Greene King Brewery

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Greene King
Traded as LSEGNK
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded 1799
Headquarters Bury St Edmunds, England, UK
Key people
Tim Bridge, (Chairman)
Rooney Anand, (CEO)
Products Beer
Revenue £1,194.7 million (2013)[1]
£248.2 million (2013)[1]
Profit £98.3 million (2013)[1]

Greene King is a British brewery established in 1799 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. It has grown to become one of the largest British-owned breweries in the UK through a series of takeovers which have been the subject of some criticism. The company owns pubs and hotels including the Hungry Horse pub chain. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 share index. It currently holds 2% of the UK beer market, although its share has been growing for some time.[2]

Business expansion[edit]

Greene King plaque on the side of a pub in Sudbury, Suffolk

As of 16 April 2007, the Managed Pub division operated 510 local pubs and 280 Destination Pubs (i.e. food-led or hotels). This division was restructured in April 2007 with the appointment of Jonathan Lawson as MD for local pubs, and Jonathan Webster for Destination Pubs. A further 1400 pubs are operated on a tenancy or lease basis by the Pub Partners division.

Greene King has grown both organically and via merger and acquisition. Key acquisitions in recent years include Morland (1999) inc, Ruddles, Morrells brewery (2002),[3] Ridley's (2005), Belhaven (2005), Hardys and Hansons plc (2006) and Hungry Horse.[citation needed] Of these, only the Belhaven Brewery remains open, with the surviving brews of the other three now being produced at Bury St Edmunds.[4]

In August 2007 Greene King announced it had acquired the 35-strong Loch Fyne fish-restaurant chain.[5]

In 2010, Greene King started a new franchise from within called Surf 'n Turf to add to their other divisions of Locals, Hungry Horse, Old English Inns and Pub Partners.[6]

In 2011, Greene King made further acquisitions, buying Cloverleaf, Realpubs[7] and the Capital Pub Company to form a new division called Metropolitan Pub Company.[8][9]

Expansion criticism[edit]

Greene King's ongoing business expansion has sometimes been the subject of criticism. As a result of its active acquisition policy, it has come to be known by beer protesters as Greedy King[10] (or Greed/Greede King). The British consumer group CAMRA, claim that Greene King is in danger of becoming a monopoly by buying out other breweries and thus potentially limiting choice for the pub consumer.[11] These claims are based on the fact that Greene King proposes the buyout of these breweries while not promising to continue the sale of the current range of ales. Production of key product lines has previously often been switched to Bury St Edmunds while lesser brands cease production. Groups like CAMRA generally oppose such brewery closures and any loss of variety in cask-conditioned, or "real" ales. The growing consumer reaction to this shift was demonstrated towards the end of 2006 when a pub in Lewes, East Sussex started a well-publicised protest against Greene King for removing the locally produced Harveys Sussex Best Bitter from sale, while continuing to sell other guest beers.[12]

As well as criticism on expansion, they are keen to maximise profits at the expense of some of their popular pubs and landlords. In January 2014, popular Manchester pub The Lass O'Gowrie (Best Pub in Britain in 2012 in the Great British Pub Awards)[13] was forced to close after landlord Gareth Kavanagh was forced out in an argument over rent. Having lost 40% of their trade after the BBC moved to Salford, Kavanagh won a rent reduction at an independent tribunal, but the brewery forced him out.[14]


Greene King's Westgate brewery is in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. It was established in 1799 by Benjamin Greene,[15] the great-grandfather of the brothers Graham, Hugh and Raymond who have all gone on to become noteworthy in their respective fields of literature, television and mountaineering.

There is a visitor centre next to the brewery, and tours are run regularly throughout the week. The brewery has an exhibition of pub sign artwork by George Taylor, who designed over 250 such signs for Greene King pubs.[16] Ironically, Greene King has been heavily criticised for removing many traditional and historic pub signs as part of rebranding schemes.[17]


Greene King[edit]

Abbot Ale
Ruddles County
  • IPA Export - A stronger cask bitter (5.0% abv) IPA available from off-licenses in bottles, also made using Challenger and English First Gold hops.[22]
  • Olde Suffolk/Strong Suffolk Vintage - A strong old ale (6% abv) that is a blend of two ales, one being aged in oak for 2 years. It is available in bottles.
  • St Edmunds - A crisp golden ale (4.2% abv) recently released. it is available in both bottles and cask nationally.[24]
  • Greene King XX Mild (3% ABV). A dark mild ale available on cask. Black and Crystal malts, Northdown hops.


  • Ruddles County - A 4.7% bitter available on cask nationally and pasteurised in bottles in most British supermarkets.
  • Ruddles Best Bitter - A 3.7% session bitter with national distribution.
  • Ruddles Orchard - This 4.2% cask bitter consists of Ruddles County with the addition of apple concentrate. Also available pasteurised in bottles.


