekend”.

The international history of Foster’s dates back to 1888, when two Irish-American brothers began brewing in
Melbourne. Predated by Cascade in 1824, Coopers in 1862 and Carlton in 1864, it wasn’t Australia’s first. But
its debut UK campaign in 1971 synonymised Foster’s with local brewing when Barry Humphries defined it as
“Australian for beer” on UK TV screens.

In the 1980s the Crocodile Dundee actor Paul Hogan, who was also spearheading campaigns for Australian
tourism at the time, became the international sweetheart for “the liquid lifesaver”, winning British affections as
the cheeky, sun-kissed Aussie stereotype.

In 1995 The Simpsons cemented Foster’s reputation as Australia’s favourite beer in “Bart vs Australia”. The
can makes multiple cameos, first when Homer orders “one of those famous giant beers I’ve heard so much
about”, again when prime minister “Andy” is seen floating on a tyre in a dam, Foster’s in hand, and finally,
brandished by a rowdy court jury.

While the relaunch won’t be campaign-driven, CUB’s head of classic brands, Hayden Turner, says it’s a brand
Australians know and trust, and that he’s confident its popularity can grow again. “The Covid-19 pandemic
has led Aussies to embrace nostalgia and yearn for simpler times,” says Turner.But with mainstream beers on
the decline, it’s a gamble. Australia’s craft beer industry is worth over $800m and grew 6.2% from 2015-2020,
according to Ibis World, while Australia’s beer manufacturing industry as a whole declined 1.8% in the same
time period. Ibis World attributes this drop to consumers increasingly swapping “traditional beers, such as
Victoria Bitter, to higher priced premium and craft beers”.

This won’t be the first time CUB has successfully plugged nostalgia. In 2018 it forayed into fashion with
Victoria Bitter and Melbourne Bitter merchandise lines including green cord caps and T-shirts sporting old-
school logos. In July this year it also brought back Reschs “Silver Bullet” cans, after they were replaced with
bottles in 2005, thanks to a long-running campaign by the Reschs Appreciation Society.

Jack Stutfield, art director at Mr Simple, the Melbourne label that produced the Melbourne Bitter line, says
despite the fact that many of their consumers won’t have drunk from cans with the 1970s logos, the line has
been incredibly popular. “It went gangbusters – it sold out in a day,” he says, citing a growing trend among
young people towards vintage Australiana. “Especially not being able to travel, people are really supporting
more Australian stuff.”

Australian drinkers are fiercely territorial over their major-brand beers. Whether they will be like Homer
Simpson and order tins of a beer that’s foreign to many Australians remains to be seen.

Foster's Returns (?) To Australia
Submitted By Donald Barlett Jr.
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