Smoke and mirrors for Sail and Anchor beer launch

A press release launching four Sail and Anchor beers, says, “the heritage listed Sail and Anchor Hotel in Fremantle was one of Australia’s first pub breweries”. But the smoke-and-mirrors press release tells us little about Sail and Anchor beers.

For starters the beers aren’t brewed there and the brand’s connection with the famous pub seems tenuous at best. It’s just a brand to be distributed exclusively through Woolworths’ liquor outlets – Woolworths Liquor, Safeway Liquor, BWS and Dan Murphy – and available on tap at hotels in the Woolworths’ controlled ALH Group. The Sail and Anchor Hotel is one of these.

The beers are made by Bill Hoedemaker at Gage Road Brewing Co Ltd. Woolworths is its biggest shareholder (23 per cent) and largest customer.

All of this is perfectly legitimate and good for competition in the beer market. But why not treat us as adults and tell the whole story?

Sail and Anchor Cat’s Shank Kolsch 330ml 4-pack $14
Kolsch originates in Cologne – a mild, bright refreshing beer straddling the boundary between ale and lager. Cat’s Shank’s pale lemon colour, zesty, medium-bodied palate and refreshing, mildly bitter palate do the job nicely – a decent beer at a reasonable price. May be subject to discounting among the Woolies’ retail brands, so watch out.

Sail and Anchor Boa’s Bind Amber Ale 330ml 4-pack $14
At five per cent alcohol, Boa’s Bind is the strongest of the new Sail and Anchor range. The medium amber colour seems to fit the rich but dry palate with its slightly bitter, roasted malt flavour. The latter dovetails pleasantly with the assertive hops bitterness that further dries out the finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2012
First published 21 November 2012 in The Canberra Times

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