Bargara Brewing pours scorn on foreign-owned beers

GREAT BARRIER BEER: The Good Beer Co. founder James Grugeon and Bargara Brewing Company co-owner Jack Milbank. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
GREAT BARRIER BEER: The Good Beer Co. founder James Grugeon and Bargara Brewing Company co-owner Jack Milbank. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

WHEN was the last time you bought a beer?

For many people this wouldn't be hard to answer.

But when was the last time you considered where that money goes?

When Malcolm Turnbull was in town, Bargara Brewing Company owner Jack Milbank saw an opportunity to highlight an issue that reaches from bars to banks.

"Only 3% of total beer sales in Australia are owned by independent craft breweries," Mr Milbank said.

XXXX, Tooheys, Hahn, James Boag and James Squire are all owned by Lion, which was taken over by Japanese brewer Kirin in 2009.

Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Pure Blonde and Cascade? Those fall under Carlton & United Breweries - formerly Foster's - which is now part of British-South African company SABMiller.

Kirin and CUB combined take up 86% of the market.

"This is the thing no one takes the time to understand," Mr Milbank said.

"You go to State of Origin and bash the other team's beer - and they're all owned by the same company, and it's not Australian."

Beer is a $4 billion industry in Australia, but most of the profits flow overseas.

Coopers is the largest remaining Australian brewery, while the Bundaberg region has its own including Bargara Brewing and Baffle Brewery.

"We're trying to re-educate the public: if you support a local brewery, you're keeping your money in the community," Mr Milbank said. "You vote with your wallet."

Bargara Brewing was "trying to lead by example".

"We'll employ staff, support events, we've just taken up a sponsorship of the Bundaberg Rugby League.

"We can't expect the government to do everything for us; we've got to come up with ways to grow our economy. If we buy foreign, we've only got ourselves to blame.

"There's a choice to buy a Bundy ginger beer or a Coke - it's a small amount of money but if everyone supports local companies, it all adds up."

Last week Bargara Brewing launched the Great Barrier Beer at its Tantitha St headquarters in partnership with the Good Beer Co. Half of the profits from the beer will go to the Australian Marine Conservation Society.

New permit for craft brewers

A NEW permit to be introduced on July 1 will make it easier for small breweries to sell their own beer.

The Craft Beer Permit, passed last week, will allow craft brewers to sell beer at events such as markets and festivals independently, for a lower cost. Previously , a brewer has to partner with a hotel for a $600 event license.

The new rules will also allow brewers to sell their own beer on their premises and online.

"The new laws passed last week are great news for small breweries," Bargara Brewing's Jack Milbank said.

He hopes the laws will "shift people away from late night drinking that generates violence to earlier drinking of good quality craft beers, where there's not a culture of excess, there's a culture of appreciation and craftsmanship."

Topics:  alcohol bargara brewing company beer business economy

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