According to CUB, Crown Lager (originally Foster’s Crown Lager) was first brewed in 1919 and only available to Australia’s diplomats and their guests. They
say the brand was first released to the public to celebrate the visit of Queen Elizabeth II. However, a writer in Australian Brew News has challenged the story, finding evidence of ‘Foster’s Crown Lager’ being advertised in 1914 despite the fact that the company celebrated the 50th anniversary of its public release (a year early, based on their official version of events) in 2003.
Matt Kirkegaard points out that even CUB aren’t particularly consistent about their story and have their history somewhat twisted. Sometimes they say Crown Lager was released to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. Well, that was in 1952. But the 50th-anniversary celebration points to the release being in 1953. Even though the royal visit was actually in 1954.
And then there’s all that evidence of Crown Lager being advertised in diverse parts of the country, including Perth, Colac and Townsville, as far back as 1914. Kierkegaard also discovered evidence in a government publication that the beer was certainly available to the public in 1949. It puts that public release in 1954 (or was it 1953?) very much in doubt. Perhaps that was when the ‘Foster’s’ tag was dropped and the beer began to be promoted as a premium product.
Perhaps there’s a distinction to be made between the brand and the beer itself. The beer being advertised as Crown Lager in 1914 may have been made to a totally different recipe from the one released in the 1950s. However, that doesn’t account for the varied accounts of its more recent history.
All in all, it’s another example of the marketing legend taking over from the facts. To the point where the people responsible for maintaining that legend actually forget what those facts are.