Colonial Brewing Co have changed their name to CBCo, effectively immediately, with the brewery saying the decision has been made to "better reflect modern tastes" and help drive their continued growth.
It follows controversy arising over the use of the term "Colonial" and the impact colonisation has had on First Nations people in Australia. In 2020, the Melbourne-based indie retailer Blackhearts & Sparrows decided to drop Colonial Brewing's beer from their stores in 2020, while debate raged on social media.
Speaking to The Crafty Pint at the time, Colonial's managing director Lawrence Dowd said they were taking controversy over the name very seriously and would spend time talking with Indigenous communities.
The brewery's current owners, Morris Group, inherited the name from the founders when they purchased it in 2008, with "colonial" referring to the original brewery colonising the Margaret River wine region.
Lawrence told The Crafty Pint that following a long process where they spoke to all their stakeholders - including employees, staff and business partners - and Indigenous representatives, they feel it’s the correct decision to make.
“We feel very confident that it’s the right move and right evolution of the business,” Lawrence says. "It had been – I shouldn’t use this word because it sounds ridiculous - brewing for a while anyway before it was brought out in the media.”
The CBCo name has been a long-time moniker for the brand and Lawrence says they’ve picked it to retain a connection to their significant history in Australian craft beer.
“We’re celebrating that and the past 18 years of hard work as a brewery,” he says. “If we don’t recognise and celebrate the past then we are doing ourselves a disservice.”
Lawrence adds they also didn’t want the decision to be “knee jerk” and instead wanted to work through it thoroughly.
“It’s a big thing, brands are extremely valuable and important and we wanted to do this in a balanced and considered way,” Lawrence says. “But now we can focus more on our core business and people rather than something that has been a bit divisive.”
While there was already negative commentary appearing about the rebrand online at the time of writing, Lawrence says he thinks most people will support their decision and the fact they felt the name no longer aligns with what CBCo is.
“I think Australia is going through a rapid change in all walks of life," he says. "There are going to be some people who disagree but I think the majority of people will be really happy with this change, transition and evolution of the brand and welcome it”
Lawrence says reaching the decision was further delayed by COVID but having recently invested $12 million on upgrades to Port Melbourne, the major indie brewer is excited about the future.
“We’re growing and our new brand will be unincubated and we think we’ll be able to go for a really good share of the market with a compelling range of beers”
FULL MEDIA RELEASE: COLONIAL BREWING CO ANNOUNCES CHANGE TO CBCO
One of Australia’s largest independently owned craft brewers, Colonial Brewing Co, has announced a name change to better reflect modern tastes and drive its continued growth in the marketplace.
Founded in Margaret River in 2004 on Noongar Booja Land, the craft brewer will now be known simply as CBCo Brewing, with the name to start appearing on all new cans immediately.
The new name, a long-time internal moniker, aims to remove the divisive reference ‘Colonial’ while retaining a nod to its 18-year brand heritage in a manner more appropriate for today.
CBCo Brewing Managing Director Lawrence Dowd said the former name had referred to the original brewer colonising the iconic Margaret River wine region, and was inherited by CBCo’s owner Morris Group when it purchased the brewery in 2008.
He acknowledged that over time the name had become problematic and that a review of it had taken place as part of a program of upgrades and investment to support the brand’s growth. This included extensive market testing with fans and key stakeholders, with CBCo Brewing selected as the most appropriate option.
“Since 2004 we’ve built a culture of taking pride in our craft and getting the little details right to create the best beer we can. In that time we’ve grown from our roots as one of the first microbreweries in Margaret River to a craft beer challenger to now a national brand that celebrates its independent and Aussie roots,” he said.
“As we have evolved so has the world – for the better. We recognise that the name Colonial Brewing Co no longer aligns with the respect we have for, and the value we place on the rich cultural traditions and talents of Indigenous people. Nor does it connect or reflect on who we are as a business and those who work here. To continue to take pride in our craft, our name is an important detail to get right.
“After extensive consultation with our customers and stakeholders we will now be known as CBCo Brewing. The deliberate choice to retain the letters CB pays tribute to our heritage and acknowledges the efforts of all of those people over the past 18 years who have made us who we are, but in a more appropriate and inclusive manner for today.
“We are proud to make great beer and, as CBCo Brewing, look forward to continuing in this tradition.”
While the process started last month to remove the old name, Dowd said the transition would take six to 12 months for all mentions of Colonial to be changed as retailers sell through remaining stock.
Dowd said the company had considered the name change for some time, consulting staff, partners and fans – as well as engaging a range of leading Indigenous representatives.
“We are pleased with the way the new name has already been received. And in the spirit of acknowledgement and respect we continue to work and find ways to support the promotion of First Nations history, heritage and culture,” Dowd said.
“This is an important moment in our story. We brew for today’s tastes and we now have a name that better reflects who we are today.”
The name change signals an evolution for the brewer, as it seeks to build on its position as the market-leader in the Sour beer category and increase its production across all of its beer varieties. It has just invested more than $12 million in upgrades to its Port Melbourne brewery, located on the lands of the Bunurong people, taking its brewing capacity to over eight million litres.
This article was updated multiple times on 06/09/22, with final changes made at approximately 6:10 pm.