Insights on beer marketing & PR by a beer-war vet

24 November

200 Australian breweries mark an historic high

Australian brewery numbers have reached a high not seen for over a century.

This was the good news from Australian brewing historian Dr Brett Stubbs.  See his research work here.

Over the years I’ve had many conversations with Brett about Australia’s brewing heritage. Often these chats were about the massive decline in small breweries across Australia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This rapid decline was in response to advances in brewing and transport technologies, stiff competition from large city-based breweries, and new Federal supervision but also rationalisation due to economic downturn (thanks Brett!).

My interest was in the role this phase had in setting up the state-based dominance of mega-breweries like Castlemaine Perkins Limited, Tooheys, Cascade, CUB and Swan.

Brewer, and member of the Craft Beer Industry Association, Dave Bonighton at the Mountain Goat brewery. Source: ABC Rural website. Pic: Cath McAloon

One of an increasing number of successful Australian craft brewers, Dave Bonighton, at the Mountain Goat brewery. He’s a member of the Craft Beer Industry Association. Source: ABC Rural website. Pic: Cath McAloon

“The trend is your friend” so they say
A recent article by Brett highlights an important brewing milestone. It tells some good news about the current number of breweries across Australia. With Brett’s permission I’m pleased to share this good news story in full. Enjoy ..

“An important Australian brewing milestone was passed earlier this year, although it is impossible to say exactly when.

“Some time in 2014, the number of commercial breweries in operation throughout the country passed two hundred for the first time since the early twentieth century, that is, about one hundred years ago.

“The present figure includes the several very large breweries owned by SAB Miller and Kirin and a few others such as Coopers, but is mostly made up of the very many small-scale outfits that have all arisen in the past thirty years.

“Not included in this total, however, are most of the many dozens of brew-on-premises homebrew shops that are also in operation. I have included in my tally only the small number of BOP shops that seem to be at least as interested in making beer for sale to the general drinking public as in providing facilities for amateur brewers.”

Further, Brett’s figure of 200 plus was also confirmed in the Annual Report for the Craft Beer Industry Association (see the map on page 3 of the report included here).

craft beer map

Quality over quantity
ABS statistics show that beer consumption in Australia has gradually declined over the past twenty or so years. So the growth of some 200 small breweries in the face of this contraction says much about changing tastes. Beer lovers have taken to the choice and quality provided by craft brewers.

That the market is no longer dominated exclusively by big brewers’ similarly tasting lagers is heaven for those who like beer. A pity it’s taken 200 years but Cheers! nonetheless.