Yo – Dave here. We’ve been in Queensland for a few months now so here comes another brew review.
I knew that once we got to the Sunshine State I would have to try XXXX – “The Pride of Queensland”. I have to admit, I wasn’t really looking forward to it but I put aside my preconceived ideas and picked up a 30 can block of XXXX Bitter for about $45. For comparison, I also tried a few bottles of XXXX Summer Bright Lager and a couple of tinnies of XXXX Gold, which is the most popular beer in the XXXX range.
Back in 1877, the Fitzgerald brothers from Victoria moved up to Queensland and opened the Castlemaine Perkins brewery. Back home in Melbourne, I was told that XXXX was called “XXXX” because Queenslanders didn’t know how to spell “beer”, as it turns out the name XXXX actually comes from the old beer quality rating measure. They were awarded the XXXX rating after perfecting their brew in 1924 and still use the same recipe today.
1924 also saw the first appearance of Mr FOUREX, who quickly became one of the most recognisable advertising icons in the state.
Oh yeah, XXXX is also the first beer to have its own island. In 2012, XXXX took out a three year lease on Pumpkin Island in the Great Barrier Reef off the coast east of Yeppoon. Yep, XXXX Island exists!
XXXX Bitter comes in at 4.6% alcohol volume, which is the same as Carlton Draught but more than West End (4.5%), Swan Draught (4.4%) and Emu Export (4.4%). NT Draught is still the highest at 4.9%. The colouring of the label is maroon with a picture of the brewery and four big red Xs.
The flavour of the beer is malty and almost a bit sweet. It kind of tastes like VB, but watered down and not as bitter or flavourful. It’s crisp, easy to drink, has minimal fizz and surprisingly little of that metallic aftertaste a lot of the domestic macro beers seem to have. I like it better than VB, but not as much as Carlton Draught.
The mid-strength XXXX Gold was launched in 1992 and went on to be the best selling beer in Australia.
You won’t be surprised to know that the labelling for XXXX Gold is gold coloured. You’ll also find an image of the brewery at the top and “gold” written across the middle of the label. With an alcohol volume of 3.5%, XXXX Gold is up against the likes of Carlton Mid, Hahn Super Dry 3.5, and VB Gold. I found XXXX Gold to have more flavour than XXXX Bitter. It’s malty, fresh and crisp, yet still smooth and easy to drink with its fine bubbles. There’s even a bit of hoppiness noticeable in the short aftertaste.
XXXX Summer Bright Lager
Launched in 2009, XXXX Summer Bright Lager was XXXX’s entry into the low-carb beer wars. It comes in a clear bottle with a white label that sports a couple of yellow waves and some sunshine. In the past I’ve found most low-carb beers taste like fizzy water, but I gave this a go anyway.
With a 4.2% alcohol volume, this straw coloured brew is a distinctly light flavoured Mexican style beer (think Corona or Sol). It’s not very malty or bitter, but it’s not meant to be. The sweetness of the beer is perfect for hot summer afternoons down at the beach or in the park. I could easily chop up some limes and sit around drinking these all through the balmy Queensland nights.
Of the three XXXX beers I tried, my preference would probably be determined by the situation. If I had to pick one to drink all night, I’d go for the Summer Bright Lager. If I was only having one beer based on flavour, I’d grab a XXXX Gold. If my options were VB, Melbourne Bitter, Emu Bitter or XXXX Bitter, I’m pretty sure I’d be holding a XXXX Bitter.
So, where do the XXXX beers land on the leader board?