Thursday, 15 October 2009

Tadcaster Brown Ale

Doesn't have quite the same ring to it does it? My Opponent at the next election has been busy signing Early Day Motions (EDMs) again. On Tuesday before turning his attention to a removal of seating in the MPs cafe ( he managed to sign an EDM deploring the closure of the Federation Brewery in Dunston and with it the moving of production of "broon" to Yorkshire.

It's really sad to see the loss of an iconic brand from the North East. Even more sad is the gradual closure of the Federation Brewery. Scottish and Newcastle brewery (they might want to review that name!) bought the Federation brewery some years ago from the federation of social clubs, a mutual body owned by local businesses. They also had a number of nice beers, which have been swept away. Now Newcastle Brown is a small brand in the wider Heineken multinational. A visit to their website confirms it at the bottom of the "other brands" section.

Multinational beer brands push one or two brands. History shows that Newcastle Brown Ale will become an increasingly peripheral brand, although it is apparently popular in the USA. The history of the Theakston brand perhaps shows whats in store. Theakstons was an iconic beer brand in the real ale market, famous for its "Old Peculiar" beer and for its brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire. It was bought by S&N and production moved to Tyneside. It was initially heavily promoted but gradually S&N rationalised its brands and John Smiths was promoted instead. In the end it was bought back by the Theakston family and production has gradually been brought back to Yorkshire, ironically reducing brewing activity at the Tyne. Beers local roots are important. The sadness is there is very unlikely to be a Tyneside brewery for Newcastle Brown to return to when Heineken grow tired of it.

I do wonder why after granting a special geographical restriction on Newcastle Brown, the EU allowed its production to be moved. In the short term I hope that alternative employment is found for the staff at Dunston, just down the Hill from Blaydon constituency. More widely, I think there is a case for the Brewing industry to be looked at to encourage local brands to flourish. I also am looking for reassurances about the future of the very popular Lancastrian function suite on the site.

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