Drunkenness was an enormous problem, Australia faced in its early days as a convict’s colony. Rum was the favourite drink of the colony and even children as young as ten were to be seen in the streets intoxicated on those days.  Beer was promoted as a safer and healthier alternative to rum, as a means of reducing drunkenness. Since then Aussies are extremely patriotic about their beer and ranks fourth internationally in beer consumption; on an average consuming 110 litres per year per person.
Bob Hawk , former Prime Minister of Australia , set new world speed record for beer drinking by downing 2 1/2 pints – equivalent to a yard of ale – from a sconce pot in eleven seconds as part of a college penalty. In his memoirs, Hawke suggested that this single feat may have contributed to his political success more than any other, by endearing him to a voting population with a strong beer culture.
Beer occupied a very important place in ancient world too. This is evident from Babylonian King Hammurabi’s first legal code. Hammurabi’s legal code established daily ration of beer depending on the social status; 2 Litres for ordinary people, 3L for Government workers and 5L for Priests. The code was also laid down for making inferior beer, worst of which was being drowned in own brew.

History of Australian Breweries

The Cascade Brewery in Tasmania established in 1824 is the oldest brewery in Australia. Fosters, Lion Nathan and Coopers are the main brewing businesses in Australia .Coopers being the largest Australian Owned brewery.
In the early days, before the invention of refrigeration , Australian breweries produced horrible beers due to the intense summer heat and Australian beer was nick named as swipes , tangle foot etc. After the invention of refrigeration, lager became Australia’s favourite type of beer.
The major brewers in Australia are Fosters Group , Cooper Brewery Limited and Lion Nathan.

Fosters Group

Foster was founded by two American Brothers in Melbourne in 1888, William and Ralph Foster of New York. They sold the company in 1889 and returned to US.  Carlton United Brewers origins date back to 1854 when Australia’s most popular beer, VB, was first brewed in Melbourne by the Victoria Brewery. Its namesake, the Carlton Brewery, was established soon after. Both these groups joined together in 1907. In 1983 Elders IXL purchased Carlton and United Breweries and renamed in Elders Brewing Group. In 1990, the Elders Brewing Group changed its name to Foster’s Group.

Coopers Brewery Limited

Thomas Cooper, the founder of Cooper Brewery was a stone mason by trade and discovered his talent as a brewer by accident, when he created the first batch of beer as a tonic for his ailing wife. His fine ales and stout soon became highly sought-after and Thomas Cooper would deliver by horse and cart to a growing number of loyal customers. This is the largest Australian owned brewery in Australia and is based in the Adelaide suburb of Regency Park, South Australia. The shares of the company are primarily owned by the extended Cooper Family and the company’s constitution makes it difficult to sell shares outside the family.

Lion Nathan

In 1840 LD Nathan established as a trading company in Russell, New Zealand and moved to Auckland soon after. Lion Nathan is formed when New Zealand’s largest retailer, LD Nathan & Co, merges with brewer, wine and spirit manufacturer and hotel operator, Lion Breweries in 1988. It is a leading beverage and food company with a portfolio that includes many of Australia and New Zealand’s favourite brands. Lion was formed in October 2009 under the name ‘Lion Nathan National Foods’, when Kirin Holdings Company Limited completed its purchase of Lion Nathan and merged the business with National Foods – which it has owned since 2007. In 2011, and became known as Lion.
Major breweries in Australia
Owned By
Main Beers
Carlton and United Breweries
Foster’s Group
Abbotsford, Victoria (Melbourne) and
Yatala, Queensland (Gold Coast)
VB, Crown Lager, Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde and Reschs Pilsener
Cascade Brewery
Foster’s Group
Hobart, Tasmania
Cascade Premium Lager, Cascade Light, Mercury Cider
Castlemaine Perkins
Lion Nathan
Brisbane, Queensland
XXXX Bitter, XXXX Gold, XXXX Light, XXXX Summer Bright Lager
Coopers Brewery
The Cooper Family
(majority shareholders)
Regency Park, South Australia (Adelaide)
Sparkling Ale, Original Pale Ale, Best Extra Stout, Dark Ale, Mild Ale
Hahn Brewery
Lion Nathan
Camperdown (Sydney)
New South Wales
Hahn Premium, Hahn Super Dry, Hahn Light, Hahn White
J. Boag & Sons
(orig. as Esk Brewery)
Lion Nathan
Launceston, Tasmania
James Boag’s Premium, Boag’s Draught
South Australian Brewing Company
Lion Nathan
Thebarton, South Australia (Adelaide)
West End Draught, Southwark Bitter
Swan Brewery
Lion Nathan
Canning Vale, Western Australia
originally Perth, Western Australia
Swan and Emu
Lion Nathan
Lidcombe, New South Wales (Sydney)
Tooheys New, Tooheys Old and
Tooheys Extra Dry
( Table Courtesy: Wikipedia)

How beer is made?


