THE BEERLOVER’S GUIDE TO TRAVELLING AUSTRALIA
Beer is an intrinsic part of Australian culture. We can’t get enough of it. With craft beer winning our hearts and minds, gone are the days of a can of XXXX in front of the football. As a beer enthusiast myself and a lover of travel and exploring Australia from the motorhome, I thought I would combine my two passions and use my motorhome as a way to explore Australia’s rich, beery pastures.
I STARTED AT THE BEGINNING
Where to start, The beginning. Tucked away in the Sydney suburb of Camperdown, is the Malt Shovel Brewery, and their James Squire range. It is a fitting tribute to the beginnings of Australian beer. In 1787, James Squire was sent to Australia for stealing chickens. When he arrived, he immediately set himself up brewing beer, becoming Australia’s first brewer. Instead of hops, he used stolen horehound. When he got caught, he was sentenced to 300 lashings, which was reduced to 150 after he gave the governor 2 barrels of his home-brewed ale. In 1798, he opened his own tavern to sell his beer. It was named the Malt Shovel. Now, Malt Shovel Brewery has brewhouses across the country, where you can sample the James Squire range and pay homage to where it all started.
NEW SOUTH WALES
In the wider New South Wales area, there is an unparalleled amount of Beer Festivals. You could spend a year here and never drink the same beer twice. If you can time your visit to the region with the arrival of the Australian Beer Festival, you can enjoy your beer with a view over Sydney itself.
The home of Castlemaine’s XXXX, I had to pay the brewery in Milton a visit. Then it was on to Port Douglas to try the oldest beer in the world. Hemingway’s Brewery may be a young outfit, but they brew beer using the water that has spent 40,000 years slowing over the stones of Mossman Gorge.
Victoria is home to two beers which use cane sugar in their brews. Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught are on the must-try list on any visit to Victoria. The use of cane sugar makes them shining examples of authentic Australian lager.
I spent a good chunk of time exploring the micro-breweries of the Yarra Valley. As far as I am concerned, this is the Mecca for Australian beer. There are plenty of excellent breweries to pay a visit, but one of the best is Hargreaves Hill Brewing Co. The building itself is a step into Australia’s past, and their brews do not disappoint.
This may be wine country, but Western Australia is also Australia’s craft beer heartland. Little Creatures Brewery in Freemantle is one of the founding fathers of the craft brewing scene in Australia, and well worth a visit. It has an excellent waterfront location which makes it an outstanding location to enjoy their classic IPA.
Bootleg Brewery in the Margaret River region is also a diamond in the middle of Australia’s wine stronghold. For some backcountry beer drinking, pay their brewhouse a visit, and call in at nearby Cheeky Monkey while you are in the area.
Cooper’s brewery in Adelaide is the oldest family-owned brewery in Australia, giving their beers a real homely feel. Cooper’s leave the yeast in the bottle, this gives the beer some sediment when you drink it out of the bottle, but adds to the flavour and body of the beer. For another brewery which dabbles in the unconventional, pay Prancing Pony Brewery a visit near Mt. Barker. They use an open flame to heat the beer.
The people of Northern Territory know their beer. They consume some of the most beer per head anywhere in the world. The best place to sample the beers on offer in the Top End was Six Tanks Brewery up in Darwin. Good beer, good food, and a great atmosphere makes for the perfect pit stop.
No beer tour of the region is complete without a visit to Cascade Brewery. It is the oldest working brewery in Australia and a historic landmark in its own right. An afternoon tour followed by beer tasting in their beer garden makes for a fantastic Tasmanian day. Shambles Brewery in Hobart is a great local watering hole. They serve a variety of local and guest beers, including T-Bone Brewing Company beers which is a short walk up the road.
Exploring Australia’s deep and rich variety of beers was a chance to get a better understanding of Australia’s history through the beer-tinted glasses of our favourite drink.
Do you have any suggestions on where to find the best beer? Share your thoughts through the comments section below.