Carlsberg/Marston’s joint venture

Carlsberg and Marston’s have announced a joint venture: the Danish firm will own 60% of the new Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company with Marston’s holding 40% and receiving a cash payment of up to £273M.

The new business will provide a mix of Carlsberg’s mass-market lagers and Marston’s cask, and will also supply Carlsberg beers into Marston’s estate of ~1,400. Commenting on the proposed joint venture beer company, Chief Executive of the Campaign for Real Ale Tom Stainer said:

This announcement about a proposed new Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company is a red flag to beer drinkers and pub goers across the UK and gives us cause for concern about the future of British beers, brands and breweries. 

 “If this joint venture goes ahead, we would see further consolidation of the brewing industry into just a few large, international players – to the detriment of our national brewing heritage, consumer choice, the diversity of beer in pubs across the country and the access to market for the small, independent brewing industry. 

 “CAMRA wants to see Carlsberg and Marston’s protect jobs and protect pubs, as well as to resist any brewery closures or moves which would see existing beers losing their identity, or regional character, as part of a merger.”

In our branch area there are several pubs who could be affected. These include, in Derbyshire, the Eyre Arms (Calver), the Scotsman’s Pack (Hathersage) and the Star (Tideswell). In Sheffield, Marston’s have the Double Top (Halfway), Eighteen Ten (Carbrook), the Hare and Hounds (Oughtibridge), the Howard (City Centre), and the Milestone (Crystal Peaks).

We also have concerns regarding the internationally unique Marston’s Brewery. This is the only one in the world to use the ‘Burton Union’ system of brewing: a Union set consists of large wooden casks, on their sides in rows, suspended off the floor in a frame by large metal axles. Each barrel is fitted with a bottom valve that leads to a bottom trough. A cooling coil is in each barrel to control fermentation. The barrels are linked together by a series of pipes so that liquid can be evenly dispersed throughout the Union. Fermenting wort is introduced at the feeder vessel and flows into the barrels. As the yeast ferments, it is forced out of the barrels in bursts. As the fermentation proceeds, a large amount of healthy yeast is retained in the top trough and the beer in the barrels gradually becomes bright. The yeast is collected from the top trough for subsequent use. After about six days, the fully fermented beer is moved to a finishing vessel, blended with other beer, or packaged in casks.

The Burton Union at Marston’s is currently only used to brew Marston’s Pedigree.

Dave Pickersgill

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