The island nation of Sri Lanka is the home of both of this month’s international beer features. Good beer made its way to this part of the world back when Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon and was colonized by Portuguese, Dutch and British citizens (among others). The British had a particular interest in the local hill country, as it provided an ideal climate in which to plant that most nationally demanded of plants—tea. The Scottish were quite experienced with tea cultivation, and in the 1800s there was no shortage of them living and working in the region. One particular Scotsman, Sir Samuel Backer, lived in the veritable Garden of Eden up in the hill town of Nuara Eliya. In 1849, recognizing the unquenched thirst of his fellow European patriots for their other favorite beverage (ale), he established Sri Lanka's first brewery, the Ceylon Brewery, at the foot of one of Nuwara Eliya's most beautiful waterfalls, known as ‘the Lover's Leap.’
Sir Backer set up the brewery in an effort to bring beer to the local colony dwellers and natives alike, but likely did not envision the tremendous success of the brewery, nor the fact that nearly 100 years after it was founded, his beer would start to find its way back to his homeland, the U.K., as a Sri Lankan export. As the brewery garnered attention from eager investors, financial contributions greatly enhanced and expanded the original brewery enterprise.
After being taken over by Murree Brewery of India in 1884, the present company was founded by Mr. G. W. Lindsay White in 1911. Under his stewardship, the brewery flourished even further, a trend that continues to this day. In order to meet expanding demand, a second brewery, The Lion Brewery Ceylon, was established in Biyagama. A spring flowing from the hills above the brewery supplies their clear, chemical-free water, and malts are obtained from the reputable maltsters in the Czech Republic, Britain and Denmark. Hops are sourced from Slovenia, and they have been using the same high quality British yeast for fermentation for more than 30 years.
If you'd like more information about The Lion Brewery Ceylon, visit www.lionbeer.com.