XXXX Bitter Ale was released by the Castlemaine Brewery in Brisbane in October 1924. The beer was promoted using a character known as Mr Fourex. This beer and Carbine Stout were the sole products of the brewery until the introduction of XXXX Draught in 1971. It seems the company applied for the XXXX trademark in 1894, even though the extra X wasn’t added to XXX Sparkling Ale until 1916.
According to the XXXX website, in the early 1900s Castlemaine appointed a new master brewer from Germany. His name was Alhois William Leitner, and he “expertly solved the problem of ‘cloudy’ beer by creating a recipe that would still keep fresh even when it was transported over the treacherously long distances of Australia”. The recipe is still used today to make XXXX Bitter.
The success of Fosters Lager in establishing a profile overseas led to export ambitions for the Queensland favourite. In the 1980s, the beer was promoted with the line: “Australians wouldn’t give a XXXX for anything else”.
It seems there was something of a problem promoting the beer in France, however. According to Keith Dunstan in his book Amber Nectar, the Australian Trade Commission discovered that Fourex was also the name of a famous French condom. The beer’s slogan at the time – “I can feel a Fourex coming on” served to complicate matters even further.
In 2016, XXXX Gold was jostling with Carlton Draught and Corona as the most popular beer with Australian male drinkers. According to a Roy Morgan study, in an average seven-day period, 11.0% of beer-drinking men consumed it, fractionally behind Carlton Draught with 11.1% and equal with Mexico’s most famous cerveza, Corona (11.0%). Victoria Bitter, up there with the leaders in 2012, had fallen back to 8.5%.