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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Doomed! - Coors buys Sharp's

And so it is, a regional brewer producing quality and interesting beer, defying the odds on having to ship the stuff from the arse end of nowhere and just starting to turn a profit, is snapped up by a big multinational.  The inevitable tide of economics dictates the future.  And sadly that means (probably, but I'm happy to be proved wrong) the loss of 60 jobs in Rock in about 2 years time.  I do hope that it's not just media spin and that Coors really do leave the brewery in Cornwall  alone, but I rather suspect this is a nice piece of PR to tide them over while they build the national volumes.

So, is this such a bad thing for drinkers or for Doom bar?  Arguably not.  I'm happy to accept that I'm pretty much flying in the face of my own blogging rules (do I have rules?) in that I'm less worried about this from a beer point of view, and actually just feeling sorry for the Cornish (can't deny those westcountry roots).  In this respect you have to admire Marstons because they do preserve the local breweries (and jobs) and relinquish the obvious economies of scale.  But I accept in present times that profit must persevere over sentiment. 

Sharps were pretty much the new kid on the block, and one thing that new kids are generally known for is being adventurous and innovative.  So what do we expect the new incarnation of Sharps to produce?  Will Stuart Howe still be allowed to spread his wings and experiment?  I suspect not, they've bought a brand not a brewery.  And therein lies the crux of it - national brands and distribution are not natural bedfellows with quirky beers that push the boundaries.  Whilst I'd rather have the latter there is an evolution process and I have to admit that it's going to be interesting when Coors throw their immense marketing power and distribution channels behind a brand which had already punched above its weight to grow as quickly as it had.  This will keep the other nationals on their toes, so watch this space...

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