'We are now engaged in the Brewery business....'
So wrote Thomas Cooper to his brother John in England, after establishing his brewing business in the new colony of South Australia in 1862.
It was a bold announcement, having turned his back on a secure job as a stonemason. South Australia was only 26 years old and times were tough in the brewing industry with a number of large, highly competitive breweries already established. But Thomas Cooper was a born entrepreneur with barrels of energy, purpose and vision.
He discovered his talent as a brewer by accident when his wife asked him to brew up a batch of ale to be used as a tonic from an old family recipe. Word quickly spread and he soon found himself brewing the now world-famous Coopers Sparkling Ale and Extra Stout for a growing band of loyal customers. As his brewery flourished, Thomas delivered by horse and cart direct to the homes of his customers, a Coopers tradition which survived until the 1920's.
Thomas Cooper died in 1897 and left the business to his sons John, Christopher, Samuel and Stanley who continued the family tradition of brewing the highest quality product. By the turn of the century, even its competitors regarded Coopers Brewery Limited as a brewer of distinction and over the next couple of decades more and more hotels sold Coopers products.
Through the difficulties of the Great Depression of the 1930s and the turmoil of two world wars, successive generations of the Cooper family continued to brew fine ales, beers and stouts the natural, traditional way. In more recent times, the family has balanced tradition with innovation. By 1997 it was apparent that the brewing operations at Leabrook could no longer sustain further growth and so the Regency Park site was purchased. Dr Tim Cooper commenced 3 years of designing and supervising the building of a new state of the art brewery.
Regency Park became the new home of Coopers Brewery at the end of 2001. With an increased brewhouse capacity (two and a half times that of Leabrook), the new $45 million brewery now represents an intriguing fusion of modern innovation and Coopers' brewing tradition. Despite many changes, successive Cooper generations have never lost sight of Thomas Cooper's vision of providing value and quality. Coopers Brewery products are now marketed nationally and internationally, in a determined way that has ensured the Coopers brand is well known beyond its South Australian home.
Today Coopers is Australia's sole remaining family owned brewery of stature, so it's still an every day occurrence to meet a Cooper at Coopers Brewery. Dr Tim Cooper is the Managing Director of Coopers Brewery and still keeps a keen eye on the brewing. Mr Glenn Cooper is Executive Chairman and Marketing Director. Mr Bill Cooper remains on the Coopers board of directors, having retired from the position of Managing Director in February 2002. Maxwell Cooper retired from his chairman’s position at the same time. Melanie Cooper and Matthew Cooper also work at the Brewery in Financial and Sales positions. Many other family members also keep an eye on things from the boardroom.
So rest assured, Coopers Brewery is in the hands of those who have the same values as Thomas Cooper and believe in the product that Thomas himself began brewing all those years ago.