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Aussies drinking less but more craft brews

Australia’s typical craft beer drinker is a bearded bloke in his 30s happy to spend $50 a week on his favourite brew – usually pale ale in a can – and likely to order it online.

At the same time nearly 80 per cent of men overall are fond of a craft drop compared to 21 per cent of women, and most have been in the habit of sampling microbrewery suds for at least 3-5 years.

The findings, contained in a comprehensive report by financial broker Savvy, also point to Australians consuming less beer in general but more often reaching for a craft product.

The industry in Australia has gone from strength to strength over the past two years, with 17.7 per cent growth in revenue, a 14.1 per cent sales share and brewers often producing up to 100,000 litres a year.

At the retail level, 39 per cent of craft beer drinkers spend $30-50 per week and a third fork out up to $100.

As for what hits the spot, the Savvy report cites a major survey by data gatherer Statista showing 88 per cent of craft drinkers prefer pale ale or extra pale ale followed by India pale ale or double IPA (84 per cent).

New England IPA was next at 65 per cent, Amber or red ale at 63 per cent and stout at 61 per cent. Sour beers were the least favoured, although they commanded a respectable 48 per cent.

The eternal debate of can vs bottle is meanwhile far from over.

The research shows cans are slightly preferred (38 per cent) over bottles (27 per cent) while about a third of drinkers are content to sit on the fence as long as the beer is cold and the vibe good.

“Many microbrewers have found fame and fortune opening their own small batch breweries that expanded into full-scale operations,” say the authors of the report.

“Once niche backyard hobbies became profitable businesses. Some breweries offer tap rooms, meals, entertainment; some are centred around providing fine dining gastropub fare.”

Like all offshoots of the hospitality industry, though, Savvy notes the craft sector has been strongly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Alcohol Beverages Australia association, 441,400 jobs – or a third of the hospitality workforce – were lost during 2020-2021, following $8.5 billion in lost sales or 10 per cent of the annual total.

Once the “panic” phase of the pandemic passed after April/May 2020, a short uptick in “stocking the cabinet” (21.4 per cent) was followed by a slump (2.9 per cent).

According to Statista, Australia is by far and away the overall beer production leader in the Oceania region, pumping out 16.58 million hectolitres in 2020 compared to New Zealand’s 2.93 million hectolitres.

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