Title: Head Brewer, Little Creatures Brewing (WA)
Annual output: 2.97 million litres*
Craft brewing to me is really a state of mind; there are small breweries making great beer, and big breweries making great beer. Think about some of the US examples – Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Samuel Adams – they have quite large breweries now, but they are passionate and producing excellent products. Another extreme example – think of inland Becks brewed for the German market: fantastic beer, great bitterness and it comes out of a massive brewery.
As we have gotten bigger here at Little Creatures (and to be honest, we are still tiny in the scheme of things!) we have thought quite a bit about this. Through growing one inevitably needs a degree of automation, better quality control procedures, etc – but at the same time you actually need to basically pay more attention to what is going on – you can’t let the control system and lab analysis make all of the brewers decisions! So craft is really about remaining engaged and keeping focused on what matters – the beer in the glass at the end of the day, all the rest is academic to an extent….. An in-spec beer can taste awful, and an out of spec beer can taste fantastic!
I don’t think Australia needs to have classifications for breweries – in my mind a brewery is a brewery. Some are bigger, some are smaller – but hey, don’t we all have the same mission – making beer? As some of the larger craft brewers grow in the US they have had to actually adjust the definitions to suit – so does it really matter?
*Nielsen ScanTrack Data used to relate comparison. Does not reflect total output, but packaged sales.