I am honoured to be the recipient of a new beer writing bursary facilitated by Australian Brews News and funded by global glass maker, O-I (Owens-Illinois, Inc).
The pursuit of beer writing is still in its infancy in Australia, with the majority of non-PR beer content only published online whilst mainstream media, newspapers and magazines focus on wine and restaurants.
However, it is no secret that the beer industry, led by the craft beer sector, is rapidly expanding and evolving, even with overall beer consumption in decline. The stories arising from the innovative brewers and breweries across Australia are worth sharing as we move the nation from the image of lager guzzling louts to discerning drinkers who can respect beer’s diversity and choose quality over quantity. In these days of rapid and technology-driven mass production of lagers, media is flooded with products that have become quite far removed from real beer: a fermented beverage brewed with water, malt, hops and yeast.
Traditional hand production of beer with raw ingredients is still alive and well, but will never in our lifetime compete on the same commercial level as the multi-national breweing corporations that dominate the beer market. However, humble stories and adventures in brewing of the crafty small brewers are where the great modern yarns lie and deserve celebration in writing.
No one in Australia is making a living from writing solely about beer, so we greatly appreciate the small but extremely valuable contribution made by those who have supported bursaries through Brews News.
My fascination with beer originated with a complex and fruity strong Belgian ale, a pleasantly profound difference from beer as I had always known it – bitter golden lagers. Soon after a sweet and magnificently red Vienna lager demonstrated that even regular sessionable lagers had much to answer for. Since then I have actively sort out the diverse flavours, characteristics and brewing stories behind the endless spectrum offered by modern brewing.
Packaging beer is a side of the beer industry I have yet to tap into. Until now my focus had been firmly set on the beverage in the glass. The opportunity to collaborate with O-I will open a new appreciation for the industry, economics and experience of beer.
O-I is a global leader in the production of glass packaging, providing the billions of bottles that hold our beers, wines, soft drinks, condiments and more. The company has been producing glass products for 130 years and today it is a strong supporter and partner of Australia’s emerging craft beer industry.
Through this bursary I will continue to share the stories that celebrate the modern evolution of Australia’s beer market, as well as investigating what the packaging of beer means to beer makers and drinkers.
My consideration for the packaging aspect of beer has generally been limited to whether a beer is bottle conditioned, as well as whether a special small batch beer from a brewer out of my reach will actually be bottled so I can buy and drink it. Now, as I look over the empty bottles of beers that I have purchased in recent months, the differences in bottle shapes, sizes, colours and styles is noticeable and staggering. The range of bottle sizes and styles utilised by small and craft brewers is almost as diverse as the beer styles now available on local retail shelves — 330ml, 500ml, 640ml, 750ml bottle beers, brown and green glass, fat and thin necks, embossed and even screen printed packaging. The beer bottle experience is growing with every new beer.
So, how and why do brewers make the choices to use these differing bottles? How do bottles impact what beer a drinkers buys? What does packing do for beer? Exactly what goes into the production of bottles in Australian’s weakening manufacturing industry? How can local energy intensive manufacturing help continue to support and grow our beer economy in these times were reducing carbon emissions is essential to our environmental future?
There is so much to write about. The stories start here.