Australia: A queer beer? Not here

on 21/02/11 at 9:43 am


As big-name Australian beers struggle, a Mexican brewery has unveiled the world’s first beer specifically targeted at gay drinkers.

But while new markets were essential to future profits, domestic beer brands are unlikely to follow suit.

“Not at all,” said Neil McLucas, long-standing gay bar proprietor and outspoken member of Brisbane’s LGBT community.

Experts say beers like Toohey’s Extra Dry are attractive to image-conscious social drinkers.

Victoria Bitter has softened its image over the years.

“Having a beer that was specifically ‘gay’ would be like dictating to gays what they should do. I think it’s a bit silly, really.

“And if you made a beer a ‘gay’ beer, well, I can’t imagine many men would be caught dead drinking it.”

But the kind of ‘man’ Mr McLucas is referring to may not be the same beer-drinking man of 20 years ago, according to marketing director of Carlton and United Breweries Paul Donaldson.

Though Mr Donaldson agreed with Mr McLucas on the patronising nature of specific “gay” beers, he said that even the most “classic Australian bloke” brands in the business were evolving with the times.

“Without getting too deep here you’ve got a significant changing the expression of masculinity in Australia – what behaviour is acceptable for male,” he said.

“We hear this from research groups – there are a whole lot of quite fundamental changes going on.

“The brands that aren’t evolving … we’re seeing quite heavy declines with those ones.”

Though recent Neilson results show the domestic beer industry shrunk overall in the last 12 months – a diminished market the majors are attributing to bad weather and one-off events – “traditional, brown-bottle” beer brands were the worst hit, Mr Donaldson said.

Comparatively, craft-beers and the newer, “clear-bottle” brews recorded significant growth, evident in sales of brands from both CUB and rival beer corporation Lion Nathan.

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