Business Review Weekly
Despite having a fairly sinister-sounding name, Dan Murphy’s new “growler stations” are likely to make a lot of Australian boutique beer drinkers very happy.
Growlers, all the rage in the United States and New Zealand, are one to two-litre glass or plastic bottles containing draught beer.
Dan Murphy’s, which is owned by supermarket giant Woolworths, is already trialling new beer dispensers, or “growler stations”, in two stores.
Depending on the success of those two, it may roll out the dispensers to about 30 of its 160 stores.
Growlers are popular because they are often cheaper than bottled beer and the beer is much fresher.
Those who already have a growler bottle can get subsequent refills too.
Micro-brewers already selling growlers in Australia are happy about the development.
“Whether Dan Murphy’s does it or not is of no concern to our sales model,” Richard Adamson, the director and head brewer at micro-brewer Young Henry’s Brewing Company, told The Australian Financial Review.
“If it brings better beer to people, I’m happy for it to happen.”
Rise of the boutique beer
Expect no VB or Tooheys New growlers at Dan Murphy’s.
The liquor chain will sell only craft beers and ciders by brewers such as Mountain Goat Beer, Burleigh Brewing and Gage Roads.
“This is an opportunity to try a wonderful array of different beer styles,” Dan Murphy’s beer category leader Ian Kingham says.
Designer brewers are gaining traction in Australia. Research by the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand released earlier this year shows the amount of craft beer produced in Australia is increasing by 6 per cent every year.
Mainstream beers, on the flip side, are declining. Kingham says the craft beer market is about 3 per cent of the industry but growing quickly.
Kingham told the BRW that the group wanted to support the growing boutique beer industry.
“Its not about mainstream beer. There are a lot of breweries out there that don’t have huge bottling plants or bottling facilities. This way we can take the kegs from them and bottle it for them.”
Other local brewing companies that have begun selling growlers include the 4 Pines Brewing Company, Beer Cartel, Foster’s Matilda Bay Melbourne brewery and the Riverside Brewing Company.
Brad Rogers, the chairman of the Craft Beer Industry Association, says he doesn’t think the Dan Murphy’s move will steal market share from smaller brewers.
“It was only a matter of time before the larger groups moved forward with growlers,” he says.
“The only watch-out for the association is the rigour around ensuring product quality to the consumer,” he said.
“I am sure the larger groups like Dan Murphy’s will do their best to ensure product quality is of the highest standard,” he added.