Friday, 25 January 2008

Scottish and Newcastle Bite the Dust



It has just been announced that S&N have agreed an eight billion takeover from the Carlsberg / Heineken consortium. Full details are yet known, but it seems Heineken will take over the UK operations. Carlsberg will get control of BBH (Baltic Beverage Holdings) which which it jointly owned with S&N. This coveted East European operation, proved to be the killer for S&N rather than the goose that laid the golden egg. Carlsberg wanted it and to get it, it had to take Scottish and Newcastle out.

I am saddened by this, not for any beer reasons, but S&N was our last big beer player and one of the biggest companies (or maybe the biggest) still headquarted in Scotland. I remember as a boy in the 60's waiting for the bus to school at the Black Bull back home in Dumbarton and seeing the draymen unload. It was S&N then, but everyone called them "Scottish Brewers". They still did when I worked in the pub years later when I used to check the beer in and get the draymen a pint. Now the smile has been wiped off the McEwan's Cavalier and Father William will be weeping in his grave.

In the UK, we will now have a company (Heineken) with no experience of ale brewing, taking over S&N's breweries here in Manchester, in Gateshead, Tadcaster and Reading. It presumably puts the future of Tetley in Leeds in some (more) doubt. The dust has not had time to settle, but this has yet to play out fully.

William Younger merged with fellow Edinburgh brewer William McEwan to form Scottish Brewers in 1913, before merging with Newcastle Breweries in 1960 to become Scottish & Newcastle.

6 comments:

Chela said...

Definetely sad piece of news...

Living in Gardener's Crescent, Edinburgh, 100 metres from the Fountainbridge Brewery,I got accostumed to wave the cavalier every morning. In those 5 years I have witnessed in sorrow the closing and the subsequent 200 jobs lost, then the demolition, and now...the "beheading".
I agree with you that it's a matter of feelings. I remember the first day my nose was touched by the roasting malt's smell floating in the air...It brought me back to my childhood in my hometown ,where we had a brewery,(sadly closed since 1993).
At last Caledonian still remains partially independent. As far as I know S&N holds a 30% share of the Slateford-based Brewery,so I wonder what will happen now with the arrival of the Ducth and the Danes...

The Beer Nut said...

a company (Heineken) with no experience of ale brewing
??
Heineken make some quite decent ales, I think: I'm a fan of the Pelforth range in particular, and there's Affligem as well. 'Course there's also Murphy's Irish Red, and it ain't great.

Tandleman said...

I should have added "no experience of ale brewing in the UK". I am not sure the beers you mention fill me with great hope. They dumbed down Murphy's stout for a start. Pelforth as far as I know are just bland.

The Beer Nut said...

Have they experience of brewing anything in the UK?

Ron Pattinson said...

The Affligem beers are pretty decent. For the moment, at least.

Alex said...

Sad news, but only in a nostalgic way, as you say. They long ago stopped being "proper" brewers. It is good news perhaps in one respect. I can't see cask production carrying on indefinitely, and the withdrawl of bland national beers should leave space on the bar for better beers.