Beer: Coopers Sparkling Ale
Brewery: Coopers Brewery, Regency Park, Adelaide, South Australia
In my travels, I have met a lot of Australians. I have found them to be universally cheery, good-natured, and well-meaning people. Perhaps I witnessed these qualities because my interactions with them so often involved them drinking me under the table. So, having never been to Australia, I can still comfortably say that Australians enjoy their beer.
|Complete with requisite kangaroo imagery.|
They do not, however, enjoy their Foster’s. Every last Aussie I’ve met seemed to possess a special internal organ unique to Australians: a bile gland, somewhere deep in their chest cavities, reserved for their hatred of Foster’s. When I informed one of the “Australian For Beer” ad campaign that has been on U.S. airwaves since forever, he wept not only for his country, but mine. “NOBODY drinks Foster’s in Australia,” he insisted. “NOBODY.” Then what do you drink, I asked? “Lots and lots of VB” (Victoria Bitter). “And Coopers.”
|How is it that, for $1.99, I can buy a can of this stuff bigger than the propane tank for my grill? Because it is terrible.|
I had tried Victoria Bitter in New Zealand, and found it mostly agreeable, but had never seen Coopers anywhere until about three weeks ago, when it was all-of-a-sudden available nearly everywhere in San Diego. So, the special lady brought home a six-pack of Coopers Sparkling Ale from the corner store, and here we are.
|A cooper is someone who makes barrels. The last name Foster is a bastardized version of the word "forester." One of these names seems fitting for a brewer.|
The “sparkling” here refers to its lighter, blondish color, rather than high carbonation. It pours a monstrous, frothy head (at least it did for me), and it’s bottle-conditioned, which means there are tons of yummy yeasty beasties floating around in the bottom of the bottle, a bunch of which cheerfully decorated the top of said frothy head. The flavor was simple and understated, which is exactly what I wanted after an afternoon walking around the zoo getting as sunburned as a swagman and thirsty as a jumbuck at a billabong. Foster's will quench your thirst too, though, but make no mistake: this is real beer, a zillion times better than Foster’s.
|Beer porn: At left, the monstrous head, flecked with speckles of yeast; at right: the yeast goes for a swim.|
And as long as we’re talking “Australian for beer,” Coopers is now the country’s largest Australian-owned brewery (Fosters and VB are both made by SAB Miller). The bottle has the requisite kangaroo imagery on it, lest we forget where the stuff comes from. And for all you homebrewers out there, Coopers is also the world's largest manufacturer of homebrewing equipment. Well done, mates.