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Guest Blogger – Brother Jeff on Australian Beers

Posted by gingerbreadpirate on April 5, 2010

So, after my blog on Australian beers, my brother left a VERY lengthy comment regarding Australian beers, which I thought would make a post all by itself.  In fact, I got the idea from the comment.  Here it is.  I have made some corrections at the bottom, but it does include an interesting tidbit about how “rounds” works at bars in Australia.
Begin original comment:
1) I can’t believe you didn’t ask me to write this post for you. I’m insulted (no not really)
2) Coopers is a (the) beer from South Australia. As XXXX is Queenland’s beer, Toohey’s is NSW’s beer, VB is Victoria’s beer, Cascade is Tasmania’s beer and Swan is West Australia’s beer (which you missed out on). Read about their long history here:
3) The misconception that Australia’s beers are “stronger” is truly that. It derives however from the fact that they are larger. Yes Bud has a content at 5% and VB has a content at 4.6% (used to be 4.9%), but VB comes (all beers in Australia actually) in 13 oz cans/bottles (375 ml).
4) “Otherwise, the rest were golden pilsners and ales” isn’t actually right. Australian beers are 75% lagers and 25% bitters.
Lager is a type of beer that is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast at lower temperatures and for longer durations than those typically used to brew ales. Where bitter is used it indicates a pale ale of lower alcohol content brewed in a less hop-focused style than typical American pale ales.
You might find this interesting (most Australian’s don’t know this either) but Carlton, Crown, Fosters (yes it is still made in Australia), VB and MB (Melbourne Bitter) are all brewed in the same vat. Since lager uses bottom-fermenting yeast, the difference between these vastly differently priced beers is based on aging and where in the vertical column of the vat they were pulled from.
Victoria Bitter (VB) is actually a lager as is Melbourne Bitter.
From Wiki:
Victoria Bitter, or VB, is an Australian beer. It has the highest market share of all beer sold in Australia, both on tap and packaged. Victoria Bitter is brewed by Carlton & United Beverages, a subsidiary of Foster’s Group, brewers of Fosters Lager.
VB is Australia’s highest selling beer and has been for more than 20 years. It sells twice as much as any other full strength beer and is the only Australian beer brand that is in the top 3 sellers in every state. VB is Australia’s only billion dollar retail beer brand and sells the equivalent of one slab every second.
Despite its name, it is technically a fairly standard commercial lager rather than a bitter, although perhaps slightly more bitter than many. Originally available at a strength of 4.9% ABV, Victoria Bitter is now sold at an ABV of 4.6% (which is equal to virtually every other major Australian lager) and the price stayed the same when most other beers increased.”
5) Some fun Australian trivia:
Marcus Clark said of Australians and few will argue that “They are not a nation of snobs like the English or of extravagant boasters like the Americans or of reckless profligates like the French, they are simply a nation of drunkards.”
Just as the man who first led a federated Australia was an alcoholic, it is also quite fitting that Bob Hawke, the Prime Minister who changed Australia’s national anthem from God save the Queen, was also renowned for his fondness for grog. So renowned in fact that he was immortalised in the Guinness Book of Records for sculling 2.5 pints of beer in 11 seconds.
6) In my first week here I remember a guy I never met before asking me if he could buy me a beer and I gave him a look that said “hey pal, I don’t play on that team”. You see I had no knowledge of the Australian Shout. I think it should be mentioned here because this ritual is the unspoken law of every pub in Australia.
The etiquette of a round (shout)
In tribal societies in which gift giving is economically important, there may be exchange of gift giving of identical (or useless) gifts which serve to maintain the relationship between donors. In Australia, the ritual of the shout, known virtually to all adult members of society has some parrallel functions. It symbolise entry to a group (and, for that matter, makes pointed an exclusion). It binds a group together.
* No dragging the chain- It is a well understood obligation that slower drinkers in a shout must attempt to keep pace with the faster members of a shout.
* Immediacy – Never accept a beer if you do not intend to shout on that evening. Shouting “next time” is not acceptable no matter how much interest is involved.
* Reciprocal – Even worse than the previous rule is accepting beers from the drinking party and then just buying one for yourself when it is your turn.
* Consistency – Changing drinks on people during a shout is considered poor form. I.e., shouting everyone VBs then asking for a “boutique” beer on the return leg.
* Accountability – Knocking over someone else’s beer will only be tolerated if there is a full replacement on the table. In some mining communities, the spilling of ones beer requires the guilty party to receive a punch in the arm from all other members of the party which could be up to 60 people.
* Egalitarian – No matter how much money is earned by each of the party members, or where their money came from, the same shouting rules apply.
* Free will – The order of the round is determined by each individual volunteering that it is his/her shout. Fellow members should never have to remind an individual of their obligations to the group. They will only do so in the event of a breach.
* Abstaining – From time to time an individual may wish to stop getting drunk. Ideally, they should wait till the completion of every group member’s rounds before abstaining from future rounds. If it is essential that they abstain mid-round, they should request a non-alcoholic beverage. This ensures that the first volunteer is not punished for putting their hand up first. It ensures group equality and it also ensures that the person buying the next round does not feel like a bludger by being remiss in their obligations.
* Gender neutral- Should a women be given a drink that has been purchased in the course of buying a round, she is subsequently part of the round. All the previous rules thus apply. A round can consist of only two people.

End original comment.

To that end I have only a couple comments.

2.)  I wish I had the opportunity to have a Swan.  I could have then hit all the regional beers.

4.)  A pilsner is a golden lager (for you 75% lagers), and a bitter is an amber-to-golden ale. (for your 25%).  I stand by my original comment.

6.)  It seems to me that shouting with 60 people is an invitation for a very sick evening, a VERY sick morning, and a very heavy bar tab.

Thanks for the post, bro!  Appreciate all the thought you put into it!


2 Responses to “Guest Blogger – Brother Jeff on Australian Beers”

  1. Jeff said

    LOL, thanks mate!

  2. Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers said

    Sorry folks about the formatting… we can’t get it to work!

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