Farmers froth for craft beers

Craft brewing boom boosts farmers, jobs and communities


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There are more than 500 independent brewers in Australia with 66 per cent based regionally. Photo by Two Heads Brewing.

There are more than 500 independent brewers in Australia with 66 per cent based regionally. Photo by Two Heads Brewing.

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There are more than 500 independent brewers in Australia with 66 per cent based regionally.

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The explosion in the number of craft brewers across the nation is not just a win for the thirsty hordes - it's also proving a windfall for farmers and the communities they call home.

Every week in Australia an independent craft brewer opens its doors taking the total to more than 500.

Of those, 66 per cent are based regionally, which is creating economic benefit to those communities with jobs while at the same time also value adding to farming operations.

Farmers who are growing specific varieties for brewers are getting brand recognition for the crops they are producing for the niche market.

While independent brewers are accountable for six per cent of the volume produced in Australia, Jamie Cook from the Independent Brewers Association said they had more than 40 per cent of the jobs in the brewing industry.

"Given a big bulk of the 500 brewers are in regional areas, it's helping to create jobs, they are employing locals, which is fantastic in those rural and regional areas," he said.

"It's an industry that's going back to the way it used to be when it was part of the local economy developing a real sense of community."

Mr Cook said it was also an industry that represented 10 per cent of the market share value in terms of dollars spent as it was priced at a premium.

"It's being driven by consumer demand and people are willing to pay a premium as they are looking for smaller, more local, more independently owned businesses, which ties right into paddock to plate," he said.

"People want to know where their beer is coming from and they want to know their local brewer."

Brewers such as The Welder's Dog are among those who are also forming relationships with local farmers like Corie Piper from Wee Waa to grow specific varieties for their brew. Photo by The Welder's Dog Brewery.

Brewers such as The Welder's Dog are among those who are also forming relationships with local farmers like Corie Piper from Wee Waa to grow specific varieties for their brew. Photo by The Welder's Dog Brewery.

Brewers such as The Welder's Dog, who are releasing the Drought Breaker lager at AgQuip to be sold at country pubs at cost price until the drought breaks, are among those who are also forming relationships with local farmers to grow specific varieties for their brew.

They have teamed up with Wee Waa farmers Corie Piper (pictured on our front cover) and his wife Nicole to provide them with an independent strain of grain for their produce. Across two bars located in Armidale and Tamworth and their brewery, The Welder's Dog business alone employs 18 staff members.

"We also see part of our role is to educate drinkers about how the craft beer movement is keeping dollars and employment within local areas and the national economy," The Welder's Dog Brewery founder Tom Croft said.

Campbell Hedley from Two Heads Brewing, Lucknow, says to stay competitive they also focus on their region.

"It's tough competing with all the beers out there, but we attribute our success to supporting local and we do every local event including farmer's markets to build our reputation regionally," Mr Hedley said.

"We want people to be passionate about what's in their backyard," he said.

Brett Heffernan, from the Brewers Association, which is the peak body representing beer makers that account for 80 per cent of the beer sold in the country, said in the past few years independent craft brewers had come onto the scene at the pace of one a week.

"It's booming in terms of the number but if we start to talk about economic footprint and market share they are not capturing much there, it's important to put it into context, there are a number of breweries competing against each other," he said.

Our readers top local brews

We are a beer loving nation so The Land put it to our readers on social media as to what their favourite local brew was. This is what they said:

Heather Bloxham: Thirsty Crow Brewery in Wagga their Vanilla Stout is very good.

Carolyn Lack: Pioneer Brewery in Orange. Pete puts pride and passion into his beer and you can taste it.

Adam Reinecker: Tried one called 'Creature of the night' brewed with a peanut extract in Brisbane, very nice

Jess Toohey: Badlands Brewery in Orange NSW, three guys who are really passionate about their beer.

Ken McBean: Great Hops Brewing in Armidale. On the Bundarra rd.

Jacob Cossey: Had one in Exmouth, Whalebone Brewery, I got the stout. Was surprisingly good

Carson Haley: Bridge Road Brewery, Beechworth Vic

Zayn Bischoff: Deepwater Brewery. Brewed in a small town in NSW. Best beer by far!

Derek Darlow: Mudgee Brewery Porter or IPA.

Nelle Chapman: Smoked Porter from The Tinshed Brewery Dungog NSW

Jaimi Elsie: Barellans very own Golden Grain Ale

Kim Maizey: The Welder's Dog Armidale

Drew Quine: Tumut River Brewing Co.... you'll never guess where it's at??

Alissa O'Mally: Devils Elbow Brewery Dubbo

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