Monday, January 28, 2008

Farewell, Newcastle Brown!

Scottish & Newcastle,the brewer of Kronenbourg, Newcastle Brown Ale, McEwan's Ale and Strongbow cider in Edinburgh, Scotland is no more. One of the last independent brewers, they accepted a buyout offer from Carlsberg and Heineken, who will split its holdings.

They'd been in business for 250 years, since 1749..and are now just another casualty of globalization. Locals are convinced that a cutback in production and job losses are ineveitable.

If that happens, Edinburgh's nickname of `Auld Reekie', which came from the pervasive aroma of hops and barley in certain parts of the city may be a thing of the past.

What we're seeing here is the idea of `global branding' in action, which in beer making usually means increasingly bland lagers made worldwide to appeal to the lowest common denominator of taste and a `one size fits all' economy of scale.

I'm not sure where Newcastle Brown or McEwan's Scots Ale fit into that picture, so grab one while you still can if you've a mind to....Slainte!


GW said...

This is horrid news. McEwan's used to have a particular brew known as McEwan's Edinburgh Ale. Given your familiarity with the brand, you might have heard of it. That stuff was mother's milk. I used to drink it like water. But about 15 years ago they stopped production when ownership of the brewery changed hands. I am still in mourning over that.

Thank God the microbrew tradition has caught on so well over here. Unfortunately, in the UK, the trend has been in the opposite direction. It is a shame indeed.

Good post, JP.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello GW,
I was always an Old Peculiar fan myself...although I'll certainly miss Newcastle Brown.

This kinda reminds me of the John Cleese line in `Fierce Creatures' where he was badmouthing the conglomerate that had just bought the zoo, saying that their primary purpose in life was to buy things and then squeeze the maximum profit out of them by halving the quality...

There are some great beers being produced in America, although the reduced alchohol content in American beer might not be to your taste.

I recommend you give Red Hook Ale or ESB, Ballard's Bitter, or anything Grant's puts out a taste, if you can find them where you are..they're all produced in Washington State.

All Best ,


GW said...

The last time I had NewCastle Brown was in the middle of a rainstorm at the Norman Keep in Rochester listening to a British group play American Dixieland. That was a good night and I remember Newcastle Brown fondly by association, but just never developed a taste for it really.

As it is, the only things I care for these days are homebrewed stout (9%) or homebrewed mead. I prefer the latter, actually - have been brewing that every few months for the last 10 years - but the disappearence of honey bees is playing havoc with that particular past time. Beyond that, when out, its strictly Sam Adams. Everything SA produces tastes as good or better than anything I've ever had, domestic or foreign.

That said, I will always try something new. As to the brands you suggest, unfortunately we do not have them here but I will see if I can't find them the next time I'm in Atlanta. Thanks for the tip.


The Huntsman said...

'One of the last independent brewers'?

I suspect you meant to add the word 'large' or 'big': the subjects of this list ( might jib at the premature news of their demise or that of their undoubted independence.

Otherwise I share your sadness. Newky Brown is a pleasant (if hazy) memory from youth onwards. Though it will still be around, one laments that this process continues.

Still the one thing that Brown did which has been a boon is the introduction of Small Brewer's Relief which has spawned the hundreds of small brewers that have set up business in recent years, a demonstration of what happens if you ease regulation and tax.

Kind regards as always.

Anonymous said...

It is a sad reflection of the times when we hear little UK protest, and it is expats or others outside the UK who mourn the passing of a great British brewer.

As an aside, perhaps the rot set in when they took over the Courage Brewery and brand. A London brewer, all their pubs were adorned with the legend "Take Courage". Many years ago, a visitor from France asked "Why are there all these exhortations to being courageous?" That took a bit of explaining, especially as being patriots, we couldn't explain that you needed courage to drink the stuff!

There were plenty of other rude comments about each of the London local brewers, all of whom have now passed into oblivion.

Freedom Fighter said...

Hello, Huntsman! Correction noted...there are lots of small brewers here in America who make excellent beer, and I'd be surprised if the same wasn't true in the UK.

Likewise, kind regards.

Hello, Yokel,
Ah yes, good old John Courage...

FTR, I'm not an expat, just someone who appreciates good beer as opposed to watered down lager, a taste I picked up back in the old music biz days.

Being something of a patriot myself, I'm glad to relate that the US now produces excellent beer and ales, something that wasn't always the case, and microbreweries like the ones mentioned by GW and myself
in our earlier comments can hang with the best.

From what the Huntsman says, that trend is on the upswing on your side of the pond as well...

All Best,