The survey was conducted by craft beer retailer Beer Cartel, and was carried out with over 18,000 Australian craft beer drinkers.
It is considered the most comprehensive study ever undertaken with this segment.
Balter Brewing was founded over two years ago by what their website deems ‘Six Aussies and a Yank’. It beat fellow breweries Modus Operandi and Pirate Life to notch the top spot.
“To win this award […] is a wonderful feeling. We’ve been kicking around for two and a half years and it has been a pretty amazing journey to date,” said Stirling Howland, Co-Founder and Brand Director of Balter Brewing.
“When we started Balter, it was always about the beer and connecting to our community through our work. We've been blown away by how well our beer and brand has been received and these types of people’s choice awards are a real affirmation that we're on the right track.”
The Gold Coast-based brewery prides itself on representing ‘the sense of enjoyment you get from doing something you love, just for the thrill of it’.
“At Balter, we’re all about celebrating that enjoyment with you, because beer is more than just a drink: it draws tribes together and is a companion to many great moments in life,” said Balter on its website.
How important is independent brewing to Australians?
Meanwhile, the survey also revealed that Australians appear very keen to maintain the independence of craft beer breweries within the country.
In May this year, the Australian Independent Brewers Association (IBA) launched its Seal of Independence, aiming to help consumers to quickly and easily recognise which beers are owned by independent brewers.
Within the five months since its launch, the seal has achieved recognition amongst 33% of Australian craft beer drinkers, according to the survey.
“The seal has huge potential to dramatically change the beers consumers buy; 83% of consumers aware of the seal said it was likely to have a medium to large impact on their beer purchases,” said Beer Cartel.
"It's an industry that's quite different from other industries," said Beer Cartel’s Richard Kelsey to CraftyPint.
"You wouldn't get the same thing with coffee beans. It's probably part of the move from mainstream beer to craft beer – people want to support independently owned breweries and want to know the face behind it. It really is about people.”
Additionally, 66% of survey participants said that they were aware of the large company-acquisition of three of Australia’s leading craft breweries: Pirate Life and 4 Pines by AB InBev, and Feral Brewing by Coca-Cola.
“Over half (56%) of those aware have since reduced or stopped purchasing from these breweries [despite there being no] other changes to these three breweries other than their ownership; the brewery itself and the people that run the brewery are both unchanged,” Beer Cartel added.
“The influence and desire to purchase from independently owned breweries is […] reflected in the purchasing habits of consumers post buy-out.”
As far back as last year, 64% of Australians had already professed a wish to know who owned the beer they were drinking in the 2017 survey.
Additionally, the 2018 survey found that approximately 50% of all beers purchased were for previously untried beers.
This indicates that most craft beer drinkers are constantly seeking new types of beer to try, driving breweries to focus on seasonal or limited release products to expand market.
All in all, 79% of survey participants said that craft beer is their alcoholic drink of choice.
The IBA Seal of Independence
All craft breweries in Australia will have to register with the IBA in order to obtain eligibility to display the Seal of Independence on their products.
Approximately 50% of craft breweries in the country are registered as of now.
“The IBA Independence Seal is a significant initiative of the Independent Brewers Association,” said IBA on its website.
“It provides the opportunity for IBA member breweries to communicate their independence to directly to consumers.”
Beer Cartel added that: “Many consumers believe that the lesser known labels they are drinking are made by smaller local brewers, when in reality many popular craft beer brands are owned by large corporations.”
“The Independence Seal is one easy way for consumers to determine which breweries are independent.”