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Saturday, 29 June 2013

Brewery with a behavioural disorder?

Now an InBev brand, this was
once a welcome sight in pubs
AB InBev is the world's largest brewing corporation. In this country, as well as brewing various lagers, they are also responsible for the production of two formerly great real ales: Bass and Boddingtons. Their website describes these as two "local favourites"; well, perhaps 35 years ago. So what have they been up to?

There is a tiny brewery in Wandsworth called Belleville which produces American-style cask beers. The brewery was started in January this year by a group of friends who had children at the Belleville Primary School, and they sell their beer to local pubs. AB InBev's lawyers have sent the brewery a letter giving Belleville 28 days to stop using the Belleville name because, they claim, it could be confused with the products of their Belgian subsidiary, Belle-Vue which brews lambic beers. For the world's biggest multi-national brewing corporation to bully a microbrewery with a five barrel capacity because of a name that is similar but not identical to one their own products is both ludicrous and distasteful in the extreme. Obviously Belleville cannot afford to challenge this demand in court and so are considering changing the brewery's name to Northcote after the road where the school is situated. It just goes to show that if you're rich enough, you can shamelessly be a bully without breaking the law.

Meanwhile in Canada, AB InBev are facing a strike at their Labatts brewery because of serious assaults on the workers' terms, conditions and wages, and which would destroy collective bargaining. In one way, it's obvious why they're doing this, as individuals negotiating their own rates of pay have much less clout than negotiators representing an entire workforce. But it's not obvious in another way, because even AB InBev's own website states that it has more than 200 brands worldwide that in 2012 generated revenue of $39,800,000,000 (US dollars). Any savings from cutting staff wages and terms in Canada must be less than peanuts to this company. It is another example of this rich and powerful corporation engaging in bullying.

If AB InBev were a human, I seriously doubt it would be allowed out unsupervised.

Click here for more on the Labatt's dispute; there's also a petition here.

3 comments:

  1. Just had a look at the A-B InBev website which claims "Brewed in Manchester since 1778, Boddingtons has an ABV content of 3.8% and 4.1% in cask."

    As far as I know, no cask Boddies has been brewed in Manchester or anywhere else since Hydes moved to Salford last year.

    Have you seen Zythophile's latest post about what they're doing to Bass?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I hadn't seen that. It seems typically inept. Improving the product is the only way back for Bass, I'm afraid, not rebranding.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For further exmples of AB-InBev's bad behaviour, read Pete Brown's "Three Sheets to the Wind".Doubly ironic, because one of their marketing slogans reads, "Making friends is our business"!

    ReplyDelete

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