While I’d been researching and writing a little book called The Slab, there’s one thing that would increasingly irritate me. That would be this idea of Australia as a nation of beer drinkers. Seems any time someone would write about beer in Australia, there’d be some reference to how us Aussies love a beer, how when it comes to beer, we’re world-beaters and it’s always been that way.
It’s something that people seem to take for granted about Australia. We love our sport, we love tacking a Y onto the end of everyone’s name (Smithy, Jonesy, Clarkey) even though it actually makes their name longer and we love our beer.
It irritates me because, largely speaking, it’s not really true. It’s definitely not true of the last 40-odd years. Just have a look at this graph from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
See that purple line? that’s the line representing beer. See what it’s doing? Yep. it’s going down. And has been for nearly 50 years (apart from a slight rise in the early 1980s). Now a nation that loves its beer doesn’t see consumption fall steadily for decades.
Now have a look at that orange line – that’s wine. See how they’re about to cross over? If that trend continues, the reality would be that Aussies love their wine, not their beer. But I doubt that mental shift will happen any time soon. The beer myth is far too ingrained to budge too easily.
As an aside, it’s interesting that the beer community looks at cider as the big threat. But cider is that grey line right down the bottom – I don’t think beer really has anything to fear from cider right now.
But wine? Well, wine could cause beer a few problems.
Postscript: How’s the book going? I’m glad you asked. I’m a few chapters away from finishing the second draft. After that, there’s a few bits and pieces to tidy up, some formatting and then dedicating a day to compiling the dreaded index. The aim is to have it done, dusted and available for purchase by the end of the year. Fingers crossed I make that deadline.