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South Australian brewing industry

West end Draught
History of bottled draught beer in sa
By : Beer Adelaide
Aug 2015
Bottled beer has always been very popular in SA with some breweries including Coopers not selling any draught beer at all until the 1980s. There was even a large trade in bottling companies that purchased cask beer from breweries, which they bottled and sold under their own name.

However, by the beginning of the twentieth century this had all changed with most of the breweries in the state either had closed or had amalgamated. The main breweries, The South Australian Brewing Company and the Walkerville Co-Operative Brewing Company had been selling bottled beer in vast quantities without any shortages.

World War One had had a large impact in brewing as a large amount of our produce including grains went into the war effort, and this left beer shortages. Bottled beer was being rationed and there was also a shortage in draught beer, so the authorities introduced 6 o’clock closing at all licensed premises in 1915.

The shortage of bottled beer and bars closing early left a large hole in the market that the publicans quickly filled. The hotels would buy in large one quart (around one litre) or flagon bottles and fill them with draught beer for patrons to take home at closing time. This was wildly popular and quickly adopted in all the hotels in the state. The practice became so large that the hotels could not keep up and had to employ several workers to bottle beer on a permanent basis.

By the 1940’s bottled draught beer was so popular that two bottling companies were formed to contract out the bottling from the hotels. The bottling company would go to the hotel and pick up kegs of beer and any empty returned bottles. They would then clean the bottles, fill them with that hotels beer, label them and then return the bottles to the hotel. It was illegal for the bottling company to buy beer from the breweries so it was important that only that hotels kegged beer be used to fill their bottles.

Bottled draught beer was fine if it was consumed within days of it being bottled but without the cleanliness of the professional bottling plants that the breweries possessed, the beer would spoil. Moreover, in 1950 with the South Australian Brewing Company being the main supplier of draught beer into South Australian hotels, and their bottled beer trade being damaged by spoilt hotel bottled beer; they put a halt to the practice. The hotels were threatened to stop bottling beer or there beer supply would be stopped, effectively closing the hotel.

So over the 30 years hotels bottled beer, they produced a label for each hotel, as well as any change in ownership, change in hotel name and change in labelling regulations. Making for a huge amount of different labels being produced.

The South Australian Brewing Company revived the idea of bottled draught beer in the 1960’s with the introduction of West End Draught. This time the beer would be bottled by the brewery and has now become the largest selling beer for SA Brewing.

Style - Australian Lager
Strength - 4.5%
Size - 375mL Bottles and Cans, 750mL Bottles & Draught
Colour - Pale Amber.
Aroma - Slightly sweet aroma with hints of green apples.
Malt - Not really any malt characteristics, Only a slight malt taste.
Hops - Very little hop flavour with what seems only bittering hops being used.
Overall Taste - A standard Aussie lager with not much malt and only bittering hops.
Overall - I think it would be safe to say almost every SA beer drinker has tried West End Draught. In my opinion it is one of the better Aussie lagers, especially compared to VB or Carlton draught, though it is still short on flavour and almost any craft beer would surpass it



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