In the wake of beverages conglomerate Lion taking full ownership of Little Creatures, Charlie Papazian, founder of the Great American Beer Festival, looked pessimistically at the future of the Australian beer scene, in his recent article “Is Australian beer drinkers’ future bleak?”.
Papazian cited how Australia’s biggest craft beer brewers have sold out, with Little Creatures, Matilda Bay, and James Squire, all now fully owned by either Lion or Foster’s. This is in contrast to the major craft brewers in the USA, where the likes of Sam Caglione of Dogfish Head and Jim Koch of Samuel Adams, have resisted the overtures of the Big Beer Corporations to maintain complete control over their products.
Papazian sees the American breweries’ staunch independence as key to craft beer’s enormous success in the USA. But for Australia, I also wonder whether there could also be positives in these ‘craft beers’ being owned by corporations.
The likes of James Squire and Little Creatures may not uphold the perfect craft beer ideals but they may just help in the journey to better beer by using their superior marketing budgets to open more beer drinkers’ eyes to the wide world of beer flavour. And that’s the point where the real craft brewers can step in!