It's time for a trip across The Ditch on day ten of our end-of-decade Advent Calendar, not for a New Zealand-themed entry in the series but to catch up with a man whose work will have made it into many of the glasses of beer to have passed through your hands.
David Cryer is the man behind Cryer Malt, an operation that started in his garage in 1993 and has been supplying brewers and distillers across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia ever since. The "Malt" of the title is something of a misnomer these days; sure, they're responsible for providing a wide range of malts to the region but now, as part of Barrett Burston Malting, count the likes of Yakima Chief Hops and yeast from Australian providers Mauribrew and Pinnacle plus San Diego's White Labs under the Cryer banner.
The influence of David, his longterm sidekick Tom Madams (who inadvertently lent his name to the delicious Tom Needs New Friends IPA from Hawkers earlier this year) and their ever-expanding team goes wider than the supply of ingredients for millions of litres of beer. They're big supporters of so many other aspects of the local beer industry too.
You'll find the Cryer name on many a major trophy (and, frequently, a beaming David handing them out), and also attached to industry and consumer events throughout the region, where financial sponsorship is typically combined with at least one event at which seemingly unlimited free and high quality beer is on offer for anyone lucky enough to snag a wristband off the Cryer crew.
From a personal point of view, he has been among the most significant supporters of the Good Beer Week festival I helped get up and running, as well as a wise and even-handed sounding board too, particularly in the early days of The Crafty Pint and Good Beer Week.
What really stands out, for me at least, is the way in which David appears to go about his business: infused with the glee of a young boy setting out on his first school camp or just handed the keys to the proverbial sweet shop. Certainly, there are few things in the beer world as joyously contagious as being in his company when the giggles kick in...
What's been your highlight of the past decade?
Craft beer becoming a mainstream term. It’s been a long time coming and a legion of past and previous brewers have helped achieve this. It is a blessing and a curse, but what a great breakthrough.
What's surprised you the most about the Aussie beer scene?
So much wheat malt being used to make beer in Australia but few if any wheat beers on the market. The Great Australian Mystery of the Missing Wheat! as pointed out by [Feral co-founder] Brendan Varis.
What are your thoughts on the health of the beer industry as we approach the end of a remarkable decade?
America is slowing yet Australia is holding well; I see further growth as Australia heads for 1,000 breweries.
We might not see the bigger breweries being opened but the continued extension of the tail as craft goes more and more local and the continued rise of the brewpub.
What's your number one goal for the coming decade?
Keep Cryer Malt as a premium supplier to craft through strong supply chain management, customer experience and innovation. Is that one or three?
And, if you had one Christmas wish for beer in Australia, what would it be?
That everyone in Australia could open a fault free can – or bottle – of deliciousness and know that beer is truly the greatest beverage of all on Christmas Day!
We're opening a door on Crafty's Advent Calendar every morning up until Christmas Day and you'll be able to find them all here.