Buying the Christmas Beers in Australia

I think most of you must know by now that I love Australia. I live in Brisbane, and I love Brisbane too. Regular readers will also have noticed that I love beer, not lager type beer, but bitter.

Imagine my delight then, when I was doing beer shopping for Christmas, to see a new brew on the shelves called Brisbane Bitter. I’d never seen this beer on sale before, so I picked up a carton of 24 and popped it in the trolley.

I also saw cartons of a beer called “Gold Top” which described itself as a Pale Ale of which I am also a fan, so I popped a carton of those in the trolley as well.

Even though I have lived here for four years, I knew nothing about these beers or why they were being described as “specials” for Christmas.

Later that day…..

Said beers having sufficiently cooled in my fridge….

Brisbane Bitter…. last night I sampled a couple of each of them for the first time.

Being an Englishman, when I think of bitter beers and pale ales, I think of beers like Abbott Ale, Old Speckled Hen, Directors, Ruddles County, Spitfire and my favourite, Greene King IPA.

Now I was about to sample Brisbane Bitter.

I drank two cans; I don’t think I quite believed the first. What can I say? My immediate thought was “OMG, I’ve still got 22 cans to go”.

It’s my own fault, I should have known better. I have long been aware that when Australians say “bitter”, they mean it’s just another lager.

Then I tried the Gold Top Pale Ale, slightly more palatable. Can’t really think of anything more to say, other than it isn’t a pale ale. It’s just another lager.

Today I had my fifth annual pest control treatment and Paul, the guy who has done each and every one of them, noticed my cartons of beer in the spare room as he was going around spraying.

“How d’ya go with that Brisbane Bitter?” he asked.

“Not good is it? Way too sweet for a bitter!” I replied. “What’s the story? I went on.

He then told me the story.

Brisbane Bitter and Gold Top were popular beers in the 70s and early 80s in these parts. They have been released this Christmas as “retro” beers for those who want to relive the good old days.

Looks like I will be reliving the good old days for another 44 cans worth. I can’t chuck them in the bin; it’s against our household policy to throw away alcohol.

So this Christmas, for some of it, I’ll be drinking retro beer. I’ve got quite a few people coming round over the festive season, hopefully I might be able to palm some of it off on them.

I’m not sure I’ll get away with that though. When Paul had finished spraying the house I said “Do you want to take a sixpack of Brisbane Bitter home with you for Christmas, relive the old days?”

“No thanks.” He said.

I think that sums it up, don’t you? Can’t even give it away.

Tell you what though, the advert was a corker! Take a look at this from about 30 odd years ago. They don’t make ’em like this any more……

Bottoms up!

Brisbane Bitter..... lager.
Brisbane Bitter….. or….er…. lager.
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{ 25 comments… add one }
  • John V. January 5, 2012, 2:32 pm |

    The owner, Cox, who appeared in court wearing blue Bermuda shorts, trainers and a black T-shirt, was arrested. Yeah I reckon he made a bad fashion statement that couldnt be verified. Guilty as charged!
    Couldnt live in England nor Holland for that matter. All sorts of petty magistrates! At 9, I was glad to leave… I would have done something bad because of sheer frustration!

    • BobinOz January 9, 2012, 12:27 pm |

      Bermuda shorts! It’s the middle of winter!

  • John V. January 4, 2012, 10:54 am |

    Its gotta be that water isnt fit to drink anymore. Its become so politicised that it worse than muddy water. The Murray river debate, the farms selling of their water to survive and wondering why the farms have stopped producing. The constitution being ignored in many matters. Makes you want to turn to drink. And I think I’m thirsty now.
    Trouble is even Victoria Bitter isnt what it was. It tastes like dishwater since removing the .2 percent of the alcohol that gave it flavour.Its less tha n4.7 percent now. The company was struggling to survive and sold out. Then wondered why people chose to buy overseas beer instead. Chief Executive Officers Suck! I complained and it was ignored. Only one thing for it. Brew your own…

    • BobinOz January 4, 2012, 10:18 pm |

      Which is exactly what I do John, brew my own. I’ve got my own little microbrewery going on in the garage; one temperature controlled fridge for brewing, the second fridge is where I clear beers and gas them, and I have a third fridge in the laundry with a beer tap on it.

      Pure heaven! And highly recommended for anyone who likes good beer.

      • John V. January 5, 2012, 8:40 am |

        Mad Max British Style
        A BRITISH man has been banned from having a dog for three years after his six-month-old Labrador puppy got drunk on vodka and coke.

        Matthew Cox, 26, had been at home drinking with his flatmate on August 22 when he put his drink down on the floor and went outside to smoke.

        When he came back in he realised his black puppy, Max, had swallowed the contents of the glass, which was made up of one quarter vodka and three quarters coke.

        Nottingham Magistrates’ Court heard that Cox did not deal with Max that night, even though the puppy was swaying, because he was himself too drunk.
        Two girls saw Max that evening falling over and staggering about near shops close to Cox’s home in Nottingham and called the police.
        Max was found at Cox’s home with his flatmate around 8pm and was removed by officers because they were so worried about his health.

        Moore said: “Due to the state of the dog the police officer, being an animal lover himself, took the dog to the emergency vet.”

        She said that Max, who Cox had owned for around three and a half months, was immediately put on an intravenous drip for eight to 10 hours to flush the alcohol out of his system.

        He needed another 12 hours on a drip the next day to restore him back to full health.

        The court heard that a vet said he would have suffered for around 12 hours after drinking the alcohol, mainly because he would have had trouble dealing with and understanding his surroundings when in such an inebriated state.

