Lion Brewery (Sri Lanka)

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Lion Brewery
IndustryAlcoholic beverage
PredecessorCeylon Brewery Limited
RevenueIncrease Rs. 32.35 billion (2014/15)[1]
Decrease Rs. 1.33 billion (2014/15)[1]
OwnerCarson Cumberbatch & Co Ltd, Carlsberg Group
Number of employees
239 (2014)
WebsiteOfficial website

Lion Brewery or Lion Brewery (Ceylon) PLC is a predominantly Sri Lankan owned and operated brewery. The company is listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange and its stock is part of the S&P Sri Lanka 20 Index. Lion Brewery produces the highest selling beer, Lion Lager, in both Sri Lanka and the Maldives.


The Ceylon Brewery was the first brewery established in Sri Lanka. It was established in 1849 by Sir Samuel Baker [2][3] (1821–93) as a cottage industry, catering for the British colonial tea plantations in the hill country retreat of Nuwara Eliya. Nuwara Eliya was the ideal location for a brewery, with its cool climate and natural spring water.[4] It wasn't however until 1881[5] that it began brewing on a commercial basis, with the Ceylon Brewery Company, managed by Messrs Bremer and Pa Bavary.[6]

In 1884 the brewery was taken over by the Mohan Meakin Brewery of India,[2][7] who later sold out to Ceylon Brewery, operated by John Bagshawe Hampson. In 1911 the brewery was acquired by G.W. Lindsay White[5][8] and received limited liability company status, as the Ceylon Brewery Limited.[2] In 1921 brewery was extensively rebuilt with the establishment of several new producing plants.[2][5]

In the 1940s, that the company expanded its product range, introducing Lion Lager, Lion Pale Ale, Sinha Pilsner and Lion Stout and in 1948 the company opened an office in Colombo. In 1950 the company introduced canned beer to the Sri Lankan market but this was later withdrawn due to lack of demand.[2] In 1962 it launched the Jubilee Ale (in celebration of the company's golden jubilee),[2] which received a gold medal at the Monde Selection and gained second place at the Brewers and Allied Exhibition in London. In 1982 it released the Royal Pilsner, commemorating Queen Elizabeth II's visit to Sri Lanka, replacing the Sinha Pilsner.

In 1993, the Ceylon Brewery became a subsidiary of Carson Cumberbatch & Co Ltd, a diversified group of Sri Lankan businesses.[4] In 1996 the Carlsberg Group acquired a 25% share in Ceylon Brewery[2] and the company was subsequently renamed Lion Brewery, with Ceylon Brewery remaining as a holding company.[9]

In 1998 Lion Brewery established a new 300,000 hL/yr capacity brewery in Biyagama, just outside the capital Colombo, with the Nuwara Eliya operations closing in July 2001.[2][5] The capacity of the Biyagama brewery has subsequently been increased to 750,000 hL/yr. It is the market leader in Sri Lanka with an 82% market share. Lion is currently exported to the United States, Canada, the UK, Japan, Australia, Africa and the Maldives. In the Maldives it has a dominant market share. It also operates a joint venture with the Carlsberg Group, South Asia Breweries Ltd, with four breweries in India, including one each in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Himachal and Kolkata.[10]

Lion Beer bottle.jpg

In 2011 Grupo Modelo appointed Lion Brewery as the national distributor of Corona in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

In 2012 the company was appointed the sole importer and distributor of Diageo, as well Moët Hennessy, whose brands include Guinness, Johnny Walker, Smirnoff, J & B, Hennessey, Moët & Chandon and Dom Perignon.[1]

In November 2014, Lion Brewery and its subsidiary Pearl Springs (Private) Limited purchased Millers Brewery, transferring production of the Millers brands, including Three Coins, to its facility in Biyagama.[11][12]


  • Lion Lager - 4.8% ABV premium lager - Gold medal 2011 & 2012 Monde Selection
  • Lion Stout - 8.8% ABV stout, brewed from British, Czech and Danish malts with Styrian hops and an English yeast strain - Gold medal 1990-94, 2006, 2011-13 Monde Selection; Gold medal 2005 & 2012 World Beer Festival; Gold medal 2005 World Beer Championship; 2006 Gold medal International Beer Summit
  • Lion Strong - 8.8% ABV pale lager/imperial pils - Gold medal 2012 Monde Selection

Lion Brewery has also brewed Carlsberg and Carlsberg Special Brew under license from the Carlsberg Group since 1993. It has also brewed Guinness under licence since 1996.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lion Brewery (Ceylon) PLC - Annual Report 2014/15" (PDF). Carson Cumberbatch & Co Ltd. p. 4. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ceylon Brewery will never compromise qualities". Daily News. 4 June 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  3. ^ Kannagara, Yashasvi (10 July 2011). "A New Brew That Goes Back To The Time Of Tea and Trains". Sunday Times. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b c Abeysekera, Indra (2007). Intellectual Capital Accounting: Practices in a Developing Country. Routledge. pp. 71–72. ISBN 9781134073610.
  5. ^ a b c d Rajaratnam, P. (23 October 2001). "Ceylon Brewery moves to Biyagama". Daily News. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  6. ^ De Silva (Ed), G. P. S. Harischandra (1978). Nuwara Eliya, the Beginnings and Its Growth. Department of Information. p. 103.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  7. ^ "Leading Lion Brewery completes the largest repackaging in its history". 9 September 2008. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  8. ^ Royston, Ellis (2005). Sri Lanka: The Bradt Travel Guide. Bradt Travel Guides. p. 158. ISBN 9781841621296.
  9. ^ "Beer sector progress below expectations". The Island. 2 November 2003. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  10. ^ "Lion Brewery Teams up with Carlsberg to set up Beer Plant in India". Lanka Business Online. 7 December 2006. Archived from the original on 19 June 2014. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Sri Lanka's Millers Brewery goes to Lion". Ada Derana Biz. 3 November 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  12. ^ "Sri Lanka's Carson group completes acquisition of Millers Brewery". ColomboPage. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2015.

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