When Coca-Cola Amatil sold its stake in Pacific Beverages to SAB Miller, it agreed to remain out of the Australia beer and cider markets for a couple of years. But Coca-Cola always intended to re-enter the market and is on the brink of doing so on a considerable scale.
Initially, Coca-Cola acquired Foster's Group Pacific Ltd (renamed Paradise Beverages (Fiji) Ltd, owner of a Fiji brewery); entered into a joint venture with the Casella family to brew beer in Griffith, NSW; and then agreed to distribute Rekorderlig cider in Australia from January 1, 2014.
Then in early November, managing director Terry Davis added several more products to the list - Molson Coors and Samuel Adams beers from the US, and its own Alehouse draught beer and Pressman's Australian cider. The January 2014 launch should have a considerable impact on Australia's beer and cider markets.
Balmain Brewing Company Original Pale Ale
330ml, $4, ★★★★★
Formerly working-class Balmain completes its gentrification with the addition of a great craft brewery. The golden amber ale has silk-smooth texture on the palate, sweet, opulent malt and teasing, finely balanced hops flavour and bitterness. What a beautifully balanced ale it is. Tasted twice and becoming a favourite.
Stone and Wood Mash Collective the Old Persuader
500ml, $10, ★★★★½
The third Mash Collective beer hits the palate at a big, sweet 6.6 per cent alcohol. It's fruity for a lager, malty, subtly bitter and hoppy.
The design collective was graphic designers Sonny Day and Biddy Maroney, photographer, Ingvar Kenne, architect Stuart Vokes and author John Birmingham. (Stockists: themashcollective.com.au.)