Aussie beer drinkers often complain that locally-brewed versions of overseas beers are inferior to the "originals". However, a blind taste test conducted by CHOICE suggests that the Australian versions are generally just as good as or better than their fully-imported counterparts.
Picture by Warrenski
CHOICE had seven beer experts compare the locally-brewed versions of seven beers (Becks, Carlsberg, Grolsch, Heineken, Kronenbourg 1664, Peroni Nastro and Stella Artois) with imported originals. (CHOICE also compared the official and parallel import versions of Corona available locally.)
Grolsch, Carlsberg, Kornenbourg 1664 and Heineken all received higher overall scores than the imported versions. There was a preference by the panel for the imported versions of Peroni Nastro, Stella Artois and Becks, though only Peroni Nastro saw a large majority of the judges choosing the import version.
The main explanation for the local advantage? Freshness. As CHOICE spokesperson Ingrid Just said in a press statement: "Many factors influence the flavour of a beer, including deterioration over time. Some imported beers can take up to eight weeks to get to Australia and can then spend up to six weeks sitting in very warm conditions in containers on the docks." (Australian labelling laws set the best-before date as nine months after manufacture.)
Taste is an individual thing, but this test suggests that paying a premium for the imported versions might not be a good use of your money. "If you like the taste of European beer but don’t like the idea of a globetrotting brew, you should have no hesitation about purchasing a beer brewed locally under licence," CHOICE concludes.
The one obvious missing element and big exception in this list? Guinness. I've yet to meet anyone who believes that the Australian-produced version of Guinness is a patch on the real deal you can get in Ireland, and this test does nothing to alter that view.
Parallel import beer taste test [CHOICE]