From Beero to Zero: Australia falls out with Beer?


Australians are known to enjoy a drink or two, but this island nation once known for its love of beer is a changing.

Official data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows the amount of alcohol drunk by Australians in the last financial year fell to the lowest level since the early 1960s.

“It continues the recent downward trend which started around 2008 to 2009,” according to ABS Health Statistics Director, Louise Gates.

“Over three-quarters of alcohol consumed came from either beer (39 percent) or wine (38 percent).”

“While, alcohol consumed from wine has declined recently, the drop in beer consumption has been the main driver for falling alcohol consumption with an average decline of 2.4 percent per year over the last 10 years.”

A decline in beer consumption you ask? How is that possible when craft beer is on the rise, right?

Sam, the brewer at All Hand Brewing House, has noticed a change in the type of person who drinks craft beer. “Originally craft beer was sought out by quiet, home-brewer types who were anti-commercial beer, then it became hip. Luckily we are at point now where craft beer is about provenance”.

With craft beer by Young Henry’s, Willy the Boatman and Malt Shovel taking over during October’s Sydney Beer WeekBeer Deluxe Venue Manager, Tasif Iqbal adds “perhaps the drop in beer consumption is also a reflection in the changing drinking culture.”

“We are seeing groups of guys buying rounds of our tasting paddles, more interested in trying new beers than in buying cheap jugs to get drunk.”

Meanwhile, the fact that Australians drank almost equal amounts of wine and beer is just as interesting.

Where 54% of the US and Canada cracked open a beer, just 28% came from spirits, the second lowest percentage in the world.*

While Western Europeans were most likely to pour a glass of wine, which accounted for 44% of their drinking.*

Liquor dominates in Asia, making up 61% of alcohol consumed in China and 83% in all other Asian nations.*

“There is clearly a cultural overlay to the data with many countries in Asia, for example, having a significant spirits culture (gin in the Philippines and rum in India),” BAML analysts wrote.

Chef Varun from Manjit’s on the Wharf has a lot to say on this matter considering his Indian restaurant offers an extensive range of wine and beer, including India’s premium beer of choice, Cobra.

“As a person of Asian heritage running an Indian restaurant, people don’t expect wine to be on the menu.  However, globally our taste palettes are shifting. Just look at the boom of Australian wine in China as an example,” Chef Varun says. Showcasing wine pairing with Indian cuisine, Manjit’s will be hosting an exclusive wine event aptly called ‘Thinkers & Drinkers’ on October 19th.

Benjamin Franklin once said: “In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.”

Let’s see the ABS results in the next six years, what do you think it’ll say?


* Statistics from Bank of America Merrill Lynch