Sat, Jul 26, 2003 - Page 5 News List

Brewery ready for thirsty Australians

REUTERS , HONIARA

The sole brewery in the lawless Solomon Islands hopes the arrival of 2,225 Australian-led peacekeepers will not only restore peace, but see rivers of "Sol Brew" beer flowing.

Solomon Breweries Ltd is stocking up on beer bottles as the foreign force, predominantly Australians who have a reputation as big beer drinkers, arrives to rein in ethnic militia and restore order to the steamy streets of the former British protectorate.

The Australian and European-owned company has an order for 30,000 additional Indonesian-made bottles "in the pipeline" in the expectation its monthly sales of 30,000 bottles of "Sol Brew" bitter will take off.

"We haven't seen a sales increase at the moment but we are expecting it for next week," the brewery's financial controller, Kwan Amataga, said Friday.

"Some [of the police and troops] may be kept in and not allowed to drink," Amataga said.

"Sol Brew" bitter is the brewery's most popular brand in the Solomons capital Honiara, but in the jungle provinces of the 1,000-island chain, locals tend to favour the far stronger SB.

Amataga said the brewery, which is also a Coca-Cola bottler, expected soft drink sales to soar as hundreds of thirsty journalists, aid officials and bureaucrats pour in, and had ordered more soft drink bottles to cope with the demand.

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