Beer in Sri Lanka

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Beer from Lion Brewery, the largest brewer in Sri Lanka

Brewing began in Sri Lanka in 1881 primarily to meet the needs of the colonial tea planters. Despite the country's tropical weather the preferred beer styles have remained relatively unchanged, with strong stouts remaining popular.

In 2011 Sri Lanka's beer market was estimated to be around 51 million litres per annum, with per capita beer consumption at around 2.7 litres.[1] An increase from 50 million litres and 2.45 litres in 2009.[2] The beer market only represents 39% of the total legitimate alcohol market, the market share however is growing compared to the hard liquor segment.[3] In 2011 the beer industry grew by 23 per cent in volumes against 10 per cent growth in the hard liquor segment.[3] Out of the beer consumed in Sri Lanka 90% is manufactured locally with the remainder imported from Asian markets such as Vietnam, Singapore and India. The local beer market is currently occupied by three main brewers.

The largest of Sri Lanka's brewers is the Lion Brewery, which is also the oldest brewery in the country. It produces over 80% of Sri Lanka's beers. In 1988 it constructed a new brewery at Biyagama to replace the century-old facility at Nuwara Eliya. In 1993 the brewery became a subsidiary of Carson Cumberbatch & Co Ltd,[4] and in 1996 the Carlsberg Group acquired a 25% share of the company.[5] The brewery's portfolio includes lagers, strong beers and stouts, notably Lion, Lion Strong and Lion Stout. The company also brews Carlsberg and Guinness under licence. The brewery exports its beers to the U.S., Europe, Japan, Australia and the Maldives.

Sri Lanka's second largest brewer is Heineken Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, which was started as United breweries Lanka in 1997, in 2005.[6] Asia Pacific Breweries is a Singaporean-based joint venture between Heineken International and Fraser and Neave. After the Asia Pacific Brewery acquired by Heineken, it was named as Heineken Lanka (Pvt) Ltd.[7] The brewery in Mawathagama where it produces a range of strong beers, including Bison, Bison Gold Blend ,Tiger Lager, Tiger Black, Anchor smooth and Anchor Strong.

The country's third and smallest brewer is the McCallum Brewery, which was established in 1963 in Meegoda. In 2011 the brewery was acquired by Cargills Ceylon PLC. It produces a number of lagers, ales and stouts, notably Three Coins and Sando Stout.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Beer Drinking Nations the Determinants of Global Beer Consumption" (PDF). AAWE Working Paper No. 79. American Association of Wine Economists. April 2011. p. 37. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  2. ^ "Lion seeks to reduce gearing through Rs. 1.2 bn. Cash Infusion". Sunday Island. 16 August 2009. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Sri Lankans more into Hard Liquor". The Sunday Times. 24 March 2013. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  4. ^ Abeysekera, Indra (2007). Intellectual Capital Accounting: Practices in a Developing Country. Routledge. pp. 71–72. ISBN 9781134073610.
  5. ^ "Ceylon Brewery will never compromise qualities". Daily News. 4 June 2002. Retrieved 19 June 2014.
  6. ^ "APB Officials fly to Colombo after buying into Local Brewery". The Sunday Times. 2005. Retrieved 20 June 2014.
  7. ^ "The HEINEKEN Company - Age Gate". Retrieved 8 July 2019.