Expat craft brewers in Oz reject market domination by Big Beer

Published:  1 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: USA, Australia, Euro
The expat owners of an independent craft beer brewery in Australia are determined to go on giving their customers what they want rather then giving in to international brewing giants.

Both expat and Australian beer-drinkers love the limited-run, full-flavoured craft beers offered by small, independent breweries, but the breweries themselves are having difficulties staying competitive and avoiding buy-ups by global beverage firms. Some, however, see the threat at a marketing opportunity, and are determined to stay in business.

One such small brewery in Marackville is run by American expats Andrew Fineran and Chris Sidwa who, along with a few mates, converted an old panel-beater’s premises to a centre for brewing unusual craft beers. Since they opened four years ago as Batch Brewing.Co., their turnover has soared to $2.7 million, proving the need for their unique beers.

Their business model is simple – brewing unique beers and delivering them through multiple channels to chosen outlets. Batch’s beers are ‘ fresh, cold and without pasteurisation’ and are sold wholesale to bottle shops and pubs as well as bottled takeaways from the brewery, with tasting sessions of new beers regularly held in the on-site bar.

According to Fineran, variety is the brewery’s strength, with 130 different craft beers having been produced during the past five years. Beer drinkers can come to the brewery and taste the latest offerings, with some beers so popular they don’t even get as far as the retailers because they’ve all been consumed on site. Fineran and Sidwa’s personal favourites include a sour dragon fruit and passion fruit ale and a coconut IPA christened ‘Island Style’.

Both brewers believe creating a real relationship with beer drinkers is central to the success of any craft brewery as it fosters loyalty and a sense of community. A recent survey revealed 99 per cent of beer drinkers are more than happy to purchase craft beers from smaller, independent breweries, even although multinationals are attempting to cash in on the scene by brewing their own and even taking over smaller craft breweries.

A number of independent breweries have already been bought out by international beverage firms, with the trend causing dismay amongst craft beer aficionados and the micro-breweries themselves. Big Beer, it seems, is determined to infiltrate and control the market, but Batch Brewing’s two expat owners are seeing the move as a challenge. According to Sidwa, the solution is to keep focusing on quality and provide new ways to capture the market, such as their new investment in a canning line expected to appeal to those wanting packaged beers.
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