Now is about the time of year we would normally be getting ready to announce plans for Craft Beer Rising. To the uninitiated, it's a national day in celebration of the Australian craft beer world we kicked off in February 2014 under the tag "Celebrating Local Beer From Local Brewers At The Best Local Venues". Across the two days that have run so far, almost 200 official events have taken place across the country, with the day also proving to be the occasion for the launch of a number of new breweries, beer businesses and beers.
However, rather than announce the dates for 2016, we're here instead to say we won't be running Craft Beer Rising next year. There's a number of reasons, but the main one is that we don't feel we can do it justice at this point in time. While we've significantly expanded our team of contributors in recent months and are working towards taking on dedicated editorial staff, the running of The Crafty Pint – and spin-offs such as Pint of Origin and Craft Beer Rising – remains, to a greater or lesser extent, the work of one person.
Between now and the end of February (when we'd pencilled in the third Craft Beer Rising), that person has to write a new book on Australian beer, launch the long overdue Crafty Cabal and will be out of the country for six weeks. So, rather than attempt to put together something half-baked (or risk popping a few of the remaining brain synapses) we'd rather let this year slide. Just like Michael Eavis used to take a year off every few years off from running Glastonbury on his farm to give the land and cows a breather, we're taking a year off so, um, so, well, maybe that was a daft allegory.
Anyway, the point remains: there will be no Craft Beer Rising from The Crafty Pint in 2016. And, aside from the work schedule, there are other reasons why we're OK with this.
There are heaps of ways – more than ever before, we expect – to celebrate local Australian brewers, their beers and the venues that support them over the coming months: more festivals, beer weeks, beer events and so on. What's more, one of the key reasons we decided to create Craft Beer Rising isn't so pressing.
Back in 2013, there was a large and growing wave of imported beers landing in Australia. We didn't have an issue with this per se; some of the best beers you can get your hands on in Australia come from overseas. They help excite punters and inspire brewers, and the buzz created when world class brewers come to Australia for events helps build the excitement around craft beer generally.
Yet, perhaps because the Aussie dollar was so strong, new beers were landing seemingly every day and both drinkers and venues were lapping them up to the extent that we worried about the impact on the local industry. Several times we'd walk into favourite beer venues and see nothing but imports on tap – often at crazy prices that we felt were simply a bad look for beer generally. Or we'd flick through beer lists and find only one or two Aussie beers out of 50. We were worried that local brewers were in danger of being forgotten and that the foundations of craft beer in Australia would be weak without a strong local industry.
For whatever reasons, the situation is very different now. Fantastic imports continue to arrive and be lauded. But the presence of and support for local brewers is much stronger. There are greater connections with local brewers, better beers coming from local brewers and more pride from many venues in getting behind their locals too.
So, while we'd love to be running Craft Beer Rising again in 2016, the fact that we aren't able to doesn't cause as much heartache as it might. We were going to do it on February 27 and if people want to run events celebrating local Australian craft beer that day, then we'd be delighted; at the very least there are few anniversaries to mark. We dare say the Big Bashes cricket match run by The Local Taphouse will run and continue to grow as a family friendly day out but, for now at least, we won't be coordinating and promoting a huge lineup of events.
What's more, as events of the past few weeks show, there's so much happening in the beer world right now that we really need to focus every effort on doing what The Crafty Pint is primarily set up to do: tell stories about the Australian scene and try to ensure good local craft beer is rising every day of the year.
Thanks to all the brewers, venues and beer lovers who have got behind Craft Beer Rising to date, as well as Cryermalt, Bintani, Good Beer Week, Grain Store, Code Create, HPA and Andy Shaw for making it possible in the first place.