For much of the past decade in Australia the term ‘craft beer’ served its purpose well, identifying local and independent microbreweries passionately committed to brewing a wider variety of beer styles than the corporate breweries offered.
In the last few years, however, corporate breweries have increasingly developed their own craft brands or acquired successful independent breweries.
Where independent breweries could previously say they were different from corporate breweries because they brewed more fuller flavoured beers, were more innovative and didn’t compromise on ingredients, these acquisitions of credible independent breweries mean that this is no longer the case.
Ownership, however, still matters to a growing number of beer lovers and the growing taste for beer from independent breweries is a consumer-based social movement. Clearly defining the word ‘craft’ has proved difficult and elusive and the corporate breweries have successfully co-opted the term, causing confusion among the growing number of consumers that like to support independent breweries.
When the Craft Brewers Industry Association (CBIA) changed their name to the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) in 2017, they defined an ‘independent’ brewery as any brewery or brewing company that is less than 20% owned by a large brewer and produces less than 40 million litres per annum.
Now with its own Independence Seal to help beer drinkers identify independent breweries, Australia joins a global trend of other countries successfully launching their own seal of independence. Thousands of breweries in the USA, Canada and the UK proudly wear their independence as a badge of honour. Now we can too.
Within Australia, IBA’s goal is for 90% of its member breweries to be utilising the seal by the end of 2019.