Barley is soaked in water until it sends up tiny shoots. As soon as the grain is sprouted, it is dried with hot air to stop further activity and kill off the tiny shoot. This process is called malting. Malting grains develops the enzymes required to modify the grain’s starches into sugars, such as glucose or fructose. The next task is to convert the starch in the malted barley to fermentable sugars, typically maltose to create malty liquid called wort. The malt is covered for more than an hour with hot water at carefully determined temperatures to create wort. This process is called mashing. This sugary liquid is drained off and the process is continued until all the available sugar has been extracted from the malt.
Hop (a kind of flower added for flavour) is boiled with this solution. The wort will be cooled from boiling point to a temperature suitable for adding yeast. This yeast ferments the liquid producing alcohol and carbon dioxide. Within a week, the wort will be converted to beer by the fermentation process. In commercial brewing, beer is filtered and then injected with carbon dioxide before being bottled.

Main Types of beer available in Australia


Lagern in German means ‘to store’. Beers with bottom fermentation and long storage at lower temperatures are known as lager . This is the most widely consumed type of beer in the world.
Pale lager is a very pale to golden-coloured lager with a well attenuated body and noble hop bitterness. Larger used to be dark until the 19th century. Dark lagers range in colour from amber to dark reddish brown. Dark lagers are termed dunkel, schwarzbier, Vienna, tmavé or Baltic porter depending on the place of origin and method of brewing.

Premium Lager

More of a commercial marketing term, than a beer style. Premium lager should display higher barley content than mainstream lager and more pronounced hop presence.


Bocks are strong lagers. These beers are designed for sipping in cooler months of the year. In Germany by law bock must be at least 6% alcohol.


Pilsner is a type of pale lager. It got its name from town of Plzen in the Czech republic, where it was first produced in 1842. The manufacturing process includes, kilning the malt at temperatures low enough not to colour it significantly, giving it a golden colour .


Ales are beers fermented by the top fermentation.

Belgian Ale

This is a very broad category style of beer, defined by the use of Belgian ale yeasts. Within this category are many sub styles including abbey ales , Trappist ales , farmhouse ales and saisons , lambics and wit beers. Most Belgian ales are noticeably higher in alcohol with robust yeasty character.

 Pale ale

They are generally amber in colour. It is well hopped and relatively strong between 4.5 -5.5 % alc/vol.

Dark Ale

 A top fermented English-style beer. It’s a full-flavoured bottled ale, refreshing and slightly sweet, with little bitterness.

Mild ale

It is flattish dark brown ale with a low hop bitterness and lower alcohol content (3 -3.5% alc/vol) .


Originally stout was called stout Porter . Porter was the most popular drink in London . It can be broadly defined as easier drinking version of stout, without pronounced hop bitterness.


The word stout means strong. It is a darker shade of beer, made by using either roasted barley, black malt or a combination of both to get its black colour and rich dark flavour.


Kölsch is a local beer specialty that is brewed in Cologne, Germany. It is a clear beer with a bright, straw-yellow hue, and has a prominent, but not extreme, hoppiness. It is less bitter than the standard German pale lager. Kölsch is warm-fermented at a temperature around 13 to 21°C (55 to 70°F) and then cold-conditioned, or lagered. This type of beer is now imported and can be found in liquor shops in Australia.


Bitter is really a version of English Pale ale. This beer is defined by generous hop bitterness. In Australia bitter is widely misused as a term for various commercial drinks. Victoria bitter is not a bitter type of beer. Victoria bitter is a lager.

Beer in Australia

Lager is the most widely consumed beer in Australia.   Only a few ales stand out and one is Coopers Sparkling Ale. Coopers succeeded in brewing ale using traditional methods. Many other Australian beers call themselves as ales but clearly are not. Castlemaine Bitter Ale and Cascade Pale Ale are nothing but lagers under a misguiding name .
Foreign brands of beers are produced in Australia under license agreements with parent brewers. Foster’s Group brews Guinness, Kronenbourg and Carlsberg in Australia; while Lion Nathan locally produces Heineken, Beck’s, Stella Artois and Kirin.

Beer bottles

Bottled beer in Australia is sold in either 375ml (stubby) or 750ml (long neck) sizes

Major Australian Beer brands by region

New South Wales: Tooheys, Reschs, Hahn, James Squire, KB Lager and St Arnou
Queensland: XXXX and Powers
South Australia: West End, Southwark and Cooper
Tasmania: Boags in the north, Cascade in the south
Victoria: Carlton Draught, Victoria Bitter and Melbourne Bitter
Western Australia: Swan and Emu


Home Brew By Willie Simpson, Penguin books
The Complete guide to Beer and Breweing by Lauri Strachan , Simon and Schuster

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