An expansion of the Coopers operation in Adelaide could be a boost for WA’s craft breweries.
The constructions of a new maltings plant at the Coopers’ beer making factory is almost complete and could be operational later in the year.
While the plant will supply Coopers with a key ingredient for each beer its volume means not all the malt will be used up by the SA brewery.
Indeed, Coopers plans to sell its malt and that might help some WA beer makers maintain a supply of particular grains they like to use in their beverages.
A leading WA brewery lamented to The Sip last week that local barley growers were shying away from strains that were conducive to his beers and he would be forced to source products from elsewhere - if at all.
Coopers’ 16,000 sq m malting plant will also mean the 2017 Vintage Ale unveiled this month becomes particularly poignant in any collectors' cellar.
This year’s annual release will be the last made without Coopers’ own malt.
The plant at Regency Park will comprise a series of germination vats, grain silos and storage vessels connected to the brewery by an overhead gallery. It will be the most technically advanced malting plant in the world.
It will produce about 54,000 tonnes of malt per year. Coopers expect to use around 17,000 tonnes with the rest likely to be sold to a range of domestic and export markets, including the craft brewing sector.
But it doesn’t come cheap. The project is costing about $60 million. To put that into perspective the new brewery next door cost $40 million in 2001.
Once completed, Coopers will look to establish strong relationships with South Australian barley farmers, who produce some of the best malting barley in the world.
The main barley varieties expected to be used are Commander and Compass. However, other varieties that also suit WA brewers could be used.
The plant is being built by Coopers to underpin its long-term future. It is entirely self-funded and does not rely on Federal or State Government assistance.
The new plant marks a return to the maltings business for Coopers.
Between 1988 and 2002, Coopers was a majority shareholder of Adelaide Maltings until it was sold to help fund Coopers’ move from Leabrook to Regency Park.
The plant construction was inspected last month by renowned beer scientist Charlie Bamforth, who was very complimentary of the Coopers' operation.