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Ballarat bids to be craft beer capital

March 1, 2017
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Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announcing the project today

Ballarat’s brewing credentials have been further bolstered by government funding to establish an Australian Craft Beer Centre of Excellence.

The Andrews Labor Government today announced a $500,000 grant for the private facility, “creating 25 new jobs benefiting beer enthusiasts, locals and tourists alike keen to sample the regions finest brew [sic]”.

The initiative is unrelated to Broo’s $100 million Ballarat brewery, which supposedly is also in line for government support, details of which are yet to be revealed.

The Centre’s director and founder is Brian Taylor, owner of the Hop Temple beer bar and restaurant in Ballarat, which opened in 2015.

“It’s come out of a Destination Management Plan that was done in 2014 by an independent company, that earmarked that Ballarat has a great opportunity to run a Craft Beer Excellence Centre,” Taylor told Australian Brews News.

Craft beer capital
Ballarat Regional Tourism commissioned the Destination Management Plan, released by Melbourne urban planning consultancy Urban Enterprise in March 2014.

The document identifies the Centre of Craft Beer Excellence as one of nine priority projects for the Ballarat region.

“Craft beer is a growth industry, with revenue generated increasing at more than ten per cent per annum over the past five years,” the 2014 document says.

“This can be seen in the constantly expanding range of breweries, specialty beer stores and pubs offering extensive ranges of tap beers.

“Although interest in specialty beers has grown significantly, no Victorian destination has taken ownership of it as a key tourism product, such as wine in the Yarra Valley, creating an opportunity for Ballarat.”

Project
 worth $1.25 million
Taylor himself will put $750,000 into the project, which will be supplemented by the $500,000 grant from the Andrews Government’s Regional Tourism and Infrastructure Fund (RTIF).

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford and Member for Wendouree Sharon Knight today visited Hop Temple as the plan was unveiled.

“This project combines two of Victoria’s greatest passions; jobs and beer,” Pulford said.

“We’re accelerating the delivery of investment ready, high impact tourism projects that will help drive visitation to regional Victoria – creating jobs and boosting the economy.”

Brewery on site
The Australian Craft Beer Centre of Excellence will include a craft brewery, a beer tasting and bar area, a teaching space and a function area.

“A key feature of the Centre will be the ‘brew space’, where small brewers will be able to receive advice on how to improve their brewing technique, develop their business and test the market which will help niche brewers expand,” the government’s press release says.

An artist’s render of the Australian Craft Beer Centre of Excellence

The centre will work closely with Ballarat’s Federation University, a leader in brewing education, to develop short training courses to be delivered through the new facility.

More the merrier
Taylor said the Ballarat region has a burgeoning craft beer scene thanks to the recent openings of Cubby Haus Brewing and Athletic Club Brewery, which join established players in Red Duck Beer and O’Brien Beer.

He said this will be reputation will be further boosted by the Centre, along with the high profile Ballarat launch of Broo.

“I haven’t had any discussions with them [Broo] as such, but Ballarat’s a hot topic at the minute when it comes to beer,” Taylor said.

“The more the merrier – this is all about bringing people to Ballarat. We want to make Ballarat seriously the capital of craft beer in Australia.”

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