The Queensland Government has announced a plan to create a Queensland Craft Beer Strategy to support its growing small brewery industry.
Announcing the decision during Brisbane’s craft beer celebration, Brewsvegas, Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick met with a number of the region’s brewers to learn more about the industry and how the government can assist its future development.
The initiative appears to have been sparked by industry disquiet over the state government’s enthusiastic support in attracting BrewDog to the region despite having paid its local industry scant regard.
Despite years of campaigning for support on par with its wine industry, the only craft beer-related initiative instituted by the State Government to date has been the introduction of craft beer permits intended to allow small brewers to showcase their products at promotional events such as wine show. However, unlike the wine industry equivalent. the permits have been so limiting that brewers have found them unusable.
The meeting with brewers was coordinated by the Independent Brewers Association, which is progressing the development of the strategy with the department. It is expected that the strategy will encompass a range of training, planning and development, and tourism initiatives.
Independent Brewers Association acting CEO Chris McNamara applauded the move.
“This is a very exciting development in Australian independent brewing as it is the first time that an Australian state Government has committed to developing an all encompassing strategy for the industry. We look forward to working with Minister Dick and his department to grow the industry in Queensland,” he said.
While the government’s intention to create a strategy was announced, it was not accompanied by a timetable for development of the strategy.
The announcement capped off a successful week of lobbying by the local brewers. Earlier in the week a number of brewers met with the Chair of the Parliamentary State Development, Natural Resources and Agricultural Industry Development Committee, Chris Whiting MP, to share some of their beers paired with the dinner and discuss the industry.
Full media release below.
Queensland craft brewers have support on tap
Queensland’s craft brewers will close out Brewsvegas 2018 with plans for a new government strategy to support the industry’s expansion.
Minister for State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Cameron Dick shared a beer today with several craft brewing industry figures at Newstead Brewing Co’s Newstead brewery to help shape a plan to strengthen the government’s role in supporting the industry.
Mr Dick said the Palaszczuk Government recognised the benefits that local craft brewers offered to the economy and would tailor a Queensland Craft Brewing Strategy to the industry’s needs.
“Year after year, craft brewing has been the fastest growing segment of the beer market – a trend that we’re only seeing accelerate,” he said.
“Craft beer production in Queensland is estimated to be worth around $62 million per year and growing, and our state’s market share of the sector in Australia has risen by around 2.8 per cent from 2016 to 2017.
“More than 13 per cent of the 516 independent breweries in Australia can be found in Queensland, and no less than 22 new breweries have opened in our state in just the last 12 months alone.
“The success of joint programs like Brewsvegas, now in its fifth year of celebrating local brews with events across Brisbane, is evidence of the craft brewing sector’s creativity, strong local supporter base and willingness to collaborate to grow in Queensland.
“The Queensland brewing industry has asked for support to achieve their fullest potential, and I want them to know we are listening and that I’m keen to work with our brewers to sustain their growth and maximise the industry’s wider benefits.
“Brewers with innovative and exciting new tastes and an accent on local ideas and regional flavours are multiplying across Queensland from Currumbin to Port Douglas.
“This government is committed to our manufacturing industry, small businesses and innovation, with a range of programs available to support growth in all three of these areas.
“There is more that can be done to target our support for this young industry and I will be working across government and with craft brewers to ensure our strategy addresses local needs and encourages local investment and jobs.”
Scottish craft brewer BrewDog cited the emerging potential of Queensland’s craft beer industry as a key factor in their recently announced decision to locate their first Australian operation in Brisbane and indicated their intention to collaborate with local brewers, which Mr Dick said the government supports.
“Queensland boasts more than 70 home-grown craft brewing operations and award winners like Balter and Green Beacon, not to mention the excellent brews here at Newstead Brewing, are more than a match for anything produced elsewhere,” he said.
Preliminary consultation with industry will commence immediately, with a draft strategy expected to be released for consultation in the second half of this year.
The process will be led by the Manufacturing and Industry Development team within the Department of State Development. Senior officials will work with industry leaders to set the parameters of the plan which will be developed as a result of this consultation. It is envisaged this plan will include mentoring and training opportunities for new entrants to the industry.
Independent Brewers Association CEO Chris McNamara said he was pleased the Queensland Government is stepping up to support local craft brewers.
“The independent brewing scene in Queensland is young, vibrant, brimming with great ideas and ready to grow quickly, making this the perfect time for the government to become involved and ensure the conditions are right to facilitate that growth,” he said.
“It’s a welcome sign of how seriously the Queensland Government takes this industry and its potential.”
Newstead Brewing CEO Mark Howes said Queensland brewers’ big selling point lay in doing things their own way.
“The craft scene here may not be as mature as it is in some other states, but that’s led us to continuously innovate and strive to be the best,” he said.
“Having the Queensland Government come to the brewing community and ask what we need to get our beers to wider markets more competitively is a positive step for us.”
Mr Dick said that the economic opportunities from craft brewing would extend into tourism and events such as Brewsvegas.
“Beer tourism is becoming big business globally, with increasing numbers of people making regional brewery visits a factor in their travel choices,” he said.
“Tapping into that new flavour, alongside Queensland’s already vibrant palate of attractions, will be a win for everyone in our state – no matter their drink of choice.”
*The author was a participant in the meetings that occurred this week.