Foster's Lager is an internationally distributed brand of lager. It is owned by the international brewing group AB InBev, and is brewed under licence in a number of countries, including its biggest market, the UK, where the European rights to the brand are owned by Heineken International.
|Alcohol by volume||5.0% (US) (4% Europe)|
Foster's annual sales amount to around 500 megalitres worldwide, largely buoyed by UK sales, where it is the second highest selling beer after Carling. While known internationally as the quintessential Australian beer brand, Foster's is unpopular and relatively rare in Australia, particularly when compared to other CUB beers such as Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught.
Foster's was created by two Irish-American brothers, William M. and Ralph R. Foster, who arrived in Melbourne from New York in 1886. The brothers began brewing Foster's Lager in November 1888. It was made available to the public from February 1889. The product was first exported in 1901, when bottles were sent to Australian combatants in the Boer War.
In 1958, steel cans were introduced.
Commencing 1981, the brand was brewed under licence in the UK by Watney Mann and Truman Brewers. This was the first time that Fosters had been available on draught anywhere in the world; in Australia it had only been available first in bottles, then later in cans. The draught product was based on Carlton Lager, another Carlton United Brewers product, and it was first brewed in the UK at the pilot brewery at Truman's Brick Lane Brewery in mid 1981. In 1986, Courage obtained the rights to brew and distribute Foster's alongside Watney Mann and Truman Brewers. This was a result of a deal done following Courage's acquisition by Carlton United Breweries,[when?] which by that time had been re-named as Foster's Brewing Group. In 1990, Courage took over Watney Mann and Truman Brewers following the pubs for breweries swap with WMTB's parent company Grand Met.
In 2011, CUB and its product lines, including Foster's, were bought by the South African and British conglomerate SABMiller, which in turn was incorporated into the multinational (Belgian, Brazilian, and American) Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016. In 2019, Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to sell CUB including Fosters to Asahi Breweries. The deal is expected to completed in 2020.
Advertising from the early 20th century claimed Foster's Lager was adjuncted with cane sugar. A number of breweries advertised a sugar content, (e.g. Bulimba), as it implied a lighter less bitter brew than was commonly sold. (Rice malt and very light barley malts replaced sugar, which can be troublesome for brewers.) Continuing a "tradition" started in the early 20th century, the water used in the production is sourced from the nearby Yarra River which contributes to the beer's unique taste.
The Tim Foster's yeast in use today was brought to Carlton in 1923 from Professor Jorgensen in Denmark.
The lager is hopped with selected oil extracts of Super Pride of Ringwood hops, which like any modern beer, is added after fermentation to minimise losses to the yeast sediment. The hop is sourced from the only two farms in Australia that grow it.
The product is 4% ABV in Europe, Australia and India, and 5% in the US.
The European rights to the beer are owned by Heineken International, who brews and distributes a 4% ABV Foster's in most European countries. In the United States and India, rights to the brand are owned by SABMiller. In Canada and Brazil, Foster's is brewed by Molson Canada and Brasil Kirin under licence from Foster's Brewing International.
Foster's is not vegetarian or vegan.
Production of the Australian regular brand recommenced in 2014, but it was only briefly promoted. It had been in continuous production from November 1888 to about 2002, making it the longest-lived beer label in Australia. Once a "premium" brand, Foster's Lager has been bypassed by the Foster's Group's favoured premium brands of Carlton Crown Lager and Stella Artois.
In Australia until the end of the 1970s, Foster's Lager was a reasonably popular bottled and canned beer with a somewhat premium image. Then in the early 1980s there were major changes in the Australian brewing industry, including the merger of Castlemaine (Brisbane), Swan (Perth) and Toohey's (Sydney) into a national brewing group, as a result of acquisitions by Perth entrepreneur Alan Bond.
