Rise in popularity of craft beer as consumers chase quality

AUSTRALIA'S love of beer is seemingly unchanging but the latest brew capturing hearts and people's wallets isn't light or low-calorie - it is craft.

Craft beer is about embracing the original principles of brewing beer - making beer in smaller and sometimes single batches using only malt, water, hops, and yeast.

An IBISWorld craft beer production market research report shows the industry has flourished over the past decade, benefiting from changing consumers tastes with an emphasis on quality over quantity across the liquor retailing landscape.

The report shows annual growth in the craft brewing industry has risen 10.5 per cent from 2008 - 2013.

Across the entire Australian market, Dan Murphy's saw craft beer rise in popularity by a massive 15 per cent between 2012 and 2013, and head of merchandise Campbell Stott said the company expect that number to continue climbing in 2014.

"Mainstream beer is still dominating the market from a commercial point of view, but the way our market views beer is changing," Mr Stott said.

"We're predicting the way Australians view craft beer will continue to evolve in the coming years, reflecting how we feel about what we drink."

The craft beer industry has expanded dramatically to include over a 100 breweries across the country, producing a dizzying variety of styles and flavours.

Popular brands differ from state to state, and sometimes even between towns.

The industry is highly fragmented despite the presence of major brewers such as Lion Nathan and Foster's that have made a number of key acquisitions within the industry.

Dan Murphy's currently stocks more than 211 craft beers of which more than 157 are Australian.

"This number has increased significantly since 2012, when we stocked 119 craft beers, 94 of which were Australian," Mr Stott said.

Australia is recognised as having some of the best craft beers in the world, with popular brands including Matilda Bay, Little Creatures, James Squire, Grand Ridge and Mountain Goat.

Joining this crew of crafty brewers is a growing band of small, local and national outfits, supplying a huge range of flavours, colours and aromas.

"We've seen many craft beer brands increase in popularity over the years. Popular brands differ from state to state, and sometimes even between towns," Mr Stott said.

One brand of craft beer showing increasing popularity in Queensland is bigHead Ale, which Mr Stott said has risen 97.6 per cent since 2012.

In New South Wales Murray's Whale Ale is up 132 per cent since 2012, in QAS Masto's Mango Beer is showing popularity and in South Australia Vale Ale is up 73.4 per cent since 2012.

Mango Beer by Matso's Broome Brewery.
Mango Beer by Matso's Broome Brewery. Tamara MacKenzie ROK070114tkbeer

Best home-grown craft beers

Campbell Stott, Head of Merchandise at Dan Murphy's, provides us with  some of the best Australian craft beers available now in-store and online from Dan Murphy's.

Murray's Whale Ale (330mL)

  • Available for $13.49 per pack of 4
  • Murray's Whale Ale is brewed with the best malted and flaked Australian wheat, British Maris Otter malted Barley and finished with a spicy late hop hit from the NZ Motueka hops.

Endeavour Vintage Reserve Amber Ale (330mL)

  • Available for $14.49 per pack of 4
  • Theses bottle-conditioned beers change recipe annually to reflect the growing seasons they are borne from. Each vintage showcases the house style-a rich bouquet with toast, lively cinnamon spice and a hint of bitter chocolate, which is very age worthy.

Masto's Mango Beer (330mL)

  • Available for $21.99 per pack of 6
  • North-western brewing maestros, Matso's produce some of Australia's premier craft beers. This mango beer is based on a classic Belgium Blonde recipe using a 100% natural mango blend.

4 Pines Kolsch (330mL)

  • Available  for $19.99 per pack of 6
  • This Kolsch beer is handcrafted on the iconic Sydney coast, near Manly. With aromas of lemon and lime followed by a light malty palate, this is a unique and flavoursome beer.

Cricketers Arms Lager (330mL)

  • Available for $16.99 per pack of 6
  • Cricketers Arms Lager is made with sun-¬dried Australian malt, and is infused with Amarillo hops, imparting an intriguing citrus character to the flavour. Brewed to enjoy icy cold, Cricketers Arms Lager is brewed longer to deliver an extra dry lager that is full bodied and refreshing.

Topics:  alcohol beer craft beer dan murphys editors picks trend

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