Main article: Old Speckled Hen
  • "Old Speckled Hen" is a popular bitter, available both as a cask ale and pasteurised in bottles. First brewed in 1979 by Morland Brewery in Abingdon, Oxfordshire to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the MG car company setting up in Abingdon, and named after the MG factory's MG car - the paint splattered Owld' Speckled 'Un. Brewed since 1999 by Greene King. Greene King has retained the strain of yeast first used in 1896. Old Golden Hen has received a coveted Monde Selection Award at the 2012 World Quality Selections. By receiving this award, the Old Golden Hen became the third and final member of the Old Speckled Hen family to win a Monde Selection quality award.[25]
Can of Old Speckled Hen

In August 2006, Greene King announced that the abv of draught Old Speckled Hen (cask and keg) would be reduced from 5.2% to 4.5%, though the bottled and canned versions would remain at 5.2%

In 2008, Greene King released a vintage oaked, super premium version of Old Speckled Hen, named Old Crafty Hen (6.5%)[26]

  • Hen's Tooth - A 6.5% bottle conditioned beer.
  • Tanners Jack - abv 4.4% - Regularly seen across the country as a guest beer, often found in Wetherspoons, like many Greene King beers. Also available in 500ml bottle.
  • Morland Original - abv 4.0% - Not seen as much as it was but often pops up in the old Morland heartlands. Also available in 500ml bottle.


  • Old Bob - Still popular in Essex despite the beer's new journey from Bury St Edmunds; it is 5.1% and available both on cask and bottled.

Hardy's & Hansons[edit]

  • Olde Trip - A 4.3% Premium Ale. Named in honour of the Nottingham inn Ye Olde Trip To Jerusalem, which claims to be the oldest inn in Britain. As of September 2007 this was for sale in the Brewery Museum in 500ml bottles.

Trader Joe's[edit]

  • The King's English - A 6.0% export IPA.


Greene King sponsored Ipswich Town Football Club during the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), notably at the time of their Division One playoff triumph in 2000 and fifth-place Premier League finish the following year. It has a stand named after it at Ipswich Town's football ground, Portman Road.

On 8 October 2009, Greene King were named home shirt sponsors for Cambridge United F.C. The three-year deal also includes the clubs Main Stand being renamed the Greene King IPA Main Stand.[27]

Greene King became the main shirt sponsor for Welsh rugby league team the Crusaders on 28 January 2010.[28]

In June 2011, Greene King became the main shirt sponsor for Mansfield Town Football Club.

On 26 June 2013, Greene King and the Rugby Football Union agreed to a four-year deal by which the brewery would become the title sponsor of the RFU Championship, with the competition to be called the Greene King IPA Championship.[29]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ Euromonitor, 'Company Shares of Beer by National Brand Owner 2006-2010', 2010
  3. ^ "UK | England | Brewer buys pub chain for Ł67m". BBC News. 2002-06-18. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  4. ^ "Belhaven". Belhaven. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ [2][dead link]
  7. ^ Nick Fletcher (2011-04-27). "Greene King expands presence in London with Realpubs purchase | Business". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  8. ^ "Metropolitan Pub Company". Metropolitan Pub Company. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  9. ^ "BBC News - Greene King to buy Capital Pub Company". 2011-07-19. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  10. ^ Nick Davies (2006-11-03). "Bonfire night protest turns heat on brewery | UK news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  11. ^ [3][dead link]
  12. ^ "Business | Greene King boss faces a roasting". BBC News. 2006-11-01. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  13. ^ "Great British Pub Awards". 2013-03-25. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  14. ^ "Lass O'Gowrie owner Gareth Kavanagh forced out by brewery Greene King for being 'below average'". Manchester Evening News. 2014-01-02. Retrieved 2014-03-20. 
  15. ^ "Greene family". Oxford DNB article. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  16. ^ "Pub signs of the times on show". Bury Free Press. 2008-08-26. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  17. ^ 7 June 2013 at 12:27pm (2013-06-07). "Suffolk brewery accused of cultural vandalism after scrapping more than 200 traditional pub signs | Anglia - ITV News". Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  18. ^ "Beers & breweries - Our beers - Abbot Ale". Greene King. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  19. ^ "Greene King Abbot Ale (Cask)". Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  20. ^ "Brewing Process". Abbot Ale. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  21. ^ "Available in cask, bottle and can - Abbot Ale". Retrieved 2011-03-23. 
  22. ^ a b Green King: IPA
  23. ^ "all you need to know about beer". Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  24. ^ [4][dead link]
  25. ^ "Investors & Media - Investors - News - Gold for Golden means quality is assured across "Old Speckled Hen" range (24 May, 2012)". Greene King. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  26. ^ "Greene King Old Crafty Hen". Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  27. ^ [5][dead link]
  28. ^ [6][dead link]
  29. ^ [7][dead link]

External links[edit]