Pub landlord outraged as Marston’s drops ‘English’ branding from Bombardier

A pub landlord said he refuses to adopt the new marketing material for Bombardier beer after the brewing company which owns it dropped any mention of the word “English” from its branding.

Marston’s has removed references to Englishness from its Bombardier beer. (Photo: Rawdonfox/Flickr)

Kevin Costello, who runs The Haywain in Bramling, Canterbury, said that selling it with the new, de-anglicised labelling, pump clips and glassware would put customers off the beer, which he claims is his best-seller.

Bombardier — a 4.1% cask beer — has long been sold as “the beer of England” by drinks maker Charles Wells, but the labelling changed when the company was acquired by beer giant Marston’s last year in a deal worth £55m.

The deal also saw Eagle Brewery — which produces Bombardier — open to the public on a regular basis for the first time in January.

As well as removing references to the beer being “English”, Marston’s has also dropped the St George’s flag from its marketing.

Instead, the drink is now sold as a “British Amber Beer.”

Costello told Kent Online the change of wording is “horrendous,” suggesting Bombardier now looks more like an “imperial German beer.”

“Bombardier always used to have big campaigns around St George’s Day and things like that – it was all about being English,” he said.

“If Bombardier was a Welsh or Scottish beer, I bet it wouldn’t have changed. It’s like Englishness doesn’t matter any more.”

Costello said he sells around five barrells of the beer per week, but worried that the new look will affect its popularity with locals.

“I’m refusing to use it because I’d lose business. I’m using the original signage that calls it an English beer. I’ve shown the branding to all of my customers and they hate it.”

“If I went into another pub and I saw this branding on the pump, I would not buy Bombardier. I’d get something else.”

A spokesperson told Kent Online that Marston’s chose to rebrand the beer last year to keep its marketing “fresh”. the drinks business has reached out for further comment.

Though Bombardier is perhaps one of Marston’s best-known products, the brewer said that craft drinks and “local beers” are proving increasingly popular with consumers, and contributed to a 1.6% rise in like-for-like sales at its taverns in its most recent financial statement.

32 Responses to “Pub landlord outraged as Marston’s drops ‘English’ branding from Bombardier”

  1. Peter says:

    “keep its marketing “fresh”” my A**e, just another large supposedly British company running scared of the permanently offended brigade

  2. Martin Skellum says:

    As the old saying goes if it’s not broke don’t fix it. I have always enjoyed a drop of English Ale, nothing like it in the world and when ordering my pint of Bombardier it always gave me a sense of pride in the Englishness of the logo on the pump clip, I don’t feel that any more. The new labelling no longer looks English it looks European, its no longer stands out on the bar it just blends in with the other labels. Bring back the original branding and show that Bombardier is proud to be an English Beer.

  3. Hal says:

    Agree with the negative comments above. Very disappointed with the “new- look” label. It now looks lie a very cheap lager.
    Proud to be English and great to see the flag.
    Return to the original,well-liked label asap

  4. Alex who is one pissed off drinker says:

    I’m fuming with Marlston over this ! What a fatal error on their behalf.! They have only change the flavour of the beer as well.

    I have drunk Bomb for all my drinking life and I cannot believe what a hash of it they have made ! It looks like a American brand not an English brand.

    It took me a good 10 minutes to locate it on the shelf in Tescos. Even when I did locate the beer. I was still unsure if I had picked up the correct beer. Cannot believe how they have ruined this glorious British beer.

    There is definitely no Bang left in this brand now !!! Its Wychwood all the way now. Where they know their Hertiage and roots !!!

  5. Just got some todayThe drab pump clip does a great job of downgrading the product.Certainly wouldn’t inspire customers to try it when next to other beers.Cask beers need fast turnaround.This branding won’t achieve that.No longer on my hit list

  6. Nobby says:

    An absolute disgrace, what are Marstons playing at!
    Even IF the product is still the same the bland non-descript branding destroys much of the pleasure of the beer.
    Daft but true.
    No more for me or any other Marston product for that matter.

  7. Biffo says:

    Quite agree with all the above! It’s a great English ale and should be celebrated accordingly.
    Anyone upset with the words English Ale on the label, doesn’t have to drink it.
    There’s plenty of choice out there!
    Marstons,you’ve lost another customer!

  8. Chris says:

    Marstons shame on you I’m a Welshman who enjoys bombardier remember your heritage

  9. Mark says:

    Absolutely disgusted by this, another example of our heritage gone, loved the old branding hate the new, don’t really want to drink it anymore. Talk about alienating your clientele, Marstons should be ashamed.

  10. G Stewart says:

    We loved the old bottle and particularly the bottle tops – Take Aim etc

    Why do they need to change things for the sake of change? I agree that it now looks like any old German beer – and certainly not ‘English’ which seems to have become a dirty word!!

  11. Robert Bevan says:

    Have drunk Bombardier for years. Unless Marston revert to original label and description I will never drink it again.

    • ed earnshaw says:

      all I can say is shut the eyes and just enjoy the continent of the glass, I had my doubts but the drink has changed but not so much as to put one off

      • Neil says:

        Yes, I thought it had changed. I asked for a ale in a major hotel chain not known for its ale (tap beer – I am won’t call it “draft” is Boddingtons – say no more :-)). I was offered Bombardier, which I remember as a darker ale. Certainly I would not describe what I remember as an Amber beer.

        I’m glad I’m not the only one to notice a difference. Thought I was going mad.

        (Perhaps I am, but that’s a different story 🙂

  12. Stanley says:

    No doubt an expensive woke London advertising agency told them there were ‘negative associations’ with the word ‘English’ and the Flag of St George. Pathetic.

