Mike Knott

'Craft beer' may not be as Aussie as you think

THINK you were drinking an Aussie-owned "craft beer" over the long weekend?

Consumer group Choice says otherwise, for seven leading beer brands that are actually dominated by overseas-owned companies.

A Choice review of the beer market has found it remains dominated by the Japanese-owned Lion and London-based SABMiller.

While many beers sold in Australia are marketed as locally owned "craft beer", the Choice analysis finds up to 47% of the domestic market is dominated by the big companies.

Among the brands consumers may have thought were local, were James Squire, Little Creatures and White Rabbit, all owned by Kirin-Lion.

Other top brands owned by overseas interests included Alehouse Summer Gold (Coca-Cola); and Fat Yak, Matilda Bay and Redback, owned by SABMiller.

Choice spokesman Tom Godfrey said their review came as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission investigates whether big companies are trying to lock out smaller breweries from the lucrative pub market.

"There's big money to be made in craft beer with the demand for a premium taste. Consumers are happy to pay for this," he said.

"Gone are the days where 'a hard earned thirst needs a big cold beer'. There's no 'treating strains or fixing trains'.

"Instead there's the quest for premium taste with an array of pilsners, pale ales and stouts, or beer infused with flavours like coffee, chocolate, truffles and even oysters."

Mr Godfrey said it was up to consumers to decide whether they wanted to drink a beer from a larger brewer, or an Australian-owned micro-brewery.