May 21st, 2014 by Crafty Pint
The second Australian Craft Brewers Conference kicked off at the Arts Centre in Melbourne this morning with a keynote speech from one of the country’s craft beer pioneers, Phil Sexton (above). The co-founder of Matilda Bay and Little Creatures (among many other things) reflected on beer’s journey to here from its nadir in the 1970s and looked forward to a bright future for beer in Australia. And, three years on from its founding, during Good Beer Week in 2011, the Craft Beer Industry Association plans to step up its role in securing that bright future.
To date, the two conferences have been CBIA’s most high profile achievements but much more is planned for the coming year. Among them are a forthcoming consumer website called What is craft beer? that has been a year in the making and there are plans for an Australian craft beer awards too. Today also saw them announce a new definition for craft beer, one that focuses more on the spirit of the industry than any definition based on ownership, size or similar.
“Craft beer is born of a mindset, an idea between art and science executed by the dedicated skill of a brewer.”
“It was drawn up by us having a look at what’s going on around the world where craft beer associations are trying to wrestle with the issue,” says CBIA chairman Dave Bonighton, of Mountain Goat. “There’s no perfect definition anywhere but because we are a broad church [at CBIA] and want to grow the pie we want to be as inclusive as we can.
“We’re not going to say you need to be big or small or use certain ingredients; it’s about an intention and a mindset.”
The association continues to grow in parallel with the industry, with nearly 20 breweries joining in the past six months; Dave believes almost half of the brewers in Australia are now members. As for the conference, the aim is to repeat last year’s success but “better – to do more”, while Jared Birbeck, of Birbeck’s, is continuing his work looking at excise issues.
“We’re looking to get a national craft beer awards and showcase happening by the end of the year,” says Dave. “We really love the idea of having a series of webinars based around the website too.
“The website is part of our stated aim to grow the slice of the pie. It’s one of the ways we hope to get new drinkers across as one of the fundamental goals is to be attracting newbies.
“It covers topics such as can beer pair with food and getting into the nuts and bolts of what malt is and what hops are. But there’s also stuff for the beer geeks out there already.”
Among that is a forum that he hopes will foster conversation between beer lovers and brewers.
Elsewhere on whatiscraftbeer.com.au [which will launch soon] will be:
- Learn Beer – What Is Beer? Featuring the history of craft in Australia by Dr Brett Stubbs, as well as ingredients, brewing process, serving and drinking including glassware, language etc and an Encyclopaedia.
- Discover styles – covering 41 styles. Visitors will be able to choose from criteria such as ABV, adventurousness and a food type and a finder will offer up beer styles that may be appropriate.
- Beer and Food – Recipes from some of Australiaâs best known beer focused chefs/cooks, starting with Gerard Mitchell from Beersine.
- Breweries – a map and links to our members' websites.
- News posts and events.