The Australian beer and hospo industries are doing it tough, with years of fires, floods and lockdowns merely proving to be a warm-up for the extreme economic challenges of the past year. Many businesses have been forced to close, enter administration, put up the "For Sale" sign, or make heavy cuts to staff.
Against this backdrop, the team at The Crafty Pint, an online magazine which has been covering the Australian craft beer industry since 2010, was desperate to help the beer world through these dark days and came up with the idea to launch Local Beer Day.
Our intention is to turn February 24, 2024, into the biggest national celebration of the amazing local beer scene.
Inspiration comes from two campaigns we've run over the past decade.
In 2014 and 2015, beer businesses across the country put on events for Craft Beer Rising: a national day in celebration of local beer from local brewers at the best local venues (sound familiar?). The aim then was to highlight the fast-growing local beer industry at a time when international craft brands were hogging much of the limelight.
Then, in March 2020, The Crafty Pint launched Keeping Local Alive in conjunction with the IBA: a campaign in support of the country's beer community as it faced up to the challenges of the COVID pandemic.
Now, with rising costs, soaring interest rates, a cost-of-living crisis, and ongoing challenges accessing taps and shelve space for small breweries in the face of powerful duopolies in both brewing and retail bringing the industry to its knees, we bring you Local Beer Day: the lovechild of Craft Beer Rising and Keeping Local Alive.
On February 24, 2024 – the tenth anniversary of the first Craft Beer Rising – we're encouraging every Aussie-owned brewery, bar, pub and bottleshop to run an event. It's an opportunity to bring beer lovers and local communities together with local businesses for a day of joyous celebration, good times, and delicious local beer.
It's also about raising the profile of the local industry by showing that, while individual businesses might be small, together the industry is a mighty one. As such, we're excited to be partnering with the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) on Local Beer Day; you can find out how they're fighting the fight for indie brewers day in, day out at iba.org.au and find your nearest IBA brewery member via askforindiebeer.com.au.
The rise of craft beer in Australia has helped breathed new life into old buildings, created new community hubs in suburbs and regional towns, changed the country's drinking culture for the better, and fostered innovation, all while employing tens of thousands of people directly and indirectly across the country. But, right now, many of the small businesses that form this amazing community are under threat like never before.
By hosting hundreds of events across Australia on the same day, we'll be making a powerful statement, while showcasing the great stories that abound within the local beer industry.
Why should my business get involved?
If you run a local beer business, then this Local Beer Day is about you and for you. It's a celebration of what you and your peers do week in, week out, and a chance to show the wider world just how widespread the local beer scene in Australia has become.
On the day, the event should drive people through your doors – hopefully old friends and new faces too – and inject some good vibes into breweries, bars and bottleshops everywhere. And the more businesses that get on board, the more noise we can make to ensure the story of local beer is heard.
Are there any costs involved?
Yes, but they're minimal – at least from an event registration point of view. We'd love to run this whole thing for free, but The Crafty Pint has been impacted by the economic challenges facing the beer world too, been forced to cut much-loved staff, and need to cover our costs.
The fee for registering an event is just $100 per event – or $75 if you're an IBA member and $50 if your business is listed on The Crafty Pint. These fees are used to cover labour, design and marketing costs to ensure Local Beer Day reaches as large and wide an audience as possible.
What sort of event should I run?
Whatever you feel best showcases you, your business, and your ethos to the wider world.
As well as ensuring Local Beer Day is as affordable as possible for cash-strapped businesses, we don't want to add significantly to anyone's workload. What you do all year round is awesome, so unless you want to go bigger than Ben Hur, you can just base your day's activities around that.
Maybe a brewery's owners get back behind the bar for the first time in years, run extra brewery tours, host a live brew demo, or launch a new beer with other local beer businesses.
Pubs could showcase beers brewed within 20km of their door, welcome a local brewer in for a chat with patrons, or add local beer pairings to their menus. Bottleshops might invite a couple of local reps in for a tasting.
We'd love to see the bus tours that run between local breweries – like Beermuda in Brisbane or West Fest in Adelaide – take place on February 24 as they're such great examples of local beer communities working as one.
Sure, if you want to go and put on a cricket match at your local oval like The Local Taphouse did in 2014 and 2015, we're not going to stop you!
Ultimately, think about your brand and what experience you can give beer lovers.
Are any events ineligible?
Aside from keeping Local Beer Day as a celebration of Aussie-owned, independent businesses, we're open to all manner of ideas. However, this is a chance for the local beer industry to put its best foot forward and demonstrate just how welcoming, inclusive, community-focused and family-friendly it is – how it's about enjoying great flavours in good company, celebrating provenance, sustainability and innovation, and respecting those around us.
So, we reserve the right to reject any events that might not meet RSA regulations or appear to be promoting drunkenness, such as beer pong, free beer giveaways, drinking competitions and the like.
I'm keen, but not sure what to do yet. Is there a deadline to register?
Not really. Our PR campaign kicks off in early February but we can technically take registrations up until the day. But the earlier the better for you!
What support will we receive?
In order to keep costs to a minimum, we don't plan to send out any physical marketing assets. Instead, we'll provide downloadable assets such as printable posters for your venue(s) as well as web banners, animations and so on for your website and social pages to help you let people know you're taking part.
Our focus will be on promoting the day as a whole, although every event will have its own page on the Local Beer Day website. We'll also be encouraging participants to drum up any local support or coverage they can muster to assist both us and the PR team we'll be taking on nearer the time.
While we see this very much as a numbers game when it comes to drawing attention to the industry, if there are any standout / highlight / quirky events we spot, they'll no doubt become part of the promotion.
I'd love to help make Local Beer Day a great success beyond hosting / attending an event. Is there anything more I can do?
Sure. We're all ears. This is something the team at The Crafty Pint decided to pull together in a very short space of time as the harsh reality of the challenges facing the local beer world became ever more apparent in our coverage.
So, while we're putting everything we can into it, if anyone has any great ideas, wants to become an advocate for their local beer scene, has resources they can share, or even wants to come on as a sponsor to help amplify what we're doing, get in touch.
You can also check out the IBA website to see how they're advocating for the industry and sign up to the Local Beer Day mailing list below to be kept up-to-date as the event takes shape.
Of course, just telling everyone in your team / business / local community about your involvement – and what Local Beer Day is all about – is a great help too.
How can I, as a beer lover, get behind Local Beer Day?
When the day comes around, it's all about getting out to support your local beer businesses, whether that's attending an event (and taking your family / mates along with you), enjoying some of your favourite local beer, or sharing some with your mates who might not yet drink beer – or even the landlord of a local boozer who's not got any local brewers on tap.
We'll reveal more ways to get involve nearer the time; for now, make sure you pop Local Beer Day in your diaries for February 24!
How do we find out what events are taking place nearby?
Check out the interactive map on the homepage or search the event listings for wherever you'll be on February 24. Hopefully, beer socials will be awash with Local Beer Day updates from all your favourite breweries, bars and bottleshops by the time the big day arrives anyway!
And if there's nothing taking place near you, give your local beer business a nudge!
Photo on homepage taken at Molly Rose. Photo credit Manda Ford.