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Whether they’re pots of VB in Melbourne or pints of Coopers in Adelaide, cans of XXXX Gold in the Sunshine State or squealers of Young Henrys in Sydney’s inner-west, Australians love their beer. And here are 10 drops that are enthusiastically consumed around the nation.
The famous green tin is Australia’s most iconic beer. Known as Very Best, Vitamin B and Victory Beer to fans, or a number of less flattering monikers to detractors (‘Vomit Bomb’, to name one of the less profane options), VB is the classic Australian lager. And it owes much of its legendary status to its marketing — the ‘hard earned thirst’ jingle has been a staple since 1968.
North of the border in New South Wales, the locals prefer the beer with the stag on the can. The historic Sydney brand was founded by Irish immigrants, the Tooheys Brothers, way back in 1869 and continues to brew in the blue-collar suburb of Lidcombe today, producing the easy-drinking lager Tooheys New, the dark ale Tooheys Old and the crisp Tooheys Extra Dry. Oh, and Tooheys don’t mind a classic ad, either.
Why do Queenslanders call their beer XXXX? Because they can’t spell beer. That joke’s almost as old as Castlemaine’s brewery in Milton, which has been pumping out Queensland’s beloved grog for almost a century. The mid-strength XXXX Gold is one of Australia’s most popular beers but the XXXX (pronounced four ex) brand is strongest within the Sunshine State, where it’s as cherished as mangos, Powderfinger and Wally Lewis.
With all of Australia’s largest beer brands owned by South African firm SABMiller or Japanese giants Kirin, this Adelaide icon is the largest locally owned brewery in the country. Coopers is still primarily controlled by the family that lends its name to the brand, which churns out a variety of beers (notably the green-capped pale ale) as well as Australia’s best home-brewing equipment.
Established at the foot of the scenic Mount Wellington all the way back in 1824, this Hobart institution has been producing its signature premium lager for almost two centuries, making it the oldest continuously operating brewery in the whole of Australia. James Boag’s — the Launceston company that’s preferred in the north of Tasmania — is another great drop out of the Apple Isle.
Sitting alongside VB, Pure Blonde, Wild Yak and Crown Lager in Carlton & United Breweries’ extensive stable, Carlton Draught is another mega-popular Aussie lager. Carlton’s popularity has shot through the roof in the last decade thanks to a string of genius advertising campaigns, starting with the viral ‘Big Ad’ in 2006.
The storied Swan and Emu breweries are still Western Australia’s most commonly consumed brews, but this Fremantle brewery is one of the best in the Wild West. Little Creatures only began in the year 2000 in an old waterfront warehouse and has enjoyed a beer-flavoured fairytale in the two decades since, alongside other great craft brewers in Perth like Feral Brewing Co and Gage Roads.
An English-born thief by the name of James Squire was transported to Sydney as a convict in 1788, but shed his shackles to become the first man to cultivate hops and open a commercial brewery in Australia in the early 19th century. His legacy is a line of beers in his name, each with a name evoking his convict tale, such as the Nine Tales Original Amber Ale or the One Fifty Lashes Pale Ale.
First brewing small batches in the early 1980s, this Perth operation is considered Australia’s first craft brewery before it was snapped up by Carlton after a decade then expanded enormously. Fat Yak, Beez Neez, Redback and Dogbolter are a handful of Matilda Bay’s most successful products.
This Sydney brewery began life in 1986 as a manufacturer of premium beers but rethought its strategy a decade ago with the release of Hahn Super Dry, which has become Australia’s go-to low-carb beer, with 70% less carbs than regular beer. That sounds positively healthy!