Monday, 28 January 2019

Fuller's Brewery sold to Asahi

Coming to a local near you?
It was announced last week that the well-known British regional brewer, Fuller's of London, has sold its brewing concerns to the Japanese brewing multinational, Asahi. Fuller's Griffin Brewery in Chiswick is home to the famous London Pride which is popular across the UK and often seen locally in Merseyside and beyond. Fuller's will now concentrate solely on running its pubs with Asahi as its primary supplier, so I expect that in the short term drinkers may not notice much difference.

Over the years, Asahi has taken over many other breweries, such as Meantime, also in London and mainly known for craft beer, Grolsch in the Netherlands, Italy's Peroni, and Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic. As a truly international concern, it also owns many other brands not so well known in the UK.

It's always worrying when a piece of Britain's traditional brewing heritage falls into multinational ownership, not for Little Englander reasons, but mainly because the breweries acquired in this manner are in the control of boardrooms thousands of miles away. Fuller's has gone from being an independent traditional British brewer to just another brand in Asahi's large international brewing portfolio; as a result, decisions will be made by executives who are unfamiliar with the individual breweries concerned and who would be inclined to see them as little more than entries on a profit and loss account.

I expect that some drinkers will say that it's no great loss - someone usually does - but such a 'dog in the manger' attitude is quite contemptuous of the tastes of the many drinkers, the majority in fact, who have no wish to experiment on their nights out and consequently find a beer, or a few beers, that they like and stick to them. For many such drinkers, Fuller's beers, especially London Pride, fits the bill.

There have been all the usual reassurances about maintaining the production of the popular brands on their traditional site, and I do hope that those promises are kept. However, beer drinkers with long memories will remember similar commitments were regularly made after takeovers in the past - and almost as regularly betrayed. The fact that Meantime Brewery remains open might give us some reason to hope.

Asahi and Fuller's have both expressed satisfaction with this deal and complete confidence in the future of their two companies. As Mandy Rice-Davies might have commented: they would say that, wouldn't they?


  1. I'm not convinced that the new owners will ultimately be able to resist selling off what must be a very valuable piece of land in west London and either brewing the beers on a more modern and cheaper site somewhere else in the country, or contracting another brewery to do so.

  2. If, as Matt says, Fullers does move to a cheaper site, London Pride will have to be renamed, as I have said elsewhere - perhaps "Southport Pride"?

    1. Or they could just keep the name and let drinkers assume that it's still brewed there, as other multinational brewers currently do with Stella Artois (Northampton), Kronenbourg (Manchester) and Newcastle Brown Ale (the Netherlands).


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