The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

Lion Breweries celebrates 100 years

Lion New Zealand is celebrating its 100-year anniversary.

Established in 1923 under the name of New Zealand Breweries, Lion Breweries officially took on its current name in 1977, and today Lion operates across New Zealand, Australia and U.S.A, with the New Zealand business operating as a subsidiary of Lion.

Lion made the decision to delay its 100-year celebrations to 2024 as it completed a supply chain transformation project in the latter half of 2023.

To mark the milestone, Lion has brewed a limited edition not-for-sale pale ale (a classic style of the 1920s). Settlers Ale has toasty caramel notes which blend nicely with light citrus hop character to make an easy-drinking pale ale.

Lion Brewery Khyber Pass

“Lion is one the original Kiwi success stories and the company as we know it today began with 10 of the nation’s largest breweries coming together to form New Zealand Breweries in 1923,” says Lion New Zealand’s Managing Director, Craig Baldie.

“Through the amalgamation, shares were made available to the public, and Kiwis had the opportunity to invest in the success of the brewing industry.

“There was a movement around the time that wanted to make beer illegal, and the investment opportunity proved that most Kiwis didn’t in fact support prohibition.”

Orchestrated by Sir Alfred Bankhart, of Campbell & Ehrenfried, the proposal brought together breweries in Christchurch, Dunedin, Port Chalmers, Wellington, Gisborne and Auckland, including the original ‘Lion’ and Captain Cook breweries on Khyber Pass Road, and Speight’s, which is the only brewery of the original ten still operating.

“The story of Lion is one of visionary leadership and continuous evolution,” says Baldie.

“Former CEO Sir Douglas Myers put Lion on the international map in the ‘80s with the extraordinarily bold acquisition of Bond Brewing in Australia, which was around 10 times the size of Lion in New Zealand.

“Lion is now headquartered in Australia, includes New Belgium, the second largest craft brewer in the United States, a premium fine wine business in North America and has shareholdings in several craft adult beverage companies.”

In New Zealand, Lion includes breweries in Auckland, Dunedin and Upper Hutt, a winery, two coffee roasteries, and a number of hospitality venues.

“We make many of New Zealand’s most loved beer, wine and spirits brands, including New Zealand’s number one selling beer brand, Speight’s – one in every six beers consumed in New Zealand is Speight’s,” says Baldie.

What stands out for me is Lion’s enduring focus on great brands and people. One hundred years on, the bold and entrepreneurial mindset we were founded on, endures in our culture and the way we do business today.”

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