The Independent Brewers Association has today announced the cancellation of the annual industry conference due to the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19. BrewCon was due to take place from November 9 to 11 on the Sunshine Coast.
The conference, which traditionally culminates in The Indies awards night, had already been postponed once due to the pandemic; growing concerns over a recent rise in cases and ongoing border closures made running a successful event unfeasible.
BrewCon is now set to return in the second half 2021. The Indies will still take place but with a few extra conditions put in place to account for the unique challenges of running a national beer competition at this time. No draught beer can be entered and smaller judging panels will gather across the country with the awards to be streamed online.
In a message to members, chair Pete Philip said: "The current situation with border lockdowns and virus outbreaks means that we needed to be realistic about the ability for everyone to attend so we are moving it to August/September 2021 with the hope that the virus will be somewhat under control and to give you all time to recover enough to be able to attend.
"This is a total bummer for us as we had a great program planned and some really fun experiences at the venue. Our aim was always to come together to celebrate our resilience and to shake off the negativity that we have all experienced this year but with the uncertainty, this seems like an impossible task, particularly at a time when we are all focused on saving our businesses.
"Please be assured, we are still pushing ahead with a remodelled Indies Awards so stay tuned for more information about what this will look like. We opened for entries a couple of weeks ago and are seeing a strong response already so don’t forget to jump on and complete your entries."
Today's cancellation is the latest in what's been a challenging year for the IBA, which represents the country's independent brewers. Good Beer Week, which was set to run for the tenth time, and its associated Showcase, both fell victim to the pandemic.
However, the association was able to push ahead with Indie Beer Day last month and has made progress in other areas, including securing funding from the NSW State Government, which pays for every brewing company in the state's membership for 12 months, and providing members with branded packaging promoting the association's various messages around independence.
The IBA is also set to launch a new economic impact analysis research project, more events under the Mash Up Program banner, and hopes to make further announcements around state-based funding.
You can enter the 2020 Indies here.