Foster’s Lager is a run-of-the-mill adjunct lager that relies heavily upon its misleading marketing to establish itself as a unique option on the shelf. The beer is inoffensive to a fault: While it's slightly more medium-bodied than similar beers thanks to a hint of malt sweetness, its lack of complexity will likely disappoint fans of higher-quality import lagers.
Style international adjunct lager
Company Foster’s Group Limited
Brewery Location Fort Worth, Texas & Manchester, United Kingdom
MSRP $13 per 12-pack
A straightforward macro lager with an inoffensive flavor profile
Slightly more medium-bodied than other comparable lagers
Widely available in a larger format can
Flavor profile begins to unwind as soon as it warms up.
Lacks the complexity of some other comparably priced lagers
Not actually brewed in Australia
Color: This beer pours an intensely clear light golden straw in the glass; high carbonation creates a bubbly head that dissipates within 30 seconds.
Nose: A very straightforward nose of grain, stewed corn, and malt aromas wafts up cautiously from the glass. A slight grassiness is also noticeable, as is a hint of a metallic smell.
Palate: The beer is slightly sweet off the bat, hitting the tongue with a hint of honey. Flavors of stewed grains and light malts aren’t complex on the palate, but they’re livened up by zippy carbonation. A hint of grassiness also barely peeks through mid-sip.
Finish: A delicate minerality comes through on the finish, and carbonation scrubs the palate, making the beer remarkably crisp in spite of its sweetness on the front. The faintest hint of bitterness peeks its head through at the very end of each sip.
If you ask an American to come up with a list of Australian products, chances are it will include Foster’s Lager. But while the brand indeed originated in Melbourne, where two American brothers opened a brewery in 1888, the product has become a nomadic property thanks to licensing deals and acquisitions in the beer world over the years.
Today, cans and kegs of the “Australian” beer sold in the U.S. are actually brewed in Fort Worth, Texas, where they’re marketed and distributed by MolsonCoors, and its largest market is in the U.K., where it is brewed in Manchester, England, and distributed and marketed by Heineken International. Most native Australians will point out that Foster’s is far from the most popular beer down under, and they’re backed by sales numbers. Still, these facts have done nothing to deter the company’s marketing arm from pushing the beer as a genuinely Australian product.
Aside from its slightly misleading origin story, Foster’s falls right in line with other macro lagers. The beer packs a heftier sweetness on the palate than the light lagers that dominate the market, making it a refreshing and unfussy option that isn’t too watery. Unfortunately, as with most macro lagers, it’s also inoffensive to a fault: Malt flavors fail to create any kind of complexity without hop balance; most of the excitement on the palate comes from the high levels of carbonation in the product, which creates a crisp finish. But the zippy ending falls flat in the absence of much else going on.
Far be it from this reviewer to speak on behalf of brewers, but, as is the case with many other macro lagers, Foster’s really seems like it was designed to be enjoyed as cold as humanly possible. Over the short span of being removed from the fridge, poured into a glass, and sitting at room temperature for a few minutes, the beer’s flavor profile quickly begins to unravel as the lively bubble blows off. It’s no surprise, then, that it is sold on ultra-chilled tap lines in certain parts of the world.
Despite its very domestic production, Foster’s is priced like an import, at $13 for a six-pack (although you’re more likely to see the brand’s large-format 25.4-ounce cans at retailers stateside). While the 5% ABV puts it on the slightly higher side of sessionability, it’s still an easy-drinking—if mostly unremarkable—beer that might quench your thirst during a trip to the beach or while catching the game. But the budget-minded would be wise to stick with their go-to domestic lagers.
The marketing that positions Foster’s as a genuinely Australian product is so pervasive that it has landed the company in legal trouble. In 2015, a New York man sued the brewery, claiming its beer was deceiving customers.
The Bottom Line
Foster’s Lager is a straightforward and unfussy adjunct lager that provides a crisp finish but falls short on complexity. The beer’s flavor profile is more medium-bodied than that of other macro lagers, thanks to perceptible malt sweetness, but it’s ultimately as forgettable as the domestic lagers with which it competes.