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Beer Travel: Orange

Beer Travel: Orange

Published March 2016 in The Crafty Pint

People in the Central West of New South Wales will happily wax lyrical about bright Chardonnays and warm Merlots. They salivate over bacon, secretly scoff fudge and wait year round for cherry season. But beer is different. It’s a social drink, but its virtues are rarely sung. 

“Made from beer,” proclaimed Carlton Draught’s tongue-in-cheek slogan, yet if Toyota described the latest Corolla as “made from car” the response would be justifiably nonplussed. 

Yet, in the past five years, no less than three craft breweries have set up shop in a region with a reputation for premium wines. Their arrival – like the other microbreweries in the Central West – appears to be a reflection of the wider trend sweeping the Australian brewing industry. Beer consumption nationally is at a near 70 year low and, as industry heavyweights like Lion (Kirin) and CUB (SABMiller) see sales steadily dropping, in their place come the estimated 300-plus and counting small brewing companies.

For Lucas Martin, co-owner of The Agrestic Grocer, the cellar door for one such brewer, Badlands Brewery, is an important part of his business. 

“It makes us money!” he jokes as the café bustles around him, “and that speaks to the history of the region. 

“It’s easy to sell, especially to the tourism crowd. They come in and you say to them, ‘Every single one of those wines and beers and spirits and ciders is local’ [and] that’s enough of a sell, you know?” 

The appeal of buying locally made products is just one of the myriad reasons that, according to IBISWorld’s December 2015 report , craft beer has grown to account for an estimated 8.4 percent of all beer produced in Australia in 2015/16. 

“There’s a culture to be aware of,” say Lucas as he doodles incomprehensibly on a scrap of paper by way of explanation. 

“It’s funny; the boutique element is a bit yuppie, the handcrafted is hipster, but there’s overlap. Counterculture is the best way to describe it.”

Full article available at The Crafty Pint

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