Current Issue #488

Brewing up an arts and craft collaboration

Brewing up an arts and craft collaboration

Craft beverage companies are turning to the arts to reach new audiences.

South Australia’s fledgling Sparkke Change Beverage Company is partnering with the Adelaide Fringe and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras over the coming weeks to get its products to new customers and spread its social change messages.

The company launched a little over a year ago and has six products: a hard lemonade, cider, alcoholic ginger beer, white wine with bubbles, pilsner and a New England pale ale.

Each beverage is aligned with a social change campaign with a portion of sales donated to the cause.

Sparkke’s Nipples are Nipples Lemonade (gender equality), Boundless Plains to Share Ginger Beer (asylum seekers) and Say I Do! White Wine + Bubbles (marriage equality) will be sold at several Sydney Mardi Gras events including the March 3 parade.

“They’re issues that the queer community is talking about, inspired about and keen to promote so it’s a welcome conversation for them as well as them loving the quality of the product – it’s a really nice fit for Mardi Gras,” said Sparkke co-founder Rose Kentish.

The Say I Do White Wine + Bubbles in a can was also sold at Elton John concerts in North Queensland last year and has raised more than $10,000 for The Equality Campaign


The ginger beer is being sold throughout the month long Adelaide Fringe in the South Australian capital, the world’s second largest fringe festival.

Kentish said having the range in cans made them ideal for events, gave them a smaller carbon footprint than bottles, were cheaper to transport and allowed more space to communicate their messages.

She said the festival scene was a natural place for Sparkke to be.

“We’ve just found that the arts community has been really receptive and I think it is being surrounded by people who value quality product and are actually really open to having conversations around social change so it just feels like a really great space for Sparkke to operate in,” said Kentish, a winemaker by trade and the winner of the winemaker’s award in the inaugural Australian Women In Wine Awards in 2015.

“We’re certainly doing the work we need to do to get our products in bottle shops and bars across Australia but we do find that the event space and getting the cans in hands leads to people starting to look for them in bottle shops.”

Sparkke made its event debut at Tropfest in Sydney last year.

Kentish said having alternative products to beer and cider at events allowed Sparkke to fill a niche rather than trying to compete financially with “mega multinational companies or an extremely large Australian company”.

“They’ll always have deeper pockets in terms of how much product and cash they are able to throw at the event and for us we’re really keen to bring a lot more than that to the relationship,” she said.

“We love doing events and love bringing a lot of energy and fun to that so sure we can never play in terms of rebates and cash on the table but what we can do is build brands.

“We’re keen to be partners with them for many years, not just one year and see how it goes, and that’s been part of the conversation we’ve had for Mardis Gras and Fringe.”

Another South Australian beverage company that has had remarkable success building its brand is Pirate Life Brewing.

Starting from scratch in Adelaide in late 2014, Pirate Life has grown its production to more than three million litres a year and has a strong national following. It is also using the arts to reach new beer drinkers by creating a beer brew in conjunction with and named after a troupe of performers at this month’s Adelaide Fringe.

After striking up a friendship a couple of years ago, Pirate Life’s branded keg found its way into Cirque Alfonse’s 2017 hit show BARBU, taking centre stage at the Adelaide Fringe and Sydney Opera House as part of a show-stopping keg juggling routine.

This year the craft beer-loving Canadians from a small village in Quebec are back with Tabarnak. Pirate Life has celebrated Cirque Alfonse’s return by releasing a small batch beer called Alfonse Ale, which is being poured in about a dozen bars and pubs around Adelaide during the Fringe.

The 5000-litre brew is based on a style and flavour brief provided by Cirque Alfonse.

“(Last year) was a lot of fun and we love the attitude and energy Cirque Alfonse bring to the Adelaide Fringe so we thought this year we’d welcome them back to Adelaide with a special brew celebrating their new show – Tabarnak”, said Pirate Life Brewing co-founder, Mick Cameron.

“They’ve definitely brought a bit of Quebec to the beer but we’ve also made sure it’s the tasty thirst quencher you need for the hot summer nights of the Adelaide Fringe.”

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