Newcastle Brown Ale
Newcastle Brown Ale
|Country of origin||Newcastle upon Tyne, England, United Kingdom|
|Alcohol by volume||4.7%|
Newcastle Brown Ale (colloquially "Newkie Brown" (UK), "Newcastle" (US) or "Dog" (North East of England)) is the world's best known brown ale and an icon of the North East of England. The brand is owned by Heineken and produced at their John Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England.
It was launched in 1927 by Colonel Jim Porter after three years of development. The merger of Newcastle Breweries with Scottish Brewers afforded the beer national distribution, and United Kingdom sales peaked by the early 1970s. The brand underwent a resurgence in the late 1980s-early 1990s with a cult revival in student unions. By the late 1990s the beer was the most widely distributed alcoholic product in the UK. By the 2000s, the majority of sales were in the United States, where the beer has proven extremely popular, although it still sells 100 million bottles annually in the UK. In 2005, brewing was moved from Newcastle upon Tyne to Dunston on the other side of the River Tyne, and in 2010 moved entirely to Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.
Newcastle Brown Ale is perceived in the UK as a working man's beer, with a long association with heavy industry, the traditional economic staple of the North East of England. Ironically, in export markets it is seen as a trendy, premium import and is predominantly drunk by the young. It was one of the first beers to be distributed in a clear glass bottle, and it is most readily associated with this form of dispense in the UK, being very rarely seen on draught.
Tyne Brewery, Newcastle 
Newcastle Brown Ale was originally created by Lt. Colonel James ('Jim') Herbert Porter (b. 1892, Burton upon Trent), a third generation brewer at Newcastle Breweries, in 1927. Col. Porter had served in the North Staffordshire Regiment in the First World War earning his DSO with Bar before moving to Newcastle. Porter had refined the recipe for Newcastle Brown Ale alongside chemist Archie Jones over a period of three years. When Porter actually completed the beer he believed it to be a failure, as he had actually been attempted to recreate Bass ale. The original beer had an original gravity of 1060º and was 6.25 ABV, and it sold at a premium price of 9 shillings for a dozen pint bottles. The day after the beer's release, police begged the brewery to lower the strength of the beer, as the prison cells were full. When first exhibited, Newcastle Brown Ale swept the board at the prestigious 1928 International Brewery Awards. The gold medals from these awards are still featured on the label. Thirty years later Col. Jim Porter became managing director of Newcastle Breweries, Ltd, and was awarded a CBE. He died in Newcastle in 1973. His father was John Herbert Porter, who together his grandfather, James ran James Porter & Son, the brewery in Burton upon Trent that bought Robinson & Sons brewery in Burton in 1889.
Newcastle Brown Ale went into production at Tyne Brewery in 1927, with Newcastle Breweries having occupied the site since 1890, with brewing on the site dating back to 1868.
The blue star logo was introduced to the Newcastle Brown Ale bottle in 1928, the year after the beer was launched. The five points of the star represent the five founding breweries of Newcastle. One of these, John Barras, is now commemorated in the pub chain of the same name.
Newcastle Brown Ale became a brand of Scottish & Newcastle after the merger of Scottish Brewers with Newcastle Breweries in 1960 where it became a flagship brand alongside McEwan's Export and Younger's Tartan Special.
By 1997 Scottish and Newcastle claimed that it was the most widely distributed alcoholic product in both pubs and off licences in the country.
Move to Federation Brewery, Gateshead 
Scottish and Newcastle announced closure of the Tyne Brewery on 22 April 2004, in order to consolidate the brewing of beer and ale in the Federation Brewery site in Dunston, Gateshead, which was to pass to S&N with their £7.2m purchase of the Federation Brewery. This was despite investing £16.5 million in a new bottling plant at the Tyne Brewery in 1999. The purchase and consolidation at Dunston created the new brewing company, Newcastle Federation Breweries.
The last production run of Brown Ale came off the Tyne Brewery line in May 2005. Pre-production trial brews were conducted at Dunston to ensure there was no change in its distinctive taste after the move.
