Lion announces closure of historic Malt Shovel Brewery

June 13, 2024
By Cody Profaca

Lion has announced the closure of its Malt Shovel Brewery after more than 30 years of operation. 

The Sydney based brewery, which has been responsible for producing beers such as Little Creatures, James Squire, and New Belgium, will close its doors at the end of August. Following this, production will be moved to Fermentum breweries in Northern Rivers NSW and Little Creatures Breweries in Geelong and Fremantle, Victoria. 

“This week we’ve informed our valued team members at Malt Shovel Brewery of the difficult decision we have taken – which is that we are proposing to close the site at the end of August 2024,” said James Brindley, who re-assumed his position as a co-Managing Director of Lion in April this year.

“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.”

The closure of Malt Shovel, a brewery that Brindley describes as having “played a pivotal role in pioneering the craft beer movement in Australia,” is reflective of broader industry trends that have seen more than 12 breweries enter into voluntary administration over the past 18 months and at least three brewing companies close their doors for good

The news also follows Asahi Beverages’ recently announced closure of the Matilda Bay brewpub less than five years after the brand was revived.

Similar to Matilda Bay, Lion’s Malt Shovel carries with it similar historical value having first been established by Chuck Hahn in 1988. It was then purchased by Lion five years later in 1993. According to Brindley, “it is now best known for the James Squire range, but was also the birthplace of Hahn.”

Whilst there has been an overarching trend of craft beer businesses suffering in the current market, there have also been some notable recent entrants to the sector looking to capitalise on a disrupted market. This includes Chuck Hahn himself launching Chuck & Son’s Brewing Company in partnership with his son Scott Hahn

Upon launching the new venture in May, Chuck Hahn said “there are many great craft beers out there, and brewers I’m really impressed by. With this brewery, we’re adding to and complementing that space with only the best. The beers I’ve spent more than 50 years perfecting. They’re refined, they’re sessionable, they’re my proudest work so far.”

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