Do Premium Imported Beers Shape Up Against The Locally Brewed Versions

Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum

Help Support Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
The following, plus more at Choice.


We've tasted Peroni, Stella, Heineken and other imported favourites to find how the premium imports match up against their locally brewed versions.

About the taste test

How do parallel beer imports work?

Each franchised brew comes with its own brand manual outlining the intrinsic properties of the beer, right down to equipment, raw materials and even the composition of the water used at the brewery.

When you order an imported beer off the menu at your local restaurant, it would seem reasonable to attribute the premium price to the cost of shipping Peroni from Italy, Stella from Belgium or Grolsch from a canal-side beer hall in Holland. But this isn't always the case.

International beer giant SABMiller, which took control of the formerly Australian-owned Foster's in December last year, brews a handful of European beers right here in Australia, including Grolsch and Peroni Nastro, both of which are brewed at the Bluetongue Brewery on the NSW Central Coast.

Danish Carlsberg and French Kronenbourg 1664 are brewed under licence by Foster's. Lion also has a share of the market, responsible for the local brewing of Dutch brand Heineken and German Beck's.

Head brewer at the Bluetongue Brewery, Paul Feasey, says there are many factors beyond country of origin that can influence the flavour of a beer. Each franchised brew comes with its own brand manual outlining the intrinsic properties of the beer, right down to equipment, raw materials and even the composition of the water used at the brewery.

"We do everything we possibly can that is in line with the brands in their home countries," says Feasey including shipping in Italian maize to brew the local Peroni Nastro and European hops to ensure Grolsch remains true to its Dutch heritage. In order to uphold his commitment to authentic flavour, Feasey tastes the beers every day and sends monthly samples to the home breweries for feedback.

To welcome the beginning of spring, CHOICE enlisted a panel of seven beer experts who brew, buy or imbibe for a living to bring imported European beers face to face with their brewed-locally- under-licence counterparts.

Fresh is best

"Age makes a big difference," says Feasey, who argues little can be done to prevent flavour degrading over time.

"If you drank a fresh Peroni here today and then flew to Italy and drank a fresh Peroni in Rome, they would taste identical. The problem is, a container can take eight weeks to get here and spend three to six weeks at the docks in temperatures that can reach 70-80C at certain times of the year."

Panellist Ian Watson told CHOICE that beer starts deteriorating shortly after bottling and tastes best at the seven-day mark, although Feasey believes ideal consumption time can be stretched out to three months.

The Australian industry standard requires that all beers brewed for consumption here be labelled with a best-before date of nine months after the date of bottling, although Feasey says a six-month shelf life would be preferable to get more fresh beer into the market. More.................
Be interesting to see if the results would be different if all of the beers tested were available in cans.

Interesting read - cheers for posting. I think I fall into the 'authenticity' group.

I see Ian Watson (Murrays) is on the panel, guy knows his stuff and Murrays have no axe to grind here.
what local beer's do we get "fresh"i don't think we get anything that quick.unless it's at the actual brewery
From the results the judges mostly preferred the local. I don't like a test like this as they are comparing a poorly handled beer with a locally made one and picking which one they prefer. It should be about whether the local one tastes anything like what the original tastes like.
Did you see the words "parallel beer imports" there?

The whole thing is dirty, biased scaremongering.
They don't touch on the misleading labelling!
It would be impossible to compare if the local version tastes like the original, because one would have to be not fresh (unless a whole batch was air freighted ).

This is a good test - it shows buyers here should generally buy the locally brewed version, instead of hunting down the import.

Wonder how this test would go for Guinness...
I've had a few of these licensed beers fresh at both ends. Stella = fail, Guinness=big fail, Becks = fail, Heineken = probably a pass; Kronenbourg = big fail.

The whole concept is wrong. I'm sure the recipe and process is not consistent. I do not buy the freshness excuse at all. The local examples seem to taste like Aussie megaswill. Do you really think Fosters or Lion Nathan would use European Pilsner malt, or European hops for bittering? No its Aussie malt and POR/superpride/hop extract/ or whatever they normally use. But unfortunately those subtle recipe differences have a huge impact on flavour in pale lagers.
I'm sure the recipe and process is not consistent. I do not buy the freshness thing at all.

Me neither. I occasionally have a parallel import euro lager when I want something bland to throw down, and it's far more tolerable that the Australian BUL equivalent.
Does anyone actually know what ingredients the big boys use to BUL or are we just all making assumptions? I don't drink euro or aussie mega beers, just curious. But to deny that beer doesn't travel all that well at ambient temp over extended periods while crossing the equator may be ignoring an elephant or something.........
I've tasted fresh carlsberg on tap, and it is light years ahead of the BUL shit. More body, more malty, yet crisp, and delicate. Nothing like BUL junk that may as well be corona. Heineken is another, if you're lucky to get on tao fresh, is delicious.
I'd be interested to see the results of this.

I've had most of these beers in their native environment and BUL, and they both taste like Megaswill to me.
It's a bullshit test.

Taste is subjective, always has been, always will be.
Anecdotally, I've had Kroenenbourg many a time here - BUL, and wrote it off as another bland eurolager.

Couple of months ago I was in France and drank it almost exclusively for about a week due to a mate's wedding festivities, it was HEAPS better, blew my mind actually - a totally different beast. Distinctive noble hop taste (striesspelt?) and there was a maltiness not present in the ones you get here. No way the two can be the exact same recipe brewed on the 'same' or similar equipment.
Only last weekend I did a side by side of the new Lion 'Stella' and the old Fosters, new one not as good as the old and had a very distinct dirty POR presence, it was
most definetely swinging towards the aussie lager slide.
Had imported Stella at Xmas and it was piss.....both local BUL's leave it for dead, but a sad thing that good stella has gone bye bye.

Its the same all over, Sapporro made in Canada...a can I had late last year from local oppossed to asian orogin as seems the norm....was a bloody nice drop, other versions, not so good.....
the imports are cheaper and at the end of the day some are gonna like the import and some will prefer the BUL, does it really matter if you can get what you want.

Ive got 3 cartons of euro lager I made myself, yeah thats right home brew....and its better than most shit I can who gives a fat hairy rats arse.

EDIT: Check entry before submitting dickhead...
I was in NZ a few years ago and the VB there tasted like shit.

Pity I couldn't get any real Aussie stuff. :D

Latest posts