Five Sydney breweries have joined forces to launch The Inner West Brewery Association (IWBA), which aims to cement Sydney’s Inner West as the Craft Beer Capital of Australia.
The founding members are Batch Brewing Company, Wayward Brewing Company, Young Henrys, Willie the Boatman and Grifter Brewing Company.
“We’ve felt for some time that the inner west is really developing as one of the most important beer areas in Sydney and also Australia,” IWBA president and Wayward founder Peter Philip told Brews News.
“We wanted to get together to achieve a few things, one was working with local government to streamline some of the planning regulations.”
Separately, Philip was recently nominated to the board of the Craft Beer Industry Association – soon to be rebirthed as Independent Brewers Australia – but says IWBA is best placed to achieve its members’ local objectives.
“My view is that IBA is a national body and should be representing national interests. Whilst we definitely have a desire to push excise reform, we really think that that’s the job of CBIA or IBA now,” he said.
Philip said there are 14 production breweries in the inner west and all will be invited to join, including Lion-owned Malt Shovel Brewery, Wayward’s nearest neighbour.
“This is really about being in the inner west, we are great friends with the guys at Malt Shovel and we will be encouraging them to join,” he said.
“Having five founders was really about trying to streamline the process so that we could get something done quickly.”
The association was foreshadowed at a recent forum for the brewers organised by Federal Labor MP Anthony Albanese, the MP for local electorate Grayndler, who was present at this morning’s launch hosted by Batch Brewing.
14 and counting
Philip’s tally of 14 breweries in the area includes one that is yet to start production, Sauce Brewing in Marrickville.
“I know of four more that are planning on setting up but I haven’t included them. They’re in the early stages of planning,” he said.
Philip said the inner west actually has a higher density of breweries than Portland or San Diego, if you take into account the limited take-up of craft beer in Australia.
“Really, we should have one brewery in the inner west to be on the same density as Portland. It’s getting pretty crowded and pretty dense,” he said.
He said this is why it is crucial for the inner west brewers to collaborate on initiatives that will increase demand for their beers, particularly considering recent sobering news about the financial hardship suffered by some brewers.
“You’ve got to run your business very carefully. You look at Brewcult and Hendo – here you’ve got a great guy who makes fantastic beer and he couldn’t be successful,” he said.
“It is a very competitive market. I know from our standpoint, we haven’t paid back the money we put into the business.”
The IWBA also announced that the first Inner West Beer Fest will be held in early 2018.