Following the Independent Brewers Association launch of its new Independence Seal on Wednesday night there has been overwhelming support from the ‘indie’ sector.
Stomping Ground Brewery co-founder Steve Jeffares understands that in less than 12 hours after the announcement, up to 24 member breweries had already signed up.
This is “pretty staggering and a very encouraging sign,” he says.
“Rather than take a passive approach, if every beer fan asks the question – Is it independent? – I think that we can really provide an unprecedented level of clarity to the trade and to consumers.”
He described the seal as “a terrific opportunity and a real game changer for independent brewers in Australia.”
Australia’s largest independent brewery Stone & Wood has also come out in support of the seal saying it will place the IBA seal on its packaging, website and marketing collateral as soon as possible.
Managing Director Ben Summons said that “when you buy a beer with a Stone & Wood label on it, you can have faith in it because you know what you’re getting, you know who the people are behind it, and you know what they stand for.”
Summons said that the brewery believed that by supporting local independent breweries, consumers are directly supporting their local community.
“There are over 420 independent brewing businesses (and growing!) so we’re looking forward to seeing this seal unite us as a marker that represents not only independence but also community, but also one that helps drinkers choose ‘Independent’ when they make their beer purchases.”
Rooftop Bar and Garden Venue Manager Nathan Taylor says the seal is great for independent brewers in the long run. However, he feels that there are going to be some teething issues.
“There’s going to have to be a lot of education around what it means to be independent,” he says.
“The craft beer nerds know about who owns what anyway, and the general public don’t give a shit.”
Conversely, Brewers Association CEO Brett Heffernan says he’s very relaxed about the independence seal.
“Consumers care about two things, quality and price. Punters don’t care who makes beer, they just want the beer they love at affordable prices,” he says.
“The reality is, around 95 per cent of the beer sold in Australia is made in Australia. That market underpins over 105,000 full-time Aussie jobs, so no one has a monopoly on the local angle.”
Newly appointed IBA CEO Alexis Roitman disagrees.
“The fact is, Australians really care about the provenance of their beer. They are really responding to the quality and diversity of the beers produced by independent brewers,” she said.
“What we’re seeing now is foreign-owned multinational brewing companies creating new ‘craft beer’ brands in an attempt to cash in on the success of IBA members.”
“So, the IBA’s Independence Seal assures Australians that they’re buying the real deal, that they’re supporting their local brewer, who actually owns the business.”
The IBA defines an independent brewery as any brewery or brewing company that is less than 20 per cent owned by a large brewer and produces less than 40 million litres per annum.