I just got off the phone with a friend. “What do you count as an Australian beer?” I asked him. “Anything, but it’s gotta be cold” came the reply without a moment’s hesitation. So there you have it folks, straight from source.
It’s no secret that Australians love drinking beer. Bring to mind any quintessential Australian scene, i.e friends around a barbecue, surfing in the sunshine, backyard cricket, and you’d be hard pressed not to add beer into the setting. So why do Australians love beer so much? And what actually counts as Australian beer?
But how did it get here?
Beer came to Australia at the same time as Captain Cook. Brought over on the first fleet, beer reached our shore and there’s been no looking back. It was first promoted as a healthy alternative to the rum the convict hooligans were quite fond of guzzling (is it just me or does anyone else have the term ‘some things never change’ spring to mind).
Fast forward to present day, and you will find beer making up 48% of alcohol consumed in Australia, followed by wine at 29% and spirits at 21%.
Beers for here
Australia is a big country. Even in our present day it can seem daunting to attempt to travel the 5000kms from east to west, and that’s aided by our modern modes of transport. So rewind to early settlement dates and it would have seemed near impossible.
This induced a sense of ‘localism’, with people establishing relationships with the only beers they could access, beers brewed in their local region.
Think Western Australia’s love affair with Emu Export, South Australia’s partnership with Coopers, Victorians fiercely proud of their VB, and Byron Bay residents of New South Wales not batting an eyelid as they pledge their allegiance to Stone and Wood.
What’s the magic ingredient?
James Squire successfully cultivated the first crop of hops in 1804. Since then Australia has moved forward in leaps and bounds, producing many of the ingredients needed to make the delicious beverage so many of us enjoy today.
An Australian beer doesn’t need to have all ingredients produced in Australia. Many breweries make the most of globalisation and source different hops and malts from around the world, aiding in creating vastly different flavours and styles.
Australian Beer is, quite simply, beer made and enjoyed in Australia. It gets hot here. As a generalisation we tend to spend a lot of time in the sun. We don’t ask for much when it comes to good beer. Give us something cold, something thirst quenching and easy drinking, and you can be pretty assured that you’ve jumped through the necessary hops… I mean hoops. See what I did there.
Australian’s love beer that fits in with their culture. Pale ales and the beach compliment each other like fish does chips. Mid strength lagers fit perfectly into the Sunny Queensland scene, easy like a Sunday morning picnic.
We can’t not speak about the Friday- arvo-knock-off beer. A category all of it’s own, the Friday-arvo-knock-off beer is epitome of Australian beer. Flavour, colour, percentage, are irrelevant factors.
What constitutes a Friday-arvo-knock-off beer is a beer drunk whilst savouring the anticipation in the air of the impending weekend, of good times spent with friends in the sunshine.
Beers that are brewed with a lighthearted Australian lifestyle in mind are the beers that Australians love.
Sign up to our newsletter to receive more articles about beer in Australia.