“Molson Coors buys Sharp’s Brewery for £20m”
To read that headline in The Publican was very much a shock to the system.
I always thought that Sharp’s would be the next regional brewer to be taken over by a larger company, however I personally expected Marston’s to be the company involved.
“Commenting on the deal Mark Hunter, Molson Coors’ chief executive, said his company respected what he called the “unique culture of Sharp’s brewery and the special appeal of their brands to beer drinkers”.” – The Publican
I honestly hope that Molson Coors really will stand by that sentiment – unfortunately the prior track record of the larger national breweries and buy-outs of smaller regionals has been extremely poor.
The purchase of Ringwood Brewery by Marston’s in 2007 is possibly the closest parallel to this situation. I left my employment with Ringwood Brewery the month before the take-over so I experienced the atmosphere and culture of a superb independant regional brewery. Despite what the public image of Ringwood Brewery that Marston’s now pushes, I know that things have changed within the brewery. Unfortunately, it is inevitable.
The new relationship between Sharp’s and Coors, if managed correctly, could allow the various Sharp’s brands to grow into national brands (for better or worse!). The problems would begin when national demand is too much for the small brewery in Rock to cope with. I highly doubt that the brewery would be expanded in Rock; I would expect to see the main brands to shif brewing to Coors’ other breweries across the country to help to lower distribution costs.
Impact upon The Castle Inn
Unfortunately changes seem to be already passing through Sharp’s – I heard today that the brewery will no longer be dealing with Pins (36 pints rather than the traditional 72 pint Firkin).
At the Castle Inn we use pins throughout the winter (September to May) in order to maintain our large range of cask ale and also ensuring that we are shifting a container in a maximum of two days.
I am waiting to hear back from our Sharp’s Rep (who says it is business as usual at the brewery) to see what will be happening regarding the Pin situation.
It would be very sad to not stock Sharp’s beer, but unfortunately we cannot compromise quality over sentiment!