Thursday, 18 June 2015

Leopards, spots, etc

Is that Burton on Trent I see before me?
So bottled Doom Bar is not brewed in Cornwall after all? I have to confess I've struggled to set my reaction to shock mode. When Sharp's was taken over by Molson Coors, it did create quite a stir, but as I wrote in February 2013: "Molson Coors has pleasantly surprised many real ale drinkers by taking over and investing in - rather than shutting down - the Cornish brewery, Sharp's." But that was in a post called Molson Coors - not the cuddly capitalists after all, describing how Molson Coors had issued a notice to a local amateur football team evicting them from their ground, while ostentatiously supporting the Scottish national team. In May that year I had further criticisms of Molson Coors.

The point of all this is not to show how prescient I was, but to demonstrate how the warning signs have been there all along. You could take the view that no harm has been done, Sharp's Brewery has been expanded, the draught beer is still brewed in Cornwall, so what's the problem? The problem is a little thing called honesty. Why not announce they were moving the production of bottled Doom Bar to Burton on Trent because of capacity problems, while confirming that the draught version will continue to be brewed in Cornwall? As the BBC tells us: "The labels on bottles of Doom Bar contain seven references to Rock Cornwall, but none to Burton-upon-Trent, but the small print reads 'brewed in the UK'."

This suggests an intention to deceive: Molson Coors has probably now forfeited the trust of those drinkers who had been prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt after they had acquired a small British brewery. In May 2013 I said that, "If we see any more good news stories concerning Molson Coors, it's worth bearing in mind that any good PR from this company is just a mask." That still applies, perhaps even more now that they've been caught out.

If anyone is thinking: "What's all the fuss about, as long as the beer is all right?", I'd reply that, if it's so unimportant, why weren't Molson Coors open about moving their bottled production in the first case?

Boak & Bailey have written about this from a slightly different perspective.


  1. The Royal Brewery in Moss Side, Manchester, brews Australian and French lagers Foster's and Kronenbourg, both of which are advertised as being from their countries of origin.

  2. I assume the Trades Descriptions Act doesn't apply in these situations.

  3. Heineken don't actually claim that Fosters and Kronenbourg are brewed in Australia and France, though.

  4. No, they don't. I used to drink Fosters when it was imported and remember noticing when the adverts started saying "brewed under licence in the UK". On the other it's clear that MC have been attempting to mislead as they know Doom Bar trades on its Cornish roots. Also, we've seen it all before and often moving the bottling is the first step to moving the draught production.


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