Being a non-regular blogger is something that I aspire to fix every six months or so, but never get around to actually doing. I work in an IT based role for a global head kicking company that sells FMCG products. This ultimately is the reason I sneak out to bars midweek for my fixes of beer. This post is not to pull apart any beer survey, it is merely to take a view of what some of the top trends are in AUS beer today.
Major AUS Trends:
Styles – Variations
There appears to be greater varieties of differing styles by brewers. New brewers are rarely putting out the traditional core styles, but variants whereby introducing new ingredients and names. The names of beers are well thought out whereby its appealing to hear, much like meals in restaurants. This I feel is one of the core strengths of Aussie brewers is the ability to change styles easily, and then being in a small beer market, adjusting the recipe as new hops, ideas of brewing come to the fore.
The ‘session’ effect is definitely the next trend in beers in Australia that will be lighter in style with more flavor, and more sellable to new bars/markets. Unfortunately for me, very few big IPA’s have been consistently available.
GABS – Effect
Without doubt the major beer festival in Australia, if not Southern Hemisphere, though I hate that term, is in Melbourne. Great Australian Beer Spectacular is where brewers showcase their wares to thousands of beer enthusiasts. I have attended the festival once and I was very impressed in how organised the event was.
To stand out in awards, or voting for top beers, brewers create distinct recipes for this festival, and the last few years it has assisted in the top beers being mainstays for the brewers moving forward. Beers are made with everything from Seaweed to Oysters, Coffee and anything inbetween. The 2015 beers seemed to have a distinct food/desert base where everything sounded like a desert at Rockpool.
This assists in brewers becoming more creative in their attempt to tempt the imagination of beer drinkers, and new beer drinkers. The new drinkers are the ones who will pay the rent of your brewery if it’s a beer that will catch on in the mass market beer scene.
As certain brewers get larger, there are going to be greater ‘tied’ opportunities for deals to be made. Breweries in the larger metropolitan markets who have multiple ‘Brand Ambassadors’ will be seeking new opportunities from larger bars to ensure their brand is on a tap regularly. No bars will admit to this, but some bars will regularly have certain beers from certain breweries. The business side to the bar/brewer makes sense, but from a consumer perspective it limits choice in regular tap turnover choices, and restricts taps for new brewers trying to show their beers.
Overseas Distribution Beers
In the last year we have seen a lot of new US/NZ breweries trying to break into to the local market. As I speak there is a dive bar in Sydney with 8 Stone Brewery beers on tap, that arrive here fresh, and they have been targeting the AUS market quite hard in the last year. As US breweries get too cramped for space in their local markets they will look at growing markets for which Sydney/Melbourne are two that are being targeted.
It’s common in Australia to find beers from around the world such as Belgian Sours, English beers, as well as Imperial Stouts from the US. Distributors are likely the biggest winners in the last 2 years with the beer scene. The ability to find beers like Rodenbach now on tap regularly in the Sydney market is quite amazing, as in the US it’s rare to find Belgian beers.
The only complaint on this issue are beers from NZ never arrive to Sydney fresh, and it reflects badly on the brewery as an end-user.
Bigger Pho Craft
The big boys have been sleeping for long enough, and have been buying US brewers with a fervor in the last year. “Strategic Alliance” with AB-Inbev now means the brewers can buy that large boat, and chalet in Colorado for his skiing in the winter. IN Australia we are now seeing Pokie Pubs advertising ‘Craft Beer’ as we have brewers like Lion Nathan calling some of their beers ‘Craft’.
Overall though I’m happier now in Australia with beer than I have ever been, I wish there were more ‘true’ beer bars that I could spend time in, that consistently got in overseas beers, and stronger AUS beers. I can attain bottled beer that can suffice, and thankfully now more DIPA’s have hit the Sydney market so I’m able to be sufficiently more thankful for some big HOPS.
Let’s hope 2016 is another big year in Brewery Growth & Distribution in Australia.