Australian Brews News has regularly reported on the many activities of the US-based Brewers Association and highlighted Australia’s lack of a similar body to champion craft beer on a national level. After a number of false starts over the years, it looks like an Australian body may finally eventuate.
A volunteer steering committee has been formed by representatives a number of leading craft breweries who have taken on the task of consulting widely across the industry to devise a practical model for the association.
The members of the committee include:
- Brad Rogers and Jamie Cook from Stone & Wood
- Brendan Varis from Feral Brewing
- Dave Bonighton from Mountain Goat
- Owen Johnston from Moo Brew
- Adam Trippe-Smith from McLaren Vale Beer Company
- Miles Hull from Little Creatures
- Brewing Consultant Bruce Peachey
While details are still being discussed, the steering committee has circulated a paper that suggests the purpose of the association would be to promote, protect and grow the Australian craft beer segment, and intends to do this through:
- Consumer awareness and education
- Trade awareness and education
- Develop and celebrate the quality and diversity of craft beer
- Aid professional development within the industry
- Government liaison and advocacy
Amongst the mooted activities of the group would be to hold an Australian Craft Brewers Conference and a Good Beer Week-style event in each capital city, events that can only benefit brewers and beer lovers.
In a move that has already sparked substantial discussion and debate in brewing circles, and some criticism, the proposed association departs from the US model by suggesting the inclusion of the two biggest craft breweries, Malt Shovel and Matilda Bay, wholly owned by Lion Nathan and CUB respectively. The US model precludes any brewery with that is more than 25 per cent owned by a business that is not themselves a craft brewer.
While there is no doubt plenty of discussion to be had around this point, craft beer has reached the point in Australia where it needs a national voice to do just what is proposed: promote, protect and grow the Australian craft beer segment for all breweries. To lose track of the wider picture in disagreements over membership would represent a lost opportunity and be a retrograde step at a critical time for beer. It is also important to note that the wider the membership, the stronger the association and the more it will reflect the aims of all members – and in turn the more it will benefit them collectively.
It is an exciting development for craft beer in this country and I look forward to bringing you future developments.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below.