Independent beer makers give big brewers the boot

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Australia’s small and independent brewers have voted overwhelmingly to removing large brewers from the membership of their trade body.

In addition, the body which until known has been called The Craft Beer Industry Association, has been renamed the Independent Brewers Association.

The body said in a statement that the move is intended to create a body that is better placed to address the challenges faced by small brewers in Australia.

Under new rules for what was the Craft Beer Industry Association, membership will be prohibited for brewers that are more than 20 per cent owned by large brewers or other businesses that hold significant brewery holdings in Australia or overseas.

Previously the association had allowed membership by companies such as Little Creatures, Malt Shovel and Mountain Goat, all of which are 100 per cent owned by global brewing concerns.

“This is a great day for our association and for small, independent breweries in Australia,” said Independent Brewers Association chair, Peta Fielding.

“Our industry is a shining light in Australian manufacturing.  There are now more than 400 small, independent brewing businesses, up from just 200 when the association began five years ago.  The industry directly employs more than 2100 people and generates an estimated $655 million in economic output.”

Not everybody involved in the industry welcomed the move.

Chuck Hahn, a master brewer at Lion which owns Little Creatures and Malt Shovel, told the SMH he finds big versus small debate curious.

“If we measure brewers by their scale, and they need investment to achieve that scale, what message are we sending them – if drinkers love your beer and you grow as a result, are you are no longer a legitimate brewer?,” he said. “We believe it is short-sighted for the craft sector to be squabbling among ourselves. We should be working together to build craft in Australia – feeding off one another’s success as we always have done – rather than confusing beer drinkers into thinking ownership structure has any impact on the quality of what they’re drinking.”