Australia’s premier wine region is set to become the brewing home of iconic Irish brands, Guinness stout and Kilkenny ale.
Brewery giant Lion has brought production of the famous labels to the West End brewery in the Adelaide suburb of Thebarton, after winning the license to distribute, sell and market Guinness Draught, Kilkenny Draught, and Extra Stout, in Australia.
The new agreement extends Diageo’s partnership with Japanese conglomerate Kirin, Lion’s parent company, in the Asia-Pacific region.
Lion’s Managing Director, James Brindley, told the Irish Echo that the latest acquisition will strengthen their portfolio.
“I think it will have an excellent impact. Both Guinness and Kilkenny are much loved by many people, and one thing I’ve learned is that almost everybody likes them – it’s just they don’t really talk about them that much.
“Because they are such unique beers, they don’t overlap with anything in our portfolio already, so we feel very lucky to be able to look after Guinness and Kilkenny.”
The new agreement serves as a blow to Lion’s rivals, Fosters, who finished its license deal with the owner of Guinness, Diageo, on October 31.
The move marks the fifth and sixth imported beer brands to leave Foster’s portfolio, since the $12.3bn takeover by SABMiller.
Lion now controls 47.5 per cent of the Australian beer market, following its acquisition of former Foster’s brands, Stella Artois and Corona.
Mr Brindley says that Lion intends to rejuvenate the Irish brands, which he says have declined over the last 10 years.
When Fosters had the contract, they were only permitted to manufacture the brew, with Diageo responsible for marketing and distribution.
“We’re going to make it, sell it, distribute it and market it, whereas before, it was split between the two. I think the extra focus should help it grow,” he explains.
He adds that the high quality brew on offer should entice customers to drink more Guinness and Kilkenny.
“I’ve got an Irish friend that says no Guinness brewed outside Ireland is as good as it is in Ireland. That’s okay – hopefully, we’ll have the second best. It has been approved and tested by the experts in Ireland. Informal taste tests amongst Diageo staff scored pretty well also,” he says.
“The feedback we have got is that we have some of the highest scores ever achieved outside of Dublin.”
Production of Guinness and Kilkenny commenced on November 1, but Mr Brindley says that it may take a few weeks for the previous manufacturers product to leave the system.
He says that the new South Australian brewed Guinness and Kilkenny should be available across Australia by mid-December.