Protests over Tetley’s move

Posted on 9 Mar 2010 by The Manufacturer

There is growing discontent over brewer Carlsberg’s plans to move production of Tetley’s Cask bitter away from Leeds – the city it was founded in and has been produced in for almost 200 years.

Danish brewer Carlsberg which owns the brand announced last week that it has agreed a deal to have Tetley’s Cask ale produced under license by fellow brewer Marston’s from 2011. This will see production move away from the Joshua Tetley Brewery in Leeds where the bitter has been brewed since its inception in 1822 to Wolverhampton. Production of Tetley’s over leading brand Smoothflow will move to Molson Coors’ Tadcaster brewery in North Yorkshire under a separate agreement. The two deals collectively entail the closure of the Joshua Brewery and the 170 employees there will lose their jobs.

The move has left a sour taste in Leeds. Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland has called for locals to boycott Carlsberg products and on Friday poured a can of the Danish company’s signature lager down the drain outside the doomed brewery in protest.

Mullholland of the Liberal Democrat party said: “This is an appalling decision by Carlsberg UK, which brings a sad end to over 180 years of brewing in Leeds.

“It’s a decision made purely in the interests of corporate greed with no regard for Tetley’s heritage as a famous Leeds beer.

“I am calling for the good people of Leeds to boycott Carlsberg lager to show how we feel about them moving Tetley’s away. I hope they will join me in not touching another drop of Carlsberg.”

Andy Hume, Brewery Director at the Leeds Brewery, said the company tried unsuccessfully to find a new Yorkshire home with enough capacity to brew the cask ale.

“As such we needed to find the best option outside of Yorkshire in terms of quality and processes and Marston’s provides this,” he said. “Marston’s are passionate about brewing great quality cask ale, using traditional methods and are one of the biggest cask ale brewers in the country.”

Mullholland has been joined in his condemnation of the move by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) – an independent 100,000 member group that seeks to protect the interests of traditional bitters and pubs in the UK – and the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, led by Selby MP John Grogan.

“Carlsberg don’t do geography lessons, but if they did they’d clearly realise the impact this move will have on the pub-going community in Yorkshire,” said CAMRA vice-chairman Bob Stukins.

“It’s unbelievable to think that a long-standing global brewer would make this move at a time when the real ale industry is enjoying year on year growth, and CAMRA’s annual research is showing a steep increase in the number of consumers trying real ale for the first time.”

Tetley’s has been part of the Carlsberg Group since 1998. Carlsberg is the world’s fourth largest brewer with over 500 brands. It employs 45,000 people worldwide.