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The Amber Nectar: The Logistics of Beer Production in Australia.

by Murray Phillips,
Jan 10, 2024
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Table of Contents:

How logistics software helps to get your favourite tipple from the brewery to your beer glass.

“There’s nothing so lonesome, morbid or drear,
Than to stand in the bar of a pub with no beer…”

Slim Dusty, The Pub With No Beer   

In Australia, beer isn't just a beverage; it's a part of our culture. With the scorching heat of Australian summers and Aussies' love for a cold brew or two, ensuring that the beer flows smoothly from the brewery to the beer glass requires a well-orchestrated logistics dance.

With the challenges of extreme weather and vast distances, cold chain logistics and logistics software play a pivotal role in ensuring that Aussies can enjoy a cold, crisp beer when they need it most.

In this blog post, we'll take a sober stroll through the logistics of getting beer from the brewery to your local pub in the Land Down Under, including the importance of logistics software in the supply chain. So put your feet up, crack open a coldie and read on.

The Pubs With No Beer

The Taylor’s Arm Hotel stands in a green valley inland from Nambucca in New South Wales. It’s a quaint old place, with lots of Australiana on the walls and a row of farmer’s 4WDs angle-parked outside. You can usually find a new cobber or two for a yarn over a beer at the long timber bar. It also inspired Slim Dusty’s iconic ballad The Pub With No Beer

Of course, as it is with any good yarn over a beer, the truth should never get in the way of the story. So while the pub at Taylor’s Arm is probably the place where old Slim perfected the song, the Lees Hotel in Ingham, in Queensland is where the poem that inspired the song was written. 

The pub, the poet and the airmen

In December 1943, American servicemen from the 22nd Bomb Group passed through Ingham en route to Port Moresby. They stopped for the night at the Day Dawn Hotel and drank all the beer in the place. The following day, after the Yanks had departed, a local sugarcane farmer and poet called Dan Sheahan rode his horse 30 kilometres to the hotel for a cold one, only to learn there was no beer. He had a glass of wine instead, and sitting at the bar in the pub, he wrote the poem. 

The poem was published in The North Queensland Register in early 1944. It was rewritten in 1956 by the songwriter Gordon Parsons, who set it to music for Slim Dusty. According to Parsons, he did not know where the original poem came from. But when Slim Dusty visited Ingham in later years, he met Dan Sheahan and was shown the original poem. In his autobiography Walk a Country Mile, Slim Dusty confirmed the song was created in the Day Dawn Hotel in Ingham. Today, the Lees Hotel, built in 1960, stands on the site once occupied by the Day Dawn Hotel.

But regardless of where the song was written, one thing binds the narrative together: beer. So let’s take a look at the history of our favourite drop and how it gets to your schooner, pot, pint, midi or stubbie.

Beer…the Australian Way

Beer is more than just a beverage to us Australians: it's a way of life. Aussies have a strong affinity for beer, and it's deeply embedded in the country's social fabric. Whether it's sipping a cold lager by the beach, skulling a can or two at the yards after a long dusty day of stock work, enjoying a craft ale at an inner city brewery, or giving the sausies a soaking on the barbie in the back yard, beer is an integral part of Australian culture.

The history of beer-brewing in Australia

The history of Australian beer goes back to the early days of colonialism. Captain James Cook, during his voyage in 1768, brought beer with him on the Endeavour to preserve drinking water, recognising its usefulness as an alternative to the often stagnant and stinking water on board. When he returned in 1770, to explore the East Coast of Australia, beer was still being consumed by the crew as part of their daily rations.

In the early days of Australia’s settlement, rum was the preferred alcoholic beverage among the first settlers and convicts. This led to issues of drunkenness and corruption as the authorities (known colloquially as The Rum Corps) sought to control the supply of rum in the colony. The first official brewer in Australia, John Boston, brewed a beverage from Indian corn in 1796, although unofficial brewing had most likely occurred earlier. 

Australia’s first pub, the Mason Arms, opened in Parramatta in the same year.

The Cascade Brewery in Hobart was founded in 1824 and is now the oldest brewery in Australia. The difficulty in obtaining hops meant that early Australian beers were top-fermented and quick-maturing ales. Lager production didn't begin until 1885. 

Beer Consumption Statistics

OK..let's take a quick look at the numbers. Australia consistently ranks among the top beer-consuming nations globally. According to the Brewers Association of Australia, we tip back over 2.5 billion pints of the amber nectar every year. This makes ours one of the highest beer consumption rates per capita in the world. 

The Aussie love affair with beer has led to a thriving brewing industry, with hundreds of breweries across the country producing a wide variety of beer styles. But whatever your preferred drop, one thing is certain. For you to enjoy that cold, refreshing glass of beer, a whole lot of logistics systems — from the seeding of barley fields to the cold cellars of your local — need to all work seamlessly together. Time to crack another tube and see how it all comes together. 

Cold Chain Logistics in Australia

With such high demand and a diverse range of beer options, efficient logistics are crucial to ensure a steady supply of beer to pubs, bottle shops, and homes across the vast Australian landscape. This is where logistics software enters the picture.

Managing Temperature-Sensitive Cargo

In a country known for its scorching weather, maintaining the right temperature for beer during transportation is paramount. This is where cold chain logistics come into play. Cold chain logistics involve the transportation of temperature-sensitive goods, ensuring that they are kept within a specific temperature range throughout the supply chain. 

Maintaining the ideal temperature for beer is vital to preserve its quality and taste. The Australian beer supply chain faces its unique set of challenges. The vast geographic distances, extreme weather conditions, and the need for timely deliveries to meet consumer demands are just a few. The last thing anyone wants is a warm beer on a scorching summer day. Luckily for thirsty punters across the continent, logistics software holds the key to smooth beer supply chains. Here’s how:

  • Real-Time Visibility: Logistics software provides real-time visibility into the entire supply chain, from the brewery to the bar. This visibility enables companies to monitor the temperature of their beer shipments, ensuring that the precious cargo remains within the desired range throughout its journey. Any deviations can trigger alerts for immediate corrective action.
  • Route Optimisation: Beer logistics involve complex route planning. Logistics software is used to optimise routes, considering factors like distance, weather conditions, and delivery schedules. This ensures that beer arrives at its destination on time and in the best condition.
  • Safety and Compliance: It may sound obvious but compliance with regulations is essential, especially when transporting alcoholic beverages like beer. Logistics software helps manage the necessary documentation and reporting, ensuring that all legal requirements are met during the transport of beer.

A Beer in Blinman

It’s a bloody long way (both literally and figuratively) from Taylor’s Arm in NSW to Blinman in South Australia. But the logistics of getting beer to both places are identical. The supply chains are long, complex, and involve all sorts of variables that need to be closely monitored and managed. At the North Blinman Pub — “the Pub in the Scrub” — you can get a cold beer and a good feed on the hottest of summer days or the coldest of winter nights.

To get to Blinman, you drive north from Adelaide for six hours, past the old house from the cover of Midnight Oil’s Diesel and Dust album, through Orroroo and Hawker and into the Flinders Ranges. This is one of the oldest landscapes in the world. The rocks of Parachilna Gorge and Wilpena Pound are around half a billion years old. So it’s reassuring to know that in this ancient country, you can find a cold beer thanks to the most modern digital systems on the planet.

Enjoy a coldie wherever you are

As you tip a butcher of West End Draught in Blinman, or a schooner of Tootheys New in Taylor’s Arm, a pot of XXXX in Ingham or a pint of Boags in Tassie, you can rest assured that wherever you go in Australia, logistics software is making sure that you never have to drink a glass of wine in a pub with no beer. Cheers!