Taking coals from Newcastle
You can take the beer out of Newcastle but you can't take Newcastle out of the beer. It may be a more robust drink than wine, with hops acting as a powerful preservative, but beer likes its roots and doesn't enjoy the game of pass the parcel.
Even if clever brewers use identical malt, hops, yeast and water, somehow the chemistry goes wrong and the taste of beer changes quite dramatically if a brewery closes and the brands are moved elsewhere. A good example is the classic bottled India Pale Ale, Worthington's White Shield, first brewed in Burton-on-Trent in the 19th century. When its owners, Bass, lost interest in the beer in the 1990s it was shunted around the country, to Yorkshire and then - ludicrously - to Sussex. The beer never tasted the same until it returned to Burton. It's now such a success that it's in the process of being moved from a small brewing plant to a bigger one cope to cope with demand.
More recently, Brakspear Bitter in Henley-on-Thames lost its flavour as well as its lustre when the Henley brewery closed and production was moved to Burtonwood in Cheshire. Henley was famous for its "double drop" fermenters - vessels ranged on two storeys – that created both a vigorous fermentation and a unique butterscotch note that was treasured by drinkers. Brakspear, complete with the original fermenters, is now back in Oxfordshire at a brewery in Witney and, with an almost identical water supply to Henley's, has got its butterscotch back.
In 2006, Young's, the legendary real ale brewery in Wandsworth, south London, closed and merged with Charles Wells of Bedford. Enormous care was taken in matching Young's Bitter and Special, with the former Young's head brewer, Ken Don, seconded to Bedford. At first the beers tasted radically different but three years later they have been restored to something like their former glory. But try telling that to diehard Young's drinkers in London.
Greene King in Suffolk has been brewing Ruddle's beers - originally from Rutland - for several years and doesn't pretend the beers are the same. The strengths are different and the hop varieties have been changed. Draught Bass has moved just a couple of miles within Burton-on-Trent to the Marston's brewery. It's a good beer but somehow that special magic has gone, not unconnected to the fact that Bass, in common with Brakspear, had a special fermenting system that created the beer's flavour.
The most ludicrous example of moving beer from its place of origin is the renowned Czech lager Pilsner Urquell. It was first brewed in Pilsen in the Czech Republic and the name means "Original Source of Pilsner". The beer is now owned by global brewing giant SABMiller, who brew the beer in both Poland and Russia. So much for "original source".
As for Newcastle Brown Ale brewed in Yorkshire... Man the barricades.