After a huge 2018, Alexis Roitman, CEO of the Independent Brewers Association, is looking to further champion Australia’s independent brewers this year. 

It has been a huge year for the Independent Brewers Association (IBA) and its new CEO Alexis Roitman, with the number of brewers and the range of beers on offer continuing to grow apace. In May 2018, the IBA unveiled its Independence Seal, which championed independently-owned breweries and “their positive impact on their local community and beer culture across Australia”.

In addition, new IBA Labelling Guidelines are expected to make it easier for brewers to comply with  regulations and the Queensland Craft Beer Strategy was another step to victory against red tape.

“It’s a huge opportunity to mitigate some of the ongoing regulatory problems brewers face and to evolve our young industry with the support of government. We will be looking to work with the other State Governments and the Federal Government in similarly constructive ways in 2019.

“The response to the Seal has been fantastic. Member take-up has been good and our new IBA Labelling Guidelines now make it easy for brewers to comply with regulations and incorporate important new elements into their labelling. I expect that in 2019 Seal takeup will climb further in tune with the cycle of labelling updates.

“Indie beer is unique; it’s infused with ingenuity and local character, to be discovered and enjoyed.”

After all the achievements of 2018, there is still much to do in 2019 and there are already plans in place. The partnership with Good Beer Week “extends the IBA’s reach into trade and consumer markets, supports the growth of GBW into its ninth year and brings complementary teams together”, as well as giving the IBA a presence in both Victoria and New South Wales.

“The IBA is taking a wider, more datadriven perspective of the role of the brewer and evolution of beer culture in Australia. With the Victorian election just gone and a NSW State and then Federal election in the first half of 2019, the IBA will be busy with advocacy across this period. Our recently-published Annual Report contains a summary of the issues that are close to the hearts of independent brewers.

“In an election year, the IBA will be a vocal advocate for our members’ interests to State and Federal Governments. More widely, we will be raising the profile of our industry, the work that we do and the importance of brewery ownership. We will be guiding members on a range of critical issues, from quality to innovation to legal compliance to funding and professional development.”

There is so much positivity and growth in the independent brewing world, and Roitman aims to help the industry grow and develop further.

“Over the past three years a new Australian independent brewery has opened every six days, on average. We don’t see signs of this slowing down in the short term. So we’ll be seeking greater market access for independent brewers to provide taps and fridge space for our beers right around the country. We think
there’s plenty of room to grow our market share to 15 per cent. That means employing more staff, buying more equipment and brewing more beer, all of which is great for the local economies where our brewers are located.

“As our industry grows, we will also be focusing beyond foundational technical brewing issues into professional development opportunities and career pathways for brewers, working effectively with suppliers and retailers, developing R&D and innovation strategies and of course promoting the work of our industry to consumers. It’s an exciting time to be an independent brewer.”

This article was written for the 2019 National Liquor News Annual Industry Leaders Forum published in February.

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