SABMillers Victoria Bitter recently lost the #1 spot in Australia to Lions XXXX Gold

SABMiller's Victoria Bitter recently lost the #1 spot in Australia to Lion's XXXX Gold

SABMiller has called time on the current formula for its Victoria Bitter brand in Australia, after the beer lost its market leadership status earlier this year.

The brewer's Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) unit, which it bought a year ago, said late yesterday (4 September) that flagship beer Victoria Bitter will “return to its original full strength and full flavour” next month. VB, as the beer is more commonly known among Australian consumers, will return to 4.9% abv and will have its full name restored to the labels and cans along with the original tagline “For the hard earned thirst”.

The move follows the release of figures earlier this year that showed Victoria Bitter had dropped to second in Australia's beer market, behind Lion's XXXX Gold, for the first time.

“The Vic Bitter drinkers have spoken and told us that we should not have tinkered with their beer”, said CUB’s CMO, Andy Gibson. “So, we have listened and, during the course of October, Victoria Bitter will be returning to its best.”

The announcement has been backed by a print ad that includes a letter to the country's beer drinkers from CUB CEO Ari Mervis, which says: “We heard you…we’re fixing it.”

The brand's wholesale price will remain the same.

In 2007, CUB's then owner, Foster's Group, oversaw the reduction of VB's abv to 4.8% and again two years later to 4.6%.

Since buying CUB, SABMiller has struggled with the unit. In the three months to the end of June, lager volumes fell by 13% at CUB.