Popular brewer Red Duck pulls out of Ballarat Beer Festival

A POPULAR local microbrewery will not be represented at this weekend’s Ballarat Beer Festival because it has become too hard to run a stall and cover costs. 

Ballarat brewery Red Duck has pulled out from attending the event at City Oval on Saturday, after appearing at the previous two festivals. 

Red Duck has attracted a following among the craft beer scene for producing beers that are different from mainstream varieties, such as its dark medieval ale and Egyptian bread beer.

Head brewer Scott Wilson-Browne said he could not justify the cost of operating a stall at this year’s Ballarat Beer Festival after last year losing about $1000.

He said he liked the festival itself but believed the economics did not work for smaller brewers like Red Duck.

“At best we could break even, but generally you don’t,” he said. “When you do the sums at the end of it you realise you can’t do it.”

Mr Wilson-Browne said the token system used at the festival, where attendees pre-purchase $2 tokens to exchange for beer, did not work for small brewers.

Under the system, brewers are given 50 per cent of the proceeds of the tokens they collect. One 100ml beer can be purchased for one token.

Ballarat’s other brewery, Rebellion Brewing, will be appearing at this year’s event, with director Andrew Lavery hoping to cover costs after falling short last year.

“You’ve got to look at it both ways: it’s a marketing opportunity but also we’re not doing things for free,” he said.

“Most of the guys are small businesses. It’s nice on the day if we can cover costs at least.

“If that then leads to more sales down the track then that’s great.”

Ballarat Beer Festival director Kate Burrows said she was disappointed Red Duck would not be appearing and that organisers were open to hearing the concerns of brewers.

She said there would be less brewers at this year’s event than last year which would make it easier for brewers to break even.

“We are here for the small brewers, we are here for craft brewers. We want to make it work,” she said.

tom.cowie@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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