Australian-Brewed Beers Taste Better Than Imported Originals

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]


    I guess they really don't know what they're doing over there at choice, the Australian brews are vastly inferior.

      Agreed. I really liked Miller Chill as an import, but the Australian version doesn't taste very good at all.
      But then Fosters brewed in Bangalore doesn't taste very good... oh wait, it /was/ Fosters.

      A blind taste test is always going to be more reliable than anecdotal evidence. If you go into a (non-blind) taste test thinking Australian brewed beer is inferior, your own bias will alter the perceived flavour.

    It is down to what tastes you are familiar and used to. Try some nice European beers for a month, and you will notice how shitty aussie beers are.

      I'm guessing the expert tasting panel have sampled quite a few beers in their time :)


          The Italian Peroni is amazing compared to the Aussie version. Like most Aussie versions of euro beers, it seems to tip the balance away from the hops in favour of a weird malt sweetness. This is unlikely a freshness issue. I suspect it's something to do with the artificial process breweries use to "match" their brewing water to the mineral profile of water from the original country.

          In my opinion Aussie Stella and Becks also display the same balance changes in varying degrees. It would seem the panel agrees with that assessment.

            Hear here! When I see imported Italian Peroni for sale it makes my day!

            As for why it tastes so different, my money is on the malt (like Tim) and the Aussie water, which I think is too soft. Still it's not like importing the water would be a cost effective strategy for Coke (the makers of the Aussie version). May as well import the actual beer!

    Of course if you really want to taste proper beer, go to somewhere like Plonk in Canberra and see the vast range of beers available and then you will realise that the lagers we drink in this country are bland flavourless piles of yak dung.

      + a bajillion

    Fosters & VB. 'Nuff said.

    lets just say I stopped drinking Heineken and that use to be my top 3 beers of choice :(
    Stella is also not great
    Peroni actually improved IMHO
    the rest are 2 close to call in my opinion

    are u saying VB taste better than. sole or corrona?

    and of course this also depends on where in Australia they were brewed as well! My father and his mates who some of them grew up in Victoria have said the VB that is brewed in Victoria is much more superior than what we get here on the Gold Coast, according to one of his mates it's due to the location it's brewed and it's up here on the Gold Coast, and anyone who knows the water in Brisbane/Gold Coast is pretty horrible in taste.

    I almost jumped in here to rant seeing the heading and the thumbnail but was then reassured by the article claiming the judges preferred the imported Peroni compared to the local one. phew! Everyone I know prefers the imported version. I still like the fact they come all separate in a box makes me laugh first time I got one I was like WTF.
    Heineken not sure I've never noticed if its imported or local, and last few times I've bought the Keg anyway :)

    It's not the taste I have a problem with. It's the charging of an "imported" price when it's not actually imported!

    Good to see some people agree with me about the Becks. I love Becks and do like the locally brewed one but it does not taste as good as the import.

    What they now need to do is a blind tasting again, but with similar "freshness", and see what the results are.

    I don't LIKE it fresh. Put a few months on it, and it tastes a great deal better. I proved this when they started brewing Becks here. Couldn't stand the local product. Then I happened to open some local brews that I'd been keeping for a rainy day, and they were just like the imported.

    I've been lucky enough to have tried locally brewed beers all over the world, and while most of them have been fantastic drinking, some of the most enjoyable have been Australian micro-brewed beers. But I guess the question I have to ask is... when people say the "lagers we drink in this country", what are they referring to? If this sort of comment is limited to the domestically brewed versions of the euro beers mentioned in this article, then okay... but almost everywhere in the world has their fair share of crappy beers (Australia included). We also have lots of amazing beers too, and while truly I appreciate the great beers (and beer history) in Europe... I'm so far and away sick of wannabe, euro-loving Australian hipsters acting like all good beer MUST be European and shitting on all the great local brews (and brewers) here in the process. It's those people who insist on drinking Stella Artois from a stubby when there is a whole host of local brews on tap right in front of them that are actually cheaper. That in itself isn't a problem really, because it's their money - but when they look down on other people, like drinking Stella puts them at the apex of society because Europeans make a superior beer... that's not cool! Especially when they don't realise it's brewed in Melbourne, not Belgium.

