Kirin-owned Lion has announced it has signed an agreement with Brooklyn Brewery to take over the marketing, sales and distribution of Brooklyn Brewery beers in Australia.
The new agreement will commence on 17 December 2018 with Brooklyn Brewery stock will be available for trade to order through Lion from that date. Brooklyn Brewery beers will be distributed through Malt Shovel – Lion Beer Australia’s internal craft arm.
Little Creatures Geelong will brew Brooklyn Brewery Lager under licence and the broader range of Brooklyn Brewery beers will continue to be imported for distribution.
The move sees an end to the Coopers-owned Premium Beverages brewing and distribution agreement signed in June 2015. At the time that deal was signed Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway told Australian Brews News that Brooklyn and Coopers shared many similar values.
“Premium has over 100 people in the field throughout Australia focused on building brands through strong execution at all levels of sales and marketing,” he said at the time.
The move is not a great surprise following Kirin’s purchase of a 24.5 per cent stake in Brooklyn in October 2016. , Kirin owns Lion outright.
The size of the Kirin’s shareholding enabled Brooklyn to remain within the US Brewers Association definition of “independent” and be eligible to bear the Brewers Association seal, while giving it distribution and access in the “insular” Japanese market.
While regarded as a pioneering US craft brewery, Brooklyn has also been a pioneer of US breweries growing their business through export markets. Approximately half of Brooklyn’s volume is sold in export markets, which saw the business post growth of 8 per cent in 2017 while other large craft breweries struggled.
Brooklyn has been a regular visitor to Australia.
In a blog post announcing the deal with Kirin in 2016, Brooklyn said the Japanese brewer understood craft.
“It was clear to me that Kirin understood and respected craft beer and the way it could elevate all beer. They became a natural partner for us,” the post said.
The Brooklyn-based brewery has since had to deny industry suggestions that Kirin has a “path to control”.
“The beauty of the craft beer industry is in the many paths that have been chosen. We encourage every craft brewer to choose their own path, be transparent about it, and celebrate it, not disparage those of others,” the brewery has said.
Lion says the venture will build on the success of Brooklyn Brewery’s partnership with Premium Beverages in Australia
“Brooklyn Brewery is one of the world’s most iconic craft breweries and has played a fundamental
role in the growth of craft beer in the United States and across the globe,” Gordon Treanor, Lion’s General Manager of Craft said.
“We are excited to welcome Brooklyn Brewery into Lion’s craft portfolio. We see strong potential to
grow Brooklyn Brewery Lager and their full range of fantastic, flavoursome beers.”
Brooklyn Brewery President, Robin Ottaway said this was the next step for the business.
“We are thrilled to begin working with Lion and take the next step in Brooklyn Brewery’s evolution in Australia. They’ve got an outstanding track record over the last two decades of building successful craft brands. We are also very appreciative of the work that Coopers has done in successfully establishing the Brooklyn brand in Australia,” Robin said.
Coopers National Sales and Marketing Director, Mr Cam Pearce, said the move was logical.
“Japanese brewer Kirin took a 24.5% ownership stake in Brooklyn in 2016 and Kirin also has full
ownership of Lion in Australia, so it was a logical move for Brooklyn,” he said.
“The decision has now been made to move the production and distribution of Brooklyn in Australia
Mr Pearce said Coopers is regularly assessing international contract brewing opportunities .
Brooklyn’s highly popular Australian brand ambassador, Miro Bellini, has followed the brand to Lion. Bellini was the brand’s ambassador through its early distribution arrangement with Palais Imports and followed the brand to Coopers’ Premium Beverages distribution arm.