You’d be forgiven if you struggled to pinpoint the flavor profile of South Australia based brewer Mike Holden’s “Shale Ale”. Holden elaborates:
“The beer definitely has a unique flavor to it, but it is not something that is off-putting or maybe something that people will not even recognize.”
You see, Shale Ale is filtered through half-billion-year-old, fossil rich shale during its production.
“We just thought for this one, why not let the millions of years of shale rock speak for itself and see what comes through?”
This interesting quirk in the brewing process could be seen as an attempt to stand out in an increasingly competitive Australian craft beer market. Despite its small population (relatively speaking) and trend of declining beer consumption, Australia’s number of craft breweries has increased 10-fold over a decade or so.
In 2006, there were just over 30 craft breweries. By the end of financial year 2015-2016, the number had risen to 379. For a country with a population about the same as Texas, that’s a fairly incredible feat.
Despite the rapidly swelling number of breweries, craft beer still only accounts for about 3% of nation-wide beer production. However, craft beer companies employee 73% of the beer-related workforce in Australia.
Impending saturation aside, one of the largest issues for the beer industry in Australia is the inconsistent tax and excise applied by the Australian Government. Excise on alcoholic beverages varies greatly depending on what the product is, abc.net.au reports:
Beers attracts an excise based on the amount of alcohol per litre it contains, the size of the container its sold in, where its brewed and for what purpose.
Spirits are taxed at $82 per litre of alcohol, when the average alcohol content is 40 per cent — a rate 20 times that of wine.
Wine has its own separate tax regime that comes with a generous (and soon to be lowered) rebate of up to $500,000 annually.
So There You Have It
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