The first beer I drank when I was of legal age was a Tooheys New. I’d drunk beer under-age but I don’t recall what they were. Knowing very little about the different beers – and not having the guts to front up to a drive-through bottlo and try and convince the guy behind the counter I was 18 – I usually left the selection to whoever was buying.
But when I went to Wollongong Uni I was old enough to drink legally. But not smart enough to realise I could take advantage of that by visiting the bar that was on campus. I think it took me almost two months to get to the bar – and that only happened because I was walking around the campus aimlessly and saw a guy I went to school with on a balcony.
I figured out how to get up there and said hi. He reciprocated and asked if I wanted a beer. I said yes and the phrase ‘‘a schooner of New’’ came out of my mouth. I must have heard that phrase somewhere because, having never drunk a beer in a pub before, I didn’t know how big a schooner was. Nor could I remember ever drinking a New before.
Though back then, because I’d only drunk canned beer before, it would have been called Tooheys Draught. For whatever reason, Tooheys had two different names for the same beer. On tap it was New but in cans it was Draught (no, I don’t know why they didn’t call the tap beer ‘‘draught’’. Would have made a lot more sense). Then in 1998 someone in Tooheys said ‘‘jeez, this two name thing is bloody stupid. Just call it all New’’.
The other interesting thing about this beer is that it came in the ‘‘throwdown’’ size, which I assume is unique to Australia. The name, as I understand it, derives from the fact that, at 250ml, you can ‘‘throw it down’’ fast. That’s a handy asset in a hot climate where you want to finish the beer before the bottle warms up too much.
Trying the beer now, I was surprised to find it better than I expected. There’s no cardboard aroma that comes with so many Australian mainstream lagers, but rather a light malt smell. On the palate there’s a decent hit of sweet malt in the middle. I drank this beer after going for a run and then doing some work around the house and I found it to be a great beer for the occasion. There’s not enough going on here to make you think ‘‘hey, this is tasty’’ but it does go down easy.
Which, really, is the purpose of most Australian mainstream lagers.