London family brewer could become contract brewer
London brewer Young’s – one of England’s best known family brewers – may quit brewing its own beer and turn to contract production, the Times in London reports.
Young’s announced two years ago that it was discussing the development potential of the 5.5-acre Ram Brewery site with Wandsworth Borough Council as part of a wider redevelopment of the town center. It has been assumed that it would use the proceeds from selling the Ram to build a new brewery, but it appears that is only one option.
The paper reports the company is also looking at the possibility of outsourcing production of its beers to a rival. Analysts suggested Shepherd Neame in Kent, Charles Wells in Bedford and Hall & Woodhouse in Dorset as possible partners. The closest geographically would be Fuller, Smith & Turner, a fierce London rival.
At the time Young’s announced it would sell the Ram Brewery property – the deal now looks like it may be worth £100 million – chairman John Young said that he was committed to brewing within the borough of Wandsworth and explicitly ruled out any move towards outsourcing.
However, a spokesman for Young’s told the Times: “We have made it clear we will look at everything.”
Outsourcing deals have become global reality. For instance, Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries recently took over production of Bass Ale under a contract with conglomerate InBev.
There as been commercial brewing at the Ram Brewery in Wandsworth since the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. In 1581 Humphrey Langridge is recorded as brewing beer at the Ram, a prominent Wandsworth inn that is now the site of the Brewery Tap pub and tun room.
Young’s best known beers are Young’s Bitter, Waggle Dance, Winter Warmer and Young’s Special.