Your tipsy Texan hosts take a trip down under to the outback and create bucket list of boozy must-dos in anticipation of Laura’s move to Australia.
Imperial Stout (aged in pinot noir barrels) from Moa Brewing Co.: Talk about a big beer. This dark brown beauty is bold in every way possible. The wood aging dominates the aroma and flavor, which is at first tart and then oaky, and right off that bat you can tell it has a high alcohol content — more than 10 percent. Once the beer warms up a little bit though — stouts develop new flavors as they warm up — roasty and chocolate notes shine through. According to Moa’s website, the beer is 100+ IBUs, which likely helps balance the full body.
Penfolds Koonunga Hills Shiraz Cabernet 2016: Penfolds is an internationally iconic wine from Australia, and the first Australian wine I ever tasted aside form Yellow Tail. This is a widely popular and affordable blend from the Koonunga Hill Range. The wine tastes like raspberries, mulberries, and red currants. The tannins and oak are noticeable but mild, and this bottle clocks in at 14.5%!
Brewery, winery, and bar recommendations
Stone and Wood Brewing Co (Byron Bay, New South Wales), which was a named a “can’t miss” brewery by Stephen Beaumont and Tim Webb, authors of Best Beers: The Indispensable Guide to the World’s Beers.
Epic Beer (Auckland, New Zealand), which sells beer by the case.
Little Creatures Brewing (locations in Fremantle, Western Australia and Geelong, Victoria), which was started by the founders of the historic Sail and Anchor pub. Its American Pale Ale has been called “iconic.”
Rusden Wines (Vine Vale, Barossa Valley, South Australia) Fifth generation vignerons and third generation winemakers, this family uses traditional methods to make stunning wines that exemplify the Barossa.
Jurassic Ridge (Waiheke Island, New Zealand) A short ferry ride and scooter jaunt from Auckland and you are taking in the beautiful wines and views at Jurassic Ridge. We loved these wines so much we sent a case home!
Tyrrell’s Wine (Hunter Valley, New South Wales) Family owned since 1858 in the oldest wine region in Australia. The wine was gorgeous and the staff was so friendly, they gave us a private tour of the winery and cellar, this place is dripping in history and familial pride.
Usher Tinkler Wines (Hunter Valley, New South Wales) This unassuming winery is tucked away in a breath taking old chapel. The hardwood floors and views through the stain-glass windows created a lovely atmosphere to sip these fun and funky wines.
Lark Distillery (Hobart, Tasmania) Family operation credited with jumpstarting the whiskey renaissance in Tasmania.
Beneath Driver Lane (Melbourne, Australia) Funky and moody cocktail and whiskey bar located in an old underground bank vault. The entrance is tucked away down an alley but its worth the search! It’s one of our favorite bars in the city.
Shady Pines Saloon (Sydney, Australia) Whiskey bar with a kitschy Americana flair. It’s a bit hard to find (down an alley next to a yoga studio behind the papered door) but is so cozy and perfect for sipping whisky when the weather cools down.
The Long Goodbye (Sydney, Australia) There are no cocktail menus here – the bartender chats with you about your favorite flavor profiles and crafts you a bespoke cocktail, and its under 20 dollars a drink!! I was really impressed with this space.
Perfect storm of economic factors
Australia never underwent a formal alcohol prohibition, but at beginning of the 20th century a perfect storm of economic factors led to an era that resembled Prohibition.
In 1901, Australia enacted a Beer Excise Act, which put numerous regulations on breweries including when and where beer could be distributed, which taxes they had to pay, label requirements and more. There’s also a section in there about brewers being subject to supervision from officers and the powers those officers had, and a note about beer buyers being entitled to a refund is the beer is “unfit for human use,” which seems sort of crazy. Couple that with an economic downturn and the number of breweries declined substantially — as much as half by 1920, according to Vintage Cellars.
The revolution for better beer didn’t take off until the 1980s when Sail and Anchor pub/brewery opened in Fremantle, West Australia.
Australia in real life
Laura here, and I’m happy to report I’ve been living it up in Australia for almost a year since we originally recorded this episode. It is fabulous here, the Australians have a real sense of pride in their beer and wine and rightly so. We’ve had the pleasure of staying in several wine regions sine we arrived (Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, Yarra Valley, and Waiheke Island to name a few) and I got to work a real life vintage in the Barossa Valley!
I’ve learned so much about Australian wine since I’ve been here – the biggest take away is we don’t get enough of it at home in Texas! I was familiar with large, internationally marketed wines from down under, but have visited some amazing wineries that deserve a bit of attention. You can find those highlighted above.
One interesting Australian wine trend that captured my imagination and heart is the sparkling red! Take a Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon and bottle condition for bubbles and BOOM you’ve got a Christmas time classic. The dazzling pomegranate color and glitzy effervescence honestly make this a drink for any celebration.
I’m continuing on my alcohol fueled journey soon and plan to make a stop in Tasmania to tour the thriving whiskey scene and sip some killer Pinot Noirs. Can’t wait to update you all soon!
CORRECTION: “All the Foster’s in the world is brewed in Fort Worth, Texas.”
Tiney here, and I got a bit ahead of myself on this fact. (Thanks, tequila shots.) Indeed, all the Foster’s lager you find the United States is brewed in at the MillerCoors brewery in Fort Worth, Texas. It’s been that way since 2011, when parent company SABMiller bought its brand rights to the beer. And one New Yorker was so upset when he found this out that he sued MillerCoors.
However, Foster’s is also brewed at a facility in Manchester, England and likely other places around the world where it is popular (read: Not Australia). The beer is more popular in the UK than it is in Australia.
Fun fact: The beer is also not vegetarian friendly or vegan, according to Foster’s FAQ. Not sure why, but ewww. **EDIT** We will discuss this in further detail in our upcoming season, stay tuned!