Craft beer a no brainer for pubs: Brewers

30 March, 2012 by
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By James Atkinson

Publicans might view opening up their taps to craft beer as a risky proposition, but some of the country's leading brewers argue that there's a clear business case for it.

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Ben Kraus, founder of Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, Victoria, told TheShout that while craft beer's penetration into Australian pubs is still very limited, the venues that are doing it properly are counting the benefits.

"On a quiet weeknight, where all the other pubs in town would be dead, the Wheatsheaf in South Australia is a pub that people go out of their way to go to," he said.

With a wide range of full-flavoured craft beers on tap, Kraus said the Wheatsheaf consistently has a vibrant atmosphere with good clientele coming through, "just because they've got a point of difference".

"Publicans should consider having a broader range of beers, rather than eight beers that taste very much the same, they just have points of difference through marketing," he said.

Jon Seltin of Bright Brewery, Victoria (Brewery Door pictured) told TheShout that while many publicans are traditionally sceptical or conservative about implementing major change in their venues, they have to move to meet consumer demand.

"They can get extremely cheap beer through exclusive tap contracts with one of the big guys, but is that really doing the best for their customers?" he asked.

"People are starting to seek out beers like India Pale Ale (IPA), which are new and exciting to the Australian palate."

"IPA's an intensely flavourful beer brewed with lots and lots of hops – now that we're brewing with these great varieties like Topaz and Galaxy in Australia, people are starting to seek that out a little bit more nowadays."

In Sydney, 4 Pines general manager Jaron Mitchell said publicans warm to craft beer and the premiums associated with it once they've tried it for themselves.

"Give hops to someone for the first time, along with a hoppy pale ale, and then get them to smell both and taste both…then give them a mainstream beer – it's almost like the penny drops," he said.

"The challenge is changing years and years of engrained mentality that beer is a commodity and that people are brand loyal rather than product loyal."