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‘Decline of cask ale’ linked to closure of Wychwood Brewery

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has cited that the “decline of the cask ale market” was a consideration when deciding on the closure of Wychwood Brewery.

Speaking to the drinks business, a CMBC spokesperson said: “In the current economic environment, and with the decline of the cask ale market in the UK, we are having to carefully consider where we invest to achieve a successful, sustainable ale business.”

The move, which coincided with the break clause on CMBC’s lease with the landlord who owns the site, was revealed yesterday and a CMBC told db:“By making use of the break clause in our lease for Wychwood Brewery, we can consolidate our brewing network to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, supporting ongoing investment for our people and business.”

According to the CMBC spokesperson: “There will be no impact on the sale of our brands to customers and consumers, with Wychwood branded beers like Hobgoblin continuing to be sold as normal.”

Despite these assurances, fans of Wychwood beers have lamented online that this is the end of an era and, even though the brewery, located in Witney in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, will continue to operate as normal for the coming months, the connection that fans of the beers have with the site has always been a favourable one.

Speaking about the decision, CMBC CEO Paul Davies admitted: “We understand the depth of feeling towards Wychwood Brewery, and have tremendous pride in our team there. Our number one focus is giving them all the support they need as we begin the consultation on this proposal.

Upon querying what might happen to the brewery and as to whether the property will now be sold to developers, the spokesperson for CMBC told db: “We made the decision to close Wychwood Brewery, to ensure the overall health of our business” but pointed out that “any plans for the site following this will be the sole decision of the landlord”.

Wychwood beers, including Hobgoblin, Firecatcher and Dry Neck will continue to be brewed in the CMBC network from breweries such as Marston’s Brewery in Burton-on-Trent.

CMBC has also insisted that it is providing support to the six colleagues employed at the brewery during the consultation period over the proposals and will also explore any opportunities for redeployment within the business.

Despite cask ale facing challenges over the years, surveys are showing that younger drinkers’ interest in cask ale is growing. However, despite this, tackling its visibility on the bar has been identified as fundamental to its success. The collective behind the surveys are now urging the beer and hospitality industries to get involved and assist in funding a national roll-out of a campaign to revitalise cask ale to limit situations where brewing sites are let go.

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