NEWS: The End of an Era

...we sincerely apologise on behalf of the Australian Government for this outcome.

In the late 19th Century, beer-loving folk would take product away from the pub in pails for home consumption. The story goes that as the beer sloshed around in the pails it would “growl” as it released CO2. The practice became so popular that by the mid-1930s children would carry these pails from local breweries to workers at lunchtime in a practice called “Rushing the Growler”. With the advent of packaged beer in the, now infamous, stubbie, growler prevalence petered out. Fast forward to the craft beer revolution in the United States; one brewery, Otto Brothers, wanted to sell their beers to a take-away trade but were not in a position to bottle. The brothers’ father suggested a glass flagon, as he remembered as a kid, for fresh tap beer at home.

Growlers, and their smaller sibling, the squealer, have ridden the wave of craft beer, being a cheap, quick and recyclable method of getting brewery fresh beer into your home. Newstead Brewing Co has followed a similar story to Otto’s, where, at our original Doggett Street brewpub in Newstead, we wanted to provide take-away beer but had no bottling or canning capabilities. They have been a fundamental avenue for getting our beer into your hands in the comfort of your own home. In 2017, with our new production facility in Milton, we now have a capacity to can all of our beers on-site.

Unlike the United States, the Australian government taxes beer in a convoluted manner. Beer delivered in a 50L keg (most tap beer) is taxed at one rate. Beer delivered in smaller kegs (20L or 30L), cans or bottles (including growlers and squealers) is taxed at a higher rate. So, to pour beer from a 50L keg (on which tax has already been paid) into a growler, a brewery must pay the tax all over again, at a higher rate. The tax office does not allow us to simply pay the difference in tax, we must pay the full tax again, for a second time. This would equate to a total of $7 in tax per growler fill, and when fills sell for around $20, with $12 worth of overheads, it doesn’t leave much left over to pay the Brewers. Our work around, was to fill 20L kegs, pay the higher tax rate only once, and fill growlers from those kegs. It has been a logistical and administrative nightmare just to get brewery fresh beer into your hands. In the next budget the Government is proposing to only apply the higher rate of tax to containers of less than 8L. This means 20L kegs are subject to less tax, but also means we cannot fill growlers or squealers from them.

The entire purpose of growlers and squealers is to get brewery fresh beer into your house. So, because we can no longer afford to fill growlers and squealers, we are now embarking on a mobile canning solution at Doggett Street, combined with additional special batch and seasonal releases in cans out of Castlemaine Street. Moving forward, every non-core range beer that we produce will be available for take-away in packaged format. We will keep the prices affordable, to match our growler fills, and guarantee the same brewery fresh experience you have come to demand from us.

From 31st December 2018, growler and squealer refills will no longer be available at our breweries…and we sincerely apologise on behalf of the Australian Government for this outcome. We look forward to getting more cans into the market, with great beer and experimental flavours.

Mark Howes, CEO, Newstead Brewing Co.