Victoria Bitter (VB) is Australia's most drunk beer, accounting for almost 25% of domestic beer consumption.
VB is not a bitter at all in the traditional sense. English bitters are those golden brown ales (often called "Pale Ales"). Traditional bitters are "top fermented" (Like Coopers Sparkling Ale), rather than bottom fermented. Despite its name, Victoria Bitter is a lager.
"Vic Bitter", brewed by Carlton & United Beverages (now owned by Fosters), has positioned itself as an unpretentious, working man's beer. It's advertising slogan has long been (and still is): "A hard-earned thirst needs a big, cold beer; and the best cold beer is Vic - Victoria Bitter".
VB started its life as a beer for Victorians. However, VB has grown to be one of the very few Australian beers which has been able to break through traditional regional barriers.
VB is affectionately known as "Vitamin B". It comes in a variety of vessels: there is the timeless "tinny" (375 mL aluminum can); the "stubby" (a 375 mL brown bottle), the 750 mL bottle known variously as "Long Necks", "Tall boys" or "King Browns" and the 250 mL bottle known as "Twisties", "Throw-downs" or "Throwies" and "Grenades". Of course, VB also comes on draught in almost every local pub in Australia.
So what does it taste like? Well, I will start by telling you about the good. VB is exceedingly easy to drink. It's light on the bubbles, which is great for big, thirsty gulps. It is bitter, without being overwhelmingly so, and is unpretentious - it's not a beer that wishes it was a wine. Vic Bitter is a beer which is usually served at near-freezing temperatures.
Ok, now for the other half of the story. Some people would say that the fact that this beer is served near freezing is a mercy: as this way your taste buds are somewhat numbed. It has the body of a stick-figure on steroids (that is to say, nothing to it except chemicals). Like most mass-produced lagers, it is one-dimensional. If you were to search for descriptors, you would come up with terms like "metallic" or "solvent". I must stress, however, that most mass-produced beers fare similarly under scrutiny.
Now, with that unpleasantness out of the way, it is time to focus on what VB is really all about. It's about men dripping with perspiration and schooners dripping with condensation; it's about a few tinnies in the dinghy with some mates out for a fish; and it's about taking a long, satisfying gulp and then wiping your mouth with a masculine forearm.