What does the ACCC 'beer taps investigation' mean for beer drinkers?
By Chris Pedler

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has just finished its beer taps investigation.
A lot of Australians love having a beer at their local but what will the findings of this investigation affect what they get at the bar?
What is the ACCC beer taps investigation?
On the back of a number of complaints from independent breweries, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put together a three-year investigation into the contracts of Carlton United Breweries and Lion Pty Limited.

Allegations from independent breweries claims the major brewers were locking them out of beer taps in venues around Australia because of the exclusivity of the contracts.

If major brewers are seen to be locking small brewers out of taps in pubs and clubs, it makes it hard for independent brewers to establish themselves and grow.

One of the main complaints from independent brewers was that Lion and CUB’s contracts required pubs and clubs to dedicate 80 per cent of beer taps to big name brands in exchange for rebates, infrastructure investment and refurbishment loans.
So who did the ACCC investigate over the last three years?
In three years the ACCC looked at contracts and practices at 36 venues in Victoria and New South Wales.

Most of the venues were in metropolitan areas such as Sydney and Melbourne but venues in regional areas including Bendigo and Ballarat were also investigated.

The ACCC also considered 33 contracts from small brewers and 140 from Lion and CUB.

What did the investigation find?
While the ACCC was able to uncover some contracts that included minimum volume requirements that could make it harder for craft brewers to gain access to taps in these venues, the overall conclusion was that venues were responding to consumer demand rather than being restricted by big name beer contracts.

The investigation also concluded that a number of small brewers were about to get their products on venue taps alongside a major brewer.

Independent brewers have predictably been upset with the ACCC’s findings.

Brookes Beer owner Doug Brooke said one problem with the investigation was the ACCC’s resources. He cited that only 36 out of the 40,000 licensed venues in Australia, had been investigated over three years.