By James Atkinson
The addition of new seasonal and other one-off brews will effectively double Matilda Bay's range of craft beers over the next 12 months, according to brand manager Jamie Fox (pictured).
Fox told TheShout that rather than putting "one market-researched big brand attempt" out each year, Matilda Bay will embrace its role as a big craft brewer by trialling various new and different brews over and above the regular one-offs that are available exclusively at its Port Melbourne headquarters.
"It will just depend from batch-to-batch where they go and where they're available, it might be fifty pubs, it might be 20 bottle shops, it might be the national accounts, it could be anything," he said.
Similarly to recent comments by brewing consultant Costa Nikias, Fox said the Australian craft beer market is currently somewhat "one-dimensional", with pale ales making up 80 per cent of the mix.
But with seasonal beers accounting for 19 per cent of total craft beer volume in the U.S., Fox predicted that is all about to change.
"I really see a rich diversity coming into our market, I believe we're about five to six years behind the U.S," he said.
"In Australia over the next year or so you're going to see a lot of winter beers, a lot of summer beers, a lot of beers that are led with food matching, which I call 'epicurean' beers."
"These will be beers that will be in and out – harder for manufacturers to do, but they will create a lot of interest and a lot of theatre in pubs and bottleshops."
Fox said Matilda Bay's most recent additions of Minimum Chips and Itchy Green Pants are both performing strongly.
"IGP is going fantastically well for us, we launched it into about fifty pubs on premise and I think we're up around a hundred now," he said.
Fox said IGP will likely be available in packaged format at some point, while distribution of Minimum Chips will be expanded beyond Woolworths from next month.
He said the recent launch of consistent packaging across all Matilda Bay beers (pictured right) was an important move for the brewer to manage and develop its portfolio.
"Fat Yak is a great beer and it turned out to be a great brand as well, but the danger then is that as a brewery you're not developing a portfolio, you're just managing brands," he said.
"Now, when people are shopping for beer, rather than just buying maybe one six-pack of Fat Yak, maybe they'll get a six-pack of Fat Yak and a six-pack of Redback because they haven't seen it for awhile."
"Hopefully retailers will get a few more beer sales out there as a result, and customers will get to try or re-introduce themselves to some different beers," said Fox.