ARGUMENT IN FAVOUR:
ROYAL Oak Hotel licensee John Turner would jump at the chance to offer Ballarat Bitter on tap.
The hotel, with its Ballarat “Bertie” Bitter sign proudly displayed on the wall, still attracts customers asking after the iconic brew.
Mr Turner said the pub reviewed 36 kegs of the beer during its limited release in 2011 and even he was surprised by its demand.
“We still get people that come in and see the sign on the pub and say have you got Ballarat Bitter?” he said.
“The taste is very good. Some like it and some don’t, but the majority did.”
Mr Turner believes there would be plenty of demand to put the ale on tap permanently in his hotel, if only the product was available.
He also thinks reinstating the brew would be a good tourist attraction for Ballarat, even if it were only brought back on a 12 month release.
“I’m sure if they had it in the hotels in Lydiard Street, people coming up to Ballarat on the train for the day would try it,” Mr Turner said.
As well as older patrons who enjoyed the nostalgia of the Bitter brand, its limited release attracted a new generation of fans curious to taste the brew for the first time.
BALLARAT Bitter is a successful novelty item steeped in a nostalgia for the past, North Britain Hotel owner Peter Burt says.
But he believes the brew would fail to take off as a permanent fixture on tap today as drinking habits have changed.
When 18 months ago the brand was resurrected on a novelty release, the North Britain did a ripping trade of the limited release cans.
“It hadn’t been released for such a long time so there was a lot of nostalgia and blokes who said ‘I’m going to order a slab to take home for my father’,” Mr Burt said.
But when the draft version was released it did not attract the same fervour.
“There’s so many craft beers now. Drinking habits have changed and there’s so much to choose from,” Mr Burt said.
“It sold a bit but not a huge amount.”
The North Britain already carries half a dozen craft beers on tap and Mr Burt believes the allegiance to local brands is not what it was in the past.
Ballarat people no longer drank Ballarat beer exclusively, he said. If Carlton and United Breweries brought out another limited release he would put on a keg, but wouldn’t be relying on it to make a living.
Mr Burt believes the brand is a relic of the past that has become more popular with collectors of its iconic Bertie merchandise.
The merchandise paid tribute to the brand’s history as ‘Ballarat’s beer’, he said