Consumers to seek assurances over future of Horndean Brewery, Gale’s pubs and beer range
Beer consumer group, the Campaign for Real Ale has reacted angrily to today’s announcement that London brewer Fuller’s is to acquire George Gale and Company in Horndean, and has pledged to fight to prevent the closure of the 158 year-old Hampshire brewery.
Mike Benner, Chief Executive, said,
Gale’s is a brewing landmark in Hampshire, brewing award-winning beers such as HSB and Festival Mild. Today’s announcement by Fuller’s makes no promises to keep the Horndean brewery open and it is clearly under threat. We will campaign to protect this unique Victorian tower brewery from closure.
The irrevocable deal leaves Fuller’s with around 360 pubs and access to Gale’s substantial free trade accounts. The future of the Gale’s Brewery and its beers is unclear as Fuller’s plans a major review of its operations.
Mike Benner added,
In 2005 alone we have seen Ridleys of Essex and Belhaven in Scotland fall victim to Greene King and Jennings of Cumbria swallowed up by Wolverhampton and Dudley. Consolidation is eroding our brewing heritage and reducing consumer choice.
CAMRA will be seeking assurances from Fuller’s that the Horndean Brewery will continue to brew the full range of Gale’s beers and that Gale’s pubs will not lose their identity with the Hampshire brewer.
“CAMRA has a good relationship with Fuller’s and it has demonstrated its commitment to an interesting range of quality cask beers. We will be pressing Fuller’s to continue this tradition and ensure Gales’ beers continue to be brewed in their Horndean heartland.”
Mr. Benner said,
There are potential beer portfolio clashes and we don’t want to see Gale’s Butser Bitter or Gale’s Best handpumps replaced with Fuller’s Chiswick or London Pride. Drinkers in Hampshire will not take kindly to the loss of their favourite beers.
John Cryne, CAMRA’s Brewery Liaison Officer and former National Chairman of CAMRA, said,
Whilst we clearly oppose the takeover, it does provide some sort of counter balance to the growing domination of W&DB and Greene King. Hopefully the fact that a family owned brewery has this time found shelter with another member of the Independent Family Brewers of Britain, rather than joining the ‘big two’ where its identity would quickly be subsumed, will result in a future for both Gale’s and Fuller’s.
Gale’s Festival Mild is a long standing favourite with real ale drinkers and has picked up a number of CAMRA awards including the silver medal in the Champion Winter Beer of Britain competition in 2003 and 2004. Gales also brews Prize Old Ale, a unique real ale in a bottle.
New website set-up with an on-line petition.