Australians wouldn’t give a Castlemaine XXXX for anything else” - Yet again the advertising lies! Turns out Australians don’t drink a lot of Fosters or Castlemaine, preferring instead to ship most of it out the country!
The truth is that quality Australian beer thrived for hundreds of years, benefitting along the way from an anti-drunkenness policy in the 1800s promoting beer as a lower abv alternative to rum. That said most Australian breweries are now owned by the megacorps with the glorious exception of Cooper’s who we always stock as our little way of adding support to the little guy. In addition though we do get craft Australian beer in from Little Creatures, James Boag and Matilda Bay from time to time – watch this space...
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Australian beers are typically light and refreshing to combat the hot weather, with lager (often Pilsners) being the most popular style. Although at first glance lager seems to be all-encompassing down under, this isn't quite the case. A growing number of breweries brew a Pale Ale and even a Stout as part of their standard range, and with around 100 microbreweries now in operation across the country, Australian craft beer is certainly on the up! From Murray's Wild Thing Imperial Stout to Feral Watermelon Warhead Berliner Weisse, the possibilities are endless...
New/Old - Some breweries, such as Tooheys, use 'new' to refer to lager and 'old' to refer to ale . Bottom-fermented lager was introduced to the country later than top-fermented ale, and so to distinguish between beers brewed using these different techniques, they became known as 'new' and 'old'.
Bitter - Unlike in Britain, in Australia 'Bitter' is likely to refer to a lager made with bittering hops and pale malt, rather than an ale - an example of this is the ubiquitous Victoria Bitter.