If you’ve been to one of Adelaide’s boutique bottle shops lately – or you might have even spotted them at the events like Beer & BBQ Festival or The Fruitful Pursuit’s Wine Playground – it’s hard to miss that white can with a special message on the front. Sparkke Change Beverage Co is exactly what their name suggests, a boutique beverage brand that is looking to disrupt a four billion dollar a year industry that is male dominated and spark a change in the world.
After market research by co-founder Kari Allen into whether there was room for another craft brewing company in the Australian market, she found the ‘millenial’ population that was driving the growth in the beer industry wanted “authentic inclusive brands that share their values”. From this came the idea for Sparkke: a female run, South Australia-based company that represents diverse orientations, cultures and backgrounds, and champions different social causes on each of the product. Take for example, the ‘Consent Can’t Come After You Do’ Apple Cider which defines consent on the can and also serves up a crisp apple cider brewed by head brewer, Agi Gagic.
One of only three Australian female brewers under 30, Agi has been responsible for mastering Sparkke’s amazing alcoholic beverages. “My desire to brew professionally came from of a love of beer (obviously), wanting to work with my hands and create, a fascination with science and a realisation that I could marry my studies in sustainability with the practice of commercial brewing,” she says when we asked about how it all came about. After meeting Sparkke’s co-founders Kari and Rose [Kentish], the rest is history. Their team has grown from word of mouth and is very much rooted in the supportiveness of family, friends and a community that has a strong moral compass and all believe in what they’re doing.
The proof in the pudding is their recent Pozible campaign, a success that has allowed them to can their first sparkling wine – a concept which is still foreign in the Australian market but is seeing incredible growth around the world. “It has been challenging to shift the stigma that comes attached to canned wine, especially given that people can’t try it at the bottle shop or pub just yet,” Agi says. “We have a very small amount from our trial batch, the reaction to the quality of it has been astounding, and we currently have some of the country’s top wine writers getting ready to write positively about it”. Made by resident winemaker and Pernod Ricard Scholarship holder, Sarah Lyons, the can’s message is ‘Say I Do’ and was brewed in support of marriage equality – an apt subject for current times in Australia. As with the other beverages, it will see 10 per cent of proceeds from sales go back to the organisation the can supports: The Equality Campaign.
Other brews in the range created by Agi include a ginger beer – our personal favourite from the range, try it and thank us later – that says that there are ‘Boundless Plains To Share’ with asylum seekers, the pilsner that wants to ‘Change The Date’ of Australia Day and the ‘Nipples Are Nipples’ hard lemonade which advocates for gender equality. Each of these cans see 10 per cent of direct sales (and 4 per cent of channel sales) go back to organisations supporting the cause on the can.
On how they chose each social cause and how they make their message so clear, Agi says it is down to a group effort between the team and the community. “We listen to each other; we listen to our community and converse long and hard,” she explains. “We then do a lot of research and have position papers written up by subject experts in order to fully understand and respect the cause and to find out what aspect of the cause should be addressed on our can”.
As for what’s next on the Sparkke Change agenda? They’re looking at opening a physical brewery and urban winery. In the short term, they’ll be creating limited edition brews that will be keg only and they’ve recently added a new permanent brew to the line up. “We now have our ‘What’s Plan B’ New England Pale Ale which talks about climate change, and we’ll be supporting a pretty incredible organisation,” Agi says. The last few months have seen the girls hit the Australian beer and wine circuit with great success and there are also plans for Sparkke to take the world by storm. “We have big plans,” Agi says on a final note.