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Welcome to WA Week

Welcome to our third state-focused week, where we’re heading to Western Australia.

Are you packaging sustainably?

James Perrin, Stone & Wood’s sustainability manager

It’s estimated that Australians consume around 1.7 billion litres of beer annually – enough to fill nearly 670 Olympic-sized swimming pools. That’s a lot of beer, but also a lot of packaging.

Sustainability is a priority for many Australian breweries, and craft brewers Stone & Wood Brewing Co and Two Birds Brewing are walking the walk when it comes to sustainable packaging and recycling, allowing them to support local industry, provide jobs and, most importantly, reduce their carbon footprint.

Opting for more sustainable packaging and product stewardship is making the brews more palatable to an increasingly environmentally savvy customer group.

Unlike other packaging, glass bottles are recycled within a closed-loop recycling process, all on Australian turf. Stone & Wood and Two Birds are two breweries with direct relationships with glass packaging manufacturer O-I Australia that have leveraged this connection by implementing further initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint, such as taking direct responsibility for glass waste streams, reducing travel distance and supporting their local communities.

It’s a great example of like-minded companies working together for the greater good to make sure our backyard stays beautiful.

Here in Australia we’re a thirsty bunch. O-I Australia manufactures and supplies Stone & Wood alone with more than 17 million bottles per year.

The breweries collect glass waste from the production process, but now rather than putting them into the co-mingled recycling bin, they’re collecting them on-site to ship directly back to the manufacturer, O-I Australia. Glass packaging and its infinitely recyclable life cycle is one of the best examples of a closed-loop or circular economy in action.

Stone & Wood’s sustainability manager James Perrin says that a truly closed-loop process is one that has no waste. “At the end of a product’s life it’s able to be used again at the start of the production process.”

Perrin says that businesses need to be responsible, not just for the product they’re putting out into the world, but also for the impact that they’re having environmentally via their waste streams. Byron Bay-based Stone & Wood is working with suppliers to increase the recyclability of its products, as well as trying to source materials that are made from more recycled content.

“Our glass bottles are made from around 70% recycled content these days and our carboard cartons consist of more than 50% recycled content,” says Perrin.

Two Birds Brewing’s co-owner and brewer Jayne Lewis says, “for us closed-loop recycling is a type of recycling that is without a mysterious middle period. Materials aren’t sent offshore. Instead, they stay local. Our glass is manufactured, used and recycled again and again right here in Australia, allowing every Two Birds bottle to be made with at least 50% recycled materials.

“We’re lucky in that our glass bottle suppliers are less than a kilometre away from our brewery in Spotswood, Victoria. We receive our bottles from O-I, fill them with our delicious beer and get them in venues and retailers around the country. Once recycled, the materials from the bottle can be back at O-I, made into a Two Birds bottle, then filled with beer and back in a customer’s fridge within as little as 30 days!”

The glass factory has been at Spotswood since 1816, and, as glass is infinitely recyclable, it’s possible that some Two Birds beer bottles might contain glass made in Melbourne more than 100 years ago.

Both breweries agree that we all have a responsibility to implement more sustainable processes where possible, whether that’s by supporting closed-loop recycling or other initiatives that result in less plastic, less chemicals and fewer carbon emissions.

“When we refer to brewing good beer, of course the quality of our product is our highest priority but ‘good’ goes beyond the attributes of our beer,” says Perrin. “We believe it is our responsibility, as the local brewer, to positively impact our communities. Not just because we care as people and want to do the right thing, but we actually see it as good business. Consumers increasingly make decisions based on sustainability and if industries don’t adapt then they run the risk of losing market share.”

Both Two Birds and Stone & Wood believe that where possible, breweries should aspire to a closed-loop process. “Beer drinkers are really conscious consumers,” says Perrin. “They care about where their ingredients came from, how the beer was made, and who brewed it, so it really makes sense for breweries to be focussing on sourcing and recycling ethically and sustainably too.”

Perrin and Lewis both recognise that there are barriers for breweries. “I think breweries do care about this stuff and do their best,” says Perrin. “However unfortunately in many cases they might not have access to resources to be able to create closed-loop supply chains. It’s something that is expensive and time consuming to do, whereas in some parts of Australia it is a cheaper option (or even the only option!) to landfill their recyclables.”

“There are a lot of cans in the market, which ultimately means a lot of recyclable material is being sent offshore,” says Lewis.

“As a business, sustainability is something we’re continually trying to work on. We’ve got a lot more work to do, but we’re proud of both our work with O-I, and some of our other sustainable measures, such as monitoring our water use to keep usage rates below the industry average, or donating our grain wastage for farm use.”

