Food and Drink

The Best Old-School Beers in Every State

Generations of Australians have been enjoying the likes of a 'Bush Chook', 'red tin', 'vitamin b', and will continue to for years to come.

Before we know it, summer will be upon us, and there’s nothing quite like reaching for a nice cold beer on a warm day. Beer holds a special place in Australian culture, and while statistics say Australians are drinking less of it, or turning to non-alcoholic versions, Australians are ranked fourth internationally per capita in beer consumption.

Beer was first brought to Australia on the Endeavour, by Captain James Cook. The Endeavour was well stocked with beer, and produce to brew with for the journey.

READ MORE: The Best Non-Alcoholic Beers in Australia Right Now

The first brewer in Australia was John Boston, who brewed beer from Indian corn, and cap gooseberry leaves. Following that, the first pub was opened in Parramatta, NSW in 1796 by freed convict, James Larra.

Australia’s oldest brewery still in operation is Tasmania’s legendary Cascade Brewery. Established in Hobart in 1824, the building stands today and still produces classic Cascade beers.

With a storied history, beer has made its mark on Australian states, with breweries setting up shop in cities and towns all around the country—providing they had a reliable water source. Today, many of these breweries still operate and have produced beers that have been consumed for generations.

These are the best old-school beers still being served in each state.

New South Wales

Tooheys Old

Tooheys Old has been brewed since 1869, and can be found on tap around New South Wales, as well as in the ACT, South Australia, and Queensland. It was previously known as Tooheys Hunter Old Ale.

Tooheys New

Tooheys New is the most popular beer brewed by Tooheys and can be found on tap in most bars in New South Wales. The beer was first brewed in 1931 and was initially called Tooheys New Special.

Reschs Pilsener

Brewed since the 1800s, Reschs was taken over by Tooth & Co in 1929, who continued brewing Reschs Pilsener until it was then taken over by Carlton & United Breweries in 1983. Reschs Pilsner was discontinued, but found was brought back after campaigning by the Reschs Appreciation Society, and continues to be brewed by CUB.

Victoria

Victoria Bitter

Victoria Bitter, or VB as it’s more commonly known, is Australia’s highest-selling beer. It was developed in 1854 by Thomas Aitken, founder and head brewer of the Victoria Brewery. Despite the name, VB is actually a lager, not a bitter.

Carlton Draught

You’ll find Carlton Draught on tap and most pubs around Victoria, and is also found in the ACT, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia. It was originally brewed by Carlton Brewery, one of the six major Australian breweries that merged in 1907 to become Carlton & United Breweries.

Melbourne Bitter

Despite only launching on taps in 2015, Melbourne Bitter was initially brewed in 1936 by brewers Jack Prederast, and Nick Deheer before being sold to Carlton & United Breweries later that year. The beer was initially popular in regional Victoria, but has had a resurgence among city dwellers over the past decade.

Fosters

Despite not being popular in Australia anymore, Fosters is still an iconic Australian beer and was first brewed in Melbourne in 1888. Conceived by two American brothers, William, and Ralph Foster, the beer has become popular in the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

Tasmania

Boags XXX Ale

Boags XXX Ale is impossible to find outside of Tasmania, but has been brewed in the Apple Isle for more than 100 years. James Boag initially brewed the beer in 1883 and has been enjoyed by generations of Tasmanians.

Cascade Lager

Another that’s just for Tasmanians, the Cascade Lager is to Hobart as the Boags red is to Launceston. The Cascade ‘Blue’ has fruity notes and is balanced with bitters from hops.

South Australia

Coopers Pale Ale

While only hitting the market in 1989, Coopers Pale Ale has its roots in previously brewed Coopers beers such as the Light Brew Sparkling Ale, and the Light Dinner Ale which were brewed from the 1960s.

West End Draught

Known as ‘red tins’, West End Draught is the highest-selling beer in South Australia. Initially brewed by the South Australian Brewing Company, the brewery was acquired by Lion in 1993.

Western Australia

Swan Draught

Swan Draught has been in production since 1857, making it one of Australia’s oldest beers. A classic golden lager made from Western Australian barley, and Tasmanian hops.

Emu Bitter

Initially brewed in 1923, Emu Bitter is still widely available and is commonly known as Bush Chooks, EB, or Kenny. It’s a crisp beer, and suits the warmer climate in Western Australia.

Emu Export

Launched in 1954, Emu Export is an iconic West Australian beer that isn’t often found outside of Western Australia.

