States of Brewing • Jan - Aug 2022
Australia’s brewing industry is one of the country’s most vibrant and thriving sectors. It has grown from next to nothing over the last two decades to 567 physical breweries and even more beer brands. It has weathered the challenges of the last few years, rising to the challenge posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic and those that come with operating in an increasingly-competitive market.
VIC • 159 Breweries
Victoria has a total of 159 physical breweries in the region according to the Brews News Brewery Database, excluding brewery brands.
However, it has faced challenges and extremes in relation to COVID-19 and the 2019-20 bushfires at potentially a greater scale than other states and territories, in turn impacting hospitality and tourism.
NSW • 137 Breweries
With the second-largest number of physical breweries (137), New South Wales’s brewing industry is also a heavyweight in its contribution to the wider brewing industry.
The brewing industry in NSW is strong both in urban and rural areas, and there are influential groups such as the Inner West Brewers Association lobbying for brewing industry interests at a local level.
QLD • 98 Breweries
Queensland is an up-and-coming state with regards to its breweries, and brewery numbers are rising fast as well as beers made in Queensland, which are regularly making a national impression in the GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beers Countdown and the IBA’s Indies Awards.
As the first state to enunciate a strategy for the brewing sector, Queensland’s state government has clearly recognised the importance of the sector to its economy. In the 2018 Queensland Craft Beer Strategy, the Queensland Government promised a plethora of aid and regulatory support. However, the reality has tended to fall short of the glossy document.
The strategy covered areas in which the government would support the industry in regards to export, tourism and accessing and building robust supply chains, as well as a new licensing regime. The department was also a key sponsor for the IBA’s Indie Awards 2021.
SA • 52 Breweries
South Australia has conventionally been known for its wine industry, but SA’s brewers have grown in number and recognition in recent years.
The South Australian Government is beginning to recognise the sector as a real growth area, particularly in relation to tourism, and said it has spent just over $1 million on a number of brewery projects through the state government’s Tourism Industry Development Fund.
WA • 83 Breweries
Western Australia faces many logistical challenges when it comes to bringing ingredients over and beer back and forth to the east coast, but this hasn’t stopped a burgeoning industry from growing at an accelerated rate in WA, the state many argue is the birthplace of craft brewing in Australia.
The conditions of brewing in Western Australia have also meant that there is an even more collegiate brewing industry, in the form of the Western Australian Brewers Association and the South West Brewer’s Alliance lobbying for local interests.
ACT • 6 Breweries
With six breweries in the Australian Capital Territory, mainly in central Canberra, it could be assumed that brewers do not get the support they might receive in other states.
However, despite small numbers, ACT’s breweries have been perhaps disproportionately successful on the national stage and also within their home state with help from the state government.
BentSpoke and Capital signed a pourage rights agreement for matches at the Manuka Oval last year after local ACT brewers were invited to launch a commercial bid for either individual bars or multiple outlets, alongside multinational brands, and this has opened doors for other high-profile deals.
NT • 5 Breweries
The Brews News Brewery Database records only five breweries with a physical presence in the Northern Territory which limits the opportunity to measure governmental support for such a small industry.
The Territory also grapples with licensing laws and many dry regions, which makes it a difficult jurisdiction to set up a licensed business of any kind.
TAS • 27 Breweries
With 27 physical breweries, Tasmania has the highest number of breweries per person than anywhere else in Australia.
The southernmost state also has a long brewing history, after Peter Degraves launched Cascade in 1832 and James Boag started Boags Brewery in 1881. The state also produces barley, water and hops for the brewing process, meaning that breweries such as Van Dieman can utilise locally-manufactured and grown ingredients compared to other states which do not have the correct climate.
Tasmanian brewers however have long been doing it tough, maintaining their own association longer than some other states. This group then became the Tasmanian chapter of the Independent Brewers Association. But despite their clout in the market, Tasmanian brewers have apparently been left by the wayside.
Australia • 567 Breweries
There are 567 physical breweries in Australia*, and the industry’s organisations have been keen to point out the benefits and contributions of the sector and its ancillary industries to Australia’s economy.
The Independent Brewers Association has reported that independent brewers, including brewery brands and those with physical breweries, number more than 600 and contribute an estimated $1.93 billion to the Australian economy annually, employing 6,891 people.
The Brewers Association, which represents the country’s three largest brewers – Coopers, Asahi owned Carlton & United Breweries and Kirin-owned Lion – which account for approximately 79% of sales volume in the industry, says that domestically-made beer underpins $16 billion a year in economic activity.
*As of 15th March, 2022.