Brewers are investing in both new and improved ale trails in Melbourne’s Collingwood suburb and Sydney’s Inner West with the help of grant funding.
In Collingwood, brewers have received a $20,000 grant earlier this year for the new Collingwood Beer Trail, as part of the City of Yarra’s Business Recovery Grants Program.
“The five brewery owners have for some time discussed how we can work together to showcase and promote our community and businesses as we’re all so proud of the neighbourhood and the revival of the local brewing industry here after more than a century of dormancy,” explained Stomping Ground Brewing Co.’s Steve Jeffares.
“The City of Yarra grant was the impetus to make it finally happen!”
“We have plenty of exciting ideas for both the Trail and the collective generally to keep things fresh for both us and beer fans,” he said.
“Working on the Trail idea together has also further strengthened relationships between the brewery owners and staff as we all work towards the common goal. “
The trail aims to capitalise on Collingwood’s strong brewing history, having been home to stalwarts of the Australian industry such as the Yorkshire Brewery, Shamrock Brewery and Fosters.
The free Collingwood Beer Trail map will be available at all participating breweries, or to download, and a $30 ‘Trail Pass’ is also available, which includes beer samples at all venues and a Beer Trail tote bag after customers have visited all five breweries.
Five dollars from every Trail Pass sold will be donated to a local charity, and the inaugural charity is The Inner North Community Foundation which provides funds for projects that create connected communities, particularly encouraging pathways to employment, Jeffares said.
Inner West Ale Trail
In addition, the established Ale Trail in Sydney’s Inner West has had a revamp, with a new interactive map, artwork and a mural launched by the Inner West Brewery Association with help from a local artist and a local government grant.
Mike Clarke, founder of Sauce Brewing and IWBA member, said the aim of investing in and building collateral like the interactive map was so it could be used by visitors and tourism bodies alike.
“The Ale Trail is certainly a drawcard to those “in the know”, but what we really aim to achieve is raising our profile and driving visitors to the Inner West.
“That benefits not just the breweries but many other businesses around us, from the arts, to food and drink, accommodation and so on.
“This particular map style and digital design is quite unique and something that [artist Peita Blythe] has put a lot of work into. So when she applied for a grant to apply her style to the Inner West brewery trail, we jumped at the opportunity to do this “properly”.”
“My partner was telling me how the mayor Darcy Byrne wanted to make the Inner West the craft brewery capital of Australia,” said Peita Blythe.
Initially, Blythe got in touch with Peter Philip, owner of Wayward Brewing Co., which proved to be the start of the project.
“This conversation led to the idea of an illustrated map that showcased and celebrated all the craft breweries in the Inner West,” she said.
With the Inner West breweries on board, the next issue was funding the project.
“It just so happened that in the same week, a friend of mine told me about the My Community Project grant,” Blythe explained.
“So Peter and I decided to apply for the grant with the brewery map idea and after lots of campaigning, our project was successful!
“We officially started working on the project in 2020 and we just launched the project two weeks ago which included the unveiling of the new printed brochures, a new website for the Inner West Ale Trail with a new interactive map and a large map mural at the intersection of Edgeware Road and Enmore Road.
“[NSW MP] Jo Haylen, [Inner West Mayor] Darcy Byrne and [NSW MP] Jenny Leong all attended the launch and the following week Jo Haylen spoke about the success of the project in Parliament which was incredible!”
The project brings together 11 Inner West breweries, with the hope of bringing even more visitors to the area.
“Ultimately we hope our project will celebrate the Inner West, encourage people to explore the Inner West and its diverse offerings, tap into local community pride and put the Inner West on the map as the craft brewing capital of Australia,” Peita said.
Sauce’s Mike Clarke explained that for many breweries, dealing with local government can be challenging. Many members of the IWBA struggle with outdated and restrictive planning rules, and getting these changed was a major driver in bringing the IWBA together to lobby for reform.
“Ultimately we’ve had to go to the state level to get things changed. And we are still working on that 4 years later although we are making progress,” he acknowledged.
Despite this, the latest grant and support from the local government has given them hope.
“There are other teams within the council whose role is to support business and industry in the area, and they’ve been great!
“From the mayor, to the business development teams, to arts and industry teams, we’ve had enormous support for events, the Ale Trail (they’ve funded a second mural), collaborations with the arts and music industry, and so on. Their role is to help build up the businesses in the area and you would have to say they are doing all they can,” he said.
For breweries in other areas who are thinking of setting up their own ale trails, Clarke had some advice.
“First I’d say you need a good group who are prepared to work together, for the benefit of all. I call it “co-opetition”.
“Yes you are kind of competing businesses but you have shared goals, and understand that you are stronger together.
“You need some people who are prepared to give up their time to achieve what you want to achieve [and] get serious, form a legal association, and start talking to local government and anyone else who’ll listen.
“For artwork, seek out a great artist. Peita is available!”