Beck’s – confusing label and a paradox

Left: Aussie-brewed Beck's, pale and fresh. Right: two glasses of the darker, stale imports
Left: Aussie-brewed Beck’s, pale and fresh, but its origin revealed only on the back label.  Right: two glasses of the darker, stale Woolworths import.
Beck’s $US20m settlement highlights beer paradox:
locally brewed version likely  better than the German import

A US class action over deceptive packaging of US-brewed Beck’s beer has resulted in a US$20mllion settlement. Americans who thought they were buying a German import will be able to get cash payments.

Beck’s parent company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, agreed to the settlement and changed its packaging. But under the settlement did not admit any wrongdoing.

In Australia, Lion brews Beck’s, though Woolworths imports the German original. The two bear identical front labels, except the word “Imported” appears on the German neck label and “330ml on the Australian label. Only on the back label does the Australian brew declare its origin.

In a triple blind tasting, the fresh Australian Beck’s outclassed our stale German bottle, bearing a September use-by date, but purchased on 21 October from BWS.

The benefits of local brewing, including freshness, are many. But drinkers deserve a prominent statement of origin. Shouldn’t it be on the front label?


Mornington Pale 330ml can $4.40
Like a genie rising from the bottle, the aroma of lavish, citrus-like hops gush out with the hiss of the can’s tab. The hops flow through as a spikey, tart sensation on the rich, malty, vigorous palate. Resiny, citrusy hops flavours rise through the malt and subside partially as their bitterness takes over and lingers.

Sint Canarus Tripel 330ml bottle $8.20
Sint Canarus, a small craft brewer in the Belgium village of Gottem, makes this strong ale (7.5 per cent alcohol) in a style developed originally by Trappist Monks. Its deep golden colour, sturdy white head and intensely fruity aroma whet the appetite for the opulent, malt-sweet, spicy, creamy palate that follows.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 3 and 4 November in and the Canberra Times