While Australia was not our first introduction to country with a pub culture, it was our first opportunity to actually work as a bartender in one.
Greg leans to make an “Australian Mojito”…
…that contains very few things from Australia 😉
Also in our many great Australian overland excursions we managed to cover quite a bit of countryside and sample everything from the rum of the tropics to the schnapps of the Snowy Mountains. Of course, being us, we managed to find our way into a wine valley or two and made sure we sampled the local non-alcoholic options as well. In all these different libations Australia held its own and from time to time the land of the kangaroo even delivered solid quality. Australia has earned a justified place in our future cellar of favorite drinks.
However schnapps, rum and wine are not the drinks a pub culture bases itself on. Pubs serve beer and, well, frankly? We have no idea how Australian pubs stay in business by selling Australian beer.
At best OK with a few forays into horrible, Australian beer was the first time we ever actually rated a drink as “bilge water.” (0 sheets to the wind) But for some masochistic, unexplained reason Australians keep buying the stuff en masse so they keep making it. We have no idea why, perhaps their philosophy towards the taste of their beer is similar to the Kiwi approach to insulation? “Ignore it and it doesn’t exist?”
Maybe it’s because often the beer is cheaper than the soda. No, seriously
(and let’s not forget the Australian dollar is currently beating the US dollar so it’s actually even more expensive than the printed price!! We’ll leave the math to you.)
If they’re going to over-pay for their drink, maybe the Aussies figure they might as well buy something that will help them forget what they paid?
We’ve actually found that we had to introduce a new rating level for Australian beers: 2.5 – which translates to, “normally we wouldn’t buy this however when at a pub in Australia we will favor this over other Australian beers.”
Sorry Australia, your beer sucks. Well, OK, to be fair some of it doesn’t suck but what doesn’t suck is only OK. And seriously, your beer should not suck – it should be frigging awesome! What happened? Where did you lose your way? And don’t get all huffy about this because you don’t even like your beer: Australians water down their brews with Sprite and gave it a classy name, the “shandy.” People…when you have to add Sprite to your beer it should be a hint!
The young crowd also seems to have a few likings of their own:
“Lolly” drinks – these are premixed drinks that seem to have a lot more popularity over here:
Goon – Imagine wine. Now imagine they sell it by the gallon. Not exaggerating people, about how many liters are in a gallon?
From Sunnyvale wines
This stuff is the original boxed wine and purchased mostly for the purpose of getting drunk. One of the major selling points, we are told, is the bag with which the wine is contained in the box – as it can be re-inflated and utilized as a pillow immediately after the goon is consumed.
What it comes down to is this:
Australia has a great libations industry
It’s just not where you’d expect to find it.
Instead of the pubs and breweries we found our best drinks in the wineries, the distilleries and the non-alcoholic ginger beer.
So our advice on the grog of Australia?
Be careful with the beer,
Hit the wineries and
The out of the way specialty stuff is well worth the time investment.
Australia is way too big a country and we hit way too many places to cover everything in a single entry. So we’ll handle this like we did New Zealand and break it down by the states we visited: