Australians are making moonshine out of Vegemite

Brown out.
Brown out.
Image: AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Sarah Ivey
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Nothing is more Australian than a Vegemite sandwich, so why is the government proposing a limit on how much of the spread people can buy?

The yeast in Vegemite is apparently being used to make bootleg alcohol: Yeast + sugary juice = not particularly delicious but nevertheless effective moonshine. People in some dry communities of Queensland have been buying Vegemite in bulk to make their own liquor, according to the Brisbane Times.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion told the BBC that Vegemite has become a “precursor to misery,” abused by alcoholics. The government has suggested local regulations on how much can be purchased in one go.

But prime minister Tony Abbott has no plans to institute a nationwide ban on the dark brown spread or to create any sort of “Vegemite watch,” the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Vegemite, made from leftover yeast extract used in brewing, was introduced to an austere post-World War I Australia after imports of its British cousin Marmite were disrupted by the war. It’s now pretty much synonymous with Australian culture, although its unique flavor and consistency is not loved by all.