Craft beer as a modern phenomenon has a long, intriguing history. Mankind has been fermenting vegetable matter to produce alcohol since prehistoric times. The fact that the brewing of beer predates written language is widely accepted.
It is no stretch of the imagination, to assume that wild grains were gathered and put to various uses, one of which would most certainly be brewing. One can visualise quite easily how the process of fermentation was revealed; since that time we have embraced alcohol wholeheartedly, the good and the bad.
The business of brewing in more recent times is a very serious and large industry, for many years the market was dominated by brand leaders, with the consumer tastes reflecting this.
The rise of the ‘real ale’ movement in the U.K from the 1970’s heralded a new focus on quality, distinctiveness and character, the emphasis being placed on ‘cask conditioned’ ales from regional located micro-breweries. In America, and California in particular a parallel development of the ‘Craft Brewing’ had a different emphasis on ‘keg production’ which was very different.
Craft Beers – a catch-all term defined by the American Brewers Association as the product of “small, independent and traditional” producers, has been adopted by hipsters and ‘alternative’ cultural groups seeking authentic experiences and unique qualities.
The picture looks very different in the brewing world today, although the dominant brands in Europe, USA, U.K, China, Japan and Australia still hold sway, there is a significant market presence from thousands of micro-breweries that have flourished in the USA, U.K & Australia in particular.
The beer market in Australia, although very much smaller, has nonetheless been experiencing an equally strong upswing of micro brewing entrepreneurship. Tasmania is a perfect environment for brewing beer, making cider, wine and spirits. The ready availability of high quality natural water, local production of premium ingredients creates a craft beverage haven. The local consumer trends in Australia has undergone a transformation over the past 15 years; no longer is ‘Foster’s’ the associated beer icon, Australian culture has progressed well beyond the colonial naivety of the 1950’s. You are just as likely to see a Sunday session where the punters are all asking for pints of obscure regional craft ales in addition to the old drinkers with their schooners of ‘Vic Bitter’.
Cool climate wine varieties have been being produced in Tasmania for many years now. The recent climate changes in the northern hemisphere has seen many cool climate varieties such as the white sparkling, and even reds suffering a decline of quality due to the shorter ripening times, in response to warmer mean temperatures.
Tasmanian wines have been able to take advantage of this and demand for these varieties is through the roof.
The single malt whisky market has seen an equally strong contribution from Tasmanian micro distillers, single malts from Tasmania are growing in reputation, and the prices commanded reflect this.
It is in the craft brewing & cider space, however, that the Tasmania liquor industry is experiencing a large measure of growth and global interest. Opportunities for breaking into the world market are looking very healthy, in addition to the steady rise in the domestic Australian consumer market.
With this growth in production, and range of producers there is an increasing demand for industry services, marketing, logistics, sales and distribution. New players find it difficult to gain traction, and the established services do not always service the needs of these innovative, and sometimes ‘quirky’ new producers.
The outlook for the craft beverage industry is extremely good. Tasmania is attracting large numbers of people who are seeking an authentic, and unique experience. Craft beverages link very strongly with the tourism industry, people want to be able to taste the flavors of a location, what the French call “Terroir”; the minerals and soil type influences the outcome.
While the Craft Beer and Real Ale movements in the USA & UK respectively have signaled a new era of appreciation among consumers, the craft beverage industry in Tasmania is in a class of its own; the truly unique qualities of Tasmania can be directly taken inwardly, and exported to the masses who are jaded, and in need of genuine connection.