Australia’s Craft Beer Rush

With a new brewery is opening every six days and an industry has grown almost two hundred percent since 2011, it feels like how the craft beer biz used to be in the US…

There’s a beer rush going on now in Australia, that sounds more than vaguely familiar…

According to New Daily, “Fifty-two new breweries, brew pubs and contract brewers opened in 2018, bringing the number of craft ale producers to 585 – a 197 per cent increase since 2011, or one brewery for every 41,500 people (aged over 18).”

In fact, from June to October Australia saw the most new brewers per quarter since the Australian Craft Beer Brewery List was started in 2014, with one opening every three days.

Bart Watson, chief economist, Brewers Association

Sound familiar?

Also familiar is the bullish predictions from industry analysts like Craft Beer Reviewer’s  John Elliott who reported that the “burgeoning craft brewery sector was only 5 per cent of the Australian beer market but had the potential to expand to 20 per cent.”

Remember back to 2014, when the Brewers Association Chief Economist, Bart Watson wrote that craft beer growth goal of “20% by 2020” in the US might be achievable?

But now with craft beer’s double digit growth numbers in the rearview mirror, those kind of goals seem like an a long shot at best in 2018.

Unlike in the states where the craft beer has entered a more mature phase (read: slowing), the Australian craft beer business is just beginning its build…And just as in the US in 2014, predictions of craft beer’s growth potential in Australia couldn’t be more positive….

“We still have a long way to go, as long as people know how to run their business,” Mr. Elliott told the New Daily

“I visited about 80 per cent of breweries in the last couple of years and they all struggle to meet demand. They underestimated how much demand there would be and they have had to expand quickly.”

Australian Real Craft Brewers Association spokesman David Hollyoak sees craft beer’s growth in his country was “nowhere near saturation,” echoing Elliot’s assertion that keeping up with demand was a common problem for brewers….

“It’s been a long time coming for Australia but there is some serious momentum building…People are seeking out craft beers for different reasons – they can taste the difference, they want to engage with the people behind the beer and brewery, they want to support smaller local businesses and they want to have an authentic drink.”

And these analysts aren’t wrong to be as excited as US business observers were just five years ago. Australians should be planning to ride out this period of seemingly unstoppable growth…as brewers in the United States have…

But if you can take away anything from where the craft beer now finds itself in 2018…Just don’t think that that ride will go on forever.

Banner image credit: IBA

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