The highs and lows of brewing - from Cooper's to BentSpoke

Tuesday 14 March 2017
Nic Crowther's picture
Co Editor
The Shaker

While Cooper's Brewery tries to distance itself from the Bible Society’s Keeping it Light campaign (and the extraordinary social media backlash), a local brewer is going from strength-to-strength and being recognised on the international front.

For BentSpoke, the news is all good. Last week the ‘Oscars’ of the brewing industry, the International Brewing Awards, announced their results for 2017.

Canberra’s BentSpoke Brewing was astonished to see their two canned beers, Barley Griffin and Crankshaft, deliver gold and silver medals in their categories.

In the International Smallpack Ale Competition the winning, gold medal beer in Class 1 for Ale 2.9% - 4.4% ABV, was the Barley Griffin Pale Ale.

Also in the International Smallpack Ale Competition the second place silver medal in Class 4 for Ale 5.5% - 6.9% ABV went to the Crankshaft IPA.

First run in 1888 the awards, which are only conferred every two years, are “a recognition by fellow professional brewers that a beer is an outstanding commercial example of its style” according to the awards website.

BentSpoke co-owner and head brewer Richard Watkins was thrilled by the result.

“The International Brewing Awards are one of the longest running and biggest beer awards in the world,” Watkins said.

“With over 1000 beers in the competition we are ecstatic to see our beers do so well. “It is an honour to win medals at these awards and a real credit to whole team here at BentSpoke for their commitment to quality.”

Meanwhile, in Adelaide...

For Coopers, the week couldn't have been worse. While Adelaide celebrated its biggest weekend of the year with its premier horse race, WOMADelaide, the Adelaide Festival, the Adelaide Fringe Festival and an Adele concert, Cooper's marketing and PR team should have been in overdrive trying to deal with a video from the Bible Society that suggested the family brewer as tacitly endorsing the status quo for the Marriage Act.

Now, this conversation has a lot of moving parts, but one thing is clear, Cooper's is getting hammered in its key demographic - 18-35 year olds - not because of the video itself, but because of two subsequent media releases that have tried to walk both sides of the street. The problem for Cooper's is that 80% of their target market support marriage equality. By failing to made an impactful statement in support of a change in legislation, they are attracting further criticism.



Certainly, Coopers - as a largely privately-owned company -  can take whatever stance it wishes. However, the management of the consumer response has to be better than this statement and this statement. Both are poorly produced, make no emphatic statements to those it is intended to satisfy, and feature no identifier of a senior executive to add weight to their content.

No doubt everyone at Cooper's will need a beer by the time this is over.