South Australian Brewing Company

Established in 1888, the South Australian Brewing Company became the state’s dominant beer-maker by steadily acquiring competitors like the Kent Town Brewery, West End Brewery and the Walkerville Co-operative Brewing Company (renamed the Southwark Brewery in 1949). At least, some of these names have survived as beer brands, while many other acquisitions have been lost to history. Companies like the Broken Hill Brewery, Kapunda Brewery, Clare Brewery, Malony’s Brewery, Oakbank Brewery, Hindmarsh Brewery and Lion Brewery were swallowed up and have disappeared, like so many ‘butchers’ of West End Draught on a baking hot Friday evening in Adelaide. In 1962, SAB bought a 25 per cent share in Coopers, supposedly as a mutually satisfactory arrangement to block a potential buyout of either company; Coopers, in turn, had a family member sit on SAB’s board of directors. By the mid- 1980s they were the only two surviving breweries in the state, though at the time few could have predicted the reversal in market fortunes that each has enjoyed in recent years. In 1993, SAB was acquired by the New Zealand– based Lion Nathan group, following their acquisition of the former Bond Brewing empire (Swan, Tooheys and Castlemaine Perkins breweries), which gave them a leading presence in four different capital city markets and beyond. To leverage the buyout, Lion Nathan sold off its substantial portfolio of hotels owned by SAB and, in doing so, allowed rival Coopers Pale Ale a significant tap presence around Adelaide and across the state. Now owned totally by Lion, it offers a wide range of imported beers as well as local favorites West End and Southwark.

House Style

Fairly pedestrian mainstream lagers are counter-balanced by the magnificent Southwark Old Stout, a true imperial stout and one of the country’s best.

Signature Beer

Southwark Old Stout

Behind the Label

Launched in 1967, Southwark Premium was rather ahead of its time and anticipated the rise of domestic premium lager brands such as Cascade Premium Lager (1986), Hahn Premium Lager (1988), James Boag’s Premium Lager (1993) and Bluetongue Premium Lager (2004). Along with numerous other ‘premium’ wannabes, they jostle for market share in the category that Crown Lager pretty much had to itself. When I first encountered it in the 1980s, Southwark Premium was a boldly hoppy and malty brew but it has since morphed – under the Lion Nathan stewardship – into a similar flavour profile to its premium lager peers.

Contact Information

107 Port Road, Thebarton 5031 Tours available

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