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Gage Roads misses out on AFL Grand Final pouring rights

Western Australian independent craft brewer Gage Roads won’t have pouring rights at Optus Stadium for the AFL Grand Final due to the football code’s partnership with the Asahi-owned Carlton and United Breweries.

In a statement, Gage Roads’ managing director John Hoedemaker said the brewery was “disappointed fans won’t be able to enjoy our beers at the Grand Final” but that they “understand the AFL has a sponsorship agreement with Asahi, which includes pouring rights for their beer at the GF. So, there’s not much we can do about it”. You can read the full statement below.

Back in 2017, in what was a major shift of the status quo, Gage Roads out-maneuvered big multi-national brands to be awarded a five year Optus Stadium pourage contract and was entitled to offer its beer and cider brands exclusively to stadium goers. It was the first such deal secured by an independent Australian brewery at a major sporting arena and in February this year its parent company Good Drinks announced it had extended the deal through until 2028.

But now, due to the AFL Grand Final being moved to Optus Stadium on September 25 from a lockdowned Melbourne, and the fact Carlton and United are the official beer sponsor of the sporting organisation, the likes of Gage’s Pipe Dreams and Single Fin beers will be replaced by Carlton Mid and Great Northern in the hands of an expected 60,000-strong crowd.

The WAtoday newspaper said today “the AFL’s official beer sponsor will have its branding and kegs at the ground in time for Australia’s biggest sporting spectacle, with the league likely to confirm the switch in the coming days” while 6PR radio station said “all the beer taps and bar signage will be updated for one day in September. CUB in, Gage Roads out”.

At the time of winning the contract in 2017, a Gage Roads spokesperson told Nine News in Perth “it was a massive David and Goliath battle, we were up against some of the largest multi-national breweries in the world and we’ve come out on top so today was one for the little guy”.

WAtoday also reported that a spokesperson for the WA Premier Mark McGowan said the move to replace Gage Roads with CUB was out of his hands.

“There are specific contractual agreements in place between the AFL and its partners for the AFL Grand Final,” they told the newspaper.

The Gage Roads Optus Stadium/AFL Grand Final statement:

FAIR BUMP, PLAY ON

Like the rest of WA, we’re thrilled that Optus Stadium is hosting the AFL Grand Final here in Perth. It’s going to be an amazing event, and a great promotion for our state.

We’re obviously disappointed that fans won’t be able to enjoy our beers at the Grand Final. We love brewing beers for WA, and for the fans at the stadium. It would have been a great opportunity to showcase WA made beers at a WA Grand Final. But we understand the AFL has a sponsorship agreement with Asahi, which includes pouring rights for their beer at the GF. So, there’s not much we can do about it. It’s only a swap out for the day and we certainly don’t want to detract from what is a great win for WA.

Having the AFL Grand Final in town will be a fantastic win for the many pubs, bars and restaurants that we work with every day. We look forward to seeing them full of footy fans, enjoying the game and a Gage Roads’ beer.

Over the last few years, Gage Roads has continued to grow around the country. We’re now the largest independent supplier of craft beer to bottle shops around the country. So who knows, give us a few years and maybe Gage Roads will be the proud sponsor of the AFL. Now that will be a fans first experience!

John Hoedemaker
Gage Roads Brew Co, Managing Director

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