25 May 2014 - Best Beer HQ

Beer and breweries in Australia

Breweries and beer in Australia

It should come as no surprise that Australia, the home of famous beer brand Foster’s, usually ranks well inside in the top 10 countries by beer consumption list.

Recent figures show the average Australian consumes 96.95 litres of beer every year – not far off the average amount consumed per capita in Ireland but still some way off the top-ranked beer-drinking nation, the Czech Republic.

Beer in Australia

The most popular style of beer drunk in Australia is lager and, at the time of writing, Lion Breweries and Foster’s Group own all the largest major beer breweries in the country.

Foster’s Lager remains one of the top-selling beers in the world. However, it’s not a popular domestic beer in Australia. The country’s most popular domestic beers are: XXXX Gold, Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Tooheys New, Tooheys Extra Dry and Carlton Mid.

Meanwhile, imported beers are starting to gain marketshare. Foster’s has a licence agreement to brew the likes of Guinness, Carlsberg and Kronenbourg; Lion Nathan brews a number of other notable international beer brands, including Stella Artois and Beck’s.

Microbreweries are also well accounted for in Australia, with Victorian brewery Mountain Goat Beer among the most notable in the country. You can discover some of its award-winning wears in the United States like its Australian Pale Ale.

History of beer in Australia

Australia is a former British colony and so, like neighbouring New Zealand, was introduced to beer by Captain James Cook, who brought beer with him in 1768 as a means of preserving drinking water.

The first official brewer of beer in Australia was John Boston, who brewed it from Indian corn and leaves. Although some will argue that beer was actually brewed earlier than this. Early beers were made without hops, as they weren’t naturally occurring in Australia and it proved difficult to import them satisfactorily.

A government-owned brewery opened in Australia in 1804, the same year that hops were first successfully cultivated in the country. Australia fell in love with beer and by 1871 there was 126 breweries in the Australian state of Victoria alone.

Later, the number of breweries in Australia dwindled as a result of the recession of the 1890s. The sector was further hampered by the passing of the Beer and Excise Act in 1901 that regulated the making and selling of beer, and made home brewing illegal. Thankfully, restrictions on home brewing beer in Australia were lifted in 1972.

The oldest Australia brewery still in operation is the Cascade Brewery in Tasmania, which has been operational since 1824.

Major Australian breweries

Carlton and United Breweries : Victoria Bitter (VB), Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde, Crown Lager

Castlemaine Perkins: XXXX Gold, XXXX Bitter, etc.

Coopers Brewery: Sparkling Ale, Best Extra Stout, Original Pale Ale

SA Brewing Company: West End Draught, Southwark Bitter

Swan Brewery: Swan, Emu

Tooheys: Hahn Premium, Hahn Super Dry, Tooheys New, Tooheys Extra Dry, Tooheys Old, etc.

Popular international beer brands brewed under licence in Australia: Peroni Nastro Azzuro (Foster’s), Guinness (Foster’s), Carlsberg (Foster’s), Kronenbourg (Foster’s), Heineken (Lion), Stella Artois (Lion), Beck’s (Lion).

Notable microbreweries in Australia

Bluetongue Brewery, Warnervale, New South Wales (owned by SABMiller)

Bootleg Brewery, Margaret River, Western Australia

Colonial Brewing Company, Margaret River, Western Australia

Feral Brewing Company, Baskerville, Western Australia

Gage Roads Brewing Company, Palmyra, Western Australia

Little Creatures, Fremantle in Western Australia and Geelong, Victoria

Mountain Goat Beer, Richmond, Victoria

International Beer Australia /