Bass Brewery

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Bass Brewery
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1777
Founder(s) William Bass
Headquarters Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire (brewery); Luton, Bedfordshire (Bass brand), England
Products Beer
Production output 365,000 hectolitres (2011) [1]
Owner(s) Molson Coors Brewing Company (brewery); Anheuser-Busch InBev (Bass brand)

The Bass Brewery /ˈbæs/ was founded in 1777 by William Bass in Burton upon Trent, England.[2] The main brand was Bass Pale Ale, once the highest selling beer in the UK.[3] By 1877, Bass had become the largest brewery in the world, with an annual output of one million barrels.[4] Its pale ale was exported throughout the British Empire, and the company's distinctive red triangle became the UK's first registered trademark.[5]

Bass took control of a number of other large breweries in the early 20th century, and in the 1960s merged with Charrington United Breweries to become the largest UK brewing company, Bass Charrington.[2] The brewing operations of the company were bought by Interbrew (now Anheuser-Busch InBev) in 2000, while the retail side (hotel and pub holdings) were renamed Six Continents plc. The UK government's Competition Commission was concerned about the monopoly implications arising from the deal, and instructed Interbrew to dispose of the brewery and certain brands (Carling and Worthington ) to Coors (now Molson Coors Brewing Company), but allowed Interbrew to retain the rights to the Bass Pale Ale brand.[6] In 2010, it was widely reported that AB-InBev are attempting to sell the rights to the Bass brand in the UK for around £10-15 million.[3]

Draught Bass (4.4% ABV) has been brewed under contract in Burton by Marston's for AB-InBev since 2005.[7][8] Bottled and keg products are brewed at AB-InBev's own brewery in Samlesbury for export, except in the United States and Belgium, where Bass is brewed locally.[9] Bass Ale is a top ten premium canned ale in the UK, with 16,080 hectolitres sold in 2010.[10]

History[edit]

Bass Charrington Timeline

A small wooden barrel from the Bass Brewery, now in the Staffordshire County Museum at Shugborough Hall

Prior to establishing a brewery, William Bass transported ale for brewer Benjamin Printon. Bass sold this carrier business to the Pickford family, using the funds to establish Bass & Co Brewery in 1777 as one of the first breweries in Burton upon Trent.[11]

Early in the company's history, Bass was exporting bottled beer around the world, serving the Baltic region through the port of Hull. Growing demand led his son Michael Thomas Bass (senior), to build a second brewery in Burton in 1799 in partnership with John Ratcliff. The water produced from local boreholes became popular with brewers, with 30 operating there by the mid-19th century. His son, Michael Thomas Bass, succeeded on his father's death in 1827, renewed the Ratcliff partnership, brought in John Gretton, and created 'Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton'.

The opening of a railway through Burton in 1839[12] redoubled Burton's preeminence as a brewing town. In the mid-1870s, Bass, Ratcliff and Gretton accounted for one third of Burton's output. A strong export business allowed Bass to boast their product was available "in every country in the globe".[13][14] By 1877, Bass was the largest brewery in the world, with an annual output of one million barrels.[15] Following the death of the second Michael Bass in 1884, his son Michael Arthur Bass, later the 1st Baron Burton, took the reins. The brewer became a public limited company in 1888.[16]

Both the second Michael Thomas Bass and his son Lord Burton were philanthropically inclined, making extensive charitable donations to the towns of Burton and Derby. Early in the 20th century, a declining market closed many Burton breweries, twenty in 1900 falling to eight in 1928. Bass took over Walkers in 1923, Worthington and Thomas Salt in 1927, and James Eadie in 1933.

Bass was one of the original London Stock Exchange FT 30 companies when the listing was established in 1935.[17] Over the next half-century, Bass maintained its UK dominance through acquiring such brewers as Mitchells & Butlers (1961), Charringtons (1967), Bents-Gartsides (1967), John Joule & Sons (1968), William Stones Ltd (1968), and Grimsby's Hewitt Brothers Ltd (1969), being variously known as Bass, Mitchells and Butlers or Bass Charrington.

Following decades of closures and consolidation, Bass was left by the end of the 20th century with one of the two large remaining breweries in Burton. It also had substantial holdings in hotels, since sold to InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). Mitchells and Butlers lives on as the assignee of the licensed retail outlet business which separated from the Six Continents plc company that succeeded Bass plc in 2003.

