Craft beer industry growth fuelling demand for skilled brewers

29 February 2016

Craft beer industry growth fuelling demand for skilled brewers

Kelly and Luke in BreweryAttracting and retaining highly-skilled brewers is the vital next step in continuing the growth trajectory of New Zealand’s brewing industry, says the Brewers Guild of New Zealand.

Already a $2.2 billion industry in this country, growth in the number of professional brewing operations has continued in response increasing thirst for Kiwi beer overseas.

That growth has put the heat on breweries to recruit and retain skilled personnel, said Brewers Guild president Emma McCashin.

“The number of professional brewing operations in New Zealand has almost trebled in the past five years, and beer exports have almost doubled.

“As the industry’s growth continues to trend upward, there’s definitely a pressing need and demand for more highly-skilled people throughout the value chain, starting with more professional brewers.

“There isn’t necessarily a skills shortage currently but there’s increasing pressure on breweries to recruit the people they need to grow their operations and meet demand for consistently excellent beer, as well as continuing to innovate and experiment.”

ANZ’s 2015 industry insight report showed the craft beer business had grown 40 per cent from 2014. Of New Zealand’s more than 100 craft breweries, a third were either readying for or already pursuing offshore market opportunities. The thirst for Kiwi craft beer continues to boom in the United States, while demand in Asian markets is tipped to grow 300% in the next decade.

Those New Zealand breweries with export aspirations would need to expand production to take advantage of the opportunities, said Mrs McCashin. The Brewers Guild was currently investigating a number of initiatives aimed at attracting more people to the industry.

“Craft brewing in New Zealand may have started out as a cottage industry but, in the past couple of decades, it’s grown into a highly sophisticated and valuable sector.

“To continue that trend and achieve the scale required by the industry, we need to get more highly-skilled people involved. We’ve already got some of the best brewers in the world making beer here and overseas, but we need even more of them to keep pace with growth.

“That involves finding ways to attract more people from food science, chemistry, microbiology and even engineering backgrounds.”

Given the global interest in beer and brewing, the professional opportunities were impressive, she said.

“Beer is by far the most widely consumed alcoholic beverage in the world and consumer demand for premium beers in particular is growing at a phenomenal rate. With that comes strong demand for skilled New Zealand brewers from breweries all around the world.”


About the Brewers Guild of New Zealand

The Brewers Guild is a membership-based organisation established to grow the value and quality of New Zealand’s $2.2 billion beer sector.

The Guild’s mission is to grow the value and quality of the New Zealand beer sector and to act with vision for the future of the New Zealand brewing industry through education, training and communication.

The Guild organises New Zealand’s most prestigious annual beer awards, the Brewers Guild of New Zealand Awards.

For more information visit

The Problem With Craft Beer

Looking into a pintLast week I got a notification of a liquor store that put on a keg of Epic Apocalypse. I was shocked, as we had last brewed that in May 2014. I check into when we had shipped it, and found out that it was June 2014. This beer was in an EcoKeg which generally is best in the first six months. Therefore I wasn’t very happy that this beer was now being sold to beer drinkers excited to try something new. This beer was not intended to be stored or aged for this extended period. It is a Black IPA, and the hops would have seriously diminished. I’m not saying the beer would have been bad but it definitely would not have tasted like I had intended it to.

I had a discussion about why this beer had been sitting around for so long, and I got the following points from the explanation I was given:

  • many outlets order beers for special events, tastings and festivals (not being used straight away)

  • sometimes less popular beers hold up taps which adds time to the kegs waiting to be tapped

  • outlets will stockpile or panic buy because they don’t know when the next batch will be available, if ever

My learnings from this would have to be focused on the wholesalers/retailers. It has become a pet peeve of mine about outlets pouring beers that are obviously poorly made, faulted and that their customers don’t want to drink. Yes they probably have enough customers to buy it once, but over an extended period.

These bad beers aren’t good for anyone.

  1. they don’t taste good, so customers won’t buy it again

  2. they reflect badly on the bar manager/beer purchaser as they made the decision to buy, and then to put on tap (why would you put crappy beer on tap, customers lose respect)

  3. they tie up a tap that you could put a more popular beer on. Wouldn’t you rather have a beer on tap that you can sell two kegs a week of VS a beer that takes 3 weeks to sell a keg of? Not only are you making more money, your customers are actually happy too, as they are drinking more beer, and staying longer.

Here’s to a decrease in the number of taps that have the next new beer going on. New does not always equal good. I just want to drink a good beer. It should be the role of the bar to curate the quality of the beers it sells. Selling crap beer just shows either lack of knowledge of the beer you are selling or total disregard for your customers.

So what do you think the problem with craft beer is…?