      Was thinking something to this tune as well... We have some fantastic micro breweries in Australia that aren't owned/operated en masse by Lion or Fosters, many who rival the quality of the best brewers in the world.

      But on the flipside, mass-produced international lager is an amazing product with incredibly rich, varied flavour nuances, yet among many beer snobs it doesn't get the respect it deserves.

      I find it particularly amusing to read how Stella "puts them at the apex of society" as Stella is nicknamed "Wife-beater" in the UK. It's got a reputation as a beer that makes you aggressive due to the levels of Nitrogen in the brewing process. It's not a drink you would find in an upmarket drinking venue in the UK.
      I was pretty disappointed with the beers when I first moved over here, my tastes have changed though and now I don't even notice. James Squire seems to offer the best balance of taste and convenience, and it's Australian.

    In fact, I can't think of a single light lager produced by a micro that even comes close to the big boys in terms of quality. In the same way you won't get a seriously punchy pale ale from a major (except maybe Matilda Bay's barely-sells Alpha), a micro is very unlikely to produce a light lager or pilsner that is up to world standard.

      Technically Matilda Bay /is/ a "major" since they are owned by BIg Boys SabMiller/Fosters/CUB

      Have you tried Thunder Road's pale lager? It's only in kegs though. It's my go-to lager whenever I'm out and about. 'Full Steam' they call it.

    Not sure on the comment about Guiness... it's only made in Dublin.

    And I'm not convinced the seven beer experts will have been particularly neutral. If they've continually experienced non-imported brands then they're surely going to have a leaning towards that taste as being normal or best. If the panel had included people from the originating country of each brand, I'd wager the results would be different.

      Well I'm not sure about your comment about Guiness either. According to the Guiness website, "GUINNESS® beer is available in well over 100 countries worldwide and is brewed in almost 50."

        You could well be right. They ran a massive advertising campaign a while back in the UK saying how they only brewed it in Dublin. So either they've started brewing it elsewhere again, or they may have been suggesting that the only Guiness imported to the UK was from Dublin. Cheeky if they were.

          I'm pretty sure that all Guinness sold in CANS is from Dublin but the stuff you get in kegs is usually brewed in the country it's sold in.

    To test this properly, they should be doing it in reverse; fly the tasters to Europe with samples of the local brews, and test them with the fresh European counterparts.

    Westvleteren, Three Floyds, Mikkeller... /beersnob

    oh, and FYI, Rochefort 10 is the best beer in the world. Hands down. :)

      Just spent some time in Belgium. Kid in candy store! Most beers like Rochefort under €2 in the supermarket. Six pack of Chimay Blue stubbes €6. FUN

    it appears most people in australia have no idea about good tasting beer - with XXXX Gold the top selling beer...what the hell?

      That's just down to the NT and QLD drinkers who are among the highest per capita beer drinkers in the world.Hardly any one south of rockhampton drinks it but I as a non-beer drinker don't mind it as it has almost no taste.

    You cant beat Heineken made in Amsterdam. The Aussie stuff is just rubbish

    Hmmmm, I guess to people used to drinking VB that beers that taste like VB would be superior to the imported non VB like ones. I remember the day I bought some Kirin on special thinking it was a good price. I had bought it before and enjoyed it. Opened it up and thought it tasted like a crap Aussie beer. Read the label and sure enough, Brewed in Oz. Oh well, live in Europe now so great beers all round.

    Unless you have done a blind triangle taste test with the imported and local versions you cannot say which one you prefer. I have had friends that were adamant that they prefer the imports but when you put a blindfold on them, give them 3 beers (two of one and one of the other) and ask which one or two they prefer, most are not able to tell which two are the same. If they do manage to pick the one they liked best I have found they would prefer the local one more often.
    My point is that we get passionate about our beer and a little education often goes a long way.

    let's not forget here that even the finest lager in the world doesn't hold a candle to your average ale in terms of flavour anyway. Sure I'll drink a lager on occasion but they don't have much to offer quite frankly.

    If you want to taste a wide range of Australian beers, I suggest you check out They have beer sample packs you can buy.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now