I remember as a young fella that my favourite books were the “choose your own adventure” books. You remember the ones, the ones which used to read “To swing your sword at the Orc turn to page 20. To run from the Orc and pick flowers for your Mother turn to page 14.” Obviously we now have role-paying games on computers and consoles to keep us entertained, but I still like to reminisce on older times.
When I first heard of Arvo Lager and the launch of two competing lagers (Brew 34 and Brew 51) I immediately thought what a great marketing concept. Launch two beers, then let the public decide through sales which they prefer, and then scrap the lesser liked one. To me it almost seemed like a genius had hatched this plan as it cuts down on the internal product testing required and it ensures you end up with a product that is already marketed to and enjoyed by the public. It also made me instantly think the future of Arvo Lager was in my hands – choose your own adventure style.
Ask any beer snob what beer they’d like to see and you’re likely to get responses such as lambic, pale ale, imperial stout. That is, beers which are highly enjoyed by the few but not the masses; unfortunately in Australia we’re still quite immature as a drinking nation (in my opinion) and still prefer an ice cold lager over a pine cone explosion from a heavily hopped American pale ale.
Casella, who you may be familiar with due to their success in the wine industry, are the producers of the internationally renowned brand “yellow tail”. However, in 2010 they made a decision to expand their operations into beer and commissioned the construction of a brewery to be located on site at their winery in Yenda, NSW
It is obvious from the marketing material and statements made by Casella they are aiming high and have big ambitions. They want to shake up the industry and they want to mingle with the big boys in the lager space. In a uniquely Australian way the name chosen for their brand “Arvo Lager” signals their intent – they want every man and woman of legal drinking age to enjoy a nice cold lager at the end of the day. I can already picture the fun and comical advertising campaigns they could launch from what we’ve become accustomed to from brands such as Tooheys, Castlemaine and VB.
So just how does a winery go from nothing to a large scale operation such as Arvo Lager?
Discussing the matter with Casella they launched a mobile phone app, calling it the ‘Perfect Lager Project’, and surveyed some 3,000 people asking them various questions about their drinking likes, dislikes and habits. Such questions included, “what is your preferred drinking temperature” and “when do you enjoy a beer the most”. The answers were then collated, weighted and ranked until two distinct trends were noticed.
Enter Brew #34 and Brew #51, the two resultant beers based on the mobile app feedback of what the majority of Australians want.
I have tried both Brew #34 and Brew #51 and I sit firmly in the Brew #34 camp. I can’t find faults with either of them, however, neither really made me sit up and say wow. That said, Casella have targeted a very specific market, the largest in Australia, those who enjoy ice cold lagers which they can enjoy on a hot afternoon after doing the chores in the yard.
I believe they’ll do very well as they’ve hit the mark right on the bulls-eye crafting what are some good lagers for the masses. Not overly offensive or unusual for the less adventurous amongst us.
For most of our readers, who generally sit in the “beer snob” category, unless its hopped to the high heavens or contains more spices and flavour then a Chai Tea, I suspect many will pass it off as just another lager. I strongly recommend that you don’t; if you’re honest, we all enjoy an ice cold beer every now and again, and if Brew #34 were to become the official Arvo Lager I’d certainly pick it over all the other main lager players when wanting something I can just throw in an esky and enjoy at a BBQ. On the other hand, Brew #51 seemed a bit plain for me and I enjoyed the very minor hop kick present in Brew #34.
Both Brew #34 and Brew #51 will be available until September 2012 at which point the winner, voted by the public, will become the official Arvo Lager. At the time of writing, to my horror, Brew #51 is leading in the popularity stakes adding further weight to the conclusions that the majority of Australian’s still prefer ice cold easy to drink lagers with very little hop profile.
Stay tuned for an interview with the brewers from Casella in the coming days, as well as Beer Guide’s official review of both Brew #34 and Brew #51.
To cast your vote for the official Arvo Lager, please visit the Arvo Lager website and have your say.
Beer Guide to Australia is a community dedicated to the sharing of opinions on beers available on the Australian market, whilst promoting beer education, appreciation and sharing our beer and food matching advice.