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  • Queensland's Iconic XXXX Brewery

    Posted by Jennifer Anderson November 10, 2013 - 1,958 views - 0 comments - 1 like - #queensland  #brisbane  #beer  #Castlemaine  #IheartBNE  #brewerytours  #XXXX 

    I made a recent trip to the XXXX Brewery in Milton, 5 minutes out from the CBD, to fittingly toast to my dad’s milestone birthday (otherwise known as Castlemaine in the UK).  This brewery is, putting it mildly, pretty iconic to Queensland. 


    Bringing beer to Queenslanders began with two of Australia’s first brewers, The Perkins brothers, travelling from the Southern state of Victoria.  Along comes a German brewer (who you would most likely trust to know something about making beer) and the ale becomes a lager-style beer – more fitting of Queensland’s tropical climate it’s brighter, lighter and bubblier. 


    In Australia it was pretty standard to see strong brand loyalty – it was either Carlton or XXXX and pubs were split based on this essentialism.  As my dad recalls, you either went to a Carlton pub or XXXX pub. 


    More recently Australia has really grown their boutique beer market.  In comes the modern beer drinker, i.e. me.  The modern beer drinker has very little brand loyalty, tastes the metaphoric rainbow and drinks to their mood, the occasion, or whatever other whims they might have. 


    The XXXX Brewery tour was a great way to get up close and personal with a beverage that I have a steady relationship with but have never taken the time to get to know.  As part of the XXXX Brewery tour you get to taste a variety of barley and smell (taste if you dare) a range of hops.  The tour guide was more than happy to unpack my bias toward boutique beers.  The distinct flavours that are achieved in boutique beers mostly come from different varieties of hops.  Of course, there’s a role of malt in providing a more fuller flavour and slight sweetness, characteristic of amber ales - but I’m getting thirsty already!


    The tour will briefly take you through the history of XXXX then through the facility to learn the process of making beer.  For anyone interested in design and branding, the room filled with predecessor bottles, labels, packaging and tools provided an interesting side to the production process. 


    I recommend trying to make a weekday tour if you want to see the brewery in action, including bottling and keg-ing.  If you want to get a taste of XXXX Gold ‘off the wood’ (traditionally stored in a wooden keg) you’ll have to visit on a Friday or Saturday.


    You can also find XXXX Gold off the wood permanently served at the long-standing Breakfast Creek Hotel and the Great Northern (Rockhampton).  Apparently, the tradition was maintained at the Breakfast Creek Hotel because workers complained of the taste of beer served in metal kegs. 


    The agreement of the XXXX Brewery to continue producing and supplying wooden keg-ed beer was apparently made on a handshake with our former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke.  As a lover of beer, Bob Hawke held the record for the quickest consumption of a yard glass – that’s 2.5 pints or 1.4 litres of beer!  At a cricket match last year, Bob Hawke was challenged to scull a beer and at the age of 82 did so without hesitation (find it on youtube).  What can I say? Australians love beer.


    Once you’ve been teased with thoughts of beer for the duration of the tour, you get rewarded with 4 beers to try.  You’ll most likely get to try a brew that’s served only at the XXXX Brewery.  My dad and I got to try one of the brewer’s vintage brews, Castlemaine Dry, brought back for a limited time. 


    I’d also recommend taking an earlier tour if you’re going to go on a Sunday.  The tour finished at 2pm and the bar closes at 3pm.  I love beer but not enough to down four beers and lunch in an hour.  Lunch is worth having – the food was good.


    Check out my photos.  Although photos inside the brewery weren’t allowed, so you’ll have to make the visit yourself for all to be revealed.