27 January 2008

An End to an era

Over the next few months S&N (Scottish and Newcastle Breweries) are set to close their doors, Scottish & Newcastle was begun in 1749 when the William Younger Brewery was established in Leith. Up until the 1990s, S&N was a regional brewer, owning ale brands such as Tartan Special and Newcastle Brown.dnc0102 The fall of beer and ale sales have caused what was known as "The big six" to call for last orders. Other breweries include Bass Charrington, Allied Breweries, Whitbread, Courage Imperial, Watneys and now the great Scottish & Newcastle has been added to the list being acquired Carlsberg in spring of this year. The only surviving brewery is Whitbread who now run Hotels, pub-restaurants and coffee shops. The old image of the pub - its spit-and sawdust floor or beer-stained carpet, gloomy interior and smoke-smelling regulars replicated across the UK - has been transformed in the past decade and the relentless quest by pub operators to keep up with changing customer behavior, and so it was that the Theme pub and Wine bar raised their ugly heads. I personally prefer the Spit and sawdust pubs, the pub which had the old man sat in the corner his dog lay quietly at his feet, the type of guy who managed to make one pint last from 12:00 until 2:45 pm when the landlord would call last orders on the afternoon session. This type of pub was along time ago. Today it is lager which commands 75% of the market compared with 62% a decade ago. The blame for this is the new pub drinker and the new generations, led by women, demanded something else - and got it in the form of lagers, wine, soft drinks, alcopops, cocktails, spirits and Babycham.

S&N started a process which Heineken and Carlsberg are now completing. Heineken has just a 1 per cent share of the UK beer market but will own close to 30 per cent - becoming the country's biggest brewer - once it completes its acquisition of S&N. Once this acquisition goes through although we "might" still have Newcastle Brown Ale, Mcewans lager, Mcewans Scotch and possibly Mcewans Export but will it be the same when brewed by a Danish company or will Scottish and Newcastle loose its heart and become something like Scottish and Danish. So as yet another British institution bites the dust and dies under more European imports. To end I am going to pull on my boots and head off to my local store to buy a couple of bottles of Brown.

More information on the S&N Take over by Carlesberg can be found "Here"

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