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    The little-known story of Australia’s last-standing independent brewery

    Why you should consider cracking a Coopers this arvo: How all of Australia’s big beer brands are now Japanese owned – with the family-owned brewer the only Aussie survivor

    • Coopers, based in Adelaide, is the last major Australian-owned brewer left 
    • Based in Adelaide, Coopers has been in the same family for six generations
    • Carlton and United Brewies (CUB) is being sold to a Japan-based company
    • CUB owns many iconic Australian brands such as Victoria Bitter and Carlton 
    • Lion Australia, which owns brands such as XXXX, is owned Japan-based Kirin

    With two of Australia’s biggest breweries selling to giant Japanese-controlled companies, only one large independent brewer has been left standing. 

    Coopers, based in Adelaide, is the last major Australian-owned brewer left in country. 

    The brewery, which has been in the Cooper family for six generations, has had to fight off takeover attempts and battle against major players with far deeper pockets. 

    Tim Cooper, managing director and chief brewer at Coopers, told Daily Mail Australia they were determined to remain independent no matter what.

    ‘We may be only a small percentage of the Australian market but we are Australian owned and that profit stays here,’ Dr Cooper said. 

    ‘Many Australians take satisfaction in Coopers being Australian owned.’

    Coopers, based in Adelaide, is the last major Australian-owned brewer left in country (Pictured: Two young women enjoy Cooper XPA)

    Carlton is under the CUB umbrella, which is in the process of being taken over by Japanese company Asahi

    Carlton is under the CUB umbrella, which is in the process of being taken over by Japanese company Asahi

    Carlton and United Brewies (CUB), which includes Aussie favourite VB, is in the process of being taken over by Japanese company Asahi.

    It has been owned by Belgium company AB InBev since 2016. 

    Asahi Group is the largest brewer in Japan, and one of biggest in the world, owning brands such as Italy’s Peroni, Spain’s Estrella Damm and Australia’s Mountain Goat. 

    Rival Lion, which owns brands such as XXXX, Tooheys and Hahn, is owned by Kirin Brewery Company, which is also based in Japan.

    Dr Cooper said that while the average Australian might not know who owns what brewery, those that do are proud Coopers drinkers. 

    And while it might not be easy competing against such large conglomerates, Dr Cooper said they were determined to succeed and ensure their beer remained on the shelves.

    Competition within the industry – in both pubs and in bottle shops – is robust, Dr Cooper said.

    Rival Lion, which owns brands such as XXXX, Tooheys and Hahn, is owned by Kirin Brewery Company, which is also based in Japan

    Coopers has been in the same family for six generations, and managing director Tim Cooper says they plan to keep it that way

    Coopers has been in the same family for six generations, and managing director Tim Cooper says they plan to keep it that way

    He said the biggest struggle is getting beers on taps at pubs, because the major breweries often sign long-term agreements with publicans. 

    Coopers came under pressure in 2005 to sell to Lion. 

    The aggressive takeover attempt saw Lion try to buy shares for $260 per share – a 478 per cent increase from a buyback conducted by Coopers of $45.01 per share in 2003.

    What are CUB’s beer and cider brands: 

    CUB’s beer brands include Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Fat Yak, Crown Lager, Foster’s and Balter. CUB also licences and distributes a range of other beer brands including Corona, Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser. 

    CUB’s cider range includes Strongbow, Mercury, Bonamy’s, Little Green, Spring Cider Co., Dirty Granny and Pure Blonde Cider. CUB also manufactures and distributes Bulmers under licence from Heineken. 

     

    And while shareholders were shocked by the offer, the majority ultimately voted against it. 

    Removing the beverage giant’s share-owning rights in December 2005. 

    A spokesman for CUB told Daily Mail Australia joining AB InBev gave them access to some of the best beer knowledge in the world.

    ‘This means drawing upon world-leading technical know-how from the global industry to continually improve the quality of our beer. They’ve also laid the foundations for our ambitious sustainability agenda, which includes our commitment to brew all our beer using 100 per cent offset solar electricity – which we’re well on the way to achieving.

    ‘We continue to employ more than 1,700 people in Australia and we’re incredibly proud of our 180-year history, with our brands having a unique cultural relevance.’  

    A Lion spokeswoman said the company is a pioneer in brewing and continues to innovate across a range of adult beverages.

    ‘Lion is proud to have been involved in the founding of many of Australia’s most-loved craft beer brands – such as Little Creatures, James Squire, Kosciuszko and Furphy. We’ve always believed in founding and nurturing our own craft brands with a focus on exceptional brewing credentials and craftsmanship.’

    A spokesman for CUB told Daily Mail Australia joining AB InBev gave them access to some of the best beer knowledge in the world (pictured: A general view of the Carlton Brewhouse at the Carlton and United Breweries in Melbourne)

    A spokesman for CUB told Daily Mail Australia joining AB InBev gave them access to some of the best beer knowledge in the world (pictured: A general view of the Carlton Brewhouse at the Carlton and United Breweries in Melbourne)

    Pictured: The Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, maker of XXXX Beer in Brisbane

    Pictured: The Castlemaine Perkins Brewery, maker of XXXX Beer in Brisbane

     

     

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