Separation of brewery and beer[edit]

Bottles of Bass beer for sale at a liquor store in Iizaka, Fukushima, Japan

Bass plc's brewing business was bought by the Belgian brewer Interbrew (now InBev) in June 2000, its hotel and pub holdings absorbed and renamed Six Continents plc.[18]

After the Competition Commission raised potential monopoly concerns,[19] Interbrew disposed of Bass Brewers Limited's Carling and Worthington brands to Coors (now Molson Coors Brewing Company), but retained rights to Bass beer production.

The beer was produced under licence by Coors, which retained the Bass brewing capacity. Bass Brewers Limited was renamed Coors Brewers Limited. When the licence to brew draught Bass came to an end in 2005, it was taken up by Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries PLC, which started production at Burton's Marston's Brewery. Bottled and keg Bass formerly exported to the USA with a higher abv are now produced there domestically by Anheuser-Busch at a Baldwinsville, New York facility.

Sited next to the brewery, the Bass Museum of Brewing (renamed the Coors Visitor Centre & The Museum of Brewing), was Burton upon Trent's largest tourist attraction until closed by Coors in June 2008. A steering group was established to investigate re-opening,[20][21] and the museum was relaunched in May 2010 as the National Brewery Centre.[22]

Marketing[edit]

Bottles of Bass alongside the champagne in Manet's 1882 A Bar at the Folies-Bergère

Bass was a pioneer in international Brand marketing. The Bass Red Triangle was the first trademark to be registered under the UK's Trade Mark Registration Act 1875.[23] The Act came into effect on 1 January 1876 and that New Year's Eve a Bass employee queued overnight outside the registrar's office in order to be the first in line to register a trademark the next morning. As a result, Bass, Ratcliff & Gretton Limited received the first two registrations, the Bass Red Triangle for their pale ale and the Bass Red Diamond next for their strong ale.[24] The trademarks are now owned by Brandbrew SA, an Interbrew subsidiary based in Luxembourg.[25]

Bottles of Bass with the Red Triangle logo have occasionally appeared in art and literature, including Édouard Manet's 1882 painting A Bar at the Folies-Bergère[26] and in over 40 paintings by Picasso, mostly at the height of his Cubist period around 1914.[27][28][29] In the "Oxen of the Sun" episode of James Joyce's Ulysses, Bloom observes the Bass logo.[30]

Sponsorship[edit]

Versions of Bass[edit]

Draught Bass[edit]

Draught Bass is a 4.4% ABV top ten cask conditioned and canned beer generally found in the UK. Most prevalent near to its Burton upon Trent and Derbyshire heartlands,[1] it is brewed by Marston's in Burton in Yorkshire squares. Using English hops and dry hopping,[32] it is described as "a classic ale with a malty, fruity, nutty aroma and a complex, satisfying flavour".[33] It is available in 500 ml cans and has previously been a 4% and 4.3% ABV beer.[34] Sales in 2010 were less than a third of 2004's.[35]

Bass Ale[edit]

This is the exported version of Bass, usually brewed to around 5% ABV.

UK keg ales[edit]

  • Bass Extra Smooth - A 3.6% ABV pasteurised keg version of Bass, brewed to the same recipe, and most popular in the South West of England.[36]
  • Bass Mild XXXX - A 3.1% ABV keg mild.[37]

Shandy Bass[edit]

Shandy Bass is a 0.5% ABV shandy made with Bass beer and lemonade.[39] Introduced in 1972, it is made by Britvic and is most popular in Northern England.[37]

Bass overseas[edit]

Ireland[edit]

Bass was introduced in Ireland in the 1960s by Cork based brewers Beamish and Crawford. The beer proved popular until the 1980s, when sales began to decline. Bass was marketed in Ireland with the slogan "Ah that's Bass". Many metal signs bearing the slogan are still visible on many pubs across Ireland. It enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in the early 1990s under Tennents Ireland but once again fell away possibly due to a lack of any concerted advertising campaign. Attempts to revive the beer under InBev also failed.

Bass sold in Ireland is fizzier and sweeter than in England. It is still sold in many bars in Dublin and in pint bottles in Ireland's South East region.

United States[edit]

Substantial amounts of Draught Bass have been exported to America since at least 1966.[40] In 2001, 66,500,000 litres of Bass were sold in the United States.[41] However Bass seems to have suffered under the custodianship of InBev and later Anheuser-Busch InBev as it is undergoing heavy decline in American consumption, with 24,200,000 litres sold in the country in 2010.[41] AB InBev have pledged funding to support the Bass brand in America, and since June 2012, Bass has been brewed in Baldwinsville, New York for the American market.

