A brewing industry commentator was quoted recently in a capital city newspaper as having said, ‘We get notified at least once a week of a new micro-brewery or brew-pub opening up.’
In actual fact the number of new microbreweries and pub-breweries opened in Australia last year was substantially fewer, more like one every three weeks.
By my careful count, about seventeen new small breweries opened throughout Australia in 2012. The greatest number in a single state was six, for New South Wales. There were three each in Victoria and Western Australia (or Dubb-you-ay as even ABC news-readers seem to call it these days), a possible three in South Australia, and two in Queensland.
The figure for New South Wales is extraordinary. By my reckoning, it is the largest annual increment for that state since the small brewery boom began in the 1980s. It comprises Riverside at Parramatta, Young Henry’s at Newtown, the new 4 Pines facility at Brookvale, the Casella Brewery at Griffith (which, for the time being, remains in my ‘small’ category), the Morpeth Brewery, and Six String Brewery at Erina. One could possibly add Black Duck, although that could be considered just a relocation (from Herons Creek into Port Macquarie), not a new brewery.
The figures for Victoria and Western Australia are also extraordinary, but for the opposite reason. Those states have been the leaders in recent years, but both experienced lulls in 2012. The new starters in Victoria were the 115 Grill and Brewhouse at Kew, the Beach Hut Brewery at Torquay, and the Rebellion Brewery at Ballarat; in Dubb-you-ay they were Cheeky Monkey at Margaret River, Brewcorp (the Feral and Nail joint-venture at Bayswater), and the Generous Squire in Perth (the venue opened in 2009, but brewing didn’t start until last year).
In South Australia we saw the opening of McLaren Vale Brewing’s facility at Willunga, and the Prancing Pony Brewery at Mount Barker. Echidna Beer, a tiny homebrew-style outfit at a winery near Myponga, probably started operation in 2012, but I was unable to elicit information from them on this point. In Queensland, Granite Belt Brewery opened at Stanthorpe, and Green Beacon in Brisbane.
Lest some readers damn me for mere counting, I must stress that my main point is not the actual numbers, but the disparity between reality and the impression referred to above that ‘at least one’ new microbrewery opens in Australia each week. Maybe by adding a couple that may have escaped my notice, and many good intentions that fail to reach fruition, and a liberal sprinkling of new beer companies that create their products in existing and therefore already accounted for breweries, we might come close to one a week. Instead, we have only seventeen, one every three weeks, but why should we not be content with that?
Editor’s note: Disagree with Brett’s calculations? Has he missed any? Drop us a line and fill in the gaps…