Malt Shovel Brewery, which was first established by Chuck Hahn, is the latest brewery to succumb to declining beer consumption with owner, Lion, saying it has made the “difficult decision” to close the brewery.

Lion said it has informed the Malt Shovel team members of the decision, and that the site will close at the end of August 2024. Lion said it is now working with those team members to find other employment opportunities within the business, but if no alternative roles are available, redundancy, outplacement support and access to Lion’s Personal Support Program will be provided.

Lion Australia Managing Director, James Brindley, said: “It’s been a tough time for all players in the Australian beer industry, with overall volumes declining by 100 million litres since 2019, continuing a long-term decline in consumption of beer. 

“There have also been ongoing cost of living pressures reducing discretionary spending, and continuing increases in costs like energy, labour and ingredients, as well as Government excise, which is now the third-highest in the world.”

Chuck Hahn established the Malt Shovel Brewery in 1988, and then in 1993 it was bought by Lion, with Chuck staying on as Chief Brewer.

Allison Macdonald, the current Malt Shovel Head Brewer, expressed her sadness at the closure, but also said she was proud of the brewery’s legacy.

“As Head Brewer I’ve always viewed myself as the current custodian of Malt Shovel, and while I’m incredibly sad that it is proposed to be closed, the brewery has had an incredible history and lineage of beers and brewers throughout the years which I’ve been proud to have been part of,” she said. 

“A unique practice we’ve maintained at Malt Shovel is an Honour Roll of all the brewers who have worked here from the beginning. Our brewers have always been front and centre of this brewery.

“Chuck Hahn was brewer #1, I’m privileged to have been #59 and in total we’ve had some 65 brewers who have worked here – many of whom have gone on to do wonderful things both in Lion and the wider industry.

“It’s a huge legacy that myself and the team are proud to have been part of.”

Brindley added: “It has played a pivotal role in pioneering the craft beer movement in Australia – introducing Australian consumers to a diverse range of beer styles, including pale ales, porters and stouts. 

“It is now best known for the James Squire range, but was also the birthplace of Hahn.”

Malt Shovel is currently producing a range of James Squire, Eumundi, New Belgium and Little Creatures products which will be transferred to other sites in Lion’s network.

Brindley said: “Lion has a diverse network of breweries, including our Fermentum breweries in the Northern Rivers, and Little Creatures Breweries in Geelong and Fremantle, which will remain our craft centres of excellence into the future.” 

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