Elsewhere[edit]

In 1860 Bass was the first foreign beer to be sold in Japan.[42]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Alcoholic Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics
  2. ^ a b "Molson Coors (UK)". www.molsoncoors.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  3. ^ a b AB InBev to offload Bass beer at bargain price
  4. ^ http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/when-brick-lane-was-home-to-the-biggest-brewery-in-the-world/
  5. ^ Brands: the logos of the global economy – Google Books. books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  6. ^ "The British government has ruled that it will allow the Belgian brewing conglomerate, interbrew, to keep Bass Brewers if it disposes of the Carling beer business as it had undertaken. (Business Briefs). Europe > Western Europe from AllBusiness.com". www.allbusiness.com. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  7. ^ "Bass Brewers". www.quaffale.org.uk. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  8. ^ Burton-Upon-Trent Brewery
  9. ^ "Samlesbury (InBev UK – InBev)". ratebeer.com. Retrieved 2 September 2009. 
  10. ^ PBA Report 2011
  11. ^ "Find Out More About Pickfords From 1630 To 2005, With a Complete History of Pickfords Moving and Storage". Pickfords.co.uk. 14 February 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  12. ^ www.burton-on-trent.org
  13. ^ A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 9: Burton-upon-Trent (2003)
  14. ^ A Bottle of Guinness Please By David Hughes
  15. ^ http://zythophile.wordpress.com/2013/03/14/when-brick-lane-was-home-to-the-biggest-brewery-in-the-world/
  16. ^ Kidd, Charles, Williamson, David (editors). Debrett's Peerage and Baronetage (1990 edition). New York: St Martin's Press, 1990,[page needed]
  17. ^ "Financial Times – FT 30 information page". Financial Times. 1 July 1935. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  18. ^ Bass to become Six Continents The Guardian, 27 June 2001
  19. ^ "Food & Drink Weekly – Monday, January 28, 2002". Allbusiness.com. 28 January 2002. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "Power group set up to save museum; ''The Burton Mail''". Burtonmail.co.uk. Archived from the original on 27 May 2011. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  21. ^ Logged in as click here to log out (23 November 2009). ""The brewing museum is victory at the barley roots" ''The Guardian'', 23 November 2009". Guardian (UK). Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  22. ^ HRH The Princess Royal Opens the National Brewery Centre, Burton Brewery Centre, National Brewery Centre, UK.
  23. ^ "IPO trade mark 1". Ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  24. ^ "IPO trade mark 2". Ipo.gov.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  25. ^ "American Beverage Co Ambev – 20-F – For 12/31/04 – EX-4.17". SEC Info. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  26. ^ Kenneth Bendiner, Food in painting: from the Renaissance to the present, page 73. Reaktion Books, 2004, ISBN 1861892136. Retrieved 4 April 2010. 
  27. ^ Ma Jolie
  28. ^ Verre, violon et bouteille de Bass
  29. ^ "Bouteille de Bass, verre et journal". Photo.rmn.fr. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  30. ^ "During the past four minutes or thereabouts he had been staring hard at a certain amount of number one Bass bottled by Messrs Bass and Co at Burton-on-Trent which happened to be situated amongst a lot of others right opposite to where he was and which was certainly calculated to attract anyone's remark on account of its scarlet appearance." — Episode XIV, Ulysses, James Joyce (1922).
  31. ^ "Derby County – Historical Football Kits". Historicalkits.co.uk. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  32. ^ Enhanced Marston's Bass gets trade launch
  33. ^ One Stop Shop
  34. ^ Bass plc An assessment, evaluation and recommendations for their strategic approach in entering foreign beer markets Type: Case study Author(s): Demetris Vrontis, Claudio Vignali Source: International Marketing Review Volume: 16 Issue: 4/5 1999
  35. ^ John, Peter. "Wolves & Dudley to Become Uk's Largest Traditional Beer Brewer." Financial Times [London, England] 2 Oct. 2004: 4. Financial Times. Web. 21 Aug. 2011.
  36. ^ Bass goes Extra Smooth
  37. ^ a b One Stop Shop
  38. ^ In Kegs
  39. ^ Britvic
  40. ^ "Bass, Mitchells & Butlers Limited." Financial Times [London, England] 17 Dec. 1966: 5. Financial Times. Web. 21 Aug. 2011.
  41. ^ a b Euromonitor, 2011
  42. ^ "Double Bass." Financial Times [London, England] 3 Nov. 1995: 15. Financial Times. Web. 21 Aug. 2011.

External links[edit]