Australians are drinking less beer with overall beer consumption declining since the 1970s. At the same time Australians are drinking more craft beer, a $370 million dollar industry that is growing at a rate of 10% per annum. This sits in an overall framework where Australians are making serious choices about what and where they are drinking. There are now 740 different craft breweries around the nation, some owned by the big brewers, others owned by medium-sized business, some very small one person operations.
But while Australians are consuming less, they are making educated choices around quality. Younger consumers have more disposable income and have more exposure to different brand messages. At the same time, they are developing an appreciation for flavour and are looking for a point of difference in what they are drinking. Craft beer, with its play on levels of hops, different hop flavours, different levels of malt roasting and even different additions of flavours from fruit to coffee, appeals to this audience who are really interested in the concept of flavour.
Many young beer consumers are also curious about where their beer comes from and making the most of the craft beer tap room experience where there could be a tasting room but also a café or restaurant format offering tastings, sales and food. Here the consumer can not only match food and beer but also explore the brand further. Jamie Cook, co-founder of Byron Bay brewer Stone & Wood says, “We see in the people who come to our tasting room at Byron that they want to taste the beer, but also look behind the label, they want to make sure our values align with theirs. We are proudly Byron Bay and they love that.”
Craft beer drinkers are not only enjoying the tap room experience, but they are looking for their favourite craft brew at events from big music gatherings to food festivals to arts events. They are also looking for points of difference in café and restaurant drinks lists where they can find the craft beer they know and like or find one that matches their expectations. Basically, the craft beer market is wherever the younger and more discerning beer drinkers are at any one time.
This article appeared originally in the 2021 winter edition of Gulp