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Swan beer con - fact or froth?
Hugh Dunn in his new role at Edith Cowan, Joondalup. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

Could it be the great beer swindle or just tall tales about WA's iconic brew?

Debate raged yesterday over the impact Swan Brewery's closure would have on the beer's taste and quality while more than one tale emerged that Swan Lager and Emu Export were identical.

Credible claims emerged that at times, the only difference between Emu and Swan was the label.

A laboratory technician, who worked at the brewery for 10 years until 1994 and asked not to be named, claimed that, back then, Swan Lager, Swan Draught and Emu Export were the same beer.

"All we used to have to do was stop the line, so we had a gap in it, and we'd have to change the labels over and caps and cartons, just change them over," he said.

Two other former workers, who also asked not be named, echoed the claim and said it was simply part of large scale production.

But Edith Cowan University lecturer Hugh Dunn, a past brewing manager at Swan, said Emu and Swan were different beers when he worked there 10 years ago.

He also asserted that shifting production to South Australia would not affect Swan's taste because brewers could match flavours.

But Mr Dunn said the closure was a major blow because beer was always best fresh and it was a shame the beers would not be brewed in WA.