Carlton & United Breweries is eyeing the potential for Melbourne Bitter in Sydney, even as it shrugs off union sabre-rattling.
Melbourne Bitter has long been a consistent packaged favourite around the country, although mostly in Victoria. It was first brewed by Jack Prendergast in 1936 and bought by CUB the same year.
Following an initial draught release for pubs in 2015, the company now reports a trial of the lager in Sydney following inquiries from NSW pubs and the public.
“We’ve had requests from some of our NSW customers and consumers for Melbourne Bitter draught, so whilst we’re not sure it has legs in NSW we have been trialling Melbourne Bitter at a couple of locations,” CUB’s spokesperson for brand communications told PubTIC.
Key NSW account Abbotts Hotel in Redfern is one of the first to get the draught format, and publican Bill Smith suggests he feels privileged to offer the Melbourne brew to his patrons.
“This is big news for beer lovers in Sydney,” says Smith.
“In fact the beer delivery guy who has dropped off beer five days a week and has worked in the area for 18 years said he’s never rolled an MB keg off his truck!”
Meanwhile, unions have been aggressively targeting CUB and even specific brands in what the brewer says is an attempt to “enforce their terms and conditions on an independent contractor”.
As part of ongoing operations, CUB gave notice last year it would be terminating a machine maintenance contract with Quant. All the employee’s entitlements were subsequently paid by Quant, as the contractor.
But unions say CUB is responsible for the 55 electricians and fitters that lost their jobs in June this year. And that the majority of these workers are being re-employed at far lower wages.
“Unions claim that CUB has dismissed workers,” furthered the spokesperson. “The truth is that CUB has not employed any trades at the Abbotsford site for over seven years.
“The new contractor is in the process of employing 42 people, offering pay between $70,000 and $120,000, before overtime.
“It is unclear how the unions have calculated claims of 65 per cent reduction in salaries.”
In the meantime, the SAB-Miller-owned CUB says there is no disruption to its making beer and no impact to supplies. Including MB to NSW.