Australia is a prolific wine producer, but it’s long been a beer-appreciating nation – even before “Foster’s – Australian for beer” became a tag line. One of the early settlers to arrive at Botany Bay was James Squire, a “highwayman” convicted of stealing chickens. The ships also brought hops, and Squire seems to have been the first person to grow them successfully and brew beer commercially in the new colony. He owned hop gardens and a brewery and pub called the Malt Shovel at Kissing Point, near Sydney. Today Malt Shovel Brewery makes James Squire brand beers known for their full-flavored profiles.
Here are some Aussie selections to sip while reciting Alfred Noyes’ classic verses from “The Highwayman”:
James Squire Nine Tales Amber Ale: Copper-colored with a creamy head, it’s full-flavored enough to be an English brown ale. Made with three kinds of malts and Tasmanian hops added late to the kettle, it has caramel, toffee and light hop aromas. Very refreshing with a slightly nutty finish. If you can’t find kangaroo meat, pair it with lamb.
Bluetongue Traditional Pilsener: Bluetongue Brewery was founded in 2003 by four partners in the Hunter region of New South Wales who wanted to design beers that would showcase their region. Although it’s brewed in the Czech style, this pilsener combines Saaz hops with Australian malted barley, local water and no preservatives. It has malty flavors, balanced bitterness and fruity aromas – a perfect foil for spicy Asian food.
Blue Sky Brewery’s True Blue Stout: Made in Cairns in Northern Queensland, this is more seasonally suited to American (or “Yank”) palates since it’s summer Down Under. This big, coffee-colored beer has mocha and chocolate flavors and lots of roasted malts. It’s great for warming up chilly days in southern Australia or the northern U.S.