by Samuel Jones
It’s late afternoon on a brisk Sydney winter’s day and the rooftop bar of The Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst is buzzing with people. It’s 1 August, International Beer Day.
Founded by a group of friends in the United States in 2007, International Beer Day is “a celebration of beer and the people who provide it”. Since its inception, it has spread around the world and is now held in 350 locations.
To mark the occasion, The Local Taphouse bought a hard-to-get range of craft beers from the UK, USA, Italy, Belgium, New Zealand and Australia, including an American Brown Ale and a Black India Pale Ale.
Clive Morley, the Venue Manager who has watched the craft beer scene grow expected more than 1000 people to pass through the doors to sample the diverse range on offer.
Australia has seen an explosion of interest in the craft beer scene in recent years. Figures released by Roy Morgan Research indicate the number of Australians drinking a ‘craft beer’ in any given month rose from 3.5 per cent in 2010 to 5.7 per cent in 2014. This means the number of Australians trying craft beer has crept past the one million mark for the first time.
Research by the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand shows that the amount of craft beer produced in Australia is increasing by six per cent annually, while mainstream beer sales are declining. The Australian Bureau of Statistics puts it even higher, listing 13 per cent annual growth for craft beer in 2013, while the beer market as a whole shrunk two per cent.
Jordan McDonald, Beer Sommelier at the craft beer venue, Frankie’s Pizza attributes the growth to a younger demographic, with a high level of disposable income. “They just don’t like the bland old beers that their fathers drank,” he says.
A newcomer to the craft beer scene may baulk at shelling out $16 for a beer. However Mr Morley says that while “traditionally beer has been seen as a cheap drink” people are willing to pay more for a great flavour experience, as they increasingly “appreciate the work that goes into producing a quality brew.” Most people accept that you pay more for quality – especially when it comes from the other side of the world.
Many drinkers are now seeing the same value in beer that they previously saw in fine wine or champagne. As Local Taphouse patron Julian Frood explains, the champagne equivalent of a craft beer costs approximately $250, which equates to around $25 a glass. By comparison, he says, “today the Taphouse is offering some of the best beers in the world, for $16 a glass.”
As Jordan McDonald says, “the game has changed to the point that the average punter is disillusioned, as I once was, if denied the craft beer option.”