Coopers Brewery joins the whisky business

Coopers Brewery has announced it will invest $50 million in the construction of a new world-class visitor centre at its Regency Park site, featuring a microbrewery and whisky distillery.

Coopers Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said it was opportune to be making the announcement in the 160th year of the sixth-generation family company, which brings total investment at Regency Park to nearly $400 million since 1999.

“This is an ambitious project which will showcase Australian beer to the world,” he said. “We’re very proud of our story over the past 160 years, arising from humble beginnings to prevail as an Australian-owned and operated brewery despite wars, recessions and takeover offers.”

The Coopers whisky distillery will comprise a 9600 L wash still and a 5500 L spirit still. ‘Wash’ for the wash still will be supplied by the microbrewery, with the initial objective of producing 200,000 bottles per year. However, consumers will need to wait some years before the first batch of Coopers whisky can be sampled.

“We have been thinking about malt whisky for some time as we see it as a natural extension to our on-site maltings and our experience in brewing and fermentation,” Dr Cooper said.

“Our goal is to achieve the highest possible level of spirit quality to match our reputation in brewing. Having our own maltings will allow us to tell the whole story from the barley grower to the whisky glass.”

Over the past two decades the whisky industry has grown steadily in Australia, benefiting from a consumer trends towards premium spirits. There are about 150 distilleries making whisky in Australia today. The 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition (SFWSC) featured 60 Australian whisky entrants with 46% receiving a gold medal or higher. 

Coopers to create exciting visitor experience

The unique curved design of the new two-storey Coopers development has been inspired by the iconic Coopers’ label rondel – the curved structures encompass a sloping amphitheatre which will showcase the brewery grounds and maltings.

A tree-lined promenade will extend from a new entry from Regency Road to bring visitors to the new facility which will be surrounded by extensive natural landscaping. A window-lined bridge will link the new development to the existing brewery building and will feature a 300m2 interactive history display.

“This new visitor centre is about celebrating our history and our originality, with an emphasis on what makes Coopers different,” Dr Cooper said. “We look forward to welcoming local, interstate and international visitors to our brewing home to hear about our past, to learn about the art and science of brewing and to taste our beers.

“Although we’ve been running brewery tours since 2006, this extensive development will augment and expand the guest experience, creating a lasting impression for new visitors and an ongoing connection for our loyal consumers with new tour and tasting experiences.”

A new 3200 L microbrewery will be prominently displayed and will allow the Coopers brewing team to develop more craft-style beers to supplement its current portfolio. The microbrewery will be used in the regular creation of new ales and lagers for the visitor centre.

Tim Cooper and Louise Cooper at Coopers Brewery, Regency Park, South Australia Photo: John Krüger

Sixth generation family members and cousins, Andrew Cooper and Louise Cooper, have been closely involved in the design and planning process of the new centre, which includes designated hospitality and industry areas.

“Coopers beer is enjoyed by drinkers all over the world,” said Andrew who is the brewery’s Export Manager.

“With this new visitor centre we aim to provide another compelling reason for tourists to come to South Australia and enjoy an authentic and immersive beer cellar door experience.”

Louise Cooper, the company’s Strategy Development Manager, said the proposed development was hoped to be completed in time to welcome its first visitors by Christmas next year.

“As well as appealing to beer aficionados, the visitor centre will offer a welcoming atmosphere for the whole family. Both the restaurant and the outdoor plaza will provide the perfect setting to enjoy a meal while taking in the view of the landscaped surrounds,” she said.

Construction is expected to begin around mid-2022 pending Council approval.

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