Swan exit spurred craft beer, say WA brewers
The closure of the Swan Brewery helped local craft beer further consolidate its position in the West Australian market, according to local brewers.
Swan Lager and Emu Export have been brewed interstate since Swan closed in 2012, which has changed the landscape for draught beer in WA, according to Gage Roads chief operating officer Aaron Heary.
Heary said that anecdotally, sales of locally brewed craft beers now outstrip mainstream lagers on the taps of many WA venues.
“In draught… that’s where they drink in that space. So the consumer is a long way in front of where they are in some other parts of the country,” he told Radio Brews News.
“That said and done, the bigger guys have done a pretty good job of keeping those brands alive, having them brewed out of South Australia and shipped across into WA.
“Everyone locally is doing everything they can to try to tell that story and make West Australians proud of their local brewer.
“That’s really an important part, I think, of Western Australia is that the drinker is quite parochial… and really drinks locally,” said Heary.
Former Swan brewing manager Sean Symons, who last year co-founded White Lakes Brewing in Baldivis, said the closure of Swan had opened up opportunities for new breweries and brands.
“The closure of any site like that which has such great history… in general I think is always very sad,” he told Radio Brews News.
“The disappearance of Swan has been disappointing but there’s so much more out there in breweries, from all the way down to Margaret River and even up north to Broome.”
Emu Export in growth: Lion
Craft beer comprises ten-to-12 per cent of the WA beer market overall,a Lion spokesman told Brews News.
“It is difficult to make any claims on tap shares as there is no market-wide information available,” he said.
“Our craft brands have a very long and successful relationship with WA and that continues to this day of course with Little Creatures and a home town favourite, Emu Export, that has seen some steady growth in the recent months.
“We are very proud of the role we play within the beer category in WA and the more local brands that continue to grow and innovate, the better it is for the category as a whole.”
Heary said WA’s heritage and history as the home of the early craft beer movement has been advantageous for more recent start-ups.
“Some of the earliest brewers in the craft space came from WA. The Sail and Anchor… Matilda Bay obviously, Little Creatures to name a few,” he said.
“So I think one of the things that we see in Western Australia is that the quality of the beer coming out of WA is very, very good from well-trained brewers that have probably come from bigger craft breweries.
“They’re able to adopt some of the quality systems and things that we have implemented in some of the bigger breweries and take that to the really small ones.
“I’ve always been an advocate that that is the number one thing that craft brewers need to do – to adopt the quality systems from the bigger brewers and apply those to craft beer.
“So the same quality system that makes Heineken consistent all over the world can make a craft beer the best IPA in that space.
“We’re seeing that a lot in Western Australia, where really the quality is great,” Heary said.