The Bundaberg Barrel represents many things. Apart from being considered as one of Australia’s Big Things, the Bundy Barrel is a family owned, Australian brewery that specialises in non-alcoholic soft drink. We’re all familiar with Bundaberg Ginger Beer, but there are so many other flavours to try and fall in love with.
Our visit was complemented with the warm and cheery presence of Katerina and Elisha, our hosts for the morning. These two lovely ladies set us up for our experience through the museum and led us through a tasting that made us look at soft drink in a new light… forever. Why would you want a cheap substitute when you can have the real thing, brewed and full of real flavour?
Our experience started with a self-guided tour through an interactive, five room museum that outlined the story of ginger beer in Australia. It all started when Marco Polo brought ginger to Europe from Asia in the 13th century. By the mid 1700s, ale sprinkled with dried ginger became a popular drink and this was the origin on ginger beer.
Many people tried to brew ginger beer in their own homes, with many brews exploding due to a prolonged brewing time. There’s a great interactive game in the museum which allows you to create a concoction of water, sugar, vinegar and salt and let it ferment. If your combination of choices is incorrect, then your brew will either taste bad or explode. Dave’s main goal of the game was to make his brew explode, while it took Juz two turns to get a brew that was just right.
After walking through the museum and playing with all the interactive games, we sat down to watch a brilliant 3D hologram show about Doug the Bug, who was actually a yeast that endured hardship before finding his way to Bundaberg to work his magic to help create ginger beer.
The Ginger Beer
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks was established in 1960 and has been a family owned brewery for over 50 years. They make the brewing process seem simple and concise. Just combine ginger, water and sugar to create wort before adding yeast. After some time to ferment, the mix is sterilised, filtered and carbonated to become Bundaberg’s yummy ginger beer. It’s then bottled at a rate of 1000 bottles per minute and distributed around Australia.
Naturally brewed to be better, Bundaberg does just make ginger beer – they have an awesome range of soft drinks available for tasting. The great thing about tasting at the Barrel is that after a session at the Sampling Bar, you can then take home a six pack of your favourites for $7.95!
We tasted the entire range and our favourite was the diet Ginger Beer. With a slightly different taste to the original Ginger Beer, the diet alternative is brewed with twice the ginger and much less sugar – a little bit is still required for the brewing process. It’s not as sweet, but it’s lighter and very refreshing. We were also fans of the diet Lemon Lime Bitters – once again, less sugar but more spice. It had a light citrus flavour hinted with cinnamon and cloves.
Of the sparkling selection, we loved the pink grapefruit and passionfruit drinks. They taste just like the real thing – you won’t believe it until you try it. The pineapple and coconut brew was particularly good and perfect for mixing with some spiced rum. Even their traditional flavours are fantastic. The creaming soda was actually Dave’s favourite, and is made with red grapes for a refreshing flavour. They also do a delicious Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola with a sweet genuine caramel aftertaste that is only available at the Barrel.
The Bundaberg Barrel is located at 147 Bargara Rd, Bundaberg and is open Monday to Saturday 9am – 4:30pm and on Sundays 10am to 3pm. The True Brew Experience Tour is a great way to learn more about ginger beer and Australia’s history before visiting the Sampling Bar and strolling through the gift shop.