London brewer Fuller’s has struck a deal to take over of England’s family breweries, George Gale & Co., putting the future of brewing at the Hampshire-based Gales in doubt.
Fuller’s plans a “complete review” of all operations before deciding whether to transfer production to its Griffin Brewery in Chiswick.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has reacted swiftly to the announced, pledging to fight the closure of the 158 year-old Hampshire brewery.
“Gale’s is a brewing landmark in Hampshire, brewing award-winning beers such as HSB and Festival Mild,” said Mike Benner of CAMRA. “Today’s announcement by Fuller’s makes no promises to keep the Horndean brewery open and it is clearly under threat. We will campaign to protect this unique Victorian tower brewery from closure.”
With a strong portfolio of its own beers, including London Pride and ESB, Fuller’s main interest is Gales’ 111 pubs. The company indicated it would keep at least some of Gales’ beers, with premium brand HSB the likely front-runner. The future of Gales Prize Old Ale, which is shipped to the United States, was not discussed.
The Horndean brewery has a maximum capacity of 50,000 barrels, and its output could be accommodated at Fuller’s 260,000-barrel Chiswick site.
Michael Turner, Fuller’s chief executive, said the Gales estate “can be brought into the Fuller’s estate with little adaptation,” while its beers include “a number of well respected brands which will enhance our ale portfolio.”
Benner countered that “There are potential beer portfolio clashes and we don’t want to see Gale’s Butser Bitter or Gale’s Best handpumps replaced with Fuller’s Chiswick or London Pride. Drinkers in Hampshire will not take kindly to the loss of their favorite beers.”