ALE Autumn 2000 No. 299

Beerage - All Change

[This follows on from the recent articles: The Beerage - Industry Watch - Brewery & Pubco News]

The churn in breweries continues...

The smallest ones, producing the most interesting beers, are gradually growing and filling niches created by bigger outfits.


The medium-sized ones are growing by sales, acquisition and merger, with the largest ones nearly in the national brewer category. It is these who are setting the pace for traditional beer and pubs.

Some examples:

J.D.Wetherspoon - although a pubco, is setting the agenda for popular in-town bars with a serious committment to real ale. The chain has ambitious expansion plans. However this development is at the expense of serious public order problems. Also there are on-going problems in the chain with short measure and indifferent beer quality.

The large national breweries are tending to specialise in various ways, based on their interests in breweries, pubs, restaurants, hotels and other leisure facilites such as health clubs. Interests are being split up and sold off, with the brewing arm reducing the range to just very bland and fizzy beer - dropping off the end of the real ale brewery conveyor belt.

Examples of the leisure industry:

So the old beerage is now down to Scottish & Newcastle, Carlsberg-Tetley and Interbrew. Of those, only Interbrew seems to be genuinely committed to real ale - such as the classic draught Bass.
[In January 2001 the DTI ordered Interbrew to sell Bass Breweries.]

S&N's latest wheeze is a draught version of the classic bottled Newcastle Brown but served even colder than a chilled bottle. Since chilling disguises flavour, what does that say about its taste?

Paraphrasing the Beer Hunter Michael Jackson's comment recently, when did you last hear of someone going out of an evening for leisure?

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