It’s International Beer Day and we’re giving a shout out to the barley and hops producers behind 223 years of true-blue Aussie brews!
Australia’s first official brewery opened in Sydney in 1796 starting an iconic culture showcasing the world’s best ingredients sourced from Aussie barley and hop farms.
Australian barley represents around 5 per cent of the global barley crop but supplies around one-third of the global malting trade.
“People are surprised to learn that 84 per cent of beer sold in Australia is made right here in Australia, and naturally brewed from locally-grown Australian produce. In all, that translates to 103,000 full-time Aussie jobs that hinge on local beer production and $16.5 billion to the economy,” Brewers Association of Australia CEO Brett Heffernan.
Beer and barley
Barley is Australia’s second largest national crop, grown in every state except the Northern Territory, and covers around 4 million hectares.
On average, Aussie farmers grow more than 8 million tonnes of barley a year and only one-third of that makes the grade for malting. Australia is also a big player in the barley export game. We account for 30-40 per cent of the global malting barley export trade – valued at $2.4 billion in 2016/17.
“In Australia, we have several new companies breeding new barley varieties and trailing and promoting international varieties available through their global partners. New and improved varieties are coming into the market on a regular basis, providing excellent choices for Australian growers,” Executive Manager of Barley Australia Ralph Nischwitz said.
The history of hops
The hop plant is a climbing vine that produces cone-shaped flowers full of alpha acids, beta acids and essential oils that brewers value for their flavour, aroma and bittering properties.
Australian hops have exploded in Victoria and Tasmania on the back of higher demands for craft beers. In fact, total production volume increased by 31.4 per cent in 2017.
The current hops crop spans over 700 hectares in Victoria and Tasmania, with 2019 yielding 940.4 tonnes in Victoria and 704.3 in Tasmania.
“Australian hop growers supply more than 55 tonnes to domestic brewers each year, with both classic and contemporary beer styles capitalising on the main Australian varieties’ unique flavour profiles. The rest is exported to international brewers for the rest of the world to enjoy,” Sales and Marketing Manager at Hop Products Australia Owen Johnston said.
Quick facts about the Aussie beer industry
Light and mid-strength beers are on the rise accounting for more than a quarter (26.5 per cent) of all beer sales in Australia.
Breweries, big and small, are investing in local production, local jobs, local logistics and supporting Australia’s essential retail, hospitality and tourism sectors.
Beer in Australia is a fairly consolidated industry, with the three major local brewers (CUB, Lion and Coopers) accounting for 79.4 per cent of sales volume.
Independent brewers account for 3.4 per cent of sales, homebrew at 2.1 per cent and imports at 16.2 per cent. Exports run to 1.5 per cent of domestic production.
“The innovation and creativity of our barley and hop growers is matched across the breadth of Aussies beer makers. There has never been a better time to be a beer lover, with more styles, flavours and strength options than ever before,” Mr Heffernen said.