Bob Hawke’s legacy will live on – in beer.
Australia’s 23rd Prime Minister, who died last month aged 89, was already immortalised in the nation’s brewing sector by having his face emblazoned on a beer can.
He was reasonably handy, too, with a tankard back in his university days.
While the antique drinking vessel was long retired by Hawke, the legend of his world record drink and his renowned fondness for a brew have passed on to the next generation. It prompted the birth of Hawke’s Lager in August 2017.
But there was a catch to Hawke signing over his likeness and name to the exercise. Part proceeds had to go to a charity.
And Justin Fox, who brewed Hawke’s Lager, at Colonial in Port Melbourne said the beer was always planned to go well into the future – even beyond Bob’s time.
“The partnership Hawke’s Lager has with Landcorp was signed as a long-term deal so Bob’s legacy will live on with the beer continuing to contribute to the cause,” said Fox, who is also head of Sales, Products and Development at Bintani.
“Now we can toast Bob’s memory with his own beer and one that he knew was helping the community – and would go on doing that for years to come.”
The beer is produced by Hawke’s Brewing Co., which is backed by creative directors, David Gibson and Nathan Lennon. The pair formed the idea after looking for an idea for a brewing brand while working overseas.
Fox, who has had stints with Colonial, Lion and The Monk, was brought on board to make the liquid.
Discussion over the choice of style for the first Hawke’s beer lasted about 30 seconds since Hawke mainly drank Lagers. A Patio Pale Ale has subsequently joined the brewery menu.
While there is no disputing Hawke drank 2.5 pints (1.4 litres) of beer – believed to be an Ale not Lager – in a world record 11 seconds late in his Rhodes scholarship to Oxford, there is documentation Hawke didn’t drink from a yard glass but a sconce pot, which was used at the University College dining room in 1955.
According to recent reports in the UK, Hawke attended the hall without the required gown. The punishment was to buy a round of beer for all present, unless the offender could defeat the “sconce master” of the college in a challenge.
Each had to down “a yard of ale” from a sconce pot which contained the 2.5 pints of beer.
While Hawke had no problem winning the contest, and setting up his reputation as a solid beer drinker, he wasn’t as good recently in the art of presenting them.
“When we launched the beer two years ago Bob was there and while we were waiting he tried to pour a couple of middies,” Fox said. “It is fair to say he wasn’t at his best in that regard.
“But we worked with him for five minutes and he was suddenly producing the best poured beers you could hope for. He ensured he was a professional on the day and that is just like Bob to live up to the crowd.”
Fox also recalled the occasion at the Sydney Cricket Ground during the January 2018 Test between Australia and India when the Labor favourite secreted a six-pack of Hawke’s Lager into the ground.
A problem with the storage meant Hawke was a little off his fast-drinking game when appearing on the big screen before a gang of enthusiastic supporters.
“Unfortunately the steward in the corporate box put the Hawke’s Lager on ice, meaning it was far too frosty for Bob to swallow as quickly as he could. He promised a faster effort the following year but I don’t think he got there again,” Fox said.