You might have heard about the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission saying ‘‘naughty, naughty’’ to CUB over the misleading nature of their Byron Bay Pale Lager.
That’s a beer whose bottle, for all intents and purposes, looks as though it was brewed in Byron Bay. But no, it was actually brewed at CUB’s Warnervale brewery, 630km away from Byron Bay.
The ACCC fined CUB $20,400 and you can read more about it here.
Chairman of the ACCC Rod Sims said what CUB did was misleading.
‘‘Many small brewers cater to consumers who prefer to support small, niche businesses. When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers,’’ ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
‘‘The ACCC will be writing to other participants putting them on notice of this matter in order to ensure that marketing and labelling in the beer market appropriately reflects where and by whom beer is brewed.’’
I’ve written about the Byron Bay issue before. I decided that, while I judged beers by the taste and couldn’t give a damn where it is made, that CUB would try to hide their involvement would suggest that – to them – where a beer is made actually is an issue.
Craft beer geeks – especially those who loathe the megabrewers – are happy with the news. Perhaps even rejoicing. But the ACCC actions does raise an interesting situation – just who are the ‘‘other participants’’ the ACCC plans to put on notice?
Are they just talking about other big brewers masquerading as indie brewers? Or are they talking about craft brewers too?
In the craft beer world there are a number of beers that are contracted out, sometimes they’re not even brewed in the same city as the brewing company’s HQ. So, to be totally fair, you can’t insist big brewers have to declare where a beer is made, while letting craft brewers off the hook.
Really, if point of origin is important, then surely it must be important for ALL breweries, not just the ones some perceive as ‘‘the enemy’’.
Let me say that I have absolutely no problem at all with contract brewing. In fact it makes sense to me – you start out wanting to make beer, you test the market by brewing elsewhere before making all that capital investment yourself.
But if big brewers need to declare where a beer is made too, then small brewers have to do the same.
Anything less would simply be inconsistent.