Australia: Iconic Malt Shovel Brewery to Close After Three Decades

Sydney's Malt Shovel Brewery, after more than three decades of operations, is set to close at the end of August. Beer giant Lion, the owner, cites rising production costs, cost-of-living pressures, and a shrinking beer market as the reasons for this decision. The brewery, known for producing James Squire, Eumundi, New Belgium, and Little Creatures beers, will transfer its production to other sites in northern New South Wales and Geelong, Victoria.

Lion's managing director, James Brindley, explained that the brewery's closure comes amidst a challenging period for the Australian beer industry. Since 2019, beer volumes have declined by 100 million litres, continuing a long-term trend of decreased consumption. Additionally, the industry faces cost pressures from energy, labor, ingredients, and government excise, which is now the third-highest globally.

Established by Chuck Hahn in 1988, Malt Shovel Brewery played a pivotal role in Australia's craft beer movement before being acquired by Lion in 1993. Despite its historic significance, the brewery’s closure reflects broader struggles within the beer market, affecting both large companies like Lion and smaller independent breweries facing financial difficulties.

Lion's proposal to shut down Malt Shovel follows similar actions by other companies, such as Asahi's closure of the Matilda Bay Brewpub in Victoria. Red Lion Brewery in Victoria and Wayward Brewing Company in Sydney have also felt the sting, with closures or significant layoffs. Melbourne's Hawkers Brewery, facing insolvency, awaits a critical hearing. (, 1.3.2024) The overall beer market in Australia has contracted by 6% over the past five years, highlighting the ongoing challenges within the industry.

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