What types of Australian Beer are there?

And a bloke can't drink as he used to drink in the days when the beer was strong

AG Stephens, 'The Crown of Gum-leaves', in The Pearl and the Octopus (1911)


A top fermented English-style beer. Very few ales are sold commercially in Australia. The best known are Coopers Sparkling and Pale Ales. 


In Australia this is likely to be a bottom fermented lager rather than the top-fermented ale that English would call a bitter. Take XXXX Bitter as an example. 


This is beer served from a keg (barrel). Beer that is available at a pub as draught is said to be "on tap". Some bottled beers are labelled "draught", presumably the brewery tried to capture the taste of the draught product. 


Some beers are labelled Export. This seems to be a marketing ploy to suggest that the beer is of a higher quality than the locals would appreciate. 


A full strength beer ranging from about 4.5-6 per cent alcohol by volume.



This is beer made using bottom-fermenting yeast. This is the typical Aussie beer. Examples include Fosters, XXXX and VB. 


This refers to a low alcohol content beer. Light is usually 2.5-3 per cent alcohol by volume. Light has become fairly popular as drink driving prohibitions have become stricter. It is relatively new to Australia because until the late 1970s it was illegal for breweries to brew beer below a certain alcohol limit. For many years, it wasn’t particularly tasteful and so was not well regarded. Additionally, the notion of a low alcohol beer was not particularly palatable – unfortunately light was known as a very unmanly beer. Recently some good brews have been released, including, Hahn Premium Light and VB "Double Hopped" Light.


A beer with an alcoholic content that fills the niche between lights and heavies. They are about 3.5 per cent alcohol by volume. Some examples include XXXX Gold and Carlton Midstrength.


A lager. The prime example is Tooheys New. Lager is called "new" because bottom-fermentation (ie. lager) brewing was introduced in Australia a few decades after top-fermentation brewing.


A top-fermented ale. For example, Tooheys Old . It is "old" because it is brewed using the older top-fermentation method of brewing. This process takes a shorter time than bottom-fermentation so an "Old" is likely to be younger than a "New".


This a dark beer made using roasted malts. Most Australian breweries produce stouts but these are not as popular as lagers. For example, Carbine Stout.


The name Pilsener derives its name from the town in the Czech Republic, Pilsen.  A Pilsener is therefore a beer that is brewed in a way in order to mimic the famous Pilsen brewery flavour.  A Pilsener  is a mild flavoured lager with a medium hop flavour.  Brewed using the traditional Czech Saaz hops that give it that familiar hoppy aroma with a dry finish,  pilseners are brewed all over the world and Australia is no exception.  Some familiar local pilseners are Hahn Premium, Wills Pils, KB Microbrewery Pilsener, Matilda Bay Pils, Kiandra Gold Pilsener and Tooheys Pils.

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