Some of the best ideas are born out of a need for positive change. That’s what drives the ladies behind Sparkke Change Beverage Company. The South Australia-based social activists produce booze with heart.
Kari Allen kicked things off, engaging acclaimed winemaker Rose Kentish, Sarah Lyons (Pernod Ricard Scholarship winemaker), and head brewer Agi Gajic (formerly brewer at Sydney’s Young Henrys) to make the good stuff. The brainstorming happens in a garage in St Peters and they are what they say on the tin. The aim is to disrupt a $4 billion-dollar-a-year, male-dominated beer industry and raise awareness about social issues while they do it.
“Kari and I started to get pretty excited when we started to unpack what millennials really want,” Rose says. “When you look at how a lot of beer is promoted, it’s tailored around men: the approach is generally what colour twin-cab ute they’ve got. There’s also the bearded, tattoo scene. Not that there’s anything wrong with that but there’s so much more of a conversation to be had.”
The ladies want to appeal to a diverse crowd: people who don’t fit into the typical blokey mould. “The world doesn’t look like the beer ads. It looks a lot different from that and we should be celebrating that.”
You can’t miss their handiwork. Good things come in ballsy packages and the messages on their cans of apple cider, pilsner, hard lemonade, alcoholic ginger beer, white wine, and bubbles pack a punch. Statements like: ‘Consent can’t come after you do’, ‘Change the date’, ‘Nipples are nipples’, ‘Boundless plains to share’, and ‘Say I do!’ support issues including sexual consent, asylum seekers, Australia Day, gender equality, and marriage equality. Ten percent of sales are given to organisations supporting the cause on the can. “We’re not waiting until we make a profit,” Rose says. “That might be four or five years away. We’re doing it right now. We’re trying to show [people] that by purchasing products you can actually vote with your pocket.”
A lot of thought and study goes into which causes to support. Next, their eye is on an environmental cause.
Blood, sweat, tears and a lot of time and experimentation went into the booze. Agi remembers days toiling over brews in the laundry at her former Sydney pad.
“We’re brewing and packaging beer at Willunga Brewery and we’re making the other products at McLaren Vintners,” she says. A small batch specialty brew was also made with Big Shed.
“It’s all premium, high quality, no preservatives, no concentrates, no sulphurs, no artificial flavours, all locally soured as much as possible.”
Ingredients like raw ginger and organic honey are sourced in Willunga. “There’s a lot of thought that goes into it. It’s very seasonal and when you start doing that you’re not going to be the cheapest on the market.”
The team works hard to compete with the big guys and find pubs and stockists who share their vision. “They’re starting to [get it] but we’re a disruptive company,” Rose says. “It’s disrupting the alcohol industry – when you think about 80-percent of the taps in Australia are locked into contracts with CUB and Lion. That’s what we’re challenging and that’s hard.”