Coopers Brewery will mark its 160th year with the construction of a whisky distillery, visitor centre and microbrewery at its Regency Park home.

Once completed, this expansion will take total spend on the Coopers Regency Park site to nearly $400m since 1999.

The expansion will contain a new restaurant and bar, an outdoor plaza for dining, a tasting room, an interactive history display and (alongside the microbrewery and distillery) underground maturation facilities for Coopers’ whisky. Construction is slated to begin in mid-2022, dependant on planning approvals.

This investment will also allow the historic brand to open new markets, by entering into the whisky industry, and creating more craft-style beer expressions to accompany the standard Coopers range.

Dr Tim Cooper, Coopers Managing Director, said the investment will showcase the brand’s unique history as Australia’s largest independent and family-owned brewer.

“This is an ambitious project which will showcase Australian beer to the world. 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,” Dr Cooper said.

“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.”

“This new visitor centre is about celebrating our history and our originality, with an emphasis on what makes Coopers different. 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,” Dr Cooper added.

Andrew and Louise Cooper, cousins in the sixth generation of the Cooper family, have played their part in the design and planning of the new visitor centre, which will include dedicated hospitality and industry areas.

Andrew Cooper, Coopers’ Export Manager, believes the new centre will help the brewery attract its drinkers from across the planet.

“Coopers beer is enjoyed by drinkers all over the world,” Andrew said.

“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.”

The new microbrewery will have a capacity of 3,200 litres and, alongside creating craft-style beers to supplement Coopers’ existing offering, will provide ales and lagers for the visitor centre.

The microbrewery will also provide ‘wash’ (the base beer used in the production of whisky) for the new whisky distillery’s 9,600 litre wash still. This still is joined by a 5,500 litre spirit still, and the initial aim is to create 200,000 bottles-worth of spirit a year.

Dr Tim Cooper explained that the expansion into whisky had been on the cards for a while.

“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.”

Of course, as Australian whisky is legally required to mature for a minimum of two years, eager whisky fans will have to be a little patient before trying Coopers drams.

Louise Cooper, the company’s Strategy Development Manager, is hopeful that the brewery can welcome its first visitors to the new centre by Christmas 2023. She also believes the centre will appeal to visitors beyond Coopers traditional market of beer lovers.

“The visitor centre will offer a welcoming atmosphere for the whole family,” Louise Cooper said.

“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.”

This announcement marks the second major investment by Coopers in the last few months, with the brewery declaring its plans for a $15m warehousing expansion in November 2021. In 2017, Coopers added a $68m malting planting at the Regency Park site, which now provides malt to breweries around the world.

Coopers has recently celebrated its 160th birthday with the release of a limited-edition Regency Park Red Ale.

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