Recently I attended Pure Bier Fest for 2011 – where I met Dom Dighton, Bier Professor. Now that’s a cool job.
But first, I chatted with the team at Bavarian Bier Café York St where we were treated to some authentic meals and a bier flight (which means bier tasting). The first thing you notice about being in the venue are the beautiful wood benches and tables complemented by the high, white ceiling and some stunning glass arrays above the bar area. Not to mention the great uniforms (well, great for male patrons all the same). Turns out all the furniture in here is pulled from Germany and can take months to get in.
After many more bier flights, and a few cheeky side biers, I remembered I needed to interview the man with the best job in Sydney.
1. Do you have a bier protégé?
At present, no.
2. But it is something that is a real possibility?
Oh very much so!
3. How do you get into it?
For me, I just fell into it. Right place, right time. My background was more wine oriented, but I soon came to learn that there is a large amount of synergy between bier and wine, just in terms of appreciation and how to go about tasting bier rather just drinking.
4. So more about becoming a discerning drinker?
Yep. So this where the whole bier education program [The Beer Academy] comes in and I do a lot of bier training for customers like [the Bavarian Bier café]. The one thing I can offer our wholesale and distribute customers (restaurants etc.) is education.
5. Ah so that answers everyone’s big question: how do you make a living off tasting bier?
Yep – by buying and distributing bier.
6. Oh okay – so much like other industries where you have a product, this is really the additional service on top?
Precisely. It actually works really well, like having venues like this [Bavarian Bier Café] as a masthead, Bobbi, the marketing head, in a sense we work for two different businesses but we have the same end-game in mind. For me as an importer and distributer of bier, having venues like this are great for marketing mastheads to experience what we call pure bier, so we can present our products as they should be.
7. Do you think bier is something that is becoming more accessible? Especially to women?
It’s a really good time to be in the bier business. As you may well know, the entire bier market is in decline, in terms of liters per person, well I say that with 500ml in my hand [quick cheers] – that’s ABS figures.
8. What is the bier industry like at the moment from an insiders perspective?
White spirits are in steady increase, while dark spirits are in general decline. In terms of bier, the biers that are on the increase are Australian premium, low-carb category, but I think that’s a load of bullshit and import, and have had double digit growth over 12 years (which is the same amount that the overall bier category has been in decline). But that’s because Australian biers are starting from such a low base. Australian premium includes micro-breweries – Little Creatures, Coopers etc.
9. Including like Fat Yak?
Well that’s actually a Toohey’s brand and all the big alcohol companies are realizing that through clever marketing they can become fashionable again.
10. What do you think Australia bier industry needs more of?
What we really need are a few more flagships around Australia – and that will support the category overall.
Thanks very much, mate. [cheers]
Overall, it appears that the bier industry is rather transient and in a market as small as Australia – marketing, price and partnerships with companies like Dan Murphy’s are critical, while supporting boutique and mastheads like Bavarian Bier Cafés.
We as consumers benefit, with more bier, and more variety. Not a bad situation.