Prepare for mega beer

Flat sales spur consolidation

Spurred by flat beer sales in major markets, the world’s biggest brewer, Belgium’s Anheuser-Busch InBev, confirmed in mid-September it would make a bid for the second biggest brewer (and owner of Foster’s since 2011), Britain’s SABMiller.

The combined firm would earn roughly half the industry’s profits and sell one in every three pints of beer quaffed worldwide”, wrote The Economist on 19 September.

With a combined output in 2014 of around 600 million hectolitres, the new entity would produce roughly 12 times as much as Japan’s Kirin, owner of Australia’s market leader, Lion.

Lion holds about 48 per cent of the Australian beer market, followed by Foster’s at 42 per cent. Cooper’s, the largest Australian-owned brewer, claims five per cent, leaving the other five per cent to around 150 craft brewers.

Cooper’s boss, Dr Tim Cooper, says the merger would put pressure on industry suppliers and “result in a further loss of diversity”.

Beer reviews

4 Pines Oaked Baltic Porter 500ml $9
The high alcohol content (7.5 per cent) adds body and warmth to 4 Pines robust, oak-matured porter. The brewer’s description of “gooey chocolate syrup” colourfully reflects the slurpy appeal of its roasted- malt-derived flavours. A touch of vanillin from oak maturation completes a complex, very bitter dark ale.

Bright Brewery Staircase Porter 330ml $5.20
The first sniff of Bright Brewery’s strong, dark porter is reminiscent of espresso coffee. The coffee- and chocolate-like flavours, derived from roasted malt, persist on a generous, warming, bitter–sweet palate. The bitterness of roasted grain and hops ultimately triumphs over the sweet malty flavours, giving a dry, firm grip to the finish.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 29 and 30 September 2015 in and the Canberra Times