Faced with inroads into its non-Victorian markets, Carlton and United Beverages (CUB) reviewed its product range and attempted to re-position some of its brands. Foster's Draught was introduced, served on tap alongside established draught brands such as Castlemaine XXXX and Toohey's Draught. Despite some initial success, bolstered by heavy advertising, the brand did not prove to be popular and was eventually withdrawn from sale. Arguably, at the end of this failed exercise Foster's Lager was no longer viewed by consumers as a "premium" brand, and has not been promoted in Australia recently.
The CUB Yatala Road Brewery south of Brisbane, the site of the former Power's Brewery, brews all CUB mainstream and contract beers that are sold outside of Victoria. The Yatala Brewery is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. CUB's original Abbotsford Brewery now only supplies Victoria and South Australia, although the CUB headquarters remains there.
In late 2014 Foster's enjoyed some renewed success in the Australian market. Foster's lager was marketed as "Foster's Classic" and sold in 375ml cans with 4.0% ABV.
In April 2006, Scottish & Newcastle plc announced that it had agreed to acquire the Foster's brand in Europe (including Turkey), the Russian Federation and other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States for approximately £309 million. In August 2006, SABMiller, now owned by AB InBev, announced that it had bought back rights to the Foster's brand in India for a reported $120m from private investors.
An odd case emerged in 2015 when a New York consumer of Foster's Lager sued the brewer after - he claimed - discovering it was not brewed in Australia. He proposed a class action on the grounds of deceptive marketing. The suit cited advertising slogans such as 'Foster's Australian for Beer' and 'How to Speak Australian' were intended to trick consumers into believing the beer is made in Australia - which in turn meant the beer could be sold at a higher, premium price.
Scottish & Newcastle launched Foster's Twist, a beer with a hint of citrus that is marketed as a refreshing alternative to other heavier beers and Premium Packaged Spirits such as Smirnoff Ice. Foster's Twist is 4.5% abv. It has since been withdrawn from the market.
There is also Foster's Super Chilled, which is served at a colder temperature and is available in pubs and bars.
In the UK, customers are also able to purchase a keg of Foster's for private parties, collecting and returning the keg at a participating store or public house.
Also, there is Fosters Gold which has a slightly higher alcohol percentage of 4.5% sold only in bottles as it described for those who want to "smart up".
Foster's Lager used the slogan "The Amber Nectar" in Australia and the UK, and "Australian for Beer", elsewhere overseas. The overseas advertising of the product often focuses on the Australian connotations of the beer, e.g. with reference to stereotypical Australian imagery such as kangaroos, exaggerated accents, and cork hats. This was true of a campaign in the 1980s fronted by the Australian comedian Paul Hogan.
The 2009 campaign for Foster's contains two 40-second adverts, "Backpacker" and "Deep Sea"; both end with the slogan, "Foster's – get some Australian in you."
The Foster's Lager brand was used as an advertising sponsorship deal with Norwich City F.C. from 1986 to 1989 (a period which included two top five finishes and a run to the FA Cup semi-finals). At its commencement, the sponsorship by Foster's was the most lucrative sponsorship ever given to an English football club.
The brand sponsored Formula One events regularly from 1986 to 2006. During this period it was the title sponsor for the Australian GP (1986–1993 and 2002–2006), the British GP (1990–1993 and 2000–2006) and the San Marino GP (2003–2006). It also was the prime sponsor and trackside sponsor of many other Grands Prix during this time. The brand was also used in a sponsorship deal with the A1 Team Australia from 2005 to 2007. The brand is currently[when?] used in a major sponsorship deal with the ASP World Tour.
The UK division of the Foster's brand has focused on cultivating comedy-centric advertising and sponsorship arrangements and on 9 November 2011 they launched a trailer for their sponsored, online-only version of the hit 90s' television show The Fast Show. The six weekly episodes started on 10 November and featured the original cast (with the exception of Mark Williams) and many of the characters from the previous series.
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- Stella Artois is brewed in Australia under licence from Belgian beer conglomerate InBev.
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