Australia’s top 10 beers

THERE has been a pervading image of the beer swilling Australian around for a long time – but what exactly are they drinking? Is it Tooheys, XXXX or Fosters?

The answer for many years has largely been decided on where that person is from, with drinkers preferring their state-based beers. However, with an increasingly mobile population in Australia, traditional loyalties have started to erode and premium brands are now available nationwide.

Even then making a list of Australia’s top 10 beers isn’t that easy as beyond the range of mass-market brews are some excellent niche market options from microbreweries. No doubt the topic will be hotly disputed in pubs across the nation for years to come, but in the meantime here are 10 popular options to try when you’re Down Under.

Pic: AP.

1. XXXX (QLD)
Written as XXXX but pronounced Fourex, the iconic Queensland beer produced in Brisbane by Castlemaine Perkins is without doubt the beer of choice for the sunshine state. With pale, mid and full strength beers on offer there’s a little something for everyone. XXXX is also the major sponsor of most Queensland sporting teams.

2. Victoria Bitter (VIC)
This has to be one of the most iconic beers in Australia and indeed has been the nation’s highest selling beer for more than 20 years. Known colloquially as VB, it’s more a lager than a bitter and the recipe for its success dates back to the 1900s and its working class male market. One of the most well recognized advertising commercials for VB is, “For a hard earned thirst, you need a big cold beer, and the best cold beer is Vic, Victoria Bitter.”

3. Fosters (VIC)
Fosters is one of Australia’s biggest international exports – in fact it’s the UK’s second best selling beer. But while you may find it everywhere from the United States to India it’s not a real favourite with Aussies and the Foster’s Group actually promotes its other brands over Fosters in the local market. It has recently been promoted internationally with a series of ads titled “How to Speak Australian”.

4. Tooheys (NSW)
Tooheys, producing both Tooheys and Hahn trademarks, hails from Sydney and dates back to the 1860s. It has an Irish heritage and sponsors sporting events like Rugby Union and the Melbourne Cup. You will find Tooheys New on tap in most places in New South Wales. There are also ale, dry lager, pale, mid and lite options.

5. Swan (WA)
The Swan is Western Australia’s number one tap beer. The beer has long been a favourite here and Perth’s Swan brewery is one of the city’s most recognised brands and landmarks. The Swan beers have been described as “uncomplicated” and “the perfect way to beat the West Australian heat”. The beer uses barley sourced from WA and produces a golden coloured lager with a smooth, malty flavour.

6. Emu (WA)
The Emu was the first brewery in Western Australia and looks set to stay with its cheap beers considered something of a rite of passage for university students. Emu comes as a bitter (full strength and hoppy), Export (reduced recently from 4.9% to 4.4% alcohol and now considered watery by some), and the Draft (a mid strength, malty beer). It has been called “green stuff”, “green poison” and “kero” over the years thanks to its traditional green labels.

7. Carlton Draught (VIC)
Carlton is a subsidiary of Foster’s Group and sold throughout the country. It’s a pale lager and one of the more popular tap beers Down Under. One of the biggest viral beer campaigns in Australia’s was Carlton’s “Big Ad” featuring two armies charging each other while singing lyrics to “o Fortuna” about beer.

8. Eumundi (QLD)
This is one of the nation’s microbrewers that’s worthy of note and a beer brand you may come across should you travel to Queensland’s sunshine coast. Eumundi Lager comes from the small town of Eumundi in the Noosa hinterland – renowned for its local markets, art galleries and alternative scene. Given its coastal location it’s probably not surprising the beer is refreshing, crisp and mildly flowery.

9. Cascade (TAS)
The Cascade beers are what Tasmanians like to drink and they do give you a distinct taste of the island state. The Cascade Brewery in Hobart is actually the oldest brewery in Australia and unique in that it produces its own malt. The brewery makes beers, homebrew, apple cider and some non-alcoholic beverages.

10. Coopers (SA)
Coopers beers are found widely in South Australia and Victoria and occasionally in other parts of Australia. The Sparkling Ale is Coopers’ most popular product. Coopers is also renowned for its range of homebrew kits.