RESOURCES
Australian guide to Imported Beer
It’s something that I’m not entirely comfortable with, but I’m very much a snob when it comes to imported beer.  For those who aren’t across the imported beer issue in Australia, here’s a summary:

10 years ago, if you bought an imported beer in Australia, you were fairly safe to assume that it had been made in its country of origin, and shipped to Australia.

As sales volumes of these beers increased, the manufacturers realized that they could cut down on shipping costs by making the same beers locally, using the same recipe and label.

This trend grew quite quickly, and as of right now, most of the international beer that is sold in Australia is actually brewed in Australia under the licence and supervision of the parent international brewery.  I actually heard an anecdote from a friend who purchased a case of “fully imported” Stella Artois, only to find that it was fully imported from New Zealand.

So what’s the problem?  This is a very fair question, as it should follow that the same beer brewed to the same recipe on the other side of the World should taste more-or-less the same.  But to my palate (and to the palate of plenty of others, it’s not just me!), they don’t taste the same, and more often than not, the original imported version tastes a whole lot better.  I don’t know if it’s water quality, difference in equipment, attention to detail or variation in ingredients.

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Photograph by Lorem Ipsum via Unsplash
This leads to the embarrassing situations I referred to earlier, where I’ll be handed a Peroni at a BBQ, surreptitiously check the label to establish where it was brewed, and in the case that it was brewed locally, sneak it back into the esky and go searching for a decent Chardonnay.  I’m not sure where this fits into “first world problems”.

Lest it be thought that I’m “drinking the label”, we’ve done several blind tastings comparing the imported and local versions, and the imported version has been the clear winner almost without exception.

“Don’t be afraid of looking pretentious when you’re asking about the point of origin of your beer.  You’re paying a premium for the label, so you might as well be getting what you’re paying for. ”
So, the main take-always from this whole discussion would be:

Be aware that there are locally and internationally brewed variations of most well-known imported beers available for retail sale in Australia.

Most people agree that the two versions of one label taste different, and it’s not always obvious which version you’re buying.  You can check the label on an individual bottle to be sure.

It’s easy enough to do a blind tasting comparing the two versions of your favorite beer and establish which version you prefer.  Once you’ve worked out which you prefer, you’ll be able to find either version of most beers in most capital cities (although it can take a bit of searching to find the true imported version).

Don’t be afraid of looking pretentious when you’re asking about the point of origin of your beer.  You’re paying a premium for the label, so you might as well be getting what you’re paying for.  And remember, you’re drinking imported beer, so people probably already think you’re pretentious!

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Photograph by Lorem Ipsum via Unsplash
My current favorite source for true imported beer is Jim’s Cellars, who will ship a case of any of the beers they stock to most capitals for $10, and have a good range of true imports at decent prices.
Nick and Sam, Adelaide, South Australia
22 March 2016
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