Australian culture has been infused with alcohol since colonisation. Beer and rum were the drinks of choice, but as our culture has evolved through different traditions and immigration, our choice of drink has changed, along with the amount and way we drink.
Beer Cartel undertook one of the largest studies of beer drinking trends and in their 2017 Australian Craft Beer Survey found that craft beer is the only segment of the Australian beer market which is actually experiencing growth, with overall beer consumption in decline.
Deloitte’s confirmed these figures, reporting that Australians are drinking beer at 65 year lows while wine had experienced a resurgence as the most popular alcoholic beverage.
The reason craft beer is becoming more popular is due to our changing tastes as people look for new blends, flavours and strengths in beer.
The market is benefiting from consumers who are more willing to experiment with different tastes and no longer have the traditionally strong brand loyalty.
Craft beer is now becoming more mainstream with breweries both small and large trying to ‘tap into’ the market.
While there is no distinct definition, the most common themes surrounding craft beer include small or private brewers, individual or unique flavours, low production volumes and stronger alcohol content. Above all is the focus on a high quality product.
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Beer loving brothers, Campbell and Greg Hedley, established the Two Heads Brewery in Bathurst after seeing the demand for something more than the traditional lagers on offer.
The brewery was built in the historical Crago Mill and has seen the brothers, along with head brewer Ian Carman, constantly experimenting, innovating and utilising seasonal ingredients to produce a range of high quality and strong flavoured beers.
Campbell is not surprised by the increase in people willing to try craft beers, “More people are drinking craft beer as they want quality now more than ever, they want variety and to try new things. It’s no longer about what is the most beer you can get for the cheapest price, it’s about food and conversation,” he said.
A growing market means an increase in variety, however head brewer Ian Carman loves the challenges that the business can bring.
“It can be good to try and make a lot of different beers with experimentation and quick turn around, but you still need to have that core range and you still want that quality,” he said.
With the industry calling for further government support and wider community education about the processes and products available, it looks as though craft beer will be on the menu for a long time to come.