In 2017, O-I Australia worked with Stone & Wood to shift the manufacturing of the embossed Stone & Wood glass bottle from its Sydney plant to its Brisbane plant, saving more than 200,000 kilometres of truck travel per year. Perrin says that working with O-I has shown that the two organisations are very much aligned.

“To be able to work with a like-minded business on re-using that waste stream as a resource directly back into our product is amazing.”

“We’ve worked with O-I since the beginning, so around eight years,” says Lewis. “Being so close to us here in Spotswood, we’ve been able to get our team really engaged with the partnership. O-I have been able to provide us with sustainability training and give us access to the resources we need to share the good of glass!”

To find out more about recycling glass and O-I Australia, please visit their website.

Building an authentic brand

Thatchers Gold has rebranded for its Australian audience

A company’s brand is a statement about its values and its product. It is meant to reflect in an instant the kind of product they are producing and where their emphasis lies. For breweries and cider makers, a good brand ensures stand-out and recognition in a full fridge or on a busy bar. Branding matters and speaks to drinkers.

However, Thatcher’s, a family cider maker from the UK, has recognised that branding is not just about them talking to cider drinkers, but also about cider drinkers talking to them. Its flagship cider Thatchers Gold is the second biggest canned apple cider in the UK off-premise and the number two draught apple cider in the on-trade. Its reputation in its home country has been well-established over the 115 years since it was founded by current managing director Martin Thatcher’s great grandfather. Its branding back home is instinctively recognised and its message understood.

“Thatchers Gold is a medium dry golden cider, with a smooth and refreshing taste,” says Andrew Brooks, Thatchers Cider brand manager. “A perfectly balanced flavour profile is achieved through a unique blend of cider apple and culinary apple varieties including Dabinett, Porters Perfection and Harry Masters Jersey.”

But in Australia, the company has altered its branding in order to better tell the story of Thatchers to a newer audience, an audience that has recently started to champion and look for traditionally made ciders with true craft credentials. Gone is the bright golden yellow colour of the UK branding, replaced by more subdued tones to reflect Thatcher’s natural approach to cider making and to tell the story of life in Somerset, an English county famous for cider.

“This creative approach is unique for the Australian market which proves Thatchers’ commitment and long-term vision of success in the Australian cider market,” explains Brooks. “Since the cider boom of a few years ago the Australian market has become increasingly polarised, on one end cider is treated as a commodity heavily price driven, on the other end craft is beginning to pick up pace; following a similar trend to other liquor categories.

Collecting apples in the English county of Somerset

“The traditional cider making techniques passed down since 1904 and the traditional varieties of cider apples used within the Thatcher’s mean the product naturally fits more on the crafted end of the spectrum. In order for consumers to understand where we fit in the market it’s important for the brand and packaging to reflect our approach to cider making.”

Thatchers has been a family business since for four generations now. It values its independence and adopts a long-term approach in all decisions – some of Martin Thatcher’s children are already working in the business. The importance of independence within the craft community is well-documented and, as such, Thatchers is highlighting its own strong credentials in these matters.

“The new branding celebrates Thatcher’s natural approach to cider making,” adds Brooks. “Earthy tones tell a story of life on the orchards of Myrtle Farm throughout the seasons; iconic farm imagery speaks to traditional cider making techniques passed down through four generations of the Thatcher family since 1904,” says Brooks. “Above all else our goal was to bring through the values of the Thatcher family and their approach to their craft; authentic, quality and uncomplicated. The importance of family and independence is proudly communicated front and centre on the new packaging through a call out to “Four Generations of cider makers since 1904”.

To launch this new branding, Thatchers is embarking on an Australian east coast tour, visiting festivals and beer gardens  along the way, including Melbourne Music Week and Woodford Folk Festival.

“The tour will be hosted by the Thatchers Brand Ambassador, Ben Irons. Ben has grown up in Somerset, England, the home of Thatchers and home of British cider,” explains Brooks. “Ben has been instrumental in building trade and consumer loyalty for Thatchers in the fiercely competitive cider market of Bristol, UK. Ben will be slinging award winning cider and delighting consumers with delicious summer cider cocktails and food pairing all throughout summer. Keep an eye on Thatcher’s Cider Australia socials to find out where the tour will be arriving near you.”

To find out more about Thatchers Gold contact Coopers Premium Beverages on:

1300 555 166 – QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, WA
08 8440 1800 – SA, NT
thatchers@premiumbeverages.com.au
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