Beer Cartel has published its 2019 Australian Craft Beer Survey.
With craft beer now entering a new phase of maturity, it was perhaps not surprising to discover that 88% of respondents had more than two years experience of craft beer. In addition, 34% has been involved for between six and 10 years, while 23% have been involved in craft beer for over 11 years.
The majority are also trying to get friends and family into craft beer as well, with only 2% saying that they weren’t
Just over half of respondents had attended a beer festival in the last 12 months, with GABS leading the way followed by BeerFest.
The chance to try beers they hadn’t tried before, a great food offering and value for money were the principal factors in a great beer festival.
Core vs. limited release
Pale ale and XPA remain the most commonly consumed styles (86%), with IPAs and double IPAs not far behind (81%).
In addition, only 11% of respondents bought core range beers from craft brewers less often than every month or so.
The launch of new and limited release beers was largely seen as a positive thing by respondents, with 68% excited to see the creativity of the brewers displayed and pleased that they can always “find something new and exciting to try”.
Most respondents (66%) loved following the latest craft beer trends.
Fears about a reduction in quality of the beer put out (5%) and concerns about being unable to keep up with it all (15%) were far more limited.
However,the importance of selling core range beers was stressed as essential for craft breweries to survive, with 56% agreeing with the statement and a further 20% strongly agreeing.
The Independent Brewers Association (IBA) has championed independent owners for some time now, and it clearly means something to respondents.
45% strongly agreed (60% of Beer & Brewer readers) with the statement that they were big supporters of independent craft beer, with 44% agreeing with the statement.
The IBA launched a Seal of Independence in May 2018. Awareness of the seal was up from 33% last year to 41% (with 70% of Beer & Brewer readers aware of it).
Of those who recognised the Seal, 80% were influenced by it in their purchasing decision, with the Seal having a large impact for 9% and a medium one for 49%.
For 78% of respondents, independent beer meant it was made by an independent brewery, with ‘crafted, not manufactured’ relevant to 48% of respondents, ‘made by a small brewery’ resonating with 44% and ‘Australian-made/owned’ with 43%.
However, opinion was fairly evenly split on the question whether respondents cared if a brewery was independent so long as they made great beer. 41% didn’t care, 34% did care and 26% were undecided.
The cans vs. bottles debate continued, and for the first time, cans overtook bottles as the most popular (38% vs 27%), although 35% expressed no preference at all.
Four- and six-packs remains the packaging format of choice for 75% of readers, Cases were regularly purchased by 40% of respondents, with cases of 24 proving more popular than cases of 16.
Purchases of single cans or bottles was also regularly purchased by 40% of respondents. This increased to 47% when new or limited release beers were concerned, while four- and six-pack purchases of these beers dropped to 47%.
The most common weekly spend on craft beer by respondents was between $26-50 (40%), with with 31% spending between $51 and $100, and the keenest 9% spending more than $100 per week on craft beer.
The future of craft beer
Craft beer faces an uncertain 2020, following the devastation of the bushfires and now the Coronavirus pandemic, but 88% of respondents were positive about the direction the industry is heading, with 32% very positive.
The vast majority (93%) agreed that the quality of Australian craft beer was improving, with 40% strongly agreeing.
Which is encouraging news!