Queensland strategy to benefit craft brewers

The Queensland Government has today released Australia’s first industry-wide strategy to support the state’s rapidly growing craft brewing sector.

If the strategy actually delivers on what has been promised, it will provide real assistance to Queensland’s brewers.

State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning Minister Cameron Dick outlined plans to bring the State’s permit system, which currently greatly advantages wine producers, into parity and allow brewers better access to market.

“We are looking at options to streamline licensing requirements to develop a specific artisan or brewpub licence,” he said.

“The strategy is also looking at providing permits for brewers to sell at markets in a similar way to what the wine industry does.”

The news is exciting for brewers who have been fighting for these concessions for close to a decade but have been previously disappointed.

In 2015, a Queensland Parliamentary committee recommended the creation of a similar permit but the resulting legislation severely diminished the effectiveness of the permits to a point where they are rarely used by the State’s brewers. The few concessions that the permit allows are frequently stripped further by licencing conditions imposed on events.

Minister Dick’s announcement said there is a promise to go further, and even include satellite cellar door licences.

“We want to open up new markets for craft brewers. Our proposed regulatory reforms will make it easier for craft brewers to sell each others’ products on their premises,” he said.

“This was an issue raised with us by industry during the consultation.

“Our reforms will also support craft brewers, especially new entrants, through a staged pathway from manufacturer to retailer to restaurant.

He said that one of the issues raised throughout the strategy development process was around delivering a cellar door for craft brewing, so that craft brewers might be able to deliver a satellite cellar door off their premises where their craft brew might be sold alongside other artisan food and beverage products.

“In a sense, this idea of creating a special and unique space for craft beer product mirrors the way we’ve treated the wine industry, and that’s what a lot of craft brewers are looking for,” he said.

“These suggested industry reforms are designed to cut red tape to make it easier for craft brewers to grow their businesses in this emerging industry.”

Queensland announced its plan to create an industry-wide strategy following criticism of its decision to use incentives to lure Scottish brewery BrewDog to Brisbane, while ignoring its own vibrant industry.

Queensland craft brewers have cautiously welcomed the announcement.

Ballistic Brewing founder and managing director David Kitchen said the proposals were very promising on several levels.

“For the Government to have clear direction on how it will support our industry, is a clear vote on their faith in this growing industry,” he said.

“As a brewery owner, resolving the license difficulties preventing us from selling at Markets will be a major benefit for us in engaging directly with our local community.

“As the Chairman of the Queensland chapter of the Independent Brewers Association, I find the proposed regulatory reforms for licenses for craft breweries and a review of planning requirements will lead to greater growth in our industry, already at 10%, year on year.

“As a member of the National Board of the IBA, I am excited that the Queensland Government will be a showcase for how State governments can engage directly with, and support the craft beer industry.”

However, having seen similar proposals not deliver previously, he sounded a not of caution.

“The Craft beer Strategy is an excellent first step,” he said.

“I look forward to working with the government as they take the next step, to implement some concrete actions that will ensure further growth in the future.”

Other measures mooted in the strategy include the development of training through the TAFE system and access to the State’s technical and research capacity with the creation of a ‘BrewLab’.

If implemented, this facility would be designed to provide “analysis services, deliver up-to-date practical and theoretical brewing skills and create an environment for brewers to develop and test new products”.

A formal strategy launch scheduled for today was postponed due to the Queensland Government’s focus on the fire emergency in parts of the state and will now be scheduled to take place in December.

The entire strategy can be accessed here.

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