As Australia’s drinking culture continues to shift and microbreweries spread thick and fast, where does the iconic country pub fit? Australians may be drinking less beer overall, but a new era of watering holes is keeping locals and tourists coming back for more.
Jamie Cook has seen a lot of change in the past 10 years as chair of the Independent Brewers Association. In that short time, the number of small independent breweries has grown tenfold from just 50 to more than 600 across the country.
Small independent breweries that made one per cent of all beer sold in Australia five years ago now holds six per cent of the market.
Back in the day the pubs were the breweries
Someone who has watched the developing relationship between country pubs and incoming breweries is the South Australian chair of the Australian Hotels Association, Ian Horne. He said beer was usually made in the pubs before major breweries took over Australian hotels in the mid-1990s. The eventual consolidation of breweries led to a handful of ‘big boys’ making up most of the market.
Has the microbrewery killed the country pub?
In the Victorian town of Koroit, a little over three hours west of Melbourne, Alex Carr and Sam Rudolph are busily putting the finishing touches on their craft brewery Noodledoof. The quirky brand — a mixture of their nicknames ‘noodle arms’ and ‘doofus’ — has garnered incredible support from the town.
The fact Koroit has a population of just over 2,000 people is not a concern for the duo who say microbreweries are the future of the Australian drinking scene.
“It’s literally the new country pub.
“Pubs are getting expensive to run, renovate, update, and the costs there are high.”
The transition away from your ‘two-beer-option pub’ has brought with it a new type of consumer with a sophisticated palate, according to the boys.
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