375 mL (13.20 imp fl oz; 12.68 US fl oz) stubby bottle, 4.9% ABV
|Manufacturer||Carlton & United Beverages (Foster's Group)|
|Alcohol by volume||4.9%|
Victoria Bitter is a lager produced by Carlton & United Breweries, a subsidiary of Foster's Group in Melbourne, Victoria. It was first brewed by renowned Melbourne brewers Thomas Clough in the early 1900s. It is one of the highest selling beers in Australia.
The origins of Victoria Bitter date back to Victoria Brewery founder Thomas C. Moore, who developed the recipe in the early 1900s. The beer began to gain wide popularity in the mid 1960s with an innovative television advertising campaign featuring a very similar recording of the theme from the film The Magnificent Seven, images of working-class Australians at work and play, and a voice-over by notable Australian actor John Meillon. The campaign was used until quite recently. Paul Hester, late drummer of Crowded House, once appeared in a VB advert.
Like most Australian Lagers, VB is made using a wortstream brewing process, and uses a portion of cane sugar to thin out the body of the beer.
Currently one third of the packaged beer sales in Australia are of VB. It is available in 375 mL cans ("tinnies"), short-necked 375 mL bottles ("stubbies"), 750 mL bottles ("Long Necks", "King Browns" or "Tallies") and "Twisties", "Throwies", "Throwdowns" or "Grenades" (250 ml bottles in the State of New South Wales). As of 2005 VB also comes in 500 ml tinnies ("Lunch Greens"), which are commonly drunk by trade workers on lunch, being just enough to quench their thirst and maintain maximum retention of their precious bodily fluids. It used to be available in the Northern Territory in a 1 litre tinnie nicknamed a 'Killer can' (Kilo can). As with all packaged beer sold in Australia it was for many years only available in 750 mL or 26 2/3 fl oz (1/6 imperial gallon) bottles, until the introduction of "stubbies" and smaller cans.
On the 6th of July, 2011, VB released the product packaged in limited edition, 1958 heritage cans. The packaging has the original artwork of the 1958 VB product, but also includes a standard ring pull on each can, something which was lacking on the original can. The alcohol strength remains at the standard 4.6%, as with normal packaged VB cans.
On the 3rd of September, 2012, CUB announced VB will be going back to its original recipe of 4.9% and its original packaging. CUB had received many complaints since it was changed to 4.6% in 2009, and the beer had lost a large amount of market share. The updated VBs began rolling out in late October 2012.
Sales and availability
According to ACNielsen in 2009 Victoria Bitter was claimed to be Australia's only billion dollar retail beer brand, selling the equivalent of one slab every second. At one time VB sold twice as much as any other full strength beer and was the only Australian beer brand that is in the top 3 sellers in every state. Victoria Bitter held the highest market share of all beer sold in Australia for more than two decades, but in 2012 lost this position to XXXX Gold.
In April 2011 VB held 13.7 per cent volume share and XXXX Gold had 11.7 per cent. Just one year on and in April 2012 VB had dropped to 12.3 per cent, while XXXX Gold took the lead with 12.4 per cent.
In addition to being sold in Australia, Victoria Bitter is also available in New Zealand, Bali, Indonesia, the UK, and, to a limited extent, other countries abroad. When the joint venture Angkor Brewing Co. was established in Cambodia in 1992, VB was briefly brewed in Sihanoukville, and later imported; it held a significant share of the premium beer market until 1994.
Despite its name, Victoria Bitter is a standard commercial lager rather than a bitter. Since late 2012, Victoria Bitter has been sold at a strength of 4.9% ABV after an interim period of producing the same product at an ABV of 4.6% (equal to virtually every other major Australian lager). The VB sold commercially in New Zealand is also 4.6% and is available in 375mls quantities in either bottles or cans.
In 2007, Fosters launched a new, midstrength version of VB called VB Midstrength Lager with an alcohol volume of 3.5%, in order to capitalise on the growing market for midstrength beers, currently dominated by XXXX Gold. VB Midstrength changed its name to VB Gold in 2009 and sells over 1m cases every year and is growing strongly following its launch in late 2007.
On 24 July 2007, The Australian reported that within three months of Fosters launching VB Midstrength, market share for the full strength VB and mid VB had increased. Foster's regional marketing director Anthony Heraghty hinted at further VB brand extensions, saying Foster's was "trying to see past the big green giant".
In September 2009 VB released VB RAW to compete in the low carb market. The alcohol volume is 4.5%. VB Raw was discontinued in late 2010 due to poor sales.
Marketing and promotion
The early slogan from the 60s "For a hard earned thirst, you need a big cold beer, and the best cold beer is Vic, Victoria Bitter" was replaced by "VB – The Drinking Beer" as part of a marketing strategy to reposition VB up-market.
In 2005, VB had started a promotion where David Boon became the face of Victoria Bitter (VB) beer for its 2005/06 summer advertising campaign, called Boonanza. Part of the promotion was the sale of a talking David Boon figurine with purchases of cartons of beer, which would make comments when prompted by Channel Nine commentary.
In late 2006, the Boonanza promotion returned as Boonanza II for the 2006-07 Ashes series. The promotion now included former England cricket captain Ian Botham as a talking figure, who would interact alongside an updated David Boon figure.
For the 2007-08 Australian cricket series, Shane Warne took over as VB spokesperson from David Boon. Warne will also have a talking figurine as part of a new Warnie promotion, taking over from the highly successful Talking Boony dolls from the two previous Boonanza promotions.
VB has invested heavily in sponsorships of Australian rugby league. It is currently the official beer of the NRL, the naming rights sponsor for NRL Friday Night Football and the main sponsor of the Australian national rugby league team, the Kangaroos.
The previous advertising campaign was called the Stubby Symphony, where 100 members of the Melbourne and Victorian orchestras play the theme from The Magnificent Seven only using VB beer bottles. The campaign was created by George Patterson Y&R in Melbourne.
VB launched a new advertising campaign in Australia in July 2009 to coincide with the SBS television broadcast of the 2009 The Ashes cricket series. They will drop the famous tag "For a hard earned thirst.." for "VB – The Drinking Beer".
- "An oldie coldie". Herald Sun. 28 April 2005.[dead link]
- VB launches limited edition 1958 heritage can - Campaign Brief, 06 July 2011
- Aussie beer favourite victoria bitter back to full strength
- AC Nielsen MAT to 30 June 2009 - total beer
- Victoria Bitter to be sold with less alcohol - news.com.au, 1 July 2009
- Taylor, Rob (2007-05-01). "Beer-loving Aussies are turning to a softer brew". news.Yahoo.com. Archived from the original on 2007-05-03. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
- The best cold beer is… VB MIDSTRENGTH - Fosters Group website
- VB midstrength spin-off does the trick - The Australian, 24 July 2007
- "Boony and Beefy Doll = Boony sayings". Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- VB and Shane Warne join forces - Fosters Group
- A real doll for Shane Warne - The Herald Sun, 4 Oct 2007
- Sponsors - National Rugby League
- VB unveils The Regulars – and ditches the hard-earned thirst - mUmBRELLA.com.au, 8 July 2009
- Droga5’s new VB TVC unveiled - B&T Today, 8 July 2009