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Stout in a can to fuel Coopers winter surge

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Stout sales are booming for Coopers, as demand for the Adelaide brewer’s traditional black winter beverage approaches levels not since seen the 1950s.

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Figures released today by Coopers Brewery show it sold 3.7 million litres of its Best Extra Stout in 2020, a rise of 10 per cent on 2019, and despite a pandemic-led drop in keg sales.

Coopers has also announced it is releasing the stout in 440ml cans next month, in time for an expected winter surge. It joins a long list of Coopers beers going into the canned format in recent years.

The 2019 figure of 3.4 million litres in Coopers stout sales was on par with the previous sales peak in 1975.

The 2020 figure has surpassed that and is approaching the 4 million litre mark, which was the all-time peak of stout sales for Coopers in the 1950s.

The renewed popularity of the stout, either on its own or as a mixer, comes at a time when most traditional beers are struggling to maintain their position against a rising tide of craft beers and contemporary styles.

From the mid-1990s, Coopers stout sales remained at about 2 million litres a year until 2007, after which sales have been gradually increasing, with strong growth in the past three years.

However, the stout resurgence is unlikely to have a massive impact on the company’s bottom line as it still only represents about 4.6 per cent of its annual production of almost 80 million litres.

Coopers Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said the company expected the new can format would build on the resurgence of stout and edge sales closer to 4 million for the first time in 70 years.

“While our stout has been in constant production since 1879, sales hit their peak in the 1950s when we were selling over 4 million litres annually,” he said.

“Demand for stout declined after 1975, with sales dipping to below two million litres in the early 1990s. However, we’re now back in the midst of a stout revival and the popularity of beer in cans is rising markedly.”

Coopers put its flagship Pale Ale into cans in 2018 and has since followed up with its XPA, Sparkling Ale, Hazy IPA, Pacific Pale Ale, Australian IPA and now its Best Extra Stout.

The stout sales surge comes despite Coopers retrieving 13,000 full kegs of beer across its range from venues across Australia during the coronavirus lockdown from March to May last year at a cost of over $3 million.

Coopers is yet to release 2020 sales figures for its Original Pale Ale or Sparkling Ale.

Coopers Best Extra Stout has an ABV of 6.3 per cent and is brewed with specially roasted black malt, which the company says delivers a robust blend of fruit and chocolate flavours and bitter hop notes.

The 440ml matte black can format will be available in liquor outlets from June in four-packs and cartons. It is still available in bottle format and on tap.

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