Beer fans have slammed a decision to slash the strength of Foster’s lager to just 3.7% – while increasing the price.
Brewery chiefs say they are promoting moderate drinking by reformulating the Aussie tipple – famous for its ‘good call!’ TV ads featuring beach hut agony uncles Brad and Dan.
The brew is currently 4% ABV but draught pints will be weaker from January 23 – with cans following suit on February 13.
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It came as Heineken, which brews Foster’s under licence in the UK, warned publicans it is ramping up the cost of all its beers and ciders by almost 16% from next year.
Rick Franks, 52, of Chesham, Bucks, fumed: “I won’t buy it anymore, I’ll drink something stronger – four per cent has to be minimum.”
Electrician Jon Goodin, 35, from Henham, Essex, added: “The fact that Foster’s are reducing the alcohol from their beer is clearly more of a money saving task than a reaction to healthier consumers.
“In my opinion, they should come out and say, ‘We’re trying to save money because of world problems and inflating prices,’ rather than, ‘It’s for a healthier consumer.’
“I couldn’t care less that Foster’s are doing what they are doing – it’s the worst Australian export since Rolf Harris. Cheating b ** s.”
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And former Aussie rules footballer-turned-building boss Damian Jacombs, from Melbourne – the Australian city where Foster’s was launched in 1889 – warned against tinkering with the age-old recipe.
He said: “We have an Aussie beer here called Victoria Bitter, known as VB.
“About 10 years ago, they reduced the ABV from 4.9% to 4.6%.
“They claimed it was a cost-saving exercise, however, they received a large amount of backlash and people stopped drinking it.
“They eventually had to return the recipe to the original 4.9%.”
Mr Jacombs added: “No one really drinks Foster’s here in Australia – I don’t even know where you can buy it.”
In an email from Heineken, sent to trade customers, the Dutch giant warned its wholesale booze prices would rise by an average 15.8% – likely to be passed on to pub-goers by struggling landlords.
Its other top-selling brands include Birra Moretti, Kronenbourg and its flagship Heineken – with price increases coming into force from January 16.
The average cost of a pint of draught lager saw its biggest increase in 10 years, jumping to £4.15 last month, Office for National Statistics data shows.
Heineken’s statement blamed its forthcoming price increases on the soaring costs of energy, glass, aluminium and malted barley.
It added: “We know consumers are increasingly choosing lower ABV beers and ciders as part of a healthy lifestyle.
“Foster’s is a much-loved brand up and down the country, which is why we have spent many months ensuring we can produce the same great refreshing taste and following extensive testing with customers, we’re confident in its launch in the new year.
“Reducing the alcohol content of one of our highest volume brands will also help remove millions of alcohol units across the UK, aligned to our long-held position of promoting moderation.”
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