Foster's Lager

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This article is about the lager. For the company, see Foster's Group.
Foster’s Lager
Logo of Foster's Lager.svg
Manufacturer Worldwide including Australia and India: AB InBev
Europe and CIS: Heineken International
Brazil: Brasil Kirin
Canada: MolsonCoors
USA: MillerCoors
Introduced 1889[1]
Alcohol by volume 5.0%[2] (4% Europe)
Style Pale Lager

Foster's Lager is an internationally distributed Australian brand of lager. It is owned by the international brewing group AB InBev, and is brewed under licence in a number of countries, including its biggest market, the UK, where the European rights to the brand are owned by Heineken International.

Foster's annual sales amount to around 500 megalitres worldwide, largely buoyed by UK sales, where it is the second highest selling beer after Carling.[3] While known internationally as the quintessential Australian beer brand, Foster's does not enjoy widespread popularity in Australia compared to other CUB beers such as Victoria Bitter or Carlton Draught.[4]


Foster's was created by two Irish American brothers, William M. and Ralph R. Foster, who arrived in Melbourne from New York in 1886.[5] The brothers began brewing Foster's Lager in November 1888.[1] It was made available to the public from February 1889.[1] The product was first exported in 1901, when bottles were sent to Australian combatants in the Boer War.[6]

In 1907 the company merged to form Carlton United Breweries.[5] Only available in bottles, Foster's Lager was considered to be CUB's premium brand.[5]

In 1958 steel cans were introduced.[7]

Foster's Lager was first imported into the UK in 1971.[4] It was launched in the US in 1972.[4]

From 1981, the brand was brewed under licence in the UK by Watney Mann and Truman Brewers. This was the first time that Fosters had been available on draught anywhere in the world since in Australia it was only available in cans. The draught product was based on Carlton Lager, another Carlton United Brewers product, and it was first brewed in the UK at The pilot brewery at Truman's Brick Lane Brewery in mid 1981. In 1986, Courage obtained the rights to brew and distribute Fosters alongside Watney Mann and Truman Brewers. This was as a result of a deal done following Courages acquisition by Carlton United Breweries, which by that time had been re-named as Fosters Brewing Group. In 1990, Courage took over Watney Mann and Truman Brewers following the pubs for breweries swap with WMTB's parent company Grand Met.


Advertising from the early 20th century claimed Foster's Lager was adjuncted with cane sugar. A number of breweries advertised a sugar content (e.g. Bulimba) as it implied a lighter less bitter brew than was commonly sold.[7] (Rice malt and very light barley malts replaced sugar, which can be troublesome for brewers.). As per the tradition started in the early 20th century, the water used in the production is sourced from the nearby Yarra River which attributes to the beer's unique taste.

The Tim Foster's yeast in use today was brought to Carlton in 1923 from Professor Jorgensen in Denmark.[8]

The lager is currently hopped with selected oil extracts of Super Pride of Ringwood hops, which like any modern beer, is added after fermentation to minimize losses to the yeast sediment. The hop is sourced from the only two farms in Australia that grow it.[9]

The product is 4% ABV in Europe, 4.9% ABV in Australia, and 5% in the US.

The European rights to the beer are owned by Heineken International, who brew and distribute a 4% ABV Foster's in most European countries.[10] In the United States[11] and India,[12] rights to the brand are owned by SABMiller.[13] Respectively in Canada and Brazil, Foster's is brewed by Molson Canada and Brasil Kirin under licence from Foster's Brewing International.[citation needed]

In the UK, Foster's is produced by Heineken at the Royal Brewery in Manchester.[14]

Foster's is not vegetarian or vegan.[15]

Australian market[edit]

While popular in many countries Foster's Lager does not currently enjoy the widespread success in Australia that it did in the years previous to the sales hiatus.[citation needed] Production of the Australian regular brand recommenced in 2014 but it was only briefly promoted. It had been in continuous production from November 1888 to about 2002, making it the longest-lived beer label in Australia. Once a "premium" brand, Foster's Lager has been bypassed in favour of the Foster's Group's favoured premium brands of Carlton Crown Lager and Stella Artois.[16][17]

In Australia until the end of the 1970s, Foster's Lager was a reasonably popular bottled and canned beer with a somewhat premium image. Then in the early 1980s there were major changes in the Australian brewing industry, including the merger of Castlemaine (Brisbane), Swan (Perth) and Toohey's (Sydney) into a national brewing group, as a result of acquisitions by Perth entrepreneur Alan Bond.

Faced with inroads into its non-Victorian markets, Carlton and United Beverages (CUB) reviewed its product range and attempted to re-position some of its brands. So Foster's Draught was introduced, served on tap alongside established draught brands such as Castlemaine XXXX and Toohey's Draught. Despite some initial success, bolstered by heavy advertising, the brand did not prove popular and was eventually withdrawn from sale. Arguably, at the end of this failed exercise Foster's Lager was no longer viewed by consumers as a "premium" brand, and has not been promoted in Australia recently.

The Foster's Group has tended to promote the brands of Carlton Draught (mainstream market) and Victoria Bitter (working class male market).[18]

The CUB Yatala Road Brewery south of Brisbane, the site of the former Power's Brewery acquisition, brews all CUB mainstream and contract beers that are sold outside of Victoria. The Yatala Brewery is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. CUB's original Abbotsford Brewery now only markets in Victoria and South Australia, although the CUB headquarters remains there..

However, in late 2014 Fosters' enjoyed somewhat renewed success in the Australian market.[citation needed] Fosters' lager was marketed this times as "Fosters' Classic" and sold in 375ml cans at 4.0% alcohol per can.

