Flat out like a lizard drinking — Bluetongue fires up its kettles

Last week at Warnervale on the NSW central coast, Dermot O’Donnell and his crew commenced brewing at Bluetongue’s new $120 million facility. Tomorrow they’ll officially launch the first beer off the production line, Bluetongue Premium Lager, in a ceremony at the brewery.

Originally a Hunter-based boutique operation, Bluetongue now has the capacity to brew 50 million litres a year, expanding to 100 million litres a year over time. By my estimate that’s equivalent to eight and a half 330ml bottles for every person aged 15 years or over, heading towards 17 bottles

While current capacity represents perhaps one fortieth of Australian per capita beer consumption, the new facility gives the owners, Pacific Beverages (a joint venture between Coca Cola Amatil and SAB Miller), the platform to increase their estimated 10 per cent share of the fast-growing premium beer market and boost profits by brewing SAB Miller’s international brands, including Peroni and Grolsch, locally.

The new facility, combined with Coca Cola Amatil’s distribution, puts Pacific Beverages in a unique position to exploit fast-changing beer tastes. James Tait, corporate affairs director at rival Lion Nathan, recently said that the average Australian drinker now enjoys about seven beer brands on a regular basis – compared to three brands ten years ago.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2010

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