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10, 20 and 30 Years Ago

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So You Want to be a Beer Expert?It’s fun to look back.

This section is devoted to Inside Beer’s trip down Memory Lane, highlighting the major events that were shaping the brewing world 10, 20 and 30 years ago.

10 Years Ago
April 2008

Scottish & Newcastle, which is about to be taken over by Heineken, takes full control of Caledonian Brewery. The national giant acquired a 30% share of the business in 2004 but has now bought the remaining shares to assume complete ownership. At the same time, S&N sells Harviestoun Brewery in Alva to a group of former Caledonian shareholders.

There are fears for the future of the former Bass Museum in Burton-upon-Trent as its current owner, Coors, announces it is losing £1 million a year at the site. The Coors Visitor Centre, as it is presently known, is scheduled to close in June.

The Wychwood Brewery in Witney, Oxfordshire, is bought by Marston’s. The brewery comes as part of a deal to take over the beer marketing company Refresh UK, which acquired Wychwood in 2000. As well as Wychwood beers, this means Marston’s will now also have the rights to the Brakspear brands. Marston’s has confirmed that it intends to keep the brewery open.

20 Years Ago
April 1998

Three major UK breweries face the axe. Whitbread announces the closure of its breweries at Cheltenham and Castle Eden, while Morland says that the Ruddles Brewery, which it acquired in 1997, will also close. The last brews at all three sites will be in the autumn.

Usher’s buys Burts Brewery on the Isle of Wight, together with five pubs. The Trowbridge brewery plans to keep the Ventnor site open and to sell Burts’ beers in other pubs it already owns on the island and on the mainland.

30 Years Ago
April 1988

Scottish & Newcastle announces that the Workington brewery, acquired when Matthew Brown was taken over just six month ago, is to close. The site should cease production by the autumn, with Theakston Best Bitter, its main product, moved to the Tyne Brewery in Newcastle. Around 45 jobs will be lost. There is better news, however, for Theakston’s original brewery in Masham, North Yorkshire, which is set to benefit from an S&N investment of £1 million.

Peter Austin, the founder of Ringwood Brewery, retires from the business, although he confirms he will remain involved in the setting up of other new breweries. One of Austin’s most recent installations is at the new Orkney brewery at Quoyloo.

Adnams adds a new premium beer to its cask ale portfolio. Broadside (OG 1049) is based on an existing beer of the same of higher strength (OG 1068).

David Bruce’s Firkin pub and brewery chain is sold to Midsummer Leisure. The eleven pubs, and the brand names ‘Bruce’s Brewery’ and ‘Dogbolter’, change hands for £6.6 million.

Eldridge Pope is to brew Labatt’s Canadian Lager. The Dorset brewery will also distribute the beer. Meanwhile, Holden’s introduces the first lager in its 100-year history, with the launch of Schiergold, an OG 1043 beer brewed to the strictures of Germany’s Reinheitsgebot.

Whitbread closes its Chester’s brewery in Manchester. All Chester’s beer will now be produced at Whitbread’s Exchange Brewery in Sheffield.