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Attraction : The XXXX Brewery

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When it comes to beer in Queensland, you can’t get any more iconic than XXXX.  Get educated about the golden blood that runs through the veins of Queensland with a tour of the XXXX Brewery.  The extensive 90 minute excursion around the brewery includes an insightful presentation on the history of beer in Australia and runs through the brewing process from the raw ingredients to the final product in the Packing Hall.   XXXX even has its own island on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, the XXXX Island, which is designed to be the ultimate mates getaway.


The Brewery

While beer has been around for thousands of years, the story of XXXX started in 1877 when the Fitzgerald Brothers travelled from Melbourne to Queensland to open a brewery.  They already had a few breweries in the southern states and they thought Queensland could do with their own and it wasn’t long until the Castlemaine Brewery was taking orders for their XXX Ale.  In fact, the original brewery was the first building to get a phone line in Queensland.


It wasn’t until the early 1900s when German brewer Alhois William Leitner suggested changing the recipe to a lager.  While this was disapproved of at first, in 1924 Leitner released his new and improved XXXX Bitter.  Coincidentally, this was the same year that Mr Fourex was introduced.  XXXX Bitter was such a hit that its popularity prompted its first ever exportation to thirsty soldiers overseas fighting in World War 2.


Distribution was disrupted in 1974 when floods struck Brisbane.  With the delivery trucks out of action, the brewery staff had to improvise and ended up making rafts out of empty kegs to supply the community.  Their commitment to the community has continued over the years, sponsoring various festivals and events, and at one point sponsoring around 40 different sports.


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These days, XXXX Brewery produces 250 million litres of beer each year in an environmentally conscious, reusable and sustainable way.  Over the last few decades, they halved their water consumption and they also find uses for their by-products, like sending their leftovers south to Victoria to make Vegemite.


The Restaurant

XXXX Brewery tours have only been available since 2003, and they also have a recently refurbished bar and restaurant decorated with old brewery equipment and copper furnishings.


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The bar appears to be made of old mash tuns, while the spacious dining area is stocked with a variety of board games and features a tropical alfresco lounge area, perfect for after work drinks or a Sunday session.  They have XXXX Summer Ale, XXXX Gold and XXXX Bitter on tap, as well as a few James Squires varieties and soon, they will have wine on tap.


The tour ended with a tasting session in the XXXX Brewery Restaurant and two complementary drinks.  We got to try the three XXXX beers on tap, as well as the Summer Bright Lager with Natural Lime which had a refreshing citrus twist.  We decided to have some lunch while we drank our complementary beers.  We ordered the highly recommended beef burger, which was absolutely amazing – a big juicy patty with tangy mustard and pickles.  We also got the steak sandwich with beetroot relish and both meals came with hand cut chips and aioli dipping sauce.


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The Essentials

The Brewery is open Monday to Saturday for tours, which run at certain times during the day.  The price of the tour covers an informative tour through the brewery, a XXXX trucker cap, tastings at the end, and two pots of beer.  Remember to wear closed shoes and don’t drink any alcohol before attending the tour.


The XXXX Brewery Restaurant is open for lunch from 11:30am from Monday to Saturday.  It’s also available for functions, and there’s merchandise on display for purchase, such as hats, clothing, bar accessories and sporting goods.


The entrance to the XXXX Brewery is on the corner of Paten and Black Streets in Milton.  There’s limited parking available onsite and the surrounding streets are either meter parking or 2-hour free parking.  To book yourself in for a brewery tour, or to make enquiries, email or call 07 3361 7597.


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XXXX, Cape York

Brew Review : XXXX



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 openedmr fourex 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!


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XXXX Bitter

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.


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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?

  • NT Draught
  • Carlton Draught
  • XXXX Gold
  • XXXX Summer Bright Lager
  • XXXX Bitter
  • Emu Export
  • West End Draught
  • Swan Draught