The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

XXXX Brewery Tour and Alehouse

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 13, 2010

After spending the morning exploring the city of Brisbane on foot, we decided to look into where the XXXX (pronounced FOUREX or 4X) brewery was located as the Husband’s brother mentioned it was in or near Brisbane.  The Husband asked someone at the grocery store and learned it was nearby – only 2 train stops away – and we found a flyer in our hotel lobby.  We found out that they had tours hourly so we made plans for the afternoon.

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When double checking the map, we determined that it was definitely walkable! The flyer advised that we needed to have closed-toe shoes on for the tour, so we put on some socks and laced up our sneakers and were on our way.  About 30 or 40 minutes later, the giant brewery came into view.

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Unfortunately for our feet, we didn’t realize which end the entrance was on so we walked the entire length of the brewery not once, but twice to get back to a side street we had already passed.  🙂

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We headed up the stairs and signed up for the 2pm tour.  I hadn’t realized when reading the brochure, but they highly recommend reservations (bookings as they call them), but luckily there was room for two on the tour.  We paid for our tickets (which would include 4 tastings post tour) and headed into the alehouse.

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We were sternly advised that no alcohol could be consumed before the tour, but that was fine with us as we just needed something to snack on.  We ordered an appetizer of Turkish Bread with dips.  I assumed that they would be hummus or something of that sort but they turned out to be a pesto, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and a yogurt-onion-garlic dip.  It was a good start to the afternoon.

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Just before 2pm, we headed back to the lobby and checked my bag (no bags or cameras allowed during the tour… so no photos here).  We met our tour guide, Luke, and watched a brief video about safety.  The tour included both cheesy parts and very informative sections and we were overall impressed.  It actually started, after the safety video, with a diorama of the history of the company, going back to the mid-1800s (1862?).  It was set up very similar to a small scale Carousel of Progress, like at Disneyland.  At the time, it seemed a little over the top for a simple brewery tour.  Little did we realize that the tour would last over an hour, and include multiple videos, a discussion of individual brewing ingredients, and all aspects of the brewing and packing process of the Castlemaine Perkins Brewery. The highlights of the tour included the brewhouse, with its huge brew kettle (hundreds of thousands of litres), the canning line, and the beer storage silos.

Post tour, we headed back into the alehouse for our beers and lunch.  Unfortunately, the vast menu they had had just an hour or so earlier was no longer available as it was after “lunch hours.”  We were now limited to bar food 😦  The Husband and I decided to order two items to share: a Steak and Onion baguette and Chips with Gravy.  We didn’t realize the sandwich came with chips!

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The sandwich was really good! And the chips were chips… the gravy I wasn’t a fan of.

So, onto beers! Or first, the look of the Alehouse.  The tables were decked out in XXXX fashion. (Note the bottoms)

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We thought the bar itself was pretty cool! As you look closer, all the taps are coming out of the roof of the bar…

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With our tours, we each got four beer samples.  With five to choose from, we knew we’d be able to try all of them between the two of us if we so desired.  We could choose from the XXXX Summer, XXXX Bitter, XXXX Gold, their Porter, and Hahn Premium.

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Our first samples were the Porter and the Summer.

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The rest of the beers all looked like the Summer so I didn’t take photos 🙂 In general, I thought the beers were fine, but nothing special (although I did like the Porter).  I didn’t dislike any of them but I didn’t love them either.  I think it’s because the beers are generally lighter in flavor due to the need to decrease heaviness in the hot and humid climate (as we learned during the tour).  The beers are actually made with water, hops, barley, and yeast; all standard ingredients in beer, but are also made with pure cane sugar, which decreases the body of the beer, and can be produced locally in the hot humid Queensland climate.  With that in mind, I can certainly understand why the beers are all lighter, but prefer the heavier, more flavorful microbrews at home.

One tidbit of interesting information about the XXXX beer – it is a huge part of Queensland.  The sport teams all are sponsored by the beer (as seen below) and pretty much everywhere you turn you see the unmistakable letters above a bar or restaurant.  IMG_2102

As the brewery tour showed us, Foster’s isn’t Australian for beer.  In fact, the Husband’s brother challenged us to FIND a Foster’s in Australia, which we have yet to do.  Foster’s is the product of remarkably successful American marketing more than it is the beer of Australians.  For Queenslanders, it’s XXXX is the word for beer.

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4 Responses to “XXXX Brewery Tour and Alehouse”

  1. XXXX is a pretty disgusting beer. It’s really only drunk by people in Queensland, you can’t sell it out of there. People from other states call it cats piss. It is one of the worst beers I’ve tasted.

    Also, I’ve only ever drunk Foster’s in England, which isn’t too bad. Strangely enough, despite its fame, no one drinks it here.

    • Well, to be fair, most Australian beer has been pretty lackluster compared to anything I like. I have generally found that beer is as cultural as the alcohol it delivers, and serves both a social and functional role. The fact that XXXX contains sugar cane is a little bizarre to me, but after having tried lots of Australian beers, I would be surprised if there are any that aren’t packed full of adjuncts that defeat Reinheitsgebot. It serves its function in Queensland, though, so when in Rome, I’ll do as the Romans!

      • I can understand what you mean. Australian beer isn’t the best – avoid Victoria Bitter especially.

        Well, to be fair, most Australian beer has been pretty lackluster compared to anything I like.

        I was wondering what your favorite beers are?

        If you’d like some nice Aussie beers, try Resches Pilsener, Crown Lager, Tooheys Old (if you’re into Stout). James Squire isn’t too bad either.

      • Well, I generally like amber beers, which I haven’t found any here in Australia, yet. I did try the Cascade Premium, and I was pretty impressed with it; specifically its hop character. I have tried the Crown Lager, but otherwise, I’ll run down the rest of the beers you recommend. I am NOT generally a stout fan, but I will give any beer a try.
        Thanks for the recommendations!

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