Written by Andy Young, editor The Shout
Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) has kept up its tradition with heritage beers after launching McCracken’s Amber Ale in Melbourne on Tuesday.
McCracken’s City Brewery was an integral part of CUB’s formation, being the oldest of six independent breweries, including Foster’s and Carlton, which united in 1907.
“So the branding for McCracken’s is a little bit different. When you go into the heritage room at the brewery in Abbotsford, on the wall as soon as you go in, there is this old photograph of the McCracken brewery workers and they are playing a tug-of-war. It looks wonderful and so all the tap badges that we give to the pubs have all got these 30-40 year old blokes playing tug-of-war and it looks very different,” explained CUB’s intellectual property manager and resident heritage expert, Mathew O’Keefe.
“The materials for the taps and the pubs are handcrafted in Fitzroy, it’s something that CUB is willing to put support behind and hopefully the trade will be happy with what we’ve done.
“The McCracken’s name itself is a famous Melbourne name and it’s a strong brand name as well. Because CUB’s heritage goes back so far, we have all these great local stories and McCracken’s is a great Melbourne story. So we wanted a brand for Melbourne and McCracken’s was perfect for that and we will contain it to Melbourne and it will be sold in Melbourne inner-city and CBD fringe pubs.”
As with when CUB launched Tooth’s in New South Wales at the end of last year, the amber ale is an adaptation of an old beer rather than being based on an old recipe, which probably wouldn’t work well with today’s drinkers.
“McCracken’s most famous beer was its Light Ale, light, not in the way that we understand a light beer to be, but because beers in Australia back in the 1800s were extremely heavy. So McCracken’s thought it was too heavy for this climate, so let’s do a lighter style, but would have still been quite heavy in alcohol, just a lighter ale. So that was very popular. But I think if we tried to replicate recipes of the time, we’re just not going to be able to do it, they are just too high in ABV, bitterness and sugar.
“So we’ve created a new beer, but it’s old in the style of an English ale and it’s a dark copper colour. But it’s not a highly bitter beer, it’s a good beer, but not one that we’ve based on an original recipe.”