Craft beer has brewed up a new market niche for Sunshine Coast’s tourism sector, with its emerging profile recently recognised officially with the beachside Moffat Beach Brewing Co winning the Champion Small Brewer of Australia award in the annual BrewCon – Australian Brewers Conference & Awards, held in Sydney.
They also took home two gold medals, as did Maleny-based Brouhaha. There were silvers for Macleod Brewing Co in Maleny, Sunshine Brewery and Land & Sea in Noosa.
What makes ‘beer tourism’ so attractive for visitors is that it provides a really rich and interesting insight into the character of the destination. Brewers are invariably passionate about their trade and love sharing stories about the trials and tribulations of setting up a brewery and the sweat and tears that go into every brew, as well as sharing experimental and seasonal beers with visitors. Wine tourism is already well established in Australia, but craft beer tourism has just as much potential.
The breweries are now an integral component of the Sunshine Coast food and produce scene, with many brewers building close working relationships with local farmers, not just for disposal of spent grain for cattle, but for sourcing local fruit and produce for seasonal beers or to serve through their kitchens.
Besides dedicated craft beer tours, more and more local restaurants and bars are showcasing Sunshine Coast beers, and interest in beer has grown to the point that our first-ever Craft Beer Festival last year attracted over 3500 visitors.
Food, wine and beer are a major focus of the region’s tourism marketing, with the Sunshine Coast one of Australia’s richest agricultural producers.
The Sunshine Coast’s tagline ‘Naturally Refreshing’ perfectly reflects the sort of craft beers being produced by the remarkably talented group of brewers across the Coast.
Food and wine tourism are already well-established as prime drivers of tourism around the world, and craft beer is now emerging as an equally dynamic growth sector, with the more casual nature and ‘earthiness’ of the product matched by high-quality and very distinctive varietal beers.