Foster's Is The Australian Beer Invented By Americans

Australia is renowned around the world for its cutting-edge craft beer scene. Ale enthusiasts worldwide seek the unique flavor and high quality of Australian-produced hops. Foster's does not provide this, but it's still a successful beer.

Many Australians don't drink Foster's. And yet, the markedly average macro-lager has emerged as a symbol of laidback drinking culture in the Land Down Under and beyond. The characteristic big can require your entire fist to wrap around its massive girth, and a honkin' 24-ouncer runs for around $4.50 on some sites. In many bodegas across New York City, it's less than $4 (ask a local). Still, Foster's actual ties to Australia are frayed, at best. Is the massive oil can an obnoxious gag? Or is the beer actually worth buying?

Some unflattering, hilarious posts on the subreddit r/beer ask "Has anyone ever had a good can of Foster's?" and "Does anyone else think Foster's is absolutely disgusting?" Indeed, other popular beer brands like Australia's Lion's XXXX Gold Beer outrank Foster's in taste any day. The huge can and cheap price tag are easily the most memorable aspects. Speaking about flavor, Foster's is not a very good beer, either — but it's still iconic. That's not a super easy feat to pull off. Today, it is billed as the world's biggest-selling Australian beer brand but might not even seem all that Australian when you consider that two Americans came up with it. So, how did Foster's do it?

Fans love the Aussie flair, even if Foster's isn't actually Australian

Foster's Lager is the brainchild of William and Ralph Foster, Irish-American brothers who opened a brewery in Melbourne in the 1880s. When the brothers hit Australian shores, they came with guns blazin', shelling out for an expensive, state-of-the-art brewery and arriving with a professional refrigeration engineer. Foster's beer was born in 1887 in Australia and would enjoy rave success in the early days. However, the small-scale business couldn't compete against larger importers of foreign lager, and the brothers sold off the business and went back to New York.

After the sale, Foster's never really did well as a domestic lager but fared extraordinarily well as an import in the U.K. and U.S. markets. Call it the allure of less-familiar items like Vegemite and Anzac biscuits, but whatever you call the weird marketing strategy, it worked. When the beer debuted in the U.K. in 1971, the company marketed the brew with the tagline "Foster's: Australian for Beer." The cult import brand launched in the U.S. in 1972.

This "Australian" beer isn't actually brewed in Australia. Today, the large-format cans of Fosters that fans know and love today are produced in Fort Worth, Texas, and distributed by Molson Coors. The highest concentration of Foster's fans isn't even Australians — it's beer-lovers in the U.K. Foster's has a brewery in Manchester, England, and that brew is distributed by Heineken International.

The workhorse brew takes on a life of its own

The beer's Aussie reputation was further cemented by support from television sweetheart Paul Hogan, aka Crocodile Dundee. Foster's even made a cameo in the 1995 "Simpsons" episode "Bart vs Australia." Today, Foster's is far from "the official beer of Australia" (even though it has marketed its beer as a genuine Australian product so insistently that the company was sued for deceptive marketing practices in 2015). As one commenter on the subreddit r/AskAnAustralian puts it, "Foster's isn't considered a beer in our market," and "Fosters is still sold here!?!?" In 2015, only 10 vendors in the entire country sold Foster's. It didn't become widely available in Australia until 2020. But, to global fans, the "Foster's" name is all about accessibility and low prices.

While it may not be considered authentically Australian, Foster's is very much an everyman beer. This is the can you can expect to see in the grip of a sports fan at a tailgate or crumpled up behind a bench in the park. Maybe you drank six of 'em and puked on your 21st birthday. Maybe you just enjoyed one last week at a barbecue. Foster's is a one-size-fits-all elixir, and it doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. Other popular Aussie brands like Coopers, Victoria Bitter, and Great Northern are all more complex, arguably more remarkable beers. But, if we're talking about the beer experience, Foster's keeps pace with the rest of 'em, in its own way.