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Brewers aren't just brewing beer anymore

May 30, 2023

What do you do if you're a brewer who does more than just drink beer?

Welcome to the dilemma facing a slew of modern craft breweries as they diversify beyond another beer.

As this excellent VinePair article outlines, it means names like 'artisan fermenta project' and 'fermentery'. Locally, we've seen Hop Nation's Site Fermentation Project in that vein too.

This is a growing challenge as brewers are more and more inclined to dip into other categories. As we detailed in this article, it's a trend illustrated with products like hard lemonade, shandies and ginger beer becoming a thing (let alone food and drink mashups like Moutai icecream).

More existentially, the challenge for brewers is that the beer market itself is shrinking as drinking diets diversify worldwide. It's a huge issue in the US, as this article by the IWSR points out, and it has even spooked the team at Coopers. Indeed, Coopers is itself diversifying away from beer, with plans announced last year to enter the whisky business with a whisky distillery housed in a $50m complex that includes a microbrewery and discovery centre.

The new Coopers brewery and distillery.

The idea of brewers becoming whisky makers isn't such a wild idea given that, as this Eater article points out, you effectively have to make beer to make whisky/whiskey anyway. Indeed, in our exclusive interview with Tim from Hickson House, he revealed that they're making a whisky from unwanted Four Pines beer.

Finally, the trend towards a broader drinks mix doesn't just threaten brewers; it's a challenge for winemakers too. As we wrote last year, this comes particularly from a younger audience who consume a wide variety of beverages often suited more to occasions rather than pure preferences.

The challenge for winemakers and brewers is then to keep up - and working out what to call yourself is the start.