Craft beer is becoming increasingly popular with consumers in Australia and the region, according to industry experts.
The beers, known for its distinct flavour, is the product of smaller breweries seeking to reclaim market share from larger beverage makers.
While beer consumption in Australia is declining, recent data shows craft beer is becoming more popular with consumers – and brewers.
Chuck Hahn, director and brewmaster of Malt Shovel Brewery, says the beer consumer’s taste is changing.
“The drinker now is actually tasting the beer rather than just drinking a lot of it,” he said.
“We have an expression “slam it down slowly… savour that flavour’.”
Mr Hahn says the rising number of breweries reflects the growing interest in the drink.
“Back then, there were only about 25 small breweries, now we have 160 of them all producing some really good beers.”
Mr Hahn says China’s beer drinkers are looking for beers with a more distinct flavour, such as beers that are more malty.
“Fifteen years ago, they still were after an easy drinking lager,” he said.
“But that whole profile has changed in China, just the way it’s changed in Australia.
“It’s great from a flavours perspective.”
Craft beer “driving a revolution in flavour”
This month some of Australia’s best brewers gathered for the Sydney Craft Beer Festival, a week-long festival devoted to the artisan brew.
Festival director Joel Connolly says people are becoming more familiar with the wide range of flavours on the market.
“People are starting to ask a little more about the things that they eat and drink,” he said.
“Beer is the next thing in line for that.”
Mr Connolly says restaurants are also paying more attention to craft beers.
“We’re seeing restaurants putting a lot more effort into beer lists and matching beer with food,” he said.
Shawn Sherlock, from Murray’s Craft Brewing, says there are also changing perceptions of beer in Australia.
“We’ve all grown up being educated that beer is one thing,” he said.
“It all tastes the same but it’s not the case.
“Craft beer is really driving a revolution in flavour and what people can expect beer to be.”
But there are challenges for craft breweries competing with mainstream players. In comparison to small wine makers, craft breweries have more upfront costs.
“In terms of just developing our markets, we’ve got to get out there and convert people one by one,” Mr Sherlock said.