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Sydney’s Lord Nelson Brewery hits the market

Sydney’s oldest continually licensed hotel, and home of Australia’s oldest pub brewery, is up for sale for the first time in 35 years with the Lord Nelson’s managing director Blair Hayden saying the owners don’t have the energy or the resources to take the business to the next level.

After fielding numerous unsolicited approaches to buy the business since he purchased the hotel with other investors in 1986, Hayden said the decision was made to divest the asset and brand as there was strength in hotel sales currently while investors were looking to buy and grow craft beer brands.

“We truly love this pub, however, after 35 years, we simply don’t have the energy or the resources to take the business to the next level, but we have no doubt that someone will,” Mr Hayden said.

JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group has been appointed to sell the hotel and the beer brand that’s known for its British-style ales, including Three Sheets Pale Ale and Old Admiral Old Ale.

The hotel features a basement cellar containing a fully functional brewery, ground floor public bar with brewery viewing area and original floors and fittings, outdoor footpath seating, first floor fine-dining restaurant and commercial kitchen and two floors of accommodation with manager’s offices.

The campaign will be managed by JLL vice president Kate MacDonald and managing director John Musca.

Mr Musca said: “The recent sale of the Stone & Wood to Lion following the acquisition of Balter by Carlton United Breweries has highlighted the growing global interest in craft brewing representing an estimated six per cent of the total beer market in Australia and growing. The escalation of M&A activity in the craft brewing asset class has seen some astonishing current investment in beer makers highlighting the value attributed to distribution and brand equity in what represents a relatively fragmented market opportunity. Having that underpinned by a very special brick and mortar hotel property in a historical context is a very special offering indeed.”

National and international expressions of interest will be sought, with bids closing Tuesday 7 December 2021.

About the Lord Nelson

Built in 1836, the Lord Nelson was originally a private residence owned by raconteur turned publican William Wells. He operated a pub in the building opposite under the name the Sailors Return, later The Quarrymans Arms, which he sold in 1841 before obtaining a liquor licence for his residence and renovating it in May of that year. At which point he gave it the name by which it still is known today; The Lord Nelson Hotel. Which means the hotel has been continually serving beers for 180 years.

Thirty five years ago this year, the current custodians, including Blair Hayden, purchased the pub and looked to restore it to its colonial glory with the aid of an 1852 photograph, revealing a stunning sandstone façade complete with convict made marks on the locally quarried stone.

In keeping with the ambience of the architecture and some real ale inspiration, Blair brought back from his time in the London meat trade, the custodians were inspired to create beers in the style of British ales – natural with no added sugar and extremely full flavoured – instead of the lagers dominating the market at the time.

A microbrewery was built in the back area of the bar and cellar and pretty soon the flagship Three Sheets was on pour before a number of ales, all named for The Lord Nelson himself, and included Old Admiral, Victory Bitter, Nelson’s Blood, Fleet Wheat (later renamed Quayle Ale when the then Vice President of the United States walked into a busy Sydney pub on his whistle stop tour of Australia) and their latest core range release, Smooth Sailing.

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