Want to enjoy a bevvy with Bob? Well, as of this week you'll be able to – at least, with a beer bearing Hawkie's likeness, that is.
The former prime minister, who once famously broke the world beer-skoling record in his student days at Oxford, poured the first Hawke's lager today at The Clock Hotel in Surry Hills.
The brew is the first from Hawke's Brewing Co, and will initially be offered on tap across 11 pubs in Sydney and Newcastle.
The venues, dubbed Hawke's First XI, will include the Lord Dudley in Paddington, the Courthouse in Newtown and the Australian Heritage Hotel in The Rocks.
Australian ad men Nathan Lennon and David Gibson dreamed up the idea two years ago when they were stuck working in a Wall Street office on Australia Day in New York.
"It was minus 5 degrees outside. We were getting homesick and we realised all our friends were back home having nice cold beer in the sun. So we started talking about who we'd most like to have a beer with and we landed on Bob Hawke," Lennon said.
A year later, the pair were on a plane back to Sydney to draw up a business plan with sales manager Luke Langton and pitch the idea to Hawke himself.
"We got the honour of being invited over to his house and we sat in his kitchen with him one morning," Lennon said. "We explained how we saw this brand launching into the market – and he said yes."
The larrikin Labor politician lent his name to the project on the condition that his percentage of profits went to one of the legacies of his leadership, the environmental charity Landcare Australia, to help support rural communities around the country.
"This [project] is particularly exciting because it combines a couple of loves. I've been known to enjoy the odd beer, occasionally a quick one," Hawke said at the launch.
"As you sip that Hawke's lager, you'll be making a contribution to the environment and to your country."
To bring proper craft cred to the brand, the team recruited former Colonial Brewing head brewer Justin Fox, who created Colonial's small ale and draught kolsch ale. Made in Port Melbourne, the lager promises "a subtle citrus aroma, light bitterness and a gentle, dry finish".
Fox described the brew as an "approachable, inclusive" beer made with new Australian hops Ella, Helga and Topaz. "What we've landed upon is a really beautiful clean beer … it's a refreshing lager - really light, clean, crisp with a really soft top note and really soft malt note."
Lennon agrees: "You can have a strong brand but in the craft beer game if you don't have a quality product then you're not going to get very far."
It would have been feasible to launch the brand nationally with several types of beer, but the company decided to prove its mettle first, he said. "We need to further reinforce our brewing credentials [before expanding] because we don't want this to be a flash in the pan."
But if you can't schlep it to one of Hawke's First XI, never fear. The lager will roll out across more Sydney venues and other capital cities, probably within the year. Or if you're partial to a tinnie, cans are set to hit the shelves on April 25.
So how does it feel for Hawke to finally have his own beer? "Bloody good," he said, no skoling in sight.
Where to drink Hawke's lager on tap
- The Australian Heritage Hotel, The Rocks
- The Clock Hotel, Surry Hills
- The Clovelly Hotel, Clovelly
- The Courthouse Hotel, Newtown
- Greenroof, Newcastle
- The Kirribilli Hotel, Milson's Point
- The Lord Dudley, Paddington
- The New Brighton Hotel, Manly
- The Prince, Kirrawee
- Public House, Petersham
- The Sackville Hotel, Balmain