It seems Australians simply cannot satisfy their craving for craft beer, a growing number making it their drink of choice to wet their whistle, and microbreweries continuing to pop up across the country.
As executive officer at Australia’s Craft Beer Industry Association Chris McNamara explains, the market has opened significantly and there’s lots to look forward to this year when it comes to enjoying a refreshing bottle – or tinnie – of brew.
Is the popularity of craft beer in Australia still on the rise?
Definitely. Based on Australian Taxation Office data, the independent craft beer industry has grown by more than 30 per cent in each of the past two years and now accounts for more than four per cent of all beer produced in Australia.
There is no single reason, but two important factors are a growing desire by consumers to support small businesses, especially in food and beverage, and Australians really wanting to continually find new flavours in a range of food and beverage products. The rise of artisan cheese and bread reflect this as well.
How has the market changed from its earliest days to now?
Craft beer has always had a diverse market.
The groundbreaking breweries in the 1980s were found in such diverse areas as Fremantle, Ballarat and Sydney’s inner city.
There was never one type of person that drank craft beer and that is still the same today. Depending on where you go, you may see a bar full of tradies, inner city types, or young families.
It appeals to all.
What are some current trends in Australia's craft beer scene?
Tinnies are definitely the biggest trend at the moment. The number of beers available in cans has exploded in the past year and shows no sign of slowing down. And why should it? They are lighter to transport, do a great job of protecting the beer and cool down quicker.
What can consumers expect this year from the industry?
Craft brewers by their very nature are adventurous innovators. That’s why so many of them turn their backs on comfortable corporate careers. They want to continually challenge the status quo.
Australia has been at the forefront of new hop development in recent years.
This is set to continue so expect to find a whole new world of aromas and flavours appearing in beers.
Sour, or wild, beers is another area that’s developing. These beers use different yeast strains and the results range from wonderfully dry and refreshing through to mouth puckeringly challenging. They have great potential to deliver the ultimate refreshing low alcohol beer for a hot Australian summer.
What should people be looking for when buying/drinking a craft beer?
Look for freshness. The fresher the better. And the best way of doing that is to support the local breweries in your part of the world.
Where do you think is the perfect place to enjoy a craft beer this summer?
Anywhere that you can just sit down and enjoy the beer. Don’t try and overthink it. Just let every sip remind you how good life is.