I didn't drink beer until I was around 19 years old, for no other reason that I just didn't like the taste. That was two years short of the legal drinking age of the time, but most of my contemporaries were going to pubs well before that age, feeling that if they were in the work force and eligible for conscription into the Army, then they should be allowed to have a drink. The laws were finally amended to reduce the legal age to eighteen in 1974, by which time my mates and I were all over twenty-one and past caring. Beer was the common drink in those days, and the brand you drank was a very regional affair. If you were a Queenslander who lived in or near Brisbane, then the XXXX (Fourex) label was likely to be your choice. The other local draught was Bulimba Gold Top, but it had the nickname "Green Death", which gives you some idea of its popularity. Other Queenslanders normally drank beer brewed locally, and they could be spectacularly one-eyed about the virtues of say, Cairns Draught or NQ Lager in Cairns, or Mac's in Rockhampton. Draught beer in kegs didn't transport too well, so anything imported from "down south" was at an immediate disadvantage compared with the local beer. XXXX beer was, and still is, brewed in the Brisbane suburb of Milton in the Castlemaine Perkins brewery, shown below in this photo from 1901.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #128860)
Milton Rd is one of Brisbane's main thoroughfares to the western suburbs and Ipswich, but the brewery has maintained its presence there despite changes in ownership and product. Huge semi-trailers regularly roll out of the brewery, laden with the famous product which is shipped all over the globe; although it has recently been announced that XXXX beer will no longer be available in Britain. In my recent photo (below), remnants of the old building have been combined with more recent additions.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)
Drinkers these days seem to be more willing to experiment with imported beers, rather than sticking to one local brew as in days gone by. That's probably a good thing, as the XXXX brand has just been sold to the Japanese brewing giant, Kirin. Thirty years ago a change to Japanese ownership may have caused street demonstrations, but it doesn't seem to have bothered today's drinkers too much.
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