It's no secret that many people across the Great Lakes enjoy a cold beer from time to time.
But what beer do we enjoy the most? What drop unites us as a community?
Ask Tuncurry Forster Jockey Club president and Group Three Rugby League hall-of-famer, Gary McQuillan, and he'll tell you the beer-drinking sensibilities around the area are pretty clear-cut.
"It's always been a Tooheys town," he said.
"It always has been since I came here in 1970."
Lakeside Tavern licensee, Jeremy Cooper, agrees with Mr McQuillan, claiming it's not only a Tooheys town, but a Tooheys state.
"Every pub I've worked in in New South Wales it's been the most popular, and I've worked in pubs for 20 years," he said.
Tooheys New, one of the State's oldest and most recognisable beers, is Lakeside Tavern's best seller behind the bar by 15 per cent.
Some people like the traditional mainstream beers and some people like something a bit different with different flavours.Helen Black
It's a similar story at many venues around the Great Lakes, with five of the 10 pubs and clubs surveyed reporting that Tooheys New was either their bestseller or equal bestseller.
The majority of other venues ranked it in their top two or three.
At the Pacific Palms Recreation Club, 30,000 schooners of the iconic lager were poured and sold in 2019, beating their next most popular beer by a couple thousand schooners.
But while there's no doubt that Tooheys New retains a loyal and long-held following in the area, there are other factors that influence how much it sells.
A number of pubs and clubs in the area have contracts with Lion Beer Australia, the company that distributes Tooheys New.
This means in exchange for stocking Tooheys New and other Lion beers exclusively - or at least predominantly - the venues receive a rebate on how much they sell as well as signage and other promotional materials.
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Step away from the bar and into the area's bottle shops where such contracts don't exist, and it becomes clear the Great Lakes isn't just a Tooheys town.
In fact, the bestselling beer isn't even from NSW.
"XXXX Gold was our most popular but we've noticed a real push for Great Northern Super Crisp in the last year and it's taken over," a spokesperson from BWS Tuncurry said.
A similar sentiment was expressed at many of the 11 bottle shops surveyed, with four of them listing Great Northern Super Crisp as their number one seller and others rating it in their top two or three.
The Queensland-brewed mid-strength is not only enjoying growing popularity in the area, it's also proving serious competition for the northern state's most iconic beer.
"It's really knocked around XXXX Gold," Nabiac Hotel licensee Matt Morris said.
But Mr Morris believed mid-strength beers in general were becoming increasingly popular, with more and more people coming around to the benefits of lower alcohol-content beverages.
"People can have a few beers and wake up feeling better in the morning," he said.
"They can also have two beers and drive."
With craft beers similarly enjoying a surge in popularity, he predicted the next decade would see a lot more mid-strength craft beers hit the market.
Speaking of craft beers, Byron Bay's Stone and Wood Pacific Ale was by far the Great Lakes' favourite craft beer according to the majority of bottle shops.
Locality seems to play a part in the area's drinking habits too, with beers such as Corona and Coopers Pale Ale proving more popular with residents in Pacific Palms and Smiths Lake than elsewhere.
Tooheys New, Carlton Dry and XXXX Gold were all popular choices in most bottle shops across the Great Lakes.
And while Forster's own beer company was yet to capture the lion's share of the local market, co-owner of the Coastal Brewing Company, Helen Black, said it was enjoying increasing popularity and providing something a little bit different.
"We see ourselves as disrupting the traditional beer market," she said.
"Some people like the traditional mainstream beers and some people like something a bit different with different flavours."
Among the microbrewery's most well-received beers were the Black Head Milk Stout and the recently-created Booti KNEIPA.
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