Cap in Hand, SABMiller Apologizes For Reformulating Australia’s VB Beer


Victoria Bitter beer used to rule the roost in Australia, but that was before some marketing genius at Carlton & United Breweries decided to go all New Coke on the poor suspecting brewski drinkers Down Under and changed their beloved VB’s recipe. It turned out, of course, to not be such a good idea. Why mess with success?

That was way back in 2007 and, since then, VB has, of course, fallen to second place in Australia behind Kirin Holdings Co.’s XXXX Gold, according to Bloomberg Businessweek

SABMiller acquired Carlton & United last year and now they are undoing the damage done, Businessweek reports. The old formula will be back in action starting in October and the alcohol content will go up from 4.6 percent to 4.9 percent from October this year.

To commemorate the event, SAB bought ads in Australia’s largest daily newspaper, the Herald Sun, that read, “We Got It Wrong.” Thanks for the newsflash, fellas.[more]

“Drinkers were always told VB was this important brand and this just showed them the company itself didn’t really care about it,” said Matt Kirkegaard, founder of the website Australian Brews News, BW reports. “They were signaling that the bean counters were in charge.”

The bean counters may still be in charge, but at least now SABMiller can give the impression that it’s the brewers that are running the show. That’s an idea any beer drinker would like to toast.