A study of more than 6,500 craft beer drinkers has revealed some interesting trends, with pale ales the most consumed style, IPAs drinkers’ preferred style, bottles are favoured over cans, Feral is Australia’s best craft brewery and people love a guy who’ll punch a shark.

Created by craft beer retailer Beer Cartel, the results of the inaugural Australian Craft Beer Survey were published last night, with the list of Australia’s best craft brewery producing some surprises.

“By and large most of the things were what I expected, but there were a few that stood out,” Beer Cartel director Richard Kelsey told Beer & Brewer.

“I think the fact that there were three breweries in the top 10 best craft breweries in Australia which have been around for less than two years, so the likes of Balter, Modus and Pirate Life, I think it really shows that it is still a very young industry and young segment of the market.

“We’ve just managed to get Balter into the store and for the past three weeks it’s been flying off the shelves. There’s definitely a lot of demand and a lot of interest and I think in part it’s probably having the surfers involved. When someone’s prepared to punch a shark it all helps you.”

Australia’s top five best craft breweries were Feral Brewing Co., Pirate Life Brewing, Stone & Wood, Bridge Road Brewers and 4 Pines Brewing Co.

When it came to Australia’s most consumed and most favourite styles, it seems voters were conflicted between pale ales and IPAs.

“Pale ales are consumed by 91 per cent of all drinkers, so that really shows the strength of your Little Creatures Pale, One Fifty Lashes and Fat Yak and that sort of dominance within the market,” explained Kelsey.

“It is interesting though that when it comes to the actual favourite craft beer style within the market, almost one third say IPAs, and pale ales are actually lower than that.

“Availability of pale ales is so huge, so when you go to a venue there may not be a single IPA but there normally is a One Fifty Lashes or a Fat Yak or something and so when you don’t have that style that you’re looking for you’ll go searching for something that’s kind of craft.

So I think that’s why pale ale is number one as far as beer style most consumed but when it comes to favourite style, while people are still drinking pale ales, they’ll look for IPAs as their preferred one.”

Another interesting finding was that when it came to people’s attitudes towards cans and bottles, 37 per cent people prefer the bottled option, 23 per cent preferred cans and 40 per cent were neutral.

“Cans are a growth packaging product for craft beer at the moment but it’s interesting that the perceptions are still strongly in favour for bottles,” said Kelsey.

While blokes still drink the most craft beer, it’s important to note that one in five craft beer drinkers are female.

“One interesting thing was the number of females that are drinking craft beer, with basically one in five craft beer drinkers are female. That was a lot higher than what I initially expected, I thought it was more along the lines of one in 10,” said Kelsey.

“That one in five female drinkers, I don’t think they drink it in the same frequency as blokes though.”

It seems when it comes to sporting and music events people are disappointed with the selection, with a whopping 88 per cent of people surveyed saying they’re frustrated by the beer selection available.

With 6,500 people responding to the survey it is the most comprehensive publicly available research ever undertaken with Australian craft beer drinkers.

“The idea now is to try and make this an annual thing and get more traction for craft beer, get more people talking about it and help support the industry.

For the full results, click here.

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