The Tyne Brewery site was bought by a consortium of Newcastle University, Newcastle City Council and the regional development agency One NorthEast, as part of the wider Newcastle Science City project. Demolition of the former brewery began on 8 March 2007. The triggering of the controlled demolition of the former Barrack Road bottling plant opposite St James' Park was ceremonially performed by Sir Bobby Robson on 23 June 2008.
Move to John Smith's Brewery, Tadcaster 
On 13 October 2009 it was announced by Scottish & Newcastle that it planned to close the Dunston brewery in 2010, moving production of Brown Ale to the John Smiths Brewery in Tadcaster also. The company cited the general fall in the market for beer, over-capacity in its plants in general, and the fact that the Dunston site was currently operating at just 60% capacity, despite the fact that sales of Newcastle Brown Ale had never been higher. The plan to close the brewery by the end of May 2010 was confirmed on 21 April 2010.
Distribution and export 
The beer is one of the United Kingdom's leading bottled ales and is in the top twenty highest selling ales overall, selling around 100,000 hectolitres annually. At the time of brewing moving to Dunston in 2005, Newcastle Brown was being exported to 41 countries. At times, over half of the brewery's output is directed overseas to the U.S. In 2010, more than 640,000 hectolitres of the beer were sold in the United States, more than double the 2001 total. In the United States the beer is available in bottles and in keg. Newcastle Brown is also distributed in cans in the U.S., but is very rare. In Canada and France (Brittany) the beer is available in short and tall bottles and in cans. The beer is also available in British-themed pubs as a draught beer in Australia and New Zealand; brewed in the UK and imported by The Beer and Cider Company. The UK-brewed bottled, kegs and cans are widely available in Australian liquor outlets as part of their international range. It is also popular in Canada, available on draught at many British-themed pubs.
Names and phrases 
In 2000, the beer was renamed "Newcastle Brown" with the "Ale" being removed from the front label. This change, only in the UK, was due to market research claiming that the term "ale" was outdated and costing the company sales in the youth drinking markets. The older name was reinstated with no fanfare in 2004, when it was realised that the change had made no difference to sales.
In the North East, Newcastle Brown Ale is often given the nickname, "Dog", alluding to the British euphemism of seeing a man about a dog. It is also known as Broon; 'brown', as pronounced in the Geordie dialect. Elsewhere in the UK it is known as 'Newkie Brown'.
Newcastle Brown Ale is traditionally sold in Britain by the pint (20 fl oz, 568 ml) and more recently in 550 ml (19.4 fl oz, 0.97 pint) bottles. Typically the ale is consumed from a 12 fl oz Wellington glass. This allows the drinker to regularly top-up the beer and thereby maintain a frothy "head." In the United States, it is also sold in 12 fl oz (355 ml) bottles. In April 2010, Heineken USA introduced the Wellington glass, branded as the "Geordie Schooner," for Newcastle Brown Ale consumers in America. The pint glass features a nucleated base.
Association with the North East 
Like many British breweries, Newcastle Brown is strongly associated with its local area, in this case being the North East. While the name provides a lot of this, the sponsorship of Newcastle United, the depiction of the River Tyne in the blue star and mentioning in programmes such as Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads have helped ensure its association. Its local provenance gave the brand an association with "hardy, working class traditions and values".
Under the European Union Protected Geographical Status laws introduced in 1992, the name Newcastle Brown Ale was granted protected brand status in February 2000. In late 2007 this was removed when brewing of the beer moved wholly away from its place of origin to Tadcaster in Yorkshire. The company was obliged to make a formal application to cancel it.
The ale is mentioned in the popular blues rock song "Thirty Days in the Hole", by British group Humble Pie and has been seen drunk in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory as well as the Showtime drama/comedy House of Lies
Special editions 
When the Australian brewer Elders IXL launched a takeover bid for Scottish & Newcastle, locals of Newcastle began the "Keep Us on Top!" campaign. As a sign of solidarity, the Newcastle Brown label was inverted until the takeover was quashed.
In 2005 the last 3,000 bottles produced in Newcastle were given commemorative labels "121 years of brewing history, last bottles produced at Tyne Brewery April 2005." and given to the brewery staff.
In 2006, a special production run of 2.5 million bottles celebrated the career of Newcastle United striker Alan Shearer, who had recently broