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Foster's Mystery Beer Not Worrying XXXX

Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 21, 2010 03:00 PM

Leave it to the Aussies to introduce a beer on faith alone. Foster's is bringing a new lager called Great Northern Brewing Co. (not to be confused with this U.S. brew brand) to the Queensland market in northeastern Australia — and no one has tasted it yet. In fact, Foster's has refused to allow a taste test.

Instead, during the official launch, the head brewer, Geoff Day, described the taste: "It's a smooth, easy drinking type of beer. It's not too bitter. It's really designed for that hot summer's day. It's not too filling.

The prolonged tease means no-one else will taste a drop until the beer hits the market on November 1 — a marketing gimmick to increase the interest in a new brand at a time when beer sales down under have been dropping.

Australian consumer preferences seem to be swinging towards pre-mixed spirit drinks and cheap liquors. For a one-year period ending in June, Foster's lost about 1% of Australian beer sales. Half of that loss was due to the decline in sales of traditional beers, according to the company.

That's why Foster's is trying to increase excitement and pump up sales with the introduction of the Great Northern brand, along with two other new brands. Great Northern will compete directly with the leading brew in Queensland: Castlemaine XXXX, aka Castlemaine 4X, renowned for cheeky commercials such as the one above.

Great Northern marks the Foster's Group's "first new umbrella brand in more than 20 years and signals its intention to aggressively target the Queensland market, where XXXX is by far the most popular amber ale," notes the Sydney Morning Herald.

Cameron Levick, the general manager of Carlton and United Breweries, a Foster's subsidiary, claims that Queensland beer retailers have ordered around 20,000 cases "without even tasting it. We're so confident about the taste of this beer that once people try it they'll be certainly very pleased and want to come back and buy some more."

The name "Great Northern" is derived from a 1930s brewery that Foster's owned in the 1930s. A clear bottle carries the words GREAT NORTHERN in bold type, along with a graphic image of a marlin. The beer brand will only be available in Queensland, for now.

Foster's is currently introducing two other beer brands in its homeland — Pure Blonde White, a Belgian style wheat beer, Carlton Fusion Dry Black, a flavoured beer (citrus, spice and lemon) — and recently unveiled a new look for its own branded beer in the U.K. and U.S. markets.

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