        Max has since been given a clean bill of health and has been found a new home by the RSPCA.

        Cox, who appeared in court wearing blue Bermuda shorts, trainers and a black T-shirt, was arrested.
        In court on Wednesday he pleaded guilty to failing to ensure an animal’s welfare, namely failing to prevent an animal from consuming alcohol, and was disqualified from keeping or owning a dog for three years and given a two-year conditional discharge. What? Not charged with allowing an underage labrador to have a drink?
        Cox is currently serving a prison sentence for another offence, which was not specified in court, and is due for release later this month.
        Magistrate JA Smith said: “It was not malicious – there were no weapons – it was just downright stupid, wasn’t it?
        “Especially with any dog that has Labrador blood in it. They are fervently hungry for food and drink.
        (“Extenuationg circunstances your honor”)
        “This could have had desperate consequences for him – a motor accident or anything. (The dog didnt have licence so how could he have done!)
        “I do hope that when you do have a dog again you make jolly sure that your drinks are not in reach.”
        My comment:
        I bet the coppers were female. The magistrate was too. A labrador cant even have a good time anymore!
        Dogs and Kidz keep your drinks outa reach….

        • BobinOz January 5, 2012, 12:53 pm |

          I would have arrested the dog for theft, assuming I could have got the owner to press charges. Failing that, I’d have given the dog community service for not standing his round.


  • Sean January 4, 2012, 10:22 am |

    It speaks volumes about the readers of your blog Bob, that by far the most amount of comments have been centered on beer!
    Just shows what is important in life – I know it is in mine!



    • BobinOz January 4, 2012, 10:16 pm |

      I should open a bar area somewhere on this website. I think I’d have plenty of punters…

  • John V. January 4, 2012, 8:43 am |

    Just found this….
    Birdsville reached 43 degrees Celsius yesterday and forecasts are pointing to even hotter conditions towards the weekend.
    Gus Daffy from the Birdsville Hotel says they have erected a sign on the pub’s front door to make the most of the scorching conditions.
    “It’s all a lot of fun and it has generated a bit of interest,” he said.

    “It says: ‘Outside 47 degrees Celsius, inside 26 degrees Celsius, beer 0.2 degrees Celsius’.

    “And underneath that is written ‘your choice’.”
    The question is, in these extremes is there a choice?

    • BobinOz January 4, 2012, 10:14 pm |

      What a great sign, and no, there is no choice. It’s only 32° here, and I still have no choice. Thank the Lord for the beer fridge.

  • omid December 25, 2011, 5:47 am |

    Dear bob
    merry christmas too
    I wish you every success in new year .

    best regard
    M. omid

  • Sean December 24, 2011, 7:39 pm |

    JC, what Westons cider is it, not Old Rosie by any chance? If so that is the best cider probably ever made, each pint comes with a 2 day hangover thrown in for free!

    • BobinOz December 29, 2011, 7:55 pm |

      Never had Westons, I shall give it a try. Have you had Merrydown cider? Oooh!

    • JC January 30, 2012, 9:08 pm |

      It was Henry Weston’s Vintage, 8.2% – the nice strong one!
      They were going for about 6 or 7 aud if I recall correctly. Will keep an eye out for Merrydown next time I’m feeling thirsty!

      • BobinOz January 31, 2012, 1:18 am |

        I’ll keep an eye out for it.

        If I recall correctly, Merrydown is 8.4%. Go for the dry.

  • Jc December 24, 2011, 11:26 am |

    My first Christmas since I moved here, and was excited to find Dan murphys are selling old speckled hen, innis & gunn, and Westons cider!

    • BobinOz December 29, 2011, 7:53 pm |

      I was thrilled too, but not by the price. I’m a big Old Speckled Hen fan, but when I lived in England I used to buy it for £12 for a crate of 24 x 500 mL cans on one of my regular booze cruise ferry trips to France.

      I don’t even remember how expensive they are here, I’ve blanked it from my memory, it’s too hard to deal with.

  • Mark Thompson December 23, 2011, 8:18 pm |

    I treated myself to a pint of Old Speckled Hen in the Pig and Whistle last week. Even the $11.50 bill couldn’t spoil the enjoyment!

    • BobinOz December 29, 2011, 7:46 pm |

      Money well spent!

      I’m glad you mentioned that as well, because I was sure I saw Old Speckled Hen on In the Pig and Whistle when I first arrived here. I didn’t buy a pint because it was morning, I just wandered in to see what they had on tap.

      Never seen it since.

      Which Pig and Whistle? I normally drink Fat Yak in their pubs these days.

      • Mark T December 30, 2011, 12:02 am |

        Eagle Street.
        Fat Yack is the best Oz beer I have found here. Can’t stand most of the local lagers!

        • BobinOz January 2, 2012, 9:43 pm |

          Little Creatures Pale Ale probably edges out Fat Yak in top spot for me. But they are both good beers. Next time I’m in Eagle Street watching the footy, I’ll be looking for the Old Speckled Hen.

          • BobinOz January 31, 2012, 1:21 am |

            Correction: Little Creatures versus Fat Yak on draft in a pub in Caxton Street Saturday night, Fat Yak won.

            So maybe Fat Yak is the best Oz beer!

  • Sean December 22, 2011, 5:14 pm |

    My sincere condolences Bob, being a fellow real ale drinker, I know what you must be going through this Christmas.

    Have a good one!


    • BobinOz December 23, 2011, 3:40 pm |

      Thanks Sean, I’m getting by. I’m consoling myself with my Coopers IPA homebrew bitter 🙂

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