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Sydney Pub Features

Featured Brewer : Cooper's's favourite brewer

Here at, we have a great fondness for Cooper's. Fully half the pubguide team, Jason, Trent and Viv, are regular Cooper's drinkers. We love the stuff. So what better beer to write up as our first featured beer?

Cooper's brewery was started in 1862, just 26 years after the establishment of South Australia, by Thomas Cooper, by trade a Stonemason. Within a very short time, his Sparkling Ale and Stout grew in fame.

In 1897, Thomas Cooper died, handing on his brewery to the next generation of the Cooper family, and so that tradition has continued, up until the present day, when the Cooper's name stands as the only remaining family-owned brewery in Australia. Since the old days, the Cooper family have added more strings to their bow and now produce ten different beers, each with a distinctive character and flavour. Bottle-conditioned alesThe first four beers are traditionally brewed, then bottled and allowed to condition, much in the way a champagne or wine is made. All benefit from 'turning', which we'll explain in a moment.

Cooper's Sparkling AleThe one you're most likely to see around Sydney's pubs is the Sparkling Ale - known to the team, and others, as 'Lunatic Soup'. At 5.8%, it's certainly strong, but it remains a supremely drinkable ale, hence the reputation. As with the other traditional ales in the range, it contains quite a lot of sediment - seasoned Cooper's drinkers always ask for their bottle to be 'turned' before opening to mix in the sediment and add to the body of the beer. A good barman will know this in advance, and will ask if you want it turned. Roll it along the bar a couple of times or just stand it upside down for a few seconds, then enjoy.

Cooper's Pale AleThe second most likely to see is Pale. Ask for "Cooper's Green" and this is what you'll get. It's lighter and more fruity than sparkling, and also a bit lower on alcohol, at a spiffy 4.5% (which is still pretty strong!). This is what we order if we're not in the mood for a rollercoaster evening! Again, like the sparkling, it does the brew good to be turned before opening, so make sure you pick a pub that knows the protocol!

Cooper's Dark AleCoopers also produce some 'heavier' full bodied beers, Dark Ale, featured to the left, uses a blend of roasted and chocolate malts and is naturally brewed to produce its own distinctive flavour.

Cooper's Extra StoutExtra Stout, as the name implies, is a solid, full flavoured drink. From the same family as Guinness and Murphy's, Cooper's Stout retaines the natural brew aspect, so isn't like the Guinness you'd get from a tap. It uses specially roasted black malt to produce a strong, dark flavour.

You don't see these in NSW pubs very often, but if you see them in bottle shops it could be worth grabbing a sixer.

Cooper's Genuine Draught Genuine Draught is a full, tasty beer, dry and clean. It's very refreshing, we're told, and has a traditional "off the tap" flavour. It's one we're looking out for.
Cooper's Light A light that's unlike other light beers, Cooper's Light is full of character with a strong, malty style. Standard lights don't compare too well with this little gem.
Cooper's DBCooper's DB uses a double-pitched yeast process to eliminate residual sugars (in much the same way as many european beers are made), producing a very crisp, dry flavour.

Filtered Ales
The filtered ales are brewed under similar conditions to the standard ales, but are cold filtered to remove the sediment. They're also released in limited batches, so they're a little rarer, and expect to pay a little more for these.

Cooper's Extra Strong Vintage
We're very fond of the Extra Strong Vintage Ale one. Rich, thich and dark, it's a beer which shouldn't really form a big part of a pub crawl! It's a much sought-after beer, and we've heard tales of folks buying a couple of cases, which they then auction a year later at a handsome profit; It's a beer that improves with age. The brewery actually recommends stashing away a case, and taking an occassional beer to see the improvement. We at get too tempted to hide our beer away, though. Perhaps we'll make a concerted effort for a long-term taste test one day soon!
Cooper's Premium Ale With it's gold-rimmed label and slightly slimmer bottle, Premium Ale even looks the part. It's chill-filtered and brewed using a blend of malted and unmalted grains, producing a rounded palate, full body and creamy head. Beer connoisseurs look for 'belgian lace' - the foam left on the sides of a glass as you drink. We're told Cooper's premium has a particularly good effect!
Cooper's Finest Export The brewery's own brochure cites Finest Export as a "handcrafted brew of blended malts and hops" it's a well matured bottle, with excellent clarity and a great smooth finish. We think you'll agree.
The Cooper's Brewery, as the last surviving family-owned brewery in Australia, is far from the last of a dying breed. The tradition of brewing, for the current incumbents, Tim, Max, Bill and Clenn Cooper is a vital, strong tradition. And in addition to their superb range of beers, the company has diversified, producing not only their home-brewing kits, but also a range of seven Leabrook Farms Honeys, and six varieties of Vine Valley vinegar, both part of the Cooper's Fine Foods label, and also produce malt extract which is used by such companies as Masterfoods, Uncle Toby's, Sanitarium and Mars. Gentlemen, salutes you. Article by Jason Brown You can visit Cooper's Brewery on the web by clicking here



[I work until] beer o’clock. : Stephen King - more quotes...
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