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Victoria Bitter

Victoria Bitter, or VB as it is commonly called, has the highest market share of all beer sold in Australia, both on tap and packaged. Victoria Bitter is brewed by Carlton & United Beverages, a subsidiary of Foster's Group, brewers of the Fosters brand beer.

Despite its name, it is technically a fairly standard commercial lager rather than a bitter, although perhaps slightly more bitter than many. Originally available at a strength of 4.9% ABV, Victoria Bitter is now sold at a slightly lower concentration of 4.8% ABV to capitalize on potential tax savings. Victoria bitter is also available in New Zealand, the UK and to a limited extent, other countries abroad.


The origins of Victoria Bitter date back to Victoria Brewery founder Thomas Aitken, who developed the recipe in the early 1900s. The beer began to gain wide popularity in the mid 1960s with an innovative television advertising campaign featuring a very similar recording of the theme from the film The Magnificent Seven, images of working-class Australians at work and play, and a voice-over by notable Australian actor John Meillon. The campaign was used until quite recently. Paul Hester, late drummer of Crowded House once appeared in a VB advert. Ads now consist of the slogan "For a hard earned thirst, you need a big cold beer, and the best cold beer is Vic, Victoria Bitter". The most recent advertising campaign features David Boon, although a number of other ads are occasionally screened, such as one which promotes Australia's love of barbecuing meat, including its national emblems, the kangaroo and emu. Like most Australian Lagers, VB is made using a wortstream brewing process, and uses a portion of cane sugar to thin out the body of the beer.

Currently one third of the packaged beer sales in Australia are of VB. It is available in 375 mL cans ("tinnies"), short necked 375 mL bottles ("stubbies"), 750 mL bottles ("Long Necks", "King Browns" or "Tallies") and "Twisties", "Throwies" or "Grenades" (250ml bottles in the State of New South Wales). As of 2005 VB also comes in 500ml tinnies ("Lunch Greens"), which are commonly drunk by trade workers on lunch, being just enough to quench their thirst. It used to be available (and may still be) in the Northern Territory in a 1 litre tinnie nicknamed a 'Killer can' (Kilo can).

In a testament to its long history and popularity, VB has acquired a number of nicknames, ranging from the abbreviated "Vic Bitter", polite "Very Best", "Vitamin B" and "Victory Beer", for after a win in the footy. People who dislike the beer may refer to it as "Vomit Beer", "Vaginal Backwash", or "Visitors Beer". The distinctive green cans may also be referred to as "Boonies" , "Green Cans" or "Gweens".

Change in strength

In 2007, The Foster's Group who make Victoria Bitter changed the strength of the beer from 4.9% ABV to 4.8% ABV to cut the amount of excise Foster's pays on the beer it brews. The Age reported on 4 July 2007 that this move that will save Foster's up to $20 million a year in tax payments. The spokesman for Foster's, Ben Wicks said the change would not affect the taste of the beer.

VB Midstrength

In 2007, Fosters launched a new, midstrength version of VB called VB Midstrength with an alcohol volume of 3.5%, in order to capitalize on the growing market for midstrength beers, currently dominated by XXXX Gold. VB Midstrength appears to have failed to attract much attention in the southern Australian states of NSW and Victoria, leading some to suggest it is a marketing failure.

TV builder Scott Cam, a self-confessed VB fan, is the appointed VB Mid Ambassador.

On 24 July 2007, The Australian reported that within three months of Fosters launching VB Midstrength, market share for the full strength VB and mid VB had increased. Foster's regional marketing director Anthony Heraghty hinted at further VB brand extensions, saying Foster's was "trying to see past the big green giant".

Marketing & Promotions

In New Zealand, VB has had little media exposure and is therefore drunk by mainly Australian expatriates and not by working class New Zealanders.

In 2005, VB had started a promotion where David Boon became the face of Victoria Bitter (VB) beer for its 2005/06 summer advertising campaign, called Boonanza. Part of the promotion was the sale of a talking David Boon figurine with purchases of cartons of beer, which would make comments when prompted by Channel Nine commentary.

In late 2006, the Boonanza promotion returned as Boonanza II for the 2006-07 Ashes series. The promotion now included former England cricket captain Ian Botham as a talking figure, who would interact alongside an updated David Boon figure.

For the 2007-08 Australian cricket series, Shane Warne took over as VB spokesperson from David Boon. Warne will also have a talking figurine as part of a new Warnie promotion, taking over from the highly successful Talking Boony dolls from the two previous Boonanza promotions.

Victoria Bitter were also the main sponsor of the Australian Tri-Series for five years between 2001-02 to 2005-06. During this time the series was renamed The VB Series.

The latest advertising campaign is called the Stubby Symphony, where a hundred members of the Melbourne and Victorian orchestras play the similar theme from The Magnificent Seven only using VB beer bottles. The campaign was created by George Patterson Y&R in Melbourne, and is available to view at


External links

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