The VB phenomenon continues.
I was reading bits and pieces from Willie Simpson’s 2006 offering ‘The Beer Bible’ and remembered his piece about the VB phenomenon and I thought I’d share it with you by way of the first ever New Brew Review on the Beer Blokes Blog.
First a couple of interesting facts. Foster’s Lager sits in the top six on the ladder of international beers. The same beer accounts for only one percent of beer sales in Australia. Mainstream beers account for 90 percent of all beer drunk in Australia yet the number of craft beers – formally known as boutique and then independent beers – is increasing a an amazing rate. It is generally accepted that we are drinking less beer now than ten years ago but we are drinking better beers. Or premium beers. That can sometimes just be marketing man talk for ‘same shit two bucks more’.
Now, of the mainstreams, VB is something of a mystery to me. In the 1980’s, as Simpson describes it, VB became something of a de facto national beer. Available in probably every single shop which sold beer VB was one in every four beers drunk. That’s huge. But with the blind loyalty going only so far and beer sales dropping overall, it was time for a new marketing strategy. Much as I am loathe to admit it, I think that the VB experiment may just work. CUB - now Fosters – launched Victoria Bitter Original Ale a couple of years back. A full malt, retro packaged premium ale made as VB was made way back when. It was apparently aimed at the loyal VB drinker who wanted to experiment with his or her beer but stay loyal to the brand.
And it seems to be selling well. The marketing men seem to have caught up with the trend of the repertoire drinker, as Simpson aptly describes it; the ‘horses for courses’ drinker. One beer for this occasion, two or three premiums for a night at a restaurant, a couple of imports or a shitload of session lagers during Bathurst or the Grand Final – AFL or, for me and you Zac in Sydney, NRL. Go Storm.
So now comes another new VB. This time a midstrength. Rather than going for point of difference, this one is packaged as a yellow copy of the famous green and gold label. Won’t scare off the diehards, should attract the responsible drinker who realises that life’s too short for light beer. And the Professor’s opinion? It is NOT BAD AT ALL. There, I said it. Very good flavour wise and aroma and bitterness to slake the thirst. Having said all this, it’s still just VB and it has its place on the shelf and at $30 a slab to begin with it was worth the cost of the empties alone.
I would welcome the reader’s opinions on this or any other beer. Feel free to type off a quick review and we’ll see if we can’t get a good healthy debate started. Remember, the best beer is the one in your hand.