Together We're Heavy

November 3, 2011, by Crafty Pint
Together We're Heavy

A full 27 years after Phil Sexton and friends poured the first ales at the Sail and Anchor in Fremantle, Australia has a national craft brewers association. Craft Beer Limited has been launched this week with the aim of bringing together brewers from across Australia to “promote, protect and grow the Australian craft beer segment”. Originating in discussions held during May’s Good Beer Week in Melbourne, the association’s formation has been led by brewers and owners from Stone & Wood, Mountain Goat, Moo Brew, McLaren Vale, Feral and Little Creatures and, now that it has been formalised, is hoping to attract at least 75% of the country’s craft brewers as members over the coming years.

Among its stated goals are to increase craft beer’s market share from the current two per cent to five per cent over the next five years, and to ensure that brewers of all sizes, microbreweries and regional breweries included, see their growth more than double over that period. Craft Beer Limited (or CBL for short) also aims to focus on:

  • Consumer awareness and education;
  • Trade awareness and education;
  • Developing and celebrating the quality and diversity of craft beer;
  • Professional development within the industry; and
  • Government liaison and advocacy.

Since the idea was first mooted, there has been much discussion over many aspects of the association, from its name to who should be allowed to join. Much debate over what is classed as a craft brewery in Australia has led to the simple “A brewer based in Australia producing less than 25 million litres of beer per annum.” This means that James Squire, Matilda Bay and Little Creatures – and the financial clout they can offer the group – are eligible. Within the prospectus are outlined different brewer categories:

1. National Craft Brewers
Australian craft brewers that have a strong presence in all markets. Volume 1 – 25 million litres per annum

2. Regional Craft Brewers:
Australian craft brewers that have a strong regional base and are developing a presence outside their home market. 300,000 – 999,999 litres per annum

3. Micro-brewers:
Australian craft brewers that produce between 100,000 – 299,999 litres, they may have an on-site bar, but the majority of sales are offsite

4. Nano and Pub Brewers:
Australian Craft brewers that produce up to 99,999 litres and may be attached to a hospitality venue where the majority of their sales (more than or equal to 70%) are onsite

While the inclusion of some of the larger brewers, particularly those with levels of overseas ownership, has sparked much of the debate, CBL’s founders state that they are looking to be as inclusive as possible, believing this gives them greater chance of achieving their goals.

“Twenty-seven years on and there’s still no association,” says Jamie Cook, from Stone & Wood. “We need to take an inclusive approach and build a rallying point around craft beer – the people, the passion and the product. All of us have a long track record of providing input to the broader community of beer and that’s why we stepped up to the plate to do this.”

For now, members of the founding group form the board of CBL, but the intention is to hold a vote for a new board at the association’s first AGM. The intention is to hold that AGM during next year’s Good Beer Week in Melbourne, during which the aim is also to hold Australia’s first Craft Beer Conference. For now, CBL is ready for members to sign up, with a website due to go live imminently and a Facebook page up and running. It is open to non-brewing members too, with memberships available for Associate Members (suppliers to the industry, members of the liquor trade and media) and Individual Members (home brewers, beer writers, bloggers, bar staff, sommeliers, bottleshop staff and so on).

According to a letter announcing its launch: “We have taken an inclusive approach to the membership base because we believe an industry association should be representative of the broader industry and if all members are proactive and engaged in the association it will be focussed on protecting, promoting and growing the craft beer market in way that benefits all.”

There will no doubt be further discussions ahead as it refines its purpose and function, but surely the craft beer industry can only benefit from such a body, headed by passionate beer people, aiming to further its cause and raise standards.

You can also read about this on Australian Brews News.

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