Brewery, brews ‘Vailima’ beer

To mark the 40th Anniversary of the Samoa Observer, a series of selected articles printed over the last 40 years will be re-published in the next two weeks, to show our readers the issues covered by this newspaper over the years and the personalities that made the headlines. 


First Published: 12 October, 1978

Samoa’s own beer soon to be bottled out by the Western Samoa Breweries Limited will be called “Vailima Export”. The beer will come out in two brands, a premium beer and a lager.

This beer has already been trade-marked and according to the Samoa Breweries commercial manager, Mr K.H Moeller, it also has the approval of the Head of State, His Highness Malietoa Tanumafili 11. But the question being commonly heard around town these days is, What is the Samoan beer going to be called? 

The name of the new beer, Vailima, has certainly been kept a guarded secret. The question is, Why? When a box of the Vailima beer labels fell off a truck at Mataut-tai recently the box broke open on the road. The village children immediately swarmed over and scooped the labels up and began sticking them on their clothes. 

After this incident, it would have been thought that whatever cloak had been draped over the Samoan beer’s name might have been lifted. But this was not so. When Mr Moeller was asked this week what the beer’s name would be, he refused to reveal it. 

Asked why, he said it was normal company policy not to make public a name of a new product until such a date an official announcement would be mad as agreed to by the company. Mr Moeller would also not allow the beer’s label’s to be looked at.

In addition to Vailima beer, the Western Samoan Breweries will also produce six brands of soft drinks: bitter lemon, Indian quinine tonic, soda water, sparkling orangeade, sport lemonade and cola. The production of beer and soft drinks will be done simultaneously Mr Moeller said.

The official announcement of the name of Samoa’s beer will be made on 28 October a Saturday, and the first beer bottle appears the following Monday, according to Mr Moeller. The beer will be sold in big and small bottles and in kegs. Mr Moeller said the kegged beer will be sold to big businesses such as the RSA, the Tusitala Hotel, and others which would require large supplies.

But the bottled beers will be sold to individual and to agents throughout the country. Mr Moeller would not be specific about the cost of the beer but said the premium beer will sell at a bit higher than a steinlager bottle which goes over the counter at between 75 sene and 85 sene, and the lager beer will sell at a little less than the premium beer.

He said the beer alcohol strength will be about 4.2 per cent for both the lager and premium brands. And the beers will be called Vailima Premium and Vailima Lager, Mr Moeller confided.

During the planning stage of the brewery, empty steinlager and Heineken bottles were collected and paid for, to be used in the beer bottling. It has now been found that all steinlager bottles bearing the steinlager brand would not be used, so these would be discarded.

To offset the bottle shortage, empty beer bottles are being set from Australia and New Zealand, Mr Moeller said. And to make sure there would be a constant supply of bottles, Mr Moeller said a deposit system will be enacted.

This calls for a deposit of 5 sene a bottle and $1 a crate, the money  to be refunded when the items are returned. On the soft drink aspect of the brewery, Mr Moeller was asked if his company was expecting competition from the two existing soft drink making companies, the Apia Bottling Company and Curry’s Cordials. Mr Moeller’s answer was: “We are not producing the same soft drinks they are producing.

There might be some competition but their products will continue to sell. The future will show”. On the question that there might not be enough water for the brewery in the long run, Mr Moeller said his company was expecting to have its own water supply in two years. The brewery, Mr Moeller said, might as well be in full production now. 

The total cost of the brewery is $WS3.5 million, of which government owns more than half. Mr Moeller said government was intending to sell its shares to the public. 

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