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Craft beer takes an independent stance

Australian craft beer is no longer craft.

That is not quite true but the body of smaller brewers who have championed the cause of the artisanal beer game for almost two decades have decided to go with a new description for its approach.

At an extraordinary general meeting of the Craft Beer Industry Association in Melbourne today it was agreed to kick out a few breweries with strong links to Big Beer and adopt a new name – the Independent Brewers Association.

The move, which requires a rewrite of the old CBIA constitution, was sanctioned by 84 per cent of around 300 members.

The development was forecast two months ago when Malt Shovel, an offshoot of the giant Lion brewing empire, on seeing the way the wind was blowing, declared it would reluctantly withdraw from the CBIA.

Under new rules, membership will be prohibited for brewers that are more than 20% owned by large brewers or other businesses that hold significant brewery holdings in Australia or overseas.

That rules out brands such as Matilda Bay (CUB), Little Creatures (Lion), Mountain Goat (Asahi) and Yenda (Coca-Cola brewing line) as they are wholly owned by Big Beer.

According to Independent Brewers Association chair Peta Fielding It is a move designed to create a body that is better placed to address the challenges faced by small brewers in Australia.

This is a great day for our association and for small, independent breweries in Australia,” said Independent Brewers Association chair, Peta Fielding.

“Our industry is a shining light in Australian manufacturing. There are now more than 400 small, independent brewing businesses, up from just 200 when the association began five years ago. The industry directly employs more than 2100 people and generates an estimated $655 million in economic output.”

“Our members face challenges in their businesses with issues such as taxation, market access and licensing that don’t align with those of larger global organisations,” Mrs Fielding said.

“These changes allow us to narrow our focus on addressing the needs of the businesses that need it most.”

“As we move onto this next chapter of the association we would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the significant contributions the larger brewers made as founding members of the Craft Beer Industry Association.”

The change in approach follows the line of the mighty US Brewers Association, which has a similar definition for craft breweries.

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