Australian alcohol and food. What is it you
want? Mod Oz? Mod Oz is modern Australian food. Old fashioned Australian
food pretty much sucks. Chiko rolls and dim sims and other fried foods.
Chiko rolls aren't healthy. Nor are dim sims. Australians love to
consume beer. They have the fourth highest beer consumption per capita.
You have beers like Coopers, Tooheys, Cascade, Victoria Bitter, Melbourne Bitter, Castlemaine XXXX. Like it? James
Boags and Cascade Brewery from Tasmania make the best beers. Cascade
also makes Mercury Ciders. Mmmm good. Australian wines are famous, too.
There are several wine regions throughout Australia, like the Hunter
Valley, Yarra Valley, Margaret River, McClaren Vale.
"The four food groups in Australia are
beer, rum, and whatever alcohol an Australian has lying around if the first three
Doug Knell, Doug's Republic
Australia has a reputation outside its borders of being a land
of hefty alcohol consumption. People have
stereotypical images of Aussies sitting in the Outback sun,
wearing Akubra hats, downing their tenth stubbie for the
Well, guys. It's partly a crock. Australians
do guzzle beer like it's water, but according to the
World Health Organization, Australians are at the bottom of
the top quintile of total pure alcohol consumption per capita (CPC) per
year. On a list of 191 countries, Australia
ranked #37. The list below measures the CPC per liter of pure alcohol. For those of you bad
at math -- if a 375 ml bottle of beer contained 5% alcohol
by volume, this would equate to 18.75 ml of alcohol per
bottle. An inebriated Aussie would need to down over 53
bottles of this beer to consume one liter of pure alcohol.
Imagine if this pure alcohol consumption chart became public
knowledge. The supposedly hard-drinking macho Aussies
ranking below the UK, Switzerland, and New Zealand in
alcohol consumption? Australia would be humiliated.
In Australia, there's always room to drink one more
As a matter of fact,
Australian beer consumption has been shrinking, as Australian
wine consumption has increased. Wine is becoming the
beverage of choice. In 2003, Australian government
stats showed that wine consumption per capita had quadrupled
over the previous 40 years. This helped push beer
consumption to its lowest levels since 1961.
Another factor that has likely influenced the move from beer
to wine is the cost. Drinking wine winds up
cheaper per ounce of alcohol consumed than beer. Beer
is more expensive than what you'd pay for similar quality in
the USA or Germany. A 375 ml bottle of a medium grade
beer can cost close to AUD 2 -- or about AUD 0.11 per ml of
alcohol. Compare that to a 750 ml bottle
of AUD 8 wine which comes to AUD 0.09 per ml of alcohol.
And with the glut of grapes and wines all over Australia,
you can get a bottle of very decent wine for even AUD 5 or
6. Some cleanskin wines, wines with the brand name
label removed so as not to depreciate the wine brand but
sell excess quantity, are practically being given away. Imported beers and wines are a rip off.
beer production industry is very concentrated in
Australia. More micro-breweries are sprouting
up all the time, and I had the privilege of attending a
micro-brewery festival in Melbourne in 2006 which
featured only small breweries from the state of
Victoria. But the majority of Australian beer
is controlled by just two conglomerates, Foster's
Group and Lion Nathan, and the privately-held
Mainstream Australian beer is on par
with mainstream beer elsewhere. Victoria
Bitter is as good or bad as a mainstream Coors or
Budweiser. I personally found Carlton Draught and Fosters to
be palatable mainstream brews.
The Aussies will go out of their way to slam Fosters. That's too
easy because Fosters is the beer most foreigners identify with Australia
in their countries of origin. While Fosters won't go
down in history as the best brew mankind has ever
tippled, neither will Tooheys, Melbourne Bitter, or
Castlemaine XXXX, beers which seem to get more cred
among the locals, not due to to taste, but because they're not overly hyped
There's clearly a lot of beer being sampled Down
Under, as the table below will attest.
In 2004, the Aussies consumed the fourth highest
amount of per beer per capita.
Doug's Personal Picks
Any Coopers product is high quality, but about 25% more
expensive than a typical Aussie brew. Other
places to look for finely crafted brews are below.
JAMES BOAGS This Tasmanian
brewery manufactures over a dozen lagers, draft
beers, ales, and bitters. Their limited
edition honey mead porter was among the finest brews
I had Down Under
CASCADE BREWERY Another Tasmanian brewery bought out by a giant and boasting of
its superior water input to brew high quality drinks. Also make wonderful carbonated fruit juices.
Not beer, but cider, made by
Cascade. All the ciders are delicious and in
Tasmania, you can find the extra strong Black Label
figured out what kind of Australian beer you want to
order in a pub, you need to know how to order it.
