THE latest cellar door to open in Port Macquarie is off to “quacking” start.
Since November, Black Duck Brewery has welcomed many visitors through its doors, with a particularly hectic day just before Christmas.
Owner Alistair Owen said 35 people sat around the rustic tables at one stage on December 21, nibbling on platters and sipping some of his seven boutique brews.
Many more flowed through the doors throughout the day.
Beer tasting is fast catching up to wine and small breweries such as the Acacia Avenue business offer intriguing flavours.
Where possible, Mr Owen sources locally grown hops to give beers a Hastings distinction.
Exporting to areas including Coffs Harbour and Newcastle keeps the business growing, particularly during off-peak tourist season, he said.
Several restaurants in Port Macquarie stock Black Duck beers, helping to support local produce.
“It’s all about finding opportunities to keep [the business] going,” Mr Owen said.
By March, Black Duck will introduce a new brew to try, which will be an imperial stout with seven per cent alcohol.
Currently, beers range from American pale ale to dark ales perfect for cooler months.
Refining the product to boost margins over the next few years is Mr Owen’s plan.
Last year’s federal budget eased pressure on boutique breweries such as Black Duck, lifting the excise rebate to small brewers from $10,000 to $30,000.
In May after the budget announcement, Lyne MP Rob Oakeshott said the move was a downpayment on comprehensive alcohol tax reform.
“[This] budget measure is cause for Aussie brewers to raise their glasses, but it is only a small start and reflects ongoing efforts to see the craft beer market in Australia develop to the next level,” Mr Oakeshott said.
The excise rebate was increased on July 1 to $30,000 and the eligibility threshold of 30,000 litres of beer was removed.
The changes allow breweries to receive an excise refund of 60 per cent of excise paid, up to $30,000 a year.
The Australian Association of Microbrewers [AAM] has campaigned for this to be lifted to $500,000 to match the tax rebate available to small winemakers.
While Mr Owen welcomed this change, he raised concern with the complicated process involved with claiming the rebate.
He said the mountains of paperwork and level of detail that needs to be supplied should be simplified.
Mr Owen supported AAM’s campaign to lift the rebate on par with winemakers.