Foster’s VB takes on XXXX Gold in mid-strength stakes

There’s a serious battle brewing between our giant beer makers, Foster’s and Lion Nathan. Somewhat like the cane toad, Lion’s XXXX Gold – a mid-strength beer – came from nowhere and may now spread to other states.

A year ago this column observed that Queensland’s unique and growing taste for mid-strength beer (3.3 to 3.9 per cent alcohol) was the main driver behind a 7.2 per cent national growth in a category that was all but dead elsewhere.

Sensing a new trend, perhaps, Foster’s recently launched a mid-strength extension of its VB brand, VB Midstrength Lager. Sporting a gold label, but otherwise similar in appearance to the good-old green VB, the new brew weighs in at just 3.5 per cent alcohol – well under the 4.5 to 5 of standard beers.

Should other states develop Queensland’s enthusiasm for mid-strength beer, then VB could be well positioned to capitalise on the trend.

Outback Chilli Beer 330ml $3.75
Ahhhh! Ouch! Ahhhh! Ouch! At last, the beer that creates a need for itself. It has a deep amber colour and a matching, warm opulent, malty palate. That first sweet hit seduces the palate, before a surge of chilli ripples in leaving its pleasantly bitey residue and, alas, a slightly sweet, cloying aftertaste.

Schwelmer Pils Swingtop 330ml $4.20
Imported from the Schwelm brewery, Westphalia, this lovely Pils style lacks only the freshness to earn five stars. It’s a light golden coloured lager, featuring rich malt that’s offset deliciously by assertive but balanced hops. These contribute to the aroma, flavour, and refreshing, bitter, dry finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007

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