Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is that a foreign beer or a case of brewer's dupe?

Interesting post in The Age this morning about how breweries should be compelled to more clearly label (or in some cases just label) their bottled beers correctly with where the beers are brewed. I couldn't agree more with this argument as it's incredible the number of bars who sell imported beers like Stella which are brewed in Abottsford.

Mark Russell

December 21, 2008

AS THE festive cheer flows for Christmas and the new year, a storm is brewing over the labelling of premium foreign beers made in Australia.

The Australian Consumers Association is demanding clearer, more prominent labels on bottles of foreign beer made locally under licence, to show drinkers exactly what they are buying. Beck's, Heineken, Stella Artois, Kirin, Guinness, Kronenbourg and Carlsberg are some of the foreign brands being made here.

The Sunday Age bought a random selection from a liquor store in St Kilda last week. A 330 millilitre bottle of Heineken ($3.39) was brewed in Sydney and a 330 millilitre bottle of Carlsberg ($3.49), which had "Copenhagen, Denmark" and "by appointment to the Royal Danish Court" on the front, was brewed by Foster's Australia in Victoria. Two other bottles — Stella Artois ($3.89) and Beck's ($3.79) — had been fully imported by Melbourne wholesalers but they were also made in Australia.

ACA spokesman Christopher Zinn said it was time to address the issue of labels on imported beers. "Even if (the breweries) say it tastes the same, people who buy it might claim it tastes different, so it seems fair enough you should be able to know where it's been made so you can choose accordingly," he said.

Local breweries defend their right to make foreign-brand beers in Australia, claiming the beer tastes better because it is fresher.

Foster's, which brews Guinness, Stella Artois, Kronenbourg and Carlsberg under licence in Australia, says the locally made product is very close to how the original beers taste overseas. Lion Nathan, which makes Heineken, Beck's and Kirin locally, claims they are brewed under strict guidelines set by the label owners and its operations are overseen by the brewers from Holland, Germany and Japan.

Spokesman James Tait said bottles were clearly labelled and did not need to be changed. He said the ACA should be more concerned about importing by unauthorised dealers involving shipments of beer.

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