‘Pausing’ Worthington’s White Shield described as ‘a travesty’
Brewer Molson Coors’ decision to pause production of legendary IPA Worthington’s White Shield has been described to db as a “travesty”.
As initially reported on social media by Great British Beer Guide veteran beer writer Roger Protz, who has regularly written about Worthington and Burton brewing history, Molson Coors has said it would now be pausing production of the beer.
Press office @MolsonCoors: “Worthington’s White Shield is being rested.” I fear this may be Rest in Peace.
Another heritage beer brewed since early 19C picked up from Bass now at grave risk. MC own the trademark. https://t.co/sBqXFZxpfN
— Roger Protz (@RogerProtzBeer) August 10, 2023
Beer writer Pete Brown, who has also written many times about the legacy of White Shield and the importance of the brand to British brewing heritage, described the decision to pause production “a travesty” and that the brand should be viewed as a “jewel in the crown” for Molson Coors.
Brown said: “This is a travesty. It’s the one and only beer that has continuity from the 19th Century golden age of IPAs to the present. It’s also one of the most complex, beguiling beers in Britain. It is a legend.
“If there is any reason to discontinue it, that can only be down to Molson Coors failing to understand the jewel in their crown and not knowing what to do with it. For years, people who aren’t even that into beer have been asking me where they can get it, and why it’s less visible than it used to be. This has nothing to do with changing trends or consumer demand, it is business and marketing incompetence.”
Molson Coors had put significant investment into the brand around a decade ago, with a focus on Burton brewing history. In 2010, it spent £1m upgrading the William Worthington micro-brewery at the National Brewery Centre at Burton-on-Trent to produce White Shield, which had already proved successful in winning Champion Bottled Beer of Britain — a prize it would win again in 2011.
But in 2015 a decision was made to outsource the heritage centre’s brewing operation, who bought in an experienced ex-Bass brewer, before the entire National Brewery Centre was closed altogether in 2022. Despite Molson Coors being able to brew White Shield as the brand owners at its main site or elsewhere — as it had previously done in the 2000s — it has now decided to ‘pause’ the brand.
White Shield is widely accepted as an integral part of UK brewing history. It is one of the last surviving brands that stretches back to the 19th century and brewer William Worthington’s production at Burton-upon-Trent. The town was chosen as a site for brewing due to the water from Trent Valley springs, which is rich in sulphates, allowing for the malt and hop character of the beers to be drawn out. During the birth of the Campaign for Real Ale and the rise of pasteurised keg and lager beer in the 1960s and 1970s, White Shield was lauded by ale fans as one of very few surviving bottle-conditioned ales, and it managed to continue all the way through to the modern craft beer revolution.
It is often referenced by contemporary brewers as the genesis of modern pale ale styles, both in the US and the UK, and playing a critical role in the history of craft beer and a return to bottle-conditioning.
A Molson Coors spokesperson said to db: “We have taken the difficult decision to pause production of Worthington’s White Shield following a change to our normal production route. We recognise that as a heritage brand, with particular connection to the great brewing town of Burton upon Trent, this will be disappointing to those who have enjoyed White Shield for many years. We will continue to explore possible new production routes, but unfortunately the brand will be out of stock for the foreseeable future.
“The Worthington’s brand remains part of our portfolio and fans will still be able to enjoy Worthington’s on draught in pubs, clubs and bars across the UK.”