Byron Bay Brewing Co gets a little 'craft-washing' from CUB

Please read the following media release very closely, there will be a test…


Media Release

Byron Bay Brewing Company Pale Lager paddles into bottles and packs

The guys at Byron Bay Brewing Co led by head brewer Stuart Ritchie, have taken a bit of time off from surfing The Pass at Byron Bay to celebrate the release of their medal-winning Pale Lager in bottles, six-packs and cartons.

Byron Bay logoPreviously only available on tap at the Brewery this exciting release into pack from the Byron Bay Brewing Co comes as a result of the love they have already felt up and down the east coast for their refreshing, clean, and crisp Pale Lager.

The folk at Byron Bay Brewing Company say the brew matches their lifestyle – easy-going and perfect after a session in the surf. The Pale Lager uses the Motueka Hop which delivers a refreshing beer with low bitterness and a balanced citrus aftertaste.

“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.

Byron Bay Pale LagerByron Bay Pale Lager will be available to purchase in Liquorland, First Choice and Vintage Cellars as well as selected restaurants and cafes around the country.

The Byron Bay Brewing Co. has won an array of awards during the last few years including a swag of gold, silver and bronze medals at the Australian International Beer Awards in 2012. Most recently, Gold was awarded to the Byron Bay Blonde, silver to the Billy Goat Dark Lager and Broken Head Bitter, and bronze to the Byron Bay Pale Lager.


Ok, did you read it closely? Let’s test your written comprehension.

  1. Can you name for me the brewery where this beer is made?
  2. Can you tell me the name of the brewer making this beer?
  3. Who markets this beer?
  4. Bonus question. Who paid for the media release announcing the move to bottles?

Pens down, time’s up.

Scroll down for the answers:









Ok, here we go. Did you answer:

  1. SABMiller’s new $125 million state-of-the-art brewery at Warnervale.
  2. Whoever CUB’s shift brewer is.
  3. Carlton and United Breweries
  4. Carlton and United Breweries

So, how did you go? Who got them all right?

No one?

Well I suggest you go back and read it again. It’s all written right there in their media release.

It’s not? Surely it is. I mean the company that put video of the Queen visiting the Carlsberg Brewery on their website because they thought she had once visited their brewery and who swore to us that VB “tastes exactly the same” because they had only made “a microscopic change in alcohol content” to it would never try to trick us now, would they?


The above media release landed in my inbox, just as I was about to take an early mark for the Australia Day weekend. I thought it a little interesting, especially as I was sure Byron Bay Brewery didn’t have a bottling line. “I might check this out,” I thought.

So I fired off a reply to the lovely young lady at the same PR agency that had only recently been so hopeful in getting answers to my questions about where Coles’ Steam Rail Brewing beers are made.
Hi [lovely young lady] –

Happy New Year. Thanks for this.

Can you advise where the bottled beer is being made?

A short while later came the reply…
Happy New Year to you too Matt!

The bottled beer is being brewed at thestate-of-the-art brewery in Warnervale.


[lovely young lady]
Man, that’s strange thought I. The only state of the art brewery that I know of in Warnervale is the one SABMiller built in partnership with CCA. Surely things aren’t so bad at CUB these days that they have had to turn their hands to contract brewing to try to make ends meet. I mean, I know that contract brewing has seen Gage Roads turn things around, but surely CUB don’t have the arse out of their brewing overalls quite yet. If they weren’t, surely the fact that CUB are brewing and marketing this product isrelevantto a release from their own PR agency?

So I replied,
The state-of-the brewery at Warnervale owned by SABMiller I presume?

Can you please advise who within CUB I can speak with to find out more about their relationship with Byron Bay? I presume they are licencing it?
To which I received the reply:
Hi again,

In order to allow for increased distribution of the Byron Bay Pale Lager, CUB will be brewing it in the bottle under license at the Warnervale Brewery.

Are you happy for me to organise a catch up with a CUB representative for Wednesday next week?

To save this from becoming too tedious, I’ll skip the next few about my deadlines and the nature of the questions that I wanted to ask. Eventually, I received the reply:
Hi Matt,

I’ve tried my best to find someone for you, but I haven’t been able to.

[Media Relations Manager] is spokesperson for Byron Bay and unfortunately she is on annual leave until Tuesday.

The earliest I can tee up a conversation is Wednesday morning.

Apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

Cheers and I hope you enjoy the long weekend.
Becoming a little frustrated now, especially as Lovely Young Lady’s email includes the signature line “Call us if you need more info, pics, beer or someone to chat to about the sunny Byron Bay weather… We’re here, all the time, waiting for you to call, drinking a little beer” and yet she seems to want to part with information about as much as the NRA wants to hand over firearms, I reply…
Man I have such bad timing. Those Fosters people are hard to find whenever there’s something that they don’t want to talk about. They always seem to be around when VB has a two per cent sales increase.

[Media Relations Manager] is CUB’s media and comms, Can you advise who the brand manager is?
To which I received the reply:
There is no brand manager on Byron Bay. CUB is merely brewing this beer under license.

If you would like more information regarding Byron Bay, feel free to contact the brewery directly.

With that out of my system, but still a little annoyed, I reply:
That’s odd, they always seem to have a brand manager for their international brewed-under-licence brand and I am sure that [Media Relations Manager] isn’t overseeing strategy in beer these days. Given [Media Relations Manager] is on holidays and has been for more than a week and you would have needed approval from someone within CUB before sending out the media release, can you please advise who you have been dealing with at CUB.

Also, given it seems CUB weren’t switched on enough to make sure that there was someone on hand to answer media questions about a story on the afternoon they sent out a media release about it, I will be using a few quotes from these emails in my story. I won’t be quoting you by name.
I am yet to receive a reply, though I did receive aphone-callfrom Lovely Young Lady’s every-bit-as-lovely-but-no-more-forthcoming Account Manager who assured me that[Media Relations Manager] is her contact and there’s not a brand manager for me to speak to.

I suspect I know why CUB is struggling if Media Managers are running the beer side of things as well, but that’s just me.

So, there you have it. Australia’s second-largest brewer has signed a contract to brew a beer-under-licence, but are such modest types they don’t think it’s relevant to share the limelight with a tiny little brewery in Byron Bay who gets all the credit. It’s just brewed under licence, it’s not relevant by who or who is marketing and distributing it and paying for the public relations around it. They’d never think it relevant to provide that information.

Or not…

Let me see, CUB hasn’t signed to do any new business for a while so I had to go back into the archives to find a media release involving a brewing under licence deal. Here’s one: A new global campaign – Now that calls for a Carlsberg! What’s that written at the end?
Carlsberg is brewed under license in Australia by Carlton & United Breweries.
What’s more, it’s even been sent by the very same PR agency that I have spent the day emailing. They sure seem happy to announce CUB’s involvement when it suits them.

What do you think readers? Are things so tough at CUB that they have to take in laundry, or at least contract brewing, to make ends meet and are just too embarrassed to tell the neighbours?

Or are they clumsily indulging in a little bit of craft-washing, sneakily trying to capitalise on the consumer’s growing interest in small independent breweries?

I just hope for Byron Bay Brewery”s sake that SABMiller is more financially secure than the last mob that they jumped into bed with. That agreement to assign theglobal rights to all sales, marketing, manufacturing and distribution didn’t work out too well.One thing’s for sure, owner Barry Schadel was much more open about the licencing agreement last time he signed one.


Byron Pale Pale LagerWith a niggling voice in my head that maybe the media release didn’t tell the full story, I popped in to my local Liquorland. There, right next to the Steamrail Brewing Company’s beer I saw a six-pack of Byron Bay Pale Lager. Anxiously checking the label, my media release umbrage was well founded. Bearing in mind Byron Bay Brewing Co doesn’t bottle, this has been produced under licence by CUB and, presumably, they have been responsible for the packaging, this is what it says.

Byron Bay Pale Lager

The Byron Bay Brewing Co is located on Skinners Shoot Road in Byron Bay. We’re housed in a historic location, a birthplace of much of the fame and spirit of Byron Bay which has attracted local and international musicians, artists and alternative thinkers since the 70s. Next time you’re in town, drop in and have a beer.

Byron Bay Brewing Co. 1 Skinners Shoot Road, Byron Bay NSW 2481.

Brewed in NSW by the Byron Bay Brewing Company and its Licencees.

Do you like that? It says that even though no bottle, ever, will be produced at 1 Skinners Shoot Road bearing that label. They even add a nice little map so you’ll be able to find your way there. And how cute is it that it mentions ‘licencees’, as if CUB are just one of a number of kindly old gents just help out a little local brewery by taking on their overflow and helping them out a bit with their marketing.

They’re like that at CUB.

Update 2

By the way, nothing in this little rant should take away from the beers that Byron Bay’shead brewer Stuart Ritchie is making in Byron Bay. Stuart is a great bloke and top brewer. He’s even penned a great story for Brews News about his family’s history in the Tasmanian hop industry. If you’re in Byron Bay the brewery is a good place to have a beer and a feed.

Also, as is the case with all good rants, the subtleties of the situation can get lost. It’s not a rant about big beer, it’s not a rant about beers being contract brewed. It’s a rant about corporate honesty and the lengths to which the SABMiller-owned CUB seem to want to go to hide who brews and markets this beer.

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