Goodbye the blokey beverage: Calls for a reinvention of beer

Beer (File: AAP)

The head of one of Australia's biggest brewers says beer has an image problem and more needs to be done to address consumers' nutritional concerns.

Goodbye to hairy guys in singlets holding up the bar, goodbye to the classic pairing of beer guts and footy shorts.

Goodbye the blokey beverage - beer needs a makeover.

The head of one of Australia's biggest brewers says the humble amber ale has an image problem and needs to take a page from the winemaker's book.

Lion chief executive Stuart Irvine says winemakers had become good at talking up the natural aspects of their drink, something brewers had largely failed to do.

"We need to reinvent our thinking of beer, which is a very natural product, it has only four ingredients - water, hops, malt and yeast," he told a business lunch on Wednesday.

"It is a drink of moderation and is relatively low alcohol."

Beer, which could once have been considered Australia's national drink, has fallen out of favour, with consumption having more than halved since the 1970s.

Australian Bureau of Statistics data released in April showed that beer consumption had fallen to its lowest level since the mid 1940s.

That's a problem for Lion, which is owned by Japanese-based beer giant Kirin and owns a string of well known beer brands, including XXXX, Toohey's and James Boags.

Mr Irvine said Lion wanted to address consumer's concerns about beer, including possibly putting better nutritional information on labels.

"We need to answer some of the questions that consumers have about what beer does for you," he said.

"Does beer make you fat? Well beer's got no sugar in it, how many calories does it have in it? Well we should tell you that on the bottle."

Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler said while including more information on beer labels would be good, there were virtually no nutritional benefits to alcohol.

"There is no doubt that alcohol and beer have a very high number of calories and if you drink a lot of beer you will get fat," he said.

"But in terms of actually providing nutrition and vitamins and minerals and the things the body needs then actually beer is probably a very poor nutritional product."

Associate professor Owler said the focus needed to be on changing Australia's binge drinking culture, rather than on the nutritional make-up of alcohol.

Dietitians Association of Australia spokesman Alan Barclay said beer was not inherently any better or worse than wine or other alcoholic beverages from a nutritional point of view.

He said recent ABS figures had showed people consumed more calories on average from alcohol than any other "discretionary" foods including cakes, pastries and confectionary.

"I think it probably does suggest that we drink more than we probably need to as a community," he said.

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