Yo – Dave here.
I thought it would be good to review each state’s standard beer and compare it against Carlton Draught from Victoria but when we arrived in Western Australia, I found out that they have more than one standard beer. They have Swan Draught and Emu Export, so I decided to review them against each other.
Just for the record, these two beers are unfortunately no longer brewed in WA and are no longer WA owned. They are now brewed at the West End Brewery in SA and the James Boags Brewery in Tasmania. All of these “Aussie” breweries are now owned by Kirin Brewery Company in Japan.
Swan Draught was first brewed in 1857 at the Swan Brewery, which still sits right near the banks of the Swan River in Perth. The colouring of the label is similar to Carlton Draught – it’s red and gold, but with a black swan in front of a sun rise instead of two Clydesdale horses.
At about $43 for a carton of 24 stubbies, the beer tastes lighter, sweeter and more floral than Carlton, but it’s not as good. With no noticeable aroma, there’s a small amount of fizz and bitterness and a chemical tang at the end, it’s more similar to kerosene (that’s a mild exaggeration). The saving grace for Swan Draught is the trivia questions under the stubbie lids, just like Carlton.
The Emu Brewery has roots going all the way back to 1837 when James Stokes founded the Albion Brewery. In 1908, the company name was changed to Emu Co-operative Brewery Ltd before being changed again the following year to Emu Brewery Ltd, and by 1927, Emu Brewery was sold to their main competitor, Swan Brewery. Swan ran the two businesses separately and continued to produce Emu Bitter, which tastes similar to VB.
Emu Export lager was only introduced in 1954, but their label looks more old school than the Swan Draught label. Once again, it’s mostly red like Carlton, but has a picture of their brewery built in 1938 and – wait for it, wait for it – an emu in front of a golden sun.
At about $44 for a 30 can block, Emu is maltier than Swan, has yeasty aroma and flavour with a metallic finish. Emu is more similar to Carlton Draught, but sweeter and less bitter.
Both Swan Draught and Emu Export have an alcohol content of 4.4%, so they’re lower than both Carlton Draught (4.6%) and West End Draught (4.5%). In terms of price, Emu and Swan are a couple of bucks cheaper than Carlton. So, there’s not really any clear winner based on alcohol content or price.
I’ve asked the opinion of staff at several bottle shops and they all reckon Emu Draught is the most popular “budget” beer they sell. So, (in the name of research) I worked my way through a couple of cases of each. For me, the Emus came out on top because they have more flavour than the Swans and they’re more similar to Carlton.
Neither Swan or Emu are mind blowing or life changing beers. That said though, if you want to sit around and smash cans with a few mates, grab a cheap block of Emus.
So, here’s how the leader board stands (or crawls) at the moment:
- Carlton Draught
- Emu Export
- West End Draught
- Swan Draught