    They have no problem though in continuing to market McEwan’s Export as “Original Scottish Premium Ale” using the original Cavalier branding. No need to “refresh” that branding then. And can anyone confirm that McEwan’s is now brewed in England at the Eagle Brewery, Bedford? If so, rather misleading don’t you think?

  13. David Dickinson says:

    Corporate Marston! Enough said!

  14. Jim Bryant says:

    Your a disgrace to everyone who has ever been proud enough to call themselves English.
    I’m sure if you dropped Welsh or Scottish from anything there would be a national revolt but Oh we must not be PROUD TO BE ENGLISH that’s not PC.
    Stuff your Bombardier I will never drink it again!

  15. ed earnshaw says:

    well folks I must say that with the new branding i was indeed convinced that the brand was in fact sold to an oversea brewer as indeed so many have but putting the lably to one side I have enjoyed the content of the bottle most fully and well done for keeping the taste full and rich as was prior

  16. Stanley says:

    Will not touch this stuff again unless it reverts to being ‘English ale’.
    To drink this stuff now would leave a nasty taste in the mouth.

  17. NG Gilchrist says:

    The management of Marstons deserve everything they get as a result of their destruction of yet another national treasure in
    The destruction of bombardier
    I wish them. All the worst

  18. michael ferrar says:

    I am in France and delight in the Bombardiers bombastic Englishness, so do the French. If it does not change back to English Ale, its lost. British means nothing here as they see us as 3 countries. The new label is a travesty of design and the author should be bombed from a great height. It looks terrible on the display stand here, its whiteness is terrible from simple but effective original. How long will it be before the stupid idiots at Marstons who allowed this turn it into a bog standard beer without character. Beware the idiots for whom change for change sake is good. Thank heavens for Spitfire and its goering goering gone glasses.

  19. Dr Julian Dye says:

    Bombadier was one of my relaible favorite ales, but I hadn’t bought any for a few months. I have now found the it has not only been rebranded in a desultory way,, but the first thing I was struck by was the pale insipidness of its flavour – it just seems to be a much paler, more gassy lighter weight, relatively flavourless and lightly hopped drink than I was expecting. This beer is not Bombardier,. I am no ardent nationalist, but when it comes to beer I fully appreciated that the St George’s regalia was a very appropriate association with the uniquely English style of beer inside the bottle. However, what has happened seems to me much more than rebranding. There is now no point in it – no substance, no robustness, no malty undertone, no satisfaction. I will just mourn the loss of a great English beer, and forlornly hope that Charles Wells may one day take up its recipea again. and take up its great tradition.

    My message to the company is by all means, have a new beer, but do not masquerade it as an old favourite, and do not lose the great receipe and tradition which it represents. The old Bombadier was a beer of great distinction..This new drink does not represent the craft and refined balance of English brewing.

  20. Charles Hutchins says:

    As an American that enjoys Bombardier, I find Marston’s actions disgraceful.

  21. Stoven5 says:

    Living in the USA thought I was looking at a Budweiser can. Used to stock up on this when ever I went to Ontario Canada at the LCBO. I have many friends who like Budweiser and I have had a few here and there myself, so not saying any thing bad about Bud. Just wanted to say Maybe Bombardier tastes the same but I am not going to buy it anymore.

  22. Suzyblue says:

    Marstons have ruined not just labels but the products too. So many past regional beers are now brewed at Marstons Burton, however they loose their character. I note the reference to Wychwood in another post – that to is a Marstons brand. Marstons have re-branded Pedigree as an Amber beer, I always thought it was an IPA

  23. NICK MCCORMACK says:


  24. PeteD says:

    I too believe the re branding is aweful, Bombardier has always been one of my favuorite ales for many ,many years. Beer of England no more it seems, Marstons look like they want to do a similar thing with the Hobgoblin brand theynow own too although not losing the Hobgoblin figure, I know no one who likes the rebranding at Hobgoblin either.

    I’d be interested to know how Bomardier sales have been affected, as I’ve not bought a bottle for about 10 months and it was a weekly buy for decades.

  25. Scott says:

    How’s this for ironic….I designed the Bombadier packaging in 2000 working as a designer for a branding agency in Bedford. Nobody could crack the brief (a few agencies tried) and I came up with the idea of putting the St Georges cross motif on it and the words English Premium Bitter and the whole lion’s crest. I remember the owner and the brand Director saying ‘Nobody had thought to do that!” and patting me on the back. Guys, I was born in South Africa and lived there most of my life. I’ve long since left the UK but still proud of my little moment as an “Englishman’ and restoring peoples pride. Lord knows who designed the new packaging but it looks generic and lost to my eyes.

  26. Les says:

    I used to buy Bombadier to drink at home . A full English pint, not any more , the Euro 500ml. Never liked Youngs beer even though i live just outside London. Refused to buy Bombadier since they they changed. Rick Mayhall would spin in his grave. Typical they some snotty nosed oik s**t loads of money to screw up a brand. Seems the way of the times. Best of luck to the Marston morons.

  27. Old Albion says:

    Agree with you all. I’ve stopped drinking it, not just because of the re-branding. But because the beer itself has changed beyond recognition. It’s foul.

  28. Bruce says:

    As a former Bombardier of the Royal Artillery, I have to say that when in London, (not very often now) I loved to drink this beer ! Why all this moaning about labels and marketing ? If the beer itself is good that should be enough !

  29. Paul says:

    I run the bar at a local rugby club and have gone back to the old branding after seeing a significant drop in sales of my best selling keg bitter A huge mistake by Marstons and will loosing a customer to Black Sheep bitter if the branding isn’t reverted !!!!

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