Coopers Brewery


By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work (Genesis 2:2)…And He had a cold refreshing Cooper’s, said “it’s a thing of beauty, like an angel dancing on ya tongue”, then created the television, watched a little footy and asked Mrs God for another while she was up. (Barefoot Drinker 1.1)

It should come as no surprise to those that read this column that I’m a fan, nay, a big BIG fan, of the beer that rolls out of the Cooper’s Brewery…well at least most of the stuff that rolls off their production line.

Cooper’s used to be laughed at for concentrating on ale, in particular cloudy ales. But the brewery has had the last laugh. It has broken out of its heartland of South Australia and is enjoying growing national sales. And I love the fact that they have resisted the lure of selling out to the big boys remaining family owned. In fact when brewing giant Lion Nathan, owner of Castlemaine, attempted to buy Cooper’s in 2005, 94.6 per cent of the 117 shareholders, mainly family members, turned down an offer worth $450 million. I guess you could say that they politely told Lion Nathan they couldn’t give a XXXX for its offer!

The Coopers Brewery has been around since 1862 when Thomas Cooper left his jobs as a dairyman and a cobbler and entered into a career of brewing. His first brew was from a family recipe, made for his ailing wife.  Not only was his wife cured, but friends of the family raved about Thomas’ beer and told him he should open a brewery.

When Thomas died his four sons took over running the brewery, and each successive generation has continued the tradition of crafting fine ales and stout. Today, just on 150 years later the brewery is still kicking on strong. Much has changed in that time, they no longer brew in wooden barrels for example, but the Coopers name remains synonymous with quality beers.

Beers that have won awards not just at home but around the world.  In Australia, Peter Lalor has had at least two of the Cooper’s range in his top 20 for the last few years.  Roger Protz, one of the world’s leading beer writers and tasters, rates the Coopers from excellent to sublime. As a company they are recognised as well, being named the world’s top family business of 2011 by London-based international family business magazine CampdenFB. Coopers beat international heavyweight businesses including Ford Motor, Estee Lauder and Lego Group to win the award.

For most of its life, the brewery was based in the Leabrook district of Adelaide but in 2001, Cooper’s moved to a new site at Regency Park. Leabrook could produce 700,000 hectolitres a year while Regency Park has a potential capacity of 250 million hectolitres.

So this Australia Day, while you’re throwing the snags and lamb chops on the barbie, make sure that the beer you’re washing it down with is Aussie too and grab a Coopers.

A portion of their range:

Coopers Pale Ale: – I like it…a lot. There is a fruity aroma; on the tongue it’s creamy and soft, yet  dry with a crisp bitterness. You should roll or tip the bottle to stir through the sediment, caused by the secondary fermentation in the bottle.

Coopers Sparkling Ale – The aromas are fantastic, a little cinnamon, hops and fruity notes. On the palate it is medium-bodied and smooth. A classy beer with bitter hoppiness and quite fruity and herbal flavours.

Cooper’s Best Extra Stout – brewed with specially roasted black malt and Coopers yeast. Deep black in colour, with a thick head. Slowly releases aromas of malt and chocolate. On the tongue it’s full and rich, thick with chocolate and toasty flavours and a touch of liquorice. This is a great stout.

Cooper’s Clear – a low carb beer…’nuff said. Some like it, I don’t.

Cooper’s Mild Ale – created as a low alcohol version of the Pale Ale. There’s a nice bit of yeast character, with a touch of banana aroma, light on the palate, medium-bodied, and has a creamy flavour with a pleasant hop bitterness in the finish. Inoffensive, but not even close to the real thing.

Cooper’s Extra Strong Vintage Ale – if money were no objection this would be my daily drink, aromas of citrus and floral notes, it’s very smooth in the mouth and lingers for a long time, making you want to pick up that glass and have more…and more and more. At 7.5% alcohol (that’s 2.2 standard drinks per stubby) it’s not only the heaviest beer produced by Coopers, but also one of the heaviest in the world. It cellars incredibly well too, I’m just finishing off the 2006 vintage now.

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