Sunday, 14 April 2013

Cains plans for a brewery village

The brewery in its Higsons heyday
Liverpool's Cains Brewery has announced plans to restore its original Grade II listed building to house a craft brewery, a hotel, digital studios, a delicatessen-type food hall,  independent shops and a sky bar on the roof. The Brewery Tap will be extended and some sheds on Parliament Street will be demolished to make room for a supermarket with flats above; other developments are envisaged as part of the scheme. Apparently the company is struggling to maintain the huge brewery site, much of which is currently under-used, and have said that if planning permission is refused, the long-term future of the brewery would be at risk. 

As part of this proposal, they will stop brewing supermarket own brand beers, as such business now makes a loss. This isn't a surprise when you consider the price of supermarket own brands, although I do remember on a brewery trip a number of years ago being told that the brewing of real ale was supported by supermarket production; things must have changed since then. They're hoping to increase production of their real ales by as much as 300%. 

You can read the whole story in the Liverpool Echo.

It's difficult to know what to think of this. Cains Brewery is an attractive nineteenth century red brick building, formerly home of the long gone but fondly remembered Higsons brewery, and if the options are this plan or closure, then obviously redevelopment is better. Liverpool's elected mayor, Joe Anderson, has given the plan his blessing, but I take no comfort from that, considering his unimpressive record of protecting Liverpool's architectural heritage.

The plans would involve 15 job losses out of the 56-strong workforce, but the company, perhaps ambitiously, anticipates creating up to 800 new jobs overall. But we've heard that kind of claim before, only to find the reality is considerably less than the spin.

While it sounds good that they envisage expanding real ale production, they must massively improve the quality. Their beers have been mediocre ever since the firm went bankrupt a few years ago, whereas their rivals in the Merseyside area are producing far superior beers. I write that as someone who used to enjoy Cains beers. With real ale, "never mind the quality, feel the width" is not a good strategy. Just ask Tetleys.


  1. I hope for the best, but somehow I think it all pie in the sky.

  2. I tend to agree. Nothing's been right with Cains for a long time.


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