Brewers struggling to keep up with demand for kegs

Victorian brewers are struggling to keep up with demand for kegs following the reopening of venues in the state.

Mainstream media has reported in Victoria, where lockdowns were extended and strict measures enforced, that brewers were struggling to keep up with renewed demand for kegs after successfully pivoting to cans during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Shaunagh O’Connell of Bright Brewery is the latest to highlight the problem, explaining in a blog post that the restrictions meant that 90 per cent of the regional brewery’s keg stockists closed.

Demand for kegs was wiped out overnight and pubs, hotels and breweries were forced to come up with ways to get rid of their excess stock. Some were forced to throw millions of litres of kegged beer down the drain.

Aiming to keep its 30 employees on the books, Bright pivoted to online and bottle shop sales and home delivery, as many small brewers did.

The success of the move to packaged beer in cans and bottles was unparalleled and provided some smaller breweries with a new outlet for their beer. NSW’s Mountain Culture expanded off the back of strong COVID-19 demand. Bright saw sales to bottle shops and online return to the same volume as pre-COVID levels, and sign distribution deals to other states as well as export to Singapore.

But the move to packaged has now created other problems.

As O’Connell explains, once Melbourne reopened for business, demand increased exponentially and Bright sold out of kegs fast. Then venue capacity restrictions began to ease and in-house demand grew.

Having already achieved pre-COVID capacities at the brewery with its off-premise sales, core range beer sales increased by another 230 per cent, Bright said.

With lagers and certain IPAs taking longer in-tank, keeping up with this resurgence in demand for kegs has been a challenge.

“Our brewers are working overtime to try and brew and package as much beer as possible. But no matter how hard the brewers work or how many of them are working, we only have so much tank space, and yeast only works at one speed – and we are beholden to its timeframe,” Bright explained.

“Breweries across Australia are facing the same issues. Even mainstream brewers had to pour millions of dollars worth of draft beer down the drain and start again.”

But the industry is reassuring customers that the dearth of craft beer will only be temporary.

Read marketing and events assistant Shaunagh O’Connell’s blogto find out more about Bright Brewery’s experiences.

COVID was a double whammy for Bright Brewing, which suffered closures during its peak season at the height of the bushfires earlier this year. Listen as founder Scott Brandon discuss the challenges they were facing then, just as COVID began to appear Australia on Beer is a Conversation.

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