Ballarat craft brewer says federal budget not hurting beer sales

 Rebellion Brewery’s Andrew Lavery pours a beer at the Ballarat Beer Festival. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK
Rebellion Brewery’s Andrew Lavery pours a beer at the Ballarat Beer Festival. PICTURE: JUSTIN WHITELOCK

DESPITE Australians drinking less beer since the federal government’s tough May budget, local craft brewers are experiencing a spike in sales.

Brewing behemoth SABMiller, which makes public house staples like VB, Carlton Draught and Crown Lager, suffered a 3 per cent drop in volumes in Australia during the three months to the end of June. 

However, Rebellion Brewery director Andrew Lavery said sales had jumped almost 30 per cent in the past year. 

“It hasn’t affected us at all. We’re in a specific part of the market. While the general beer volumes have been dropping for a while, the craft market has been growing,” he said. 

“People are looking for more variety in flavours, something that’s maybe a bit individual – most of the mainstream beers are the same style of beer.” 

He said while Ballarat’s craft beer market was not huge compared to Melbourne, it was growing.

“We’re still ticking along quite nicely, which is good,” he said. 

SABMiller also posted a drop in volumes for the three months to March, continuing the downward trend for major brands like VB and Carlton Draught. 

Industry analysis shows Australians are consuming less beer than they have in 67 years. 

Red Duck Beer owner Scott Wilson-Browne said his company had experienced 20 per cent growth over the past year. 

“A lot more Ballarat people are putting us on. We’ve been getting a couple more taps in and some kegs here and there,” he said. 

Mr Wilson-Brown, who picked up On The Rocks bottle shop as a customer in Wendouree this week, said he was starting to make progress in more traditional outlets that were embracing craft beer.

“The general trend from the last few years has been that if people aren’t going to drink as much, they choose to drink better,” he said. 

Red Duck Beer has been going almost 10 years, during which time craft beer’s share of the brewing market has risen from 0.2 per cent to more than three, according to Mr Wilson-Browne. 

“It’s gone from a really tiny part of the market to a very small part,” he said.

“Over the past 10 to 20 years people drank a certain volume and had a certain amount of money to spend. Now they are drinking less, they are happy to fork out a bit more money for quality.”