It seems every Australian city uses its own local
measurement. Is this really one country?
See how confusing things can get? You're from Adelaide (South Australia) and you travel to
Townsville (Queensland). Back home in Adelaide
your standard 200 ml glass of brewsky is called a butcher.
But up in Townsville, when you ask for a butcher, you'll be
sent to a store to purchase meats. And Adelaiders have
no cause for complaint. They're inconsistent in their
own city. Are they on the metric system,
imperial units, or American units? I guess all
of the above. In Adelaide you can order a
US pint or an imperial pint. Now are you
starting to comprehend why Australians as a nation are
borderline alcoholics? The only measurement understood
across all Australian cities is the jug, over a liter of
Wine packs more punch than beer. You get drunk
faster, and that's the name of the game Down Under.
The top Australian wines are now on par with wines made in the USA, France, and South Africa.
During my time in Australia in 2005-06, grapes were being left on the vine to rot. There was a glut
of grapes. Australia counted on their domestic and export markets just growing and growing like
Orson Welles' waistline did. We know what happened to Welles in 1985. Now it's Australia's turn.
Grape and wine prices have plummeted. I bought a case of South Australian wine
meant to be exported to the United States. The U.S. importer's label was already on the bottle.
But that export deal, as many others, folded, and the wine was sold within Australia. I picked
up a case of fine wine, which would've sold for US$25/bottle in the United States. for under US$5
per bottle. Deals like this were all over the place. They still are. Australians are drowning in
virtual seas of wine, so much that they go surfing in it. It's a great time to get drunk in the
Southern Hemisphere while you can fool yourself into believing you're becoming more sophisticated.
The wine growing regions
are nearly all located in the southern half of the country. Main regions
include the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale (South Australia), Margaret River
(Western Australia), the Yarra Valley (Victoria), and the Hunter Valley (New
South Wales). Wineries are also springing up all over Tasmania. Queensland also has
wineries, but none of the international caliber of the country's southern wineries. Drink up, mates!
Australian wine consumption per capita climbed 25% from 2001
to 2005. In 2005, Australians were ranked #21 in
per capita wine consumption. They should be ashamed. They
have A LOT of work ahead of them to get that up to their beer guzzling levels.
You'll never stop seeing the term "Mod Oz" once you get to Australia. Had "Old-Fashioned" Oz (OF Oz)
food been delicious, then there'd be no term "Mod Oz," would there? You'd just see "Oz".
You've never seen "Mod Indian" or
"Mod Chinese" categorizations, because Indian and Chinese cuisine has always been recognized as delicious.
OF Oz cuisine, by all accounts, sucked. It was meat, such as a roast, with three boiled vegetables. Italian and Greek immigrants
in the 1970's started bringing a Mediterranean flair to the prior crappy cuisine. Then, Australian dumped its White-only immigration policy
and Asians flooded in. Now Aussies denied the succulent foods of Asia watched these foods flood into the country. Mod Oz slowly took shape, and
today it's vaguely defined as a fusion of Asian and Mediterranean cooking techniques with fresh Australian produce.
So there is good restaurant food to be had in Australia, but only
in the population centers. In Melbourne and Sydney, you can get the best food in the country. Adelaide
and Perth have great markets and restaurants, too. You shouldn't have too much trouble eating in the heavily populated towns which stretch along
Australia's east coast. But once you leave these areas, food reverts to OF Oz. It's starchy
chips, unappetizing sausages, and unhealthy snacks like dim sims and Chiko rolls. A Chiko roll is a spring roll ripoff, consisting of
boned mutton, celery, cabbage, barley, rice, carrot and spices in a tube of egg, flour and dough which is then deep-fried. A dim sim is a
large deep-fried dumpling containing various mystery meats.
Fortunately, Australian chain groceries like Woolworths, Coles, and Bi-Low are all over the country. One needn't be destined for a triple
bypass when driving around the country. Australia has a number of American fast food outlets scattered about the country like McDonald's, Burger King (known
as Hungry Jack's), and Subway.
Australian food and Australian alcohol. Such a big big topic. Mod Oz food is tasty, when you can find it.
Chiko rolls and dim sims aren't that good. They stink, in fact. Poor yourself a middy and taste Australian beer like Crown Lager,
Tooheys, Victoria Bitter, Melbourne Bitter, James Boags, and Cascade Brewery beers. Don't stop with just one. Cascade makes wonderful
Mercury ciders. Australian wines are found all over the country at reasonable prices. Margaret River, Yarra Valley, Hunter Valley,
Swan Valley. Come and get it.