Global market[edit]

In April 2006, Scottish & Newcastle plc announced that it had agreed to acquire the Foster’s brand in Europe (including Turkey), the Russian Federation and other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States from Foster’s Group Limited for approximately £309 million. In August 2006, SABMiller, now owned by AB InBev announced that it had bought back rights to the Foster's brand in India for a reported $120m from private investors.[19][20]

An odd case emerged in 2015 when a New York consumer of Foster's Lager sued the brewer after - he claimed - discovering it was not brewed in Australia.[21] He proposed a class action on the grounds of deceptive marketing. The suit cited advertising slogans such as 'Foster's Australian for Beer' and 'How to Speak Australian' were intended to trick consumers into believing the beer is made in Australia- which in turn meant the beer could be sold at a higher, premium price.

A number of companies own marketing rights to Foster’s including Heineken International in Europe and CIS, MillerCoors in the U.S., MolsonCoors in Canada and Brasil Kirin in Brazil.


Scottish & Newcastle launched Foster's Twist, a beer with a hint of citrus that is marketed as a refreshing alternative to other heavier beers and Premium Packaged Spirits such as Smirnoff Ice. Foster's Twist is 4.5% abv. It has since been withdrawn from the market.[22]

There is also Foster's Super Chilled, which is served at a colder temperature and is available in pubs and bars.

In 2008, Foster's was introduced with a widget called a "scuba" placed into the can to ensure good mixing.[23] This variant is only currently available in the UK.

In the UK, customers are also able to purchase a keg of Foster's for private parties, collecting and returning the keg at a participating store or public house.

Also, there is Fosters Gold which has a slightly higher alcohol percentage of 4.5% sold only in bottles as it described for those who want to "smart up".


From 1964, the brand was promoted in the UK by comedian Barry Humphries and his Private Eye character Barry McKenzie, a bumbling Foster's swilling Australian expatriate.[5]

Foster's Lager uses the slogan "The Amber Nectar" in Australia and the UK, and "Australian for Beer", elsewhere overseas. The overseas advertising of the product often focuses upon the Australian connotations of the beer, e.g. with reference to stereotypical Australian imagery such as kangaroos, exaggerated accents, and cork hats. This was true of a campaign in the 1980s fronted by the Australian comedian Paul Hogan.[24]

The 2009 campaign for Foster's contains two 40-second adverts, "Backpacker" and "Deep Sea"; both end with the slogan, "Foster's – get some Australian in you."[25]

The Foster's Lager brand was used as an advertising sponsorship deal with Norwich City F.C. from 1986 to 1989 (a period which included two top five finishes and a run to the FA Cup semi-finals). At its commencement, the sponsorship by Foster's was the most lucrative sponsorship ever given to an English football club.

The brand sponsored F1 events regularly from 1986 to 2006. During this period it was the title sponsor for the Australian GP (1986–1993 and 2002–2006), the British GP (1990–1993 and 2000–2006) and the San Marino GP (2003–2006). It also was the prime sponsor and trackside sponsor of many other Grand Prix during this time. The brand was also used in a sponsorship deal with the A1 Team Australia from 2005 to 2007. The brand is currently used in a major sponsorship deal with the ASP World Tour.

The Fosters UK division of the brand has focused on cultivating comedy-centric advertising and sponsorship arrangements and on 9 November 2011 they launched a trailer for their sponsored, online-only version of the hit 90s' television show The Fast Show.[26] The six weekly episodes started on 10 November and feature the original cast (with the exception of Mark Williams) and many of the characters from the previous series.[27]

Recent Foster's adverts have featured "Good call", in which numerous Britons phone up Australians Brad and Dan for general advice.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Deutsher, Keith (1999). The Breweries of Australia: A History. Lothian. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-85091-986-8. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Alcoholic Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics 2012
  4. ^ a b c Garrett Oliver (2011). The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press. p. 370. ISBN 978-0-19-536713-3. 
  5. ^ a b c d Garrett Oliver (2011). The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-19-536713-3. 
  6. ^ Derdak, Thomas (1988). International directory of company histories. St. James Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-912289-10-6. 
  7. ^ a b Foster’S Lager Beer, Bitter Ale & Extra Stout, Melbourne:
  8. ^ Or is it
  9. ^ Beer - Carlton & United Breweries (CUB)
  10. ^ "Fosters (UK) from Berkshire (Heineken) – Ratebeer". Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  11. ^ Foster's in the US,
  12. ^ Foster's in India,
  13. ^ "SABMiller acquires Foster's India". Press release. SABMiller plc. 4 August 2006. Archived 27 June 2015 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ SAB turns hostile with A$9.5bn bid for Foster's investors - Business News - Business - The Independent
  15. ^ "FAQ's". Fosters. Retrieved 27 June 2014. 
  16. ^ Stella Artois is brewed in Australia under licence from Belgian beer conglomerate InBev.
  17. ^ "Cheers! Why every brewer loves a premium beer or two",, 18 August 2004.
  18. ^ The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia Archived 1 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ S&N turns on Foster's tap in Europe, Times Online
  20. ^ Scottish & Newcastle completes the acquisition of the Foster’s brand, Scottish & Newcastle Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  21. ^ Cowie, Tom (December 16, 2015). "New York man sues Foster's for not being brewed in Australia". Fairfax. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 15 September 2016. 
  22. ^ Alcoholic Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics, 2011
  23. ^ S&N launches ‘widget’ versions of Foster’s and Kronenbourg
  24. ^ Simon Bowers "Foster's may be 'the Australian for lager' but it is brewed in Britain", The Guardian, 21 June 2011
  25. ^ "Foster's returns to its advertising roots". Archived from the original on 17 August 2009. Retrieved 29 August 2009. 
  26. ^ Foster's - YouTube
  27. ^ Foster's - The Fast Show
  28. ^ Foster's » Good Call Ads Archived copy at the Portuguese Web Archive (7 September 2014).

External links[edit]