James Squire gets a new suit

Oh dear, oh dear – Lion Nathan’s Malt Shovel Brewery recently revamped the labels on its popular James Squire range. Apparently the old labels looked too similar, confusing the brand’s poor, loyal drinkers. “They often weren’t sure which beer in the range they were drinking”, writes brand director, Ralph Simpson. Perhaps they conducted market research at 3 am.

Brand directors love leaving their mark. But as Australia’s wine industry learned to its detriment, radical label changes can undermine a brand – alienating existing followers and creating confusion about what it stands for.

Fortunately the six brews in the range haven’t changed – leaving the heart of James Squire brand intact. However, my first reaction to the new labels was that they’d introduced new beers – and then a doubt, “maybe they’ve dumbed them down?’ Labels should reassure us, not create doubts or suspicions.

James Squire Four Wives Pilsener 345ml 6-pack $18.99
This is made by Tony Jones at the Lion Nathan owned Malt Shovel brewery. It’s a world-class interpretation of the Bohemian model, delivering the tremendous malt richness of the style (pale and Munich malts) as well as the distinctive aromatics and intense, lingering bitterness of Saaz hops.

James Squire Nine Tales Amber Ale 345ml 6-pack $18.99
Original Amber Ale was the first off the James Squire production line under Chuck Hahn in 1998. Now renamed as Nine Tales, it retains the original style: a deep copper colour with slightly citrusy hops aromas hovering over the fruit and malt. The fruit, malt and hops continue on a warming, supple, gently appealing palate.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2011
First published in The Canberra Times 29 June 2011