Entering Brewtopia

For Chapter 8 -- "Sometimes You Just Have to Lego"

By Published on .

I'll come back to Lego in coming days, but first a 10,000-mile detour. If you've seen the Foster's Lager commercials, you might have some, shall we say, stereotypical ideas about Australia.

You might think that Aussies are constantly in hand to hand combat with sharks and crocodiles, or pulled over to the side of dusty dirt roads in their Range Rovers, dislodging kangaroos from their grilles. These are all slight exaggerations. In fact, 95% of the population lives on the crescent of southern coast in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth, all more or less croc- and roo-less.

Not only are most Aussies urban and unarmed, it turns out that Foster's isn't even really "Australian for 'beer.' It's an export brand with a very low domestic profile, apart from sneering disdain. Basically, Lion Nathan Ltd.'s Toohey's is Australian for beer -- at least in New South Wales. In Melbourne, Carlton & United's Victoria Bitter is Victoria for beer. In Adelaide, Lion Nathan's West End is South Australia for beer. Lion Nathan and Carlton & United's breweries between them utterly dominate the market, using their distribution muscle to control nearly every beer tap in every pub in the country.

They have so locked the market that you'd have to be nuts, or drunk yourself, to enter the fray.

Aha! Welcome to "The only beer company Built by the People for the People." Welcome to Brewtopia -- Australian for "weird."
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