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Marston's pulls plug on brewing heritage

Added: Tuesday, July 9th 2024


Marston’s has pulled down the shutters on 190 years of beer making with the announcement it’s selling its breweries to Carlsberg.

The deal is worth £206 million and Marston’s will concentrate on running its estate of 1,400 pubs. Carlsberg will now own Marston’s plants in Burton-on-Trent and Wolverhampton but it’s not committed to keeping them in operation.

Carlsberg has also bought the soft drinks maker Britvic for £3.3 billion and says it plans a single integrated company when the deal with Britvic is finalised.

Marston’s and Carlsberg merged in 2022 to form the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, with the Danish lager brewer controlling 60 per cent of the business.

A spokesperson for CMBC says: “We plan a single integrated company supplying customers and consumers with a portfolio of leading brands, of which ales are an integral part.

“Keg and cask ales will continue to be an important part of our UK beer brand.”

But since the formation of CMBC, it has shut three ale breweries – Jennings, Ringwood and Wychwood – and in January is closed the famous Burton Union rooms at Marston’s where pale ale has been brewed since the 19th century.

CMBC says it will continue to supply Hobgoblin, Brakspear, Pedigree and Wainwright’s ales but it made no mention of Jenning’s beers previously brewed in Cumbria and Ringwood’s beers from Hampshire that include Old Thumper, a former Champion Beer of Britain.

CMBC said the closure of the regional breweries was due to a fall in demand for cask beer – a fall not seen by independent producers who say the category is recovering well from Covid and lockdowns.

At the same time, Carlsberg is investing £10 million in its lager factory in Northampton.

Beers from the closed breweries are now produced at Burton and Wolverhampton but it’s not clear whether both plants will remain open following Carlsberg’s business review.

Would the Danes shutter such a historic site as Marston’s Burton brewery? Its ruthless closures in the past two years suggest nothing is sacrosanct.

•Marston’s has a contract with AB InBev to brew Draught Bass and CMBC says this arrangement will continue.