Coopers Brewery reflects on incredible legacy after 160 year celebration

In May 1862, 10 years after arriving in South Australia from Plymouth with his young family, stonemason Thomas Cooper recorded his first brew.

After the celebration of Coopers Brewery’s 160th anniversary, the SA icon reflects on the journey that eventuated into what you see today.

In May 1862, 10 years after arriving in South Australia from Plymouth with his young family, stonemason Thomas Cooper recorded his first brew.

He named it ‘A’ and listed its ingredients as 4 bushels of English malt and 8 pounds of Kent hops in 46 gallons of water.

Originally intended to be a tonic for his ailing wife Ann, once the neighbours got a taste of the ale, word got around and the requests came flooding in.

Thomas Cooper’s reputation was forged for brewing ales of high quality, a tradition that has been nurtured ever since.

Now 160 years on, Coopers Brewery is Australia’s largest independent family-owned brewery, with beer sales of around 80 million litres per year.

Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper, a fifth-generation descendant of Thomas Cooper, said the brewery had come a long way from its humble beginnings.

“We now have sixth-generation members in the company and our intent is for the brewery to remain firmly in the hands of the family,” Dr Cooper said.

“Coopers Brewery has survived world wars, recessions and takeover offers. We’ve come through all the ups and downs by embracing our origins and our craft.

“We’re immensely proud to have remained an Australian owned and operated brewery.

“Brewing for 160 years is a significant milestone. Our survival has also been underpinned by our ability to diversify along the way, with production of malt and malt extracts. The key to growth is continuing to evolve our markets and our products.”

In April Coopers announced plans to invest $50 million in the construction of a new world-class visitor centre, microbrewery and whisky distillery at its Regency Park site.

This exciting expansion will embody the past, present and future of Coopers with domestic and international tourists front of mind.

The visitors centre will include:

• Restaurant and bar
• Outdoor plaza dining
• Dedicated tasting room
• Interactive history display
• Microbrewery
• Whisky distillery
• Underground stillage for whisky maturation

To mark its 160th year, Coopers has also released a unique Australian style Red Ale. Called Regency Park Red Ale, it is a new limited-edition release brewed using the finest ingredients and Coopers’ traditional ale techniques.

“We look forward to continuing the family tradition of brewing great Australian beer while also introducing malt whisky into our portfolio with the new distillery planned at Regency Park,” Dr Cooper said.

Key milestones along the 160-year journey:

• 1862 Thomas Cooper records his first brew
• 1881 Brewery at Leabrook is opened
• 1897 The partnership of Thomas Cooper & Sons is formed
• 1923 Coopers becomes an incorporated body
• 1968 Coopers’ first lager is made available for sale
• 1982 Coopers begins exporting DIY beer kits
• 2001 Coopers moves from Leabrook to its current site at Regency Park
• 2005 Coopers successfully fights off a hostile takeover bid from Lion Nathan
• 2017 A new $68 million malting plant is built on site at Regency Park
• 2022 Plans for a $50 million expansion announced including a new visitor centre,
microbrewery and whisky distillery

There is no doubt that Coopers Brewery has cemented itself as drink royalty. To follow the brand on its continued journey, visit the Coopers Brewery website.

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