Drinktec impresses up-and-coming brewers

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After a year’s postponement due to COVID, Drinktec, the largest global beverage trade show, took place in Munich Germany last week with many Australian brewers attending for the first time.

More than 1,000 exhibitors across a dozen halls showcased their products to nearly 50,000 attendees from 169 countries.

Despite the impressive scale of the event, numbers of both exhibitors and attendees were down substantially from the pre-COVID event in 2017. That year, 76,000 visitors and more than 1700 exhibitors attended.

While traditionally seen the province of larger brewers, this year saw a strong attendance from Australian craft brewers, many of whom were finalising equipment purchases for planned expansions.

Among the first-time attendees were Mountain Culture Beer Co. co-founder DJ McCready, attending the trade show at the invitation of two of the companies he is working with on his new brewhouse, Krones and GEA.

McCready, who also attended the craft-focused Craft Brewers Conference in the US, said he didn’t know what to expect of the broad drinks-focused show.

“I was hoping being in Germany it was a bit more leaning towards beer, which it definitely seems to be but I didn’t know. I thought ‘why do I care about going to a bottled water convention?’,” he said.

“But, it’s been very professional and on a much grander scale than I would have ever expected.

“It’s all very high level, the amount of money that’s been spent by suppliers over here is just it’s insane.

“Krones has a whole hall and I think they said it took them about six or seven weeks to set it all up.

“There’s hundreds of people from the company walking around it’s impressive but it still has this fun vibe to it.

“You can come here and you can really see into the future about what companies that are in the next level of suppliers are doing, it’s really cutting-edge stuff around here.

“It’s a lot of stuff that I look at and I’m like, wow, I really hope in like five years we’re working with these people because it’s incredible what they’re doing.”

McCready noted the Krones stand, which occupied an entire show hall and featured a Bavarian beer hall and working versions of its major brewing equipment.

McCready’s experience was echoed by another first-time Drinktec attendee, Blasta Brewing’s Steve Russell.

Blasta is also expanding, installing a 50-hectolitre Steinecker brewhouse and Krones canning line.

“When we locked in getting the brew house and when [Krones] came to Perth to see us to do the final engineering sign off we got the invitation to come to Drinktec and meet the team, or the extended engineering team that’s here,” Russell said.

“And also get to come here to see which new technologies are here. And it’s been a bit of a focus for us. There’s no better way to do it than come and see the equipment and get to meet the people as well, you know, build a better relationship.”

Russell said the tradeshow took him back to his time working in oil and gas for sheer scale.

“In my previous working life, this kind of thing is almost standard. But if I’m honest, I’m blown away by the actual size and scale here. And the effort all of these exhibitors have gone to.”

Bentspoke Brewing‘s Richard Watkins was attending his fourth Drinktec, saying the event offered a greater range of suppliers than other trade shows.

“It has everyone in one place,” he said. “The trade shows in the US don’t necessarily have a lot of the European manufacturers on-site.”

“And also, the thing I have noticed is that there’s a lot of technology suppliers from Europe, they’re always here [but] not necessarily in the US. So that’s been a bit of a highlight.”

The event also had an Australian flavour with beers from Bentspoke and Bridge Road Brewers pouring on the Fermentis stand, showcasing Australian brewing.

Usually held every four years, Drinktec will next be held in Munich in 2025 to bring it back into its regular four-year cycle.


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