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Best Australian Brewery:

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On Friday afternoon, while most of us were preparing for the long Australia Day weekend, one man found himself unwittingly in something of a funk. The cause of said funk was an email that had landed in his inbox earlier that day. On the surface it seemed innocent enough. It announced that Byron Bay Pale Lager was to be released nationwide in bottles, and contained such harmless lines as:


“Following our sponsorship of the Byron Bay Surfing Festival and in the middle of a hot summer, we thought it was the perfect time to release the Pale Lager into pack. We love brewing beers that speak to our lifestyle up here and to share that Byron Bay magic with the rest of Australia says Barry Schadel, owner of the Byron Bay Brewery.


The thing was, the guy receiving this email was Matt Kirkegaard, founder and editor of Australian Brews News. For those unfamiliar with the site, it frequently casts an eye into the murkier parts of the Australian beer world; while The Crafty Pint heads off on flights of fancy about the latest beer releases, Matt and his team can often be found with their heads in the archives uncovering the latest half-truths or worse from the nation’s brewers and marketing companies. The site is, in Matt’s own words, The Cranky Pint.


As such, when the media release landed, Matt was aware that there is no bottling line at Byron Bay Brewery. He also noted that the media release had come from the company employed by CUB to spread the word about its beer releases, so he decided to ask a few questions. We won’t go into detail here, as you can read the entire story on Brews News, but let’s just say he didn’t get what he was hoping for, even if it was what he was probably expecting…


In short, he has surmised that one of the country’s brewing behemoths is licensing the Byron Bay brand, brewing the beer at its Warnervale Brewery, and handling all sales and marketing itself. “So what?” you may well ask. Well, from the beer’s packaging itself (which includes a handy map on the back of the bottle showing you just how close Byron Bay Brewery is to the town’s Main Beach), you would have no way of knowing this and, says Matt, CUB/SABMiller don’t want you to know either.




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