Supposedly the quintessential Australian beer
, Foster's Lager is despised by every Australian of taste. It's not popular here
at all - I couldn't tell you where to buy it (and I wouldn't, anyway) - and expats are quite dismayed to discover that it is the only one of our native beers which is globally available.
Foster's was first brewed in 1888 by William and Ralph Foster, two Irish-Americans who came to Melbourne, started a brewery, sold it off and went back to the USA where they like watery beer. However it seems that Australians aren't much better and their dastardly creation proved one of Melbourne's most popular beers.
In 1905 recession forced Foster's to merge with five other breweries, forming Carlton and United Breweries. In 1913 CUB floated 100,000 shares and went public. At some point along the way ('70s-'80s?) the company was acquired by a shadowy consortium known as Elders IXL, headed by Carlton Football Club President John Eliot. The Foster's official website makes no mention of exactly how this came to be2, and Eliot in particular has been in and out of court for years on matters relating to this company - hence, I can only assume that something dodgy took place. In 1990, Elders IXL changed its name to Foster's Brewing Group. Recently the name was shortened to Foster's Group to reflect the company's expansion into other industries.
Foster's Lager is brewed in 8 different countries around the world, and is sold in 120. Whilst the Foster's Lager one buys in Australia is brewed by CUB, Foster's Brewing International is in charge of the foreign stuff (see commercial brands of beer). Hence, Foster's one buys overseas tastes different from the Australian version, and I am informed that generally it is in fact better. This may account for the startling fact that Foster's is the "third-highest selling brand of beer in the world, the fastest growing international lager and the largest selling beer in London"1.
The most popular beer in Australia (by no means the best, mind you) is Victoria Bitter, which royally canes Foster's with regard to flavour. Both brands are brewed by aforementioned CUB, whose major brewery is located in Abbotsford, a suburb of Melbourne. Even if Foster's sold off all its other interests, CUB would remain one of the largest brewing companies in the world, controlling 80% of the Australian beer market. Other well-known CUB beers include Carlton Draught, Crown Lager, Melbourne Bitter, Geelong Bitter and Cascade Premium Lager.
Foster's LightIce (low alcohol) is also available both in Australia and overseas. Not recommended.
Foster's produced a clone of the Molson Canadian3 I am Canadian advertisment, which featured heavily on television in the months leading up to the Sydney Olympics of 2000. It went like this:
I don't have a kangaroo for a pet
I don't wrestle with crocodiles
And I don't wear a cork hat
I fight wars
But never start them
I would rather make peace
I can wear my country's flag with pride
I am a rock
I am the ocean
I am the island continent
My neighbours are the Smiths, the Wilsons, the Santerellis, the De Costis, the Wongs and the Jagamarras
I play football without a helmet
I like beetroot on my hamburger
I ride in the front seat of the taxi
I believe it's a prawn not a shrimp
I believe the world is round
And down under is on top
I believe Australia is the best address on Earth]
And Australians brew the best beer.
Of course, many felt that this was not an accurate reflection of the hearts and minds of average Australians, and the following was proposed as an alternative:
I ate my pet kangaroo
I am shit scared of crocodiles
And I wear a baseball cap
I love Star Wars
And the Wookie is my favourite
I would rather get drunk
And watch someone else carry the country's flag with pride
I like to rock
To Billy Ocean
I am blind to my incompetence
My neighbours are the Smiths, the Wilsons, the Wogs, the Lebbos, the Chinks and the Abos
I watch football with a tinnie
I take the beetroot off my hamburger
And throw Maccas' pickles on windows
I do runners from taxis
I believe the world is flat
And Australia is fucking miles away from anywhere
I believe Australia is the best address on earth
And Australians brew the best beer
And that's why we never touch Fosters.
We export that shit.
Taken from www.sturmsoft.com/Writing/Old_ephemerides/20010715.htm , but in the public domain
1. All factoids from official websites: http://www.fostersbeer.com/q_a2.html; http://www.fosters.com.au. Veracity not guaranteed.
2. have a look - http://www.fosters.com.au/corporate/about/history/history_html.asp
3. Foster's owns a 50% share in Molsons.