Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Heineken moves Newcastle Brown to...Yorkshire

One of Britain's iconic beers, Newcastle Brown Ale, will lose its credibility as well as its Tyneside home when Heineken UK, owners of Scottish & Newcastle, move the brand to the John Smith's brewery in Tadcaster in Yorkshire.
Heineken plans to close the Dunston brewery in Gateshead next year, claiming it's running at only 60% capacity. The Dunston plant is the former Federation Clubs brewery bought by S&N when it closed its Newcastle brewery and transferred production of all its beer there, including Newcastle Brown.
Newcastle Brown was first brewed in the 1920s and, along with other similar beers in the North-east such as Double Maxim in Sunderland, was the region's answer to Burton pale ales. Drinkers in the North-east engaged in such heavy industrial work as coal mining and shipbuilding wanted a sweeter beer than pale ale to restore lost energy after an 8-hour shift. At first Newcastle Brown was a blend of two beers, pale and dark. The result was an amber beer of 4.7% with a rich nutty and vanilla character. S&N stopped the blending process some years ago.
Until a few years ago, Newcastle Brown was the biggest-selling bottled beer in Britain but it has lost out to Greene King's Old Speckled Hen. If S&N had put more energy into promoting its Tyneside beers, the Dunston brewery might not be brewing at only 60% capacity. And if S&N had not abandoned cask beer, with the exception of John Smith's, it might be able to fill its brewing vessels to capacity.
The move of Newcastle Brown to Yorkshire is an insult to consumers everywhere but in particular to Geordies. Will the label still show the Tyne Bridge? Will there be protests under the Trades Description Act about the nonsense of a Yorkshire beer being labelled Newcastle?
The move shows how little Heineken knows or cares about Britain's beer heritage and culture. The Dutch group is interested only in brewing large amounts of pale industrial lager and doesn't give a hoot if the ale side of the S&N business withers on the hop bine.
But Heineken may face a problem if it moves Newcastle Brown Ale in Tadcaster. The Sam Smith's brewery in the town also brews a strong brown ale and may not be best pleased to have a fake Geordie brew a few hundred yards away.
And if Heineken dumps all its brewing capacity from Dunston at John Smith's plant, this could scupper plans to move Tetley Bitter there when Carlsberg closes the Leeds brewery.
The global brewers have made another fine mess.

5 Comments:

Blogger Tandleman said...

Blimey - Dunston is a pretty modern brewery too.

Guess Tetley will be heading across the Pennines to Lees then? Or are Carlsberg more sensitive?

13 October 2009 at 18:16  
Blogger Roger Protz said...

Carlsgerg don't do sensitive

13 October 2009 at 18:27  
Blogger Laurent Mousson said...

Well, actually they do, sort of, but only in Denmark, and only now and again... ;o(

14 October 2009 at 16:34  
Blogger Barm said...

"The move shows how little Heineken knows or cares about Britain's beer heritage and culture."

Blaming Heineken is naive. It's been a damn long time since S&N showed any sign of knowing or caring about Britain's beer heritage and culture either.

15 October 2009 at 22:26  
Blogger Johnny Norfolk said...

If I were a Newcastle brown drinker I would change now as it will never be the same again. I would look for a small local brewery and support them.

Its in the power of the drinkers to stop drinking these bland inernational beers.

We changed things with the Campagne for real ale and the younger generation should do something similar.

16 October 2009 at 17:31  

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