"Pubs have had a pretty special place in Australian culture. Whatever else is going on, you can always go to your local – it’s always there."
They were the words of Jade Flavell, the award-winning publican and brewer from The Wheaty in Adelaide, during an interview conducted as a nationwide lockdown was looking ever more likely in March 2020.
Jade was one of a number of people who made a similar point as restrictions tightened seemingly by the day ahead of doors closing on March 23: whatever challenges Australia had faced since pubs were first introduced here, they had always remained open.
COVID-19 soon put paid to that, and the pandemic continues to pose challenges for the beer and hospitality industries, even if Australia has – to date – escaped relatively unscathed compared to much of the planet.
Later, a couple of weeks after the national shutdown, I took a call from a Melbourne-based rep. While the brewing company he worked for was still frantically trying to repurpose its operations to ensure survival, he was already looking ahead and eager that the significance of March 23 was never forgotten.
It was a conversation that stuck with me and has, in a way, brought us here: announcing the second Beer Swag Day in celebration of the local beer industry on March 23, 2021.
What better way to mark one of the darkest days of the pandemic for people in the beer world – one on which many businesses, this one included, wondered if they'd still be around in six months – than by turning it into a celebration?
The Keeping Local Alive campaign that spawned the original Beer Swag Day played an important role in galvanising the wider beer community and encouraging people to get behind their local breweries, bars and pubs. If anything, it feels like support for local – beer and otherwise – has never been stronger, and we'd love to see it grow stronger still.
So, on March 23, the Keeping Local Alive campaign is calling on beer lovers, brewers, bar owners, reps, bottleshop staff – everyone that enjoys good beer – to show off their love for local beer once again.
Chuck on your favourite brewery or pub t-shirt and beanie, pull out your collection of stubby holders, socks and glassware, or head to your local for a beer and feed, then share photos or videos on your favourite social platforms. Maybe it's time to refresh your wardrobe too!
As in 2020, there are prizes for the best posts tagged #keepinglocalalive and #beerswagday2021 between now and March 23: Keeping Local Alive t-shirts for state / territory winners plus a grand prize of $250 to spend on swag from your favourite local beer businesses.
You can find more information on Beer Swag Day 2021 – as well as downloadable assets anyone can use – here. Keep an eye on The Crafty Pint's Instagram and the Keeping Local Alive Facebook page for more stories and updates between now and March 23 too.
The future of local beer – it's STILL in your hands!