Cascade and 45mL
Today, I was going to tell you about our visit to Vinopolis, but that will have to wait. Andy has drawn my attention to this item he spotted on the ABC website.
Earlier in the year, Cascade, a brewery based in Tasmania, owned by brewing behemoth Fosters, decided to downsize its stubbies but not pass on a price cut. Now, Australian bottled beer comes in two sizes: the stubby (375mL) and the longneck (750mL). Many bottled beers come with a twist top, rather than a crown cap. This means you don't have to resort to ensuring you have a bottle opener in every room of the house and one on your key ring. Indeed, it provides young men with the opportunity to prove their mettle by opening stubbies with the crook of their elbow (or eye - although I'm sceptical about that one).
But Cascade/Fosters knew better and decided to lose 45mL from a stubby and repackage in a sleeker 'European-style' 330mL bottle.
And that's what gave me a giggle and prompted this little rant. Australian corporations and politicians have a bit of a history in attempting to sell ideas to the public as 'European'. They invariably get it wrong, too.
For example, a South Australian politician said we needed to have covered air walkways at Adelaide airport because ... that's what they have in Europe. I've spent most of my holidays in the last 8 years scurrying around tarmac at various European airports, dodging inclement weather.
Similarly, another politician (or maybe the same one) said we needed extended shopping hours because ... that's what they have in Europe. Clearly, this man has been considerably more successful in going to shops in Italy around 2pm than I have ever been.
So, now the Australian public is faced with a smaller bottle of beer because ... that's what they have in Europe. If the beer drinker wanted this, he or she would probably have already been drinking Stella.
What really intrigues me is how they settled on 330mL. The cynic in me says that they could fill it with less beer, charge the same because people probably wouldn't notice - it's only 45mL, and sell the idea as 'European' if anyone had a grizzle.
Cascade sales managers, spokespeople - please visit Europe and head to a supermarket.
A beer like Stella or Kronenbourg comes in a variety of sizes: from 275mL up to 500mL, in cans or bottles. A quick look at a well known supermarket's off-licence section (on line) shows beers in bottles up to 660mL and cans in odd sizes like 568mL (well, not really odd, since it's an imperial pint). In the UK bitters and ales tend to turn up more reliably in 500mL bottles. On the continent and in a bar? You'll be served 250mL, 500mL or even a litre of draught beer.
I'm left to draw the conclusion that the cynic in me was right.
Of course, the Australian beer buying public seemed to think this was a bit of a money grabbing ruse and, with sales in some places dropping 50%, Tasmanians will be able to enjoy a stubby of Cascade from November. Other Australians will be able to buy them "during 2009" - by which time, well, they'll probably be drinking something else.
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