Queensland

XXXX

The XXXX beer brand has been brewing beer since 1924 in Queensland by Castlemaine Brewers. Many beers over the years have been labelled with the XXXX brand, the oldest of which currently is XXXX Bitter which was introduced in 1991.

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Food and Drink

Why Makrut Lime Makes a Star Ingredient in Cocktails

The Southeast Asian citrus is intensely aromatic and pairs with rum, gin, tequila, and more.

Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks
Photo courtesy of Fish Cheeks

I grew up with a makrut lime tree in my backyard, admiring the double leaves and dimpled citrus fruit that frequently made their way into our family dinners. Makrut limes, which are sometimes referred to kaffir limes (although the term is controversial and has been widely retired), are native to Southeast Asia, but somehow my mom willed a tree to grow in our Southern California home with great success.

To me, makrut meant savoury Thai food: steamed fish curry wrapped in banana leaves and sprinkled with chiffonade makrut, simmering tom kha gai with floating bits of the hand-torn citrus leaves, and glistening green curry accentuated by the plant’s aroma.

But to others, makrut is an ideal ingredient in cocktails and other drinks. Such is the case for Fish Cheeks, a Thai restaurant in Manhattan known for its seafood dishes and eclectic, complementary cocktail menu. Beverage director Beau Fontano knew he had to include makrut in his creations, especially because the ingredient is so prominent on the food menu. Makrut lime finds its way in several drinks, most notably as a garnish atop the Thank You Kha, a riff on the acidic coconut stew tom kha gai, and the Manao Mao, a rum-based drink that uses makrut lime bitters.

“I don’t love using the word tiki, but if you think of those tiki rum cocktails, makrut definitely works well in those,” Fontano says. “But I also love it in martinis-there’s something really clean about it. And with makrut lime, if you’re just using the leaves, you can do a lot of rapid infusions.”

Fontano only uses the leaves, because the rinds and juice of makrut limes are famously bitter. “Regular lime has a little bit more sugar content, so that’s why it’s much more approachable in cocktails. Makrut limes tend to be more dry,” he explains. “But when you use the leaves in cocktails, you just smack it to wake it up a little bit and it gets that nice citrusy, refreshing aroma which is really fun.”

The leaves are cut fresh, so each drink has the scent of makrut lime leaves wafting off of them. “I’m sure at one point I will get around to it and try to figure out how to use the juice,” he laughs.

Further north at Paper Tiger in Portland, Maine, makrut lime leaves are also prevalent in a cocktail called Something Scandalous, a tequila-based drink intended to be, in the words of bartender Nick Reevy, “crushed easily.”

Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger
Paper Tiger

“I went with tequila, specifically, because in Maine it’s 80 degrees and humid pretty much all summer,” Reevy explains. “So I made something you kick back easily. Agave has a really nice softness that elevates the makrut lime, and the main flavour in that drink is the Thai basil.”

The drink is an alluring shade of green and is rounded out by cinnamon syrup and falernum. “Makrut lime is really herbal and bright in a way no other citrus is,” Reevy adds. “It’s interchangeable with other limes, but it just adds this whole other depth of flavour.”Makrut lime has even made its way into hard seltzer, albeit a limited edition drop from Lunar. Founder Kevin Wong knew he wanted to add another citrus drink to his rotation as he witnessed the successes of hard lemonades, but already had a yuzu iteration. Makrut lime seemed like a natural follow-up.

Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar
Photo courtesy of Lunar

“It has a very intense citrus fragrance, almost perfumey or soapy,” Wong ponders. “Like I could see Le Labo putting out a makrut lime fragrance. It has such a commanding presence and body.”

To tamper down some of the boldness of the makrut lime, the hard seltzer uses makrut lime leaf extract, lime juice, and cane sugar. The aromatics of the lime are present without too much bitterness; instead, the seltzer is grassy, acidic, and dry. Wong recommends pairing the can with spicy foods, especially Szechuan dry pot.

The makrut lime seltzer is currently sold out, and Wong is unsure whether or not another batch is in the works. “I feel like makrut lime is the greatest secret unknown to the Western world,” he says. “It’s in medicine, candy, herbal drinks, cosmetics and aromatherapy. I think we did the seltzer too early, and I don’t know if the world is ready for us to bring it back yet. Maybe in a couple of years.”

But judging by the growing popularity of makrut lime in beverage menus, the comeback might be sooner than he expects.

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Kat Thompson is a senior staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @katthompsonn.

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