An interstate trip shows not only the strength of Australian beer but how beer tourism fits into its growth.
I was lucky enough to go down to Bright in Victoria for the Darker Days festival hosted by Bright Brewery. Dave’s Brewery Tours put together a trip from Sydney and they invited me along. The cost of the tour was covered by Dave’s Travel & Events Group.
Dave Phillips and Jamie Carlyon of Dave’s Brewery Tours have featured on the site before but even in the year or so since then the Australian beer landscape has changed.
There’s no doubt that Dave’s Travel & Events are an integral part of the good beer scene in Sydney. They’ve carved out an excellent niche for beer tourism both locally within the city and now further afield.
Looking outside of Sydney provides a measure of beer’s progress in our city compared to other parts of the country. The opportunity to experience beer in other places opens a window into how it’s evolving across all of Australia.
The Darker Days festival itself was a celebration of local beer with Bridge Road, Blizzard, Black Dog, Thirsty Crow and Sweetwater pouring beers alongside the hosts.
As well as the beer there was wine, gin and food from local producers.
Darker Days throws a spotlight on the strength of brewing in the area. Bright, Beechworth, Wagga Wagga and other areas have excellent beer that shouldn’t be missed, regardless of where you live.
The intention for Dave Phillips is to make them more accessible for people living in urban and suburban areas, as most of Australia’s population does.
Beer Tourism: An Avenue For Sustainable Growth
Bright is a tourist town, with the population swelling through the summer months and during holidays. Darker Days provides another reason to visit Bright and experience what it has to offer. It also persuades a few locals out of the house when temperatures are around freezing.
In smaller towns like Bright, where they experience busy and quiet seasons, the mutual support between small, independent businesses is brought into clear focus.
Developing strong networks to drive business among locals is one thing but to extend that to tourists is another.
Building Networks In The Australian Beer Industry
If we want good beer to grow in Australia, and if positioning breweries as a tourist destination like wineries, is a way to achieve that, then small breweries and businesses need to work on networks across cities and states.
Bright Brewery doesn’t send a lot of beer outside the town. Melbournians are lucky enough to receive a few kegs, while packaged product makes it to the surrounding region. To taste it as it was intended it’s best to visit the brewery bar.
Breweries in Bright, Beechworth and other regional towns will attract locals and visitors through their reputation as a highly rated watering hole but becoming a beer destination is another avenue to sustainable growth.
However, when you need to drive to get there, becoming a beer destination can be challenging.
That’s why creating connections with tourism ventures such as Dave’s and other nearby businesses makes sense if breweries want people to discover their beer.
With findings this week indicating that 65% of independent breweries are based outside of capital cities, the good sense becomes even clearer.
Anyone with a stake in the industry, whether producer or consumer, can see the value in more people experiencing different brewery venues across Australia.
Initiatives like Darker Days and Dave’s interstate tours provide a glimpse into how independent beer could develop in the future. At least they’re indicative of the potential for growth.
The relationship between independent breweries and beer tourism is inextricably linked. As one grows, so will the other. It certainly points towards a bright future.