11 Beers You Thought Were Australian (But Aren’t)

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Australia loves its beer and is a lucky country when it comes to the wide selection of quality brews to choose from. However, as you’re sitting in a pub sampling some of the best beers in Australia, there’s a good chance that whatever you’re drinking comes from one of two multinational companies.

Over the past two decades, two companies have taken control of around 90% of the beer market in Australia. That means that while things are still brewed here in Australia, the beer isn’t Australian anymore. Instead, technically, it’s Japanese – falling under either Asahi Brewing or Kirin Holdings.

Strap yourself in to learn about the ins and outs of the Australian brewing industry. And if you’re thirsty, don’t forget to check out the wide selection of beers in Australia from Liquorland.

Fosters Beer

Let’s start with the one beer brand that is marketed as Australia but brewed elsewhere: Fosters.

This beer started out being brewed in Melbourne in 1886, made by two immigrants from New York. While it enjoyed some popularity in early-day Australia, today, it’s almost impossible to find it on tap at any pub. It’s now brewed in Fort Worth, Texas, after the Foster’s Group was acquired by SABMiller (more information on that later).

Fosters is a beer heavily marketed as being Australia, despite no longer being brewed in the country since 2011. It’s especially well-known in the UK thanks to a slew of fantastic advertisements.

The Two Major Australian Brewing Companies

Today, there are two major players in the Australian brewing industry. Both are responsible for a wide range of the country’s most popular beers, whether it’s Victoria Bitter or Tooheys New, and make up around 90% of the total market.

However, both breweries are owned by international companies, either Asahi or Kirin. Both companies are from Japan, international food and beverage giants who own a large amount of brands around the world.

Let’s take a deeper look at the Australian beer brands that fall under these companies. 

Lion Brewing (Kirin)

One of those main players in the Australian beer industry is Lion (formerly known as Lion Nathan). In 2009, the Lion Brewery was taken over by Kirin Holdings, based out of Tokyo. That means the following popular Aussie beers are technically Japanese, despite still being brewed in Australia.

  •   XXXX
  •   Tooheys
  •   Hann
  •   Little Creatures
  •   James Squire

Carlton & United Breweries (Asahi)

The other major player in the Australian beer scene is Carlton & United Breweries. In 1983, the company was bought out by Elders IXL, a large Australian agricultural, food and beverage business. In 1990, the company renamed itself as the Foster’s Group.

In 2011, Foster’s Group was acquired by the British brewing company called SABMiller, as mentioned above, and Foster’s beer was moved to a brewery in Fort Worth, Texas.

Then in 2016, SABMiller was in turn acquired by the even bigger group called AB InBev, a company based in Leuven, Belgium, before being sold three years later to the well-known Japanese beverage brand, Asahi Brewing. This company is responsible for other popular beer brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Peroni, and Grolsch.

So that means that today, while the Carlton & United Breweries still make the following brands in Australia, they’re all technically owned by a Japanese company, like that of Lion Brewing.

  •   Victoria Bitter
  •   Carlton
  •   Crown Lager
  •   Cascade
  •   Fat Yak

Australian Independent Breweries

As you can see, most of the popular Australian beers fall under either Kirin or Asahi. But is it really that hard to find an Australian beer, made by an independent Australian brewery?  Turns out, other than the smaller craft beer companies, there’s really only one large independent brewer in Australia.  

Coopers Brewery

Australia’s biggest independent brewery is Coopers, based in Adelaide, South Australia. This brand has been brewing Aussie beers since 1862, with its most popular being the Original Pale Ale which is highly recommended by craft beer enthusiasts.

The family business has been running for six generations now, surviving both World Wars, recessions, and even a few hostile takeover bids by multinational beverage companies. Today, you can find their beers in bars and stores around the world.

Premium and Craft Beers

Other than Coopers Brewery, of course there’s a wide range of craft breweries that have opened over the past decade. Enjoying premium, local, and unique beers has undergone a resurgence around the world over the past decade, much to the joy of some of the best small breweries in Australia

The Takeaway

Despite all this information about Australia’s most famous beers being owned by international conglomerates, these beers are still brewed in the country and employ plenty of local workers. 

So, then, what’s the point of all this information? The main takeaway is that Australia simply has a lot of really fantastic beer to discover, international conglomerate or not.