Tuesday 2 July 2024

Wot I Wrote Nearly Thirty Years Ago

I've been at this old beer writing game for a long time, which is likely why I don't do it nearly as much as I used to. Thanks to the What's Doing archive, though, I can sometimes be reunited with stuff I wrote way back when I were a lad. What is (painfully) reproduced below, is one of these. 

When I say I have been banging on about the Beer Orders for a long time, I really mean it. I may have mentioned them before this article, but I don't know for sure. Suffice it to say, this blog has moaned about the law of unintended consequences resulting from this fateful legislation, more than once. 

So how right or wrong was I? Well, let's go through it. Well, Tetley-Walker and Boddingtons, the subjects of the title, have gone completely as companies. In the case of Boddingtons, their beer, a shadow of its former self, hangs on as an unloved canned brand of AB InBev. Tetley-Walker has vanished forever, its brewery long since demolished along with that of its erstwhile partner, Joshua Tetley of Leeds. Tetley Bitter, as iconic as Boddingtons in its day, still exists as a cask beer, now contract brewed by Camerons in Hartlepool. Whitbread, who bought Boddingtons has more or less vanished from pub game and certainly has from the beer business. Greenalls have gone too, turning up their toes in an act of self-destruction, though they saw it as a grim and impossible future which my article predicted. Morlands, also mentioned as vulnerable, have long since become part of the all encompassing Greene King and live on, only as an afterthought in GK's brand portfolio.

I predicted, too, that "We cannot expect anything other than a contraction of choice from the big suppliers, be they brewer or pub chain. At best we can expect a collection of tired old national brands brewed down to a price, at God knows where."

Sadly, my all seeing eye wasn't perfect. I got the demise of Vaux right, but didn't see that Greene King and Banks (now Marstons) surviving as well as they have, through neither in their previous form.

Still, I wasn't that far off and thankfully, despite all, we have our family brewers in Manchester surviving and thriving. I did allude to that.

I was spot on about the Beer Orders, the effects of which are still being felt today and tired old national brands, though not what they'd turn out to be. I suspect Doom Bar didn't even exist then as a regional brand.

I didn't predict the rise of the many small brewers - well not there anyway - nor the vanishing of the previous big six, but heyho, I didn't do so bad overall.



Curmudgeon said...

We are fortunate that the four Greater Manchester family brewers are still in existence, and all still investing in their pubs and taking brewing seriously.

Keg over foul cask said...

I had a pint in one of those Manchester family brewers a few days ago. Lovely setting, smartly turned out staff and all that. Hundreds of thousands spent on refurb. The cask beer I had was foul, in fact I grimaced when I supped it. Given the head on it I was kind of waiting for it, but how bad it was actually shocked me. In fairness he apologized twice and changed it without any objection. But how any publican / sizable company could serve that pint amazes me.

Seems like the pub industry still seems to be stuck on maintaining GP% and no loss stocktakes, to the detriment of the customer.

Those four companies can be good but you need to know your pubs. Pity anyone going to that one. I won't name the brewery or pub as I don't want to be cruel

Cheshire Pete said...

That was a takeover too far for Greenalls. If you remember a few years before that they took over Michael Cannon's Devenish. The Devenish operations management then more or less ran the Greenalls Pubs.

The Greenalls acquisition of Bodds Plc was a wider takeover than just the pubs. There were the Village Hotels that were bolted onto De Vere. Also (Liquid Assets) a drinks wholesaling division to merge into the Greenalls version. There were managed pubs, dining pubs and tenanted pubs. Even a nursing homes division I believe. Greenalls became a Times 100 company for one, maybe two quarters. Just too much to deal with in such a short space of time. Lots of conflicting cultural views and egos.

Phil said...

"Alarm bells should be ringing in companies such as Wetherspoons and Yates's" - they both seem to have survived! It was quite surprising to see JDW's mentioned alongside Bodds' & Greenall Whitley, although on reflection I guess 1995 isn't that long ago...

Cooking Lager said...

Tomorrow's almost over, today went by so fast
It's the only thing to look forward to, the past