Premium beer reviews

Fancy a coldie? Our expert tasters rate 46 premium beers.
 
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  • Updated:30 Jul 2007
 

02.Results

What to buy

Lager

  • Hahn Premium Lager - $14.00
  • Kokanee Glacier - $23.00

Pilsener

  • Bluetongue Traditional Pilsener - $17.00

Ale

  • James Squire Golden Ale - $13.85
  • Little Creatures Bright - $19.00

Stout

  • Coopers Best Extra Stout - $15.00

Choice verdict

  • Following the experts’ recommendations is a good start, even if you might not always agree with them.
  • If you want to experiment more widely, look for premium beers on special to keep any disappointments cheap.
  • A high price certainly didn’t guarantee a better beer in this test. While the most expensive (Kokanee, $23 for a six-pack) rated very well, several other beers that cost us $18–$19 for six were well down the scores.

Hard to choose

There’s no shortage of different brews to try — one big retailer supplied us with a stock list of more than 700 premium and imported beers. Sadly, we couldn’t test them all. Also, many of the interesting craft beers are only sold locally, but they’re well worth a try when you find one from your area.

We tested 46 top-selling premium beers that you should be able to find at your local bottle shop. Eighteen are imported and 28 brewed in Australia. All up, our experts tasted 24 lagers, nine pilsners, 11 ales and two stouts. (For what distinguishes these different types or styles of beer, see Drinking in style.)

Australians are certainly heading upmarket with their beer and drinking more imported stuff, not to mention local craft beers with names like ‘Bluetongue’ and ‘Dogbolter’. While plenty of people are happy with the old standard brews, a good-sized minority of both men and women are experimenting with their tastebuds (at a cost to their wallets).

 

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Results table

  Results
Brand (in rank order within groups) Score out of 20 Origin Alcohol content (%) Bottle / can size (mL) Price per six-pack ($)
Lager
Hahn Premium Lager 16.5 Australia 5.0 330 14.00
Kokanee Glacier 16.5 Canada 5.0 355 23.00
Peroni Nastro Azzuro 16 Italy 5.1 330 14.00
Pure Blonde 16 Australia 4.6 355 13.00
Asahi Superdry 15.5 Thailand 5.0 330 19.00
Budweiser 15.5 USA 4.9 355 15.00
Coopers Premium Lager 15.5 Australia 5.0 375 13.00
Holsten Premium 15.5 Germany 5.0 330 13.00
James Boags Premium Lager 15.5 Australia 5.0 375 16.00
Tooheys New 15.5 Australia 4.6 375 11.00
Victoria Bitter 15.5 Australia 4.9 375 11.00
Carlsberg 15 Australia 5.0 330 16.00
Tooheys Extra Dry 15 Australia 5.0 345 12.00
Cascade Premium Lager 14.5 Australia 5.2 375 16.00
Grolsch Premium Lager 14.5 Holland 5.0 330 17.00
Haagen Premium Malt 14.5 Australia 5.0 330 11.00
Heineken Lager 14.5 Australia 5.0 330 15.00
Tiger 14.5 Singapore 5.0 330 18.00
Corona Extra 14 Mexico 4.6 330 14.95
Crown Lager 14 Australia 4.9 375 16.00
Red Stripe Lager 14 Jamaica 4.7 355 19.00
Singha Thai 14 Thailand 5.8 330 14.00
Steinlager 14 NZ 5.0 330 12.00
Michelob Ultra 13.5 USA 4.2 355 12.00
Sol 12 Mexico 4.5 330 15.00
Pilsner
Bluetongue Traditional Pilsner 16.5 Australia 4.5 330 17.00
Becks (local) 15.5 Australia 5.0 330 19.60
James Squire Pilsener 15.5 Australia 5.0 345 16.00
San Miguel Pale Pilsen 15.5 Phillipines 5.0 355 13.90
Becks (imported) 15 Germany 5.0 330 15.00
Stella Artois 15 Australia 5.2 330 14.95
Matilda Bay Bohemian Pilsner 13 Australia 4.7 345 14.85
Bitburger Premium 11.5 Germany 4.8 330 14.00
Little Creatures Pilsner 11.5 Australia 4.6 330 19.00
Ale
James Squire Golden Ale 17 Australia 4.5 345 13.85
Little Creatures Bright 17 Australia 4.5 330 19.00
Crackenback Pale Ale 16.5 Australia 4.9 330 19.00
Little Creatures Pale Ale 16.5 Australia 5.2 330 19.00
James Squire Amber Ale 16 Australia 5.0 345 13.85
Barons Extra Special Bitter 15 Australia 4.7 330 16.00
Cascade Pale Ale 14.5 Australia 5.0 375 11.85
Coopers Sparkling Ale 14.5 Australia 5.8 375 14.00
Coopers Original Pale Ale 13 Australia 4.5 375 13.00
Boddington's Pub Ale 12.5 England 4.7 440 14.00 (A)
Kilkenny Irish 12.5 Ireland 4.3 330 15.00
Stout
Coopers Best Extra Stout 17 Australia 6.3 375 15.00
Guinness Draught 15.5 Ireland 4.2 440 16.00
 

Table notes

Price per six-pack: This is based on prices we paid in discount bottle shops in Sydney in April 2007, but specials come up regularly in bottle shops, so that’s the best time to try a new beer.
(A) Price for a pack of four cans.

How we tested

  • Our six experts tasted the beers in groups according to style (lager, pilsner, ale or stout). They didn’t know which beer they were tasting, only its style.
  • Each expert gave each beer a score out of 20, based on the system used in the Australian International Beer Awards: 3 for appearance, 6 for aroma, 8 for flavour and body and 3 for technical quality. A score of 17 or over would win a gold medal, 15.5 to 16.5 a silver and 14 to 15 a bronze.
  • The score printed in the table is the experts’ consensus score reached after the tasting, when they discussed the beers and their individual scores, still without knowing what the beers were. It’s usually the average of their individual scores.