The largest Australian-owned brewer, Coopers, has opened a $65 million malting plant at its Regency Park brewery in Adelaide, a move which will help to underpin the family-owned company’s long-term future.

The 13,000sqm plant was officially opened today by His Excellency, the Honourable Hieu Van Le AC, Governor of South Australia.

The project represents the largest single investment in Coopers’ 155 year history, eclipsing the $40 million cost of the Regency Park brewery in 2001. The maltings is entirely self-funded and will create an additional eight jobs.

Coopers Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper, said that at full capacity, the maltings would produce around 54,000 tonnes of malt a year and give Coopers full control over an important raw material.

Coopers will use approximately 17,000 tonnes of the 54,000 tonnes of malt a year in its operations, with the balance sold to a range of domestic and export customers. This includes independent brewers looking for reliable malt supplies.

Malt is a key ingredient in the production of beer and extracts of malt are widely used by food manufacturers. It is produced by germinating and processing barley, enabling specific sugars and enzymes to be accessed.

“South Australian farmers are recognised as producing some of the best malting barley in the world and we will be looking to establish strong relationships with them into the future,” Dr Cooper said.

Dr Cooper said particular care and attention had been given to the aesthetics of the building, which was constructed by South Australian building firm Ahrens Group, while the malting equipment had been sourced from the world’s leading malting and milling technology provider, Buhler, headquartered in Switzerland.

“Some of the innovations we have incorporated include full stainless-steel construction, enclosed conveyors, together with advanced process control and monitoring,” he said.

“In terms of water usage, process control and automation, this is the most advanced maltings in the world.”

Dr Cooper said the water used in production came from saline aquifers beneath the brewery, which was desalinated on site. Power is mostly drawn from Coopers’ on-site cogeneration plant, which also provides recovered heat for the kiln.

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 AusBulk to help pay down debt incurred by Coopers’ move from its old Leabrook brewery to Regency Park.

“When we sold to AusBulk, it was with the intent of eventually getting back into that business,” Dr Cooper said.

The first beer brewed from malt from the new plant is expected to be in hotels and bottle shops before Christmas.

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