As of July 2015 Craft Beer Reviewer (www.craftbeerreviewer.com.au) has a tally of 333 Australian craft beer brands.
So why do we refer to them as craft beer brands and not simply breweries? Well the list Craft Beer Reviewer has compiled is inclusive of breweries, brew pubs, contract brewers, gypsy brewers and beer brands. And in case you’re wondering, a “beer brand” in this context is a company which has beer brewed for it, but has no brewery, and most of the time no brewer, i.e. they use someone else's brewery and someone else's brewer under contract. An example of this is Balmain Brewing. A gypsy brewer in contrast is one that has their own beer brand, who brew themselves but are using someone else's commercial brewery. Two Sydney examples are Pixel Brewing and Shenanigans.
Stay with us, as this current growth in the market begs one question. How big can the craft beer market get? How long is a piece of string right?
Like any market, craft beer could be at risk of saturation in the future. At the moment while we see the industry becoming more competitive, ithas not reached saturation. Overtime there will likely be some consolidation of beer brands/breweries but we feel that the number of breweries still has plenty of room for growth. In particular new breweries that have a strong local focus with facilities like their own bar, tasting room, cafe, restaurant etc. Beer brand based businesses (contract produced beers / marketing companies) on the other hand will likely have an uphill battle in cementing their position within the Australian market.
Australia's growth potential is probably best examined by looking to international markets that have recently experienced hyper-growth. The United States is one such market with their craft beer revolution (similar to the one Australia is currently experiencing) starting in the mid 90’s. Craft beer in the United states currently accounts for 10% of total beer volume. Comparatively craft beer in Australia is only 3% of total beer volume. That’s a lot of growth potential!