Pictured are a few of the beers brewed by the Grifter Brewing Co in Marrickville. Picture: Richard Dobson
Pictured are a few of the beers brewed by the Grifter Brewing Co in Marrickville. Picture: Richard Dobson

Aussie brewers can't survive without local support

As the hospitality industry sheds thousands of jobs under coronavirus shutdowns, craft brewers have banded together to keep their industry afloat.

Following the success of the 'Buy From The Bush' campaign that boosted businesses hit by the bushfires, the Keeping Local Alive campaign aims to do the same for Aussie breweries.

Topher Boehm, who owns Wildflower Brewing and Blending in Marrickville, said with the closure of pubs and taprooms, small breweries were now reliant on cellar door and online sales to stay afloat.

"Most of us are propped up by independent bottle shops, restaurants and bars," Mr Boehm said.

Topher Boehm, brewer and co-founder at Wildflower Brewing and Blending in Marrickville. Picture: John Feder
Topher Boehm, brewer and co-founder at Wildflower Brewing and Blending in Marrickville. Picture: John Feder

He said a lot of breweries had already slowed down production as they tried to gauge how much product consumers will buy as takeaways and home deliveries.

"Without the volume (of beer) going to pubs … everyone's having to move to cans or bottles," he said.

"There's more time associated with that and you're not able to sell the same amount of beer you once were, that's just the harsh reality of it.

"The campaign is really this thought about where your dollar is being spent … there are lots of breweries out there that are Australian owned, with Australian employees that pay taxes in Australia that make great beer that everyone will enjoy."

Wildflower has been able to keep all its small team employed, as it doesn't have a large front of house staff, but for others like Grifter Brewery in Sydney's inner west, there have been tough calls, said one of the founders Matt King.

"We've unfortunately had to let some people go as there's no trading on premises, and that's been really difficult to do," Mr King said.

Now operating as a takeaway only, Mr King said they were shifting their focus to online sales to help bolster their bottom line.

Matt King (middle) at Grifter Brewing Co Picture: Richard Dobson
Matt King (middle) at Grifter Brewing Co Picture: Richard Dobson

Crafty Pint founder James Smith said craft brewers had worked hard to build up the industry in Australia and were desperately trying to hang on to staff.

"In terms of lost work, pretty much all casuals across the industry are being cut," he said.

"In other cases, hours are being reduced, business owners who have transitioned from being the brewer to business owner are back on the tools, bar staff are being repurposed as delivery drivers," he said.

Small brewers like Grifter have had to shut their taprooms under the coronavirus shutdown as authorities move to stem the spread of the virus. Picture: Richard Dobson
Small brewers like Grifter have had to shut their taprooms under the coronavirus shutdown as authorities move to stem the spread of the virus. Picture: Richard Dobson

Many were showing great creativity to keep going, from making hand sanitiser to closing taprooms and opening home delivery services within 24 hours.

"It's an industry that's had to be very creative and work very hard to get where it is, you hope that spirit will keep it going.

"If there's anything you can do to support it, please do."


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