Scottish & Newcastle — the brewer of Newcastle Brown, John Smith’s, Kronenbourg and many other beers — will close its only brewery in Scotland in December and buy a smaller one in the city to trim costs as demand for beer slows in the U.K.
The brewer expects to shed 170 jobs by shuttering its Fountainbridge brewery and brew McEwan ales instead at the Calendonian brewery it’s buying, according to a statement. It will transfer production of lager to other sites in the U.K. and take a 30% stake in the Caledonian Brewing Company so it can sells its ale brands.
According to the www.newcastlebrown.com website, Newcastle is thought to be the first place in Britain to brew beer. Legends aside, it is known that Newcastle’s first commercial brewery, John Barras & Company of Gateshead, was established there in 1770.
Then, in 1890, after the Gateshead Brewery was bought by the North Eastern Railway Company, John Barras & Company purchased the Tyne Brewery and linked up with several small breweries in North Shields, Gateshead and Sunderland to form The Newcastle Breweries Ltd.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, criticized the Newcastle plans. The consumer group said it is concerned about the future of real ale brands such as McEwans 80/- which will now be brewed at Caledonian Brewery as part of the deal that creates a new “Caledonian Brewing Company.”
John Holland, Director of CAMRA said, “This is a complicated deal and it’s difficult to see through all the likely implications for consumer choice and the beer market generally, but we are certainly concerned for the future of the one remaining McEwans real ale, 80/- which will now be brewed by Caledonian. We can see the potential benefits for the distribution of the existing Caledonian beers, such as Deuchars IPA in the off-trade, but will the real ale version of McEwans get the same high levels of marketing support or will it be left to whither and eventually be axed?
“S&N have a history of broken promises and brewery closures including the Matthew Brown Brewery in Blackburn, which S&N once declared to be ‘sacrosanct’ but went on to close nevertheless. We also saw the closure of the famous Courage Brewery in Bristol only a few years ago. So what’s next for the U.K. beer industry? It seems our brewing heritage is being slowly eroded as the industry becomes ever more focused on the global market.”