Saturday, 14 July 2018

Supping nostalgia

An original R Cains poster
I see that the Cains name is to be revived with a new brewery set up within the old Higsons Brewery building where the most recent incarnation of Cains was brewed until 2013. Its disappearance wasn't much mourned, following as it did a drastic and sudden drop in quality; I wrote about it at the time here.

An entrepreneur called Andrew Mikhail, owner of bars and hotels in Merseyside including Punch Tarmey's, has acquired the name and states that the brewery will create 200 jobs and "partly model itself" on the Guinness Brewery visitor attraction in Dublin. If the 200 jobs do materialise, it would be a fairly sizeable operation.

The big old Higsons brewery building, Grade II listed, is being developed into a brewery village, which I wrote about in 2013 here. Mr Mikhail has given no indication yet whether he will revive the previous Cains beers or start from scratch with new recipes, as the latest manifestation of Higsons has done. I tried one of the new Higsons beers recently and didn't think it was anything special.

I'd be very surprised if this announcement will engender much excitement locally, but I'll save my judgement until I've tasted the product. This will be the second revival of the Cains name. The original Cains ceased to be brewed in Liverpool in the 1920s, but the name was called out of retirement in 1991. As for Higsons, we are now on the fourth version, if you include the original that was destroyed by Whitbread. I wonder how many times you can resuscitate a brand before its credibility evaporates completely?

Generally I don't see much point in using an old name and producing beers that have no resemblance to the originals; it's simply cashing in on brand nostalgia, but I suppose there's no harm in it because your beers will have to stand or fall on their quality: people won't sup solely for nostalgic reasons indefinitely.


  1. Our drinking forefathers really would be amazed that, apart from London and Manchester, no big city in England - Liverpool, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, Newcastle - now has a brewery above micro level as cheaper out of town brewing sites and the redevelopment opportunities of their large, inner-city Victorian brewery buildings have combined to make them sell up.

    It'll be interesting to see what volumes of beer are produced by the new brewery: the comparison they make with the Guinness visitor experience in Dublin may also be indicative of what's planeed, given that you don't actually see the brewery when you go there.

  2. The up to 200 people isn't just people working in the brewery which tends to be quite low for any size of brewery. It covers those in the potential bars, pubs, music venues and hotel.


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