Thankfully not all breweries are identical. As the market for independent Australian beer grows, the diversity of producers will increase.
Not long ago I wrote about where the growth in Australian beer could come from.
One area is a greater number of breweries with diverse business models. I think it’s a point that’s worth expanding on. Here are the various types of breweries I can see co-existing in the Australian beer market.
National Production Breweries
While beer consumption on the whole is down in Australia, there’s still a large slice of the pie that can be taken by independent brewers.
There’s potential for larger craft breweries to distribute nationally and eat into sales that currently belong to Lion or CUB. I see much of this in sales of six packs and cases in styles such as lagers and pale ales.
We’ve seen increased recognition of flagship beers like Stone & Wood Pacific Ale. Breweries like 4 Pines and Feral already distribute extensively but could spread further as they focus on marketing their approachable beers.
With increased sales comes the possibility for expansion and in turn efficiencies of scale. This will reduce the price of a case of beer, something which is currently a prohibitive factor for many would-be craft beer drinkers.
I think this will happen one way or another but growth could be accelerated if the current excise system is reformed as has been suggested by some MPs including Anthony Albanese.
Current examples: 4 Pines, Stone & Wood, Feral
Regional Breweries With Cellar Doors
Regional breweries is where there could be massive growth, fuelled by passionate beer drinkers and supportive local communities.
This section of the beer market also has incredible potential from a tourism and hospitality perspective.
If, as mentioned above, we reach a point where the taxation of beer is treated more like wine, the cellar door experience could be a real draw for both interstate and international tourists.The cellar door experience could be a real draw for both interstate and international tourists. Click To Tweet
With the likes of the Dave’s Travel and Events Group (literally) driving people to these venues, it’s something that could take off as a tourist experience.
Some of these breweries will aspire to be national producers while others will be content serving the local area or putting their focus into the hospitality aspect of their business.
Either way, there’s potential for great variety within this section of the beer market.
Local Brewpubs and Nano-Breweries
Similar to the regional brewers mentioned above, these smaller venues will first and foremost provide a space to congregate. Support will come from the beer-loving community alongside some loyal locals.
Again, the growth potential here is in diversity.
While all will produce their own beer, some may also feature guest taps, broadening their attraction to customers.
Some of these venues will focus on music or events, others will put food at the centre of attention.
While many will serve burgers and pizza, there’s room for a culinary brewpub providing a classy dining experience.While many will serve burgers and pizza, there's room for a culinary brewpub providing a classy dining experience. Click To Tweet
When we look at what’s happening in the dining scene around Australia’s capital cities, I don’t think such a concept is too far off.
Brewpubs can be many things but there’ll always be room for those that have beer at their core. There’ll be plenty offering a range of rotating styles, brewed in small batches with a seasonal focus.
On a smaller-scale, we’ll see a variety of garage operations. The customer base will reside at the pointier end of the craft beer world and such operations might only be a supplementary income for the people behind them.
It’s an area that could sit outside of even mainstream craft beer, turning into an underground brewing scene and providing some of the most interesting beer. It will keep beer geeks very excited. We’ve already seen this through the unique set-up that is BlackFont.
Contract and Gypsy Brewers
Among the variety of brewing companies that the Australian market will grow to support, there’ll still be space for contract and gypsy brewers. However, it’ll more difficult than ever to break through in this potentially troubled section of the brewing landscape.
We already have established brands in this space, such as Shenanigans and Doctor’s Orders, who have nailed down the quality of their beer.
Contract and gypsy brewers won’t have a cellar door as a revenue stream but will focus on semi-regular or seasonal releases.
New entrants into this space could struggle to establish themselves, particularly as the high quality of beer coming from other producers makes it more difficult to compete.
That said, there’s always room talented brewers to break through. If they use contract or gypsy brewing as a transitional phase before setting up their own brewhouse, it could lead to some success.
There’s room in the market for small-scale specialist producers, focused on blending, barrel-ageing or brewing unique styles. There’s a whole world of beer which is as yet untouched in Australia.There’s room in the market for specialist producers, focused on blending, barrel-ageing or brewing unique styles. Click To Tweet
In Sydney we can look to the likes of Wildflower opening in Marrickville.
These operations will likely be small scale for the most part but will serve a loyal following of passionate consumers.
While growth in this sector will be small there’s certainly potential for it, particularly if there’s variety in what’s being produced. There’s a healthy beer-drinking customer base who are looking for niche offerings and this is where they’ll turn.
Current examples: Wildflower Brewing & Blending
The Future’s Bright
One of my most deeply held beliefs about the Australian beer market is that it can support this level of diversity. It’ll take some time to get there but it can be done.
The best way to ensure it happens and that it remains sustainable is to support your local breweries.
Are there any other types of brewery that you can see fitting into the Australian beer landscape? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts on the future of Australian producers.