XXXX and the City
Trip Start Aug 04, 2011
132Trip End Jan 04, 2012
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What I did
XXXX Brewery tour
We left a little early I guess for our 12pm tour. I expect it was because I was a little keen. Walking out at 11.15am I hadn't quite realised how close the Castlemaine XXXX factory was from the hostel. Looking left out of the hostel front door, you could clearly see the big red four 'x's clearly about 300m down the road. We wandered around a little on the way to try and delay our arrival taking in a quick view of the Suncorp Stadium, but our inevitable early arrival occured at about 11.45am.
Tour reviews had given the impression that the tour was martialled by nervous guides and did not give you everything you wanted out of a factory tour. I don't know what these people want but I think the tour delivered
The tour gave a video background of beer, and then a short animated carousel show background to the XXXX brand. The guide showed us around the factory (there were only 4 of us - I guess not a lot of people think you should be drinking beer at lunchtime) and then through to the packaging area. The site is set up to allow the guide to show short videos wherever the factory is not in operation - as may happen (shit happens people - most of the poor reviews were given by people who could not witness one of the packaging operations as it was under shutdown for one reason or another). In our case we couldn't witness the thousands of stainless steel casks being filled for whatever reason.
We wandered through the bottling part of the factory watching endless bottles being labelled and then boxed up and were in awe of the scale of beer manufacture. Some quick facts and figures for you.
The first telephone in Australia was in a XXXX factory - Fact. The cask takes 27 seconds to be filled. Approximately 200 people work in the factory. 64 800 cans fit in each lorry load
It was a nice tour for the price, $25. The real value comes in at the point in which you visit the Alehouse at the end of the tour. 4 'samples' are available to you, at your choice from a selection of 5. These are half pint samples and in Australia are worth about $3 each depending on where you buy it. The choice was from the top selling 'XXXX Gold' (second in Australia to 'VB'), 'XXXX Bitter' (only really sold well in Queensland - a bitter lager), 'Summer Bright XXXX' (a Corona alternative, now outselling Corona at number 10 in the Australia rankings) and a Pale Ale and Porter from the parent company's brewery in Sydney.
We went for an Octoberfest special meal in the Alehouse for $10 which was a meatloaf and went down very nicely. this was served with the Porter which was by far the hardest going beer. I explained to Kate that this is the kind of stuff people normally buy at beer festivals to make it hard going for everyone, but we got through it. The following 4 were all quite good beers, my personal favourite being the Pale Ale, with the Summer Bright being quite popular with Kate.
We spent a good 4 hours on the tour, eating and knocking back our beers. It would have been a lot less, but Kate is not a big beer drinker. Her cheery state at the end of these 4 hours kind of echoed this. Munchies quickly followed at 4pm and some clever fellow placed a McDonalds just outside the factory, probably for this very reason.
It was at this point I discovered the first thing that is cheaper in Australia than in the UK - A soft serve Ice cream, only 50 cents - bargain.