It’s Not Just Brewers Pushing Queensland Beer to the Next Level

Queensland has been on an Indie-beer-tear in recent years.

Now more than a quarter of our 400 members come from the Sunshine State and the state the uptick in breweries has seen increased competition and community. Last year our Independent Beer Awards Champion Beer was from Brisbane’s Range Brewing (which also won Champion Medium/Small Brewery) while the Sunshine Coast’s Moffatt Beach Brewing won Champion Brewpub.

But it’s not just breweries finding success. Last year’s Young Gun of the Year trophy was awarded to Jessica McWatt Forbes of Red Stockholm. The award, which is peer-nominated, recognises an individual who is under 35 years old that shows leadership, betters the industry with knowledge sharing, and drives education and awareness in a way that improves the market for all independent brewers.

Coming up to nine years in business, McWatt Forbes co-founded Red Stockholm with Katie Burton. The full-service marketing agency counts independent brewers as more than a third of its business, “which we love”, she says.

“Katie and I are both passionate about small to medium enterprise, and we are both craft beer nuts. What we really love about it is working side-by-side with breweries, brewers, and business owners to grow their business and keep innovating,” she explains. “Doing things that make them stand out from the pack. No two days are the same.”

It was working with the renowned Beer InCider Festival when it launched in 2014 that got Red Stockholm involved in the industry. In the past seven years she has been part of the ongoing growth of the local market.

“We’ve seen the audience for craft beer growing as well, beside all of these brands,” she says. "It’s all happening hand in hand, which is great momentum. Timing is part of business, and all of these things started to align, which is awesome.”

It’s been a unique period for business over the past 18 months, but with Red Stockholm’s experience in the digital world, she says it’s been challenging and hard on a lot of people, but the transformation that a lot of businesses have had to undertake has been important and rewarding.

“As much as it’s been stressful, and presenting challenges, there’s also been some pretty cool innovation and opportunity from this time,” she says. “Shaking up business models, creating different ways for breweries to stand out, being accessible to the audience and making things as easy as possible; moving stores online, [and] coming up with different ways to engage the community.

Outside of Red Stockholm, her husband is also involved directly in the beer industry, launching a nomadic brewery, 27 South Brewing last year. Maybe we'll see them in the awards in the coming years too.

Nominations for this years’ True Indie Supporter award, as well as our other Peer Nominated Awards, are open now. It’s your chance to nominate a person or organisation that is going above and beyond to help our industry and communities. Click here for all the details. Nominations close August 30.