Now you might not have heard of Casella, but even those with a passing interest in wine will know the [yellow tail] brand. This brand was originally launched in the US in 2000, by 2003 it was the biggest wine brand in the US. This in turn made Casella one of the biggest wine companies in Australia and the biggest wine exporter Australia has. If you doubt the power of Casella consider this:
20% of all wine exported from Australia is [yellow tail]
Casella Wine’s bottling line can process 36,000 bottles of wine an hour.
10% of all the grapes crushed in Australia for wine in 2011 went to Casella.
Casella sell more wine in the US than all of the French wine producers combined.
Casella produce upward of 130 million bottles of [yellow tail] every year or about 6 bottles for every man, women and child in Australia.
Not surprisingly they are cashed up with wine money. Perhaps surprisingly they have decided to take on the beer world and not in a small way. They are aiming to get 5% of the Australian beer market, which would make them bigger than Coopers (who have a market share of around 4%) and every craft brewery combined (who supposedly have about 2%).
[yellow tail] was built (quickly) on the back of the philosophy of it being a simple wine that can be enjoyed by everyone. I understand how this works for wine, this is a point of difference, call it the democratization of wine. I’m not convinced it works for beer, with beer there are simply far less barriers to overcome and far less knowledge expected. Then again if you produce a quality product at a good price you generally can’t go wrong.
Cassella’s launch into beer has been backed by a gimmicky marketing campaign that asked people to rate their beer moments and then the brewers supposedly reacted to these findings to produce the perfect beer. Now I’m sceptical that this was the process, but hey I like a marketing gimmick as much as the next guy.
And it appears Casella love a gimmick too, so now they claim that the results of the ‘scientific’ study were so close they had to release two distinctly different beers and let us decide. So that’s exactly what we will be doing today, I have given the two beers Arvo 43 and Arvo 51 to my panel of handpicked beer experts (okay myself, Frewy and Jord) and here’s what we found.
Neither of the beers are ground-breakingly different or interesting, but let’s face it they weren’t going to be, as Frewy pointed out they are designed as easy to knock back beers. There were differences between them, but it was the difference between light grey and slightly less light grey rather than black and white.
Let’s start with #34 – Frewy described it as a pure lager, myself and Jord were less kind and called it a standard lager. There is a slightly metallic smell to it (suggesting use of Pride of Ringwood hops, the mainstay of Australian mainstream beers). I thought there was a little bit of funk in there as well, but not in a good way. Really it is a very boring beer, bitter sure, but not actually tasty. It offers nothing beyond a standard Aussie lager, other than being less fizzy – Pot.
I can report that all three of us thought #51 was a better beer. Why? Well it’s a better constructed beer, there is a little more malt and a little more hops, although I note that Casella say 34 is a hoppier, more bitter beer. It could be described as a standard Euro lager, which is to say it’s softer and better rounded beer than the #34. – Schooner
So I’ll be voting for #51 and so will several of my friends. I won’t be rushing out buy it again though. Having said that if I was at a BBQ on a Saturday afternoon and someone handed me an Arvo 51, I would drink it, maybe not exactly happily, but without complaint.
Oh and Frewy would like to note that #51 ryhmes with ‘get it done, don’t look at the sun’ and that in numerology 51 means ‘the royal star of Waterman. He’s a weird cat that Frewy.
Update: I tasted 51 again in its natural environment, Saturday arvo whilst watching the footy, and I havesay I didn’t hate it, it a perfectly passable lager. I also added two people to the testing panel (My dad and my brother), both of them also preferred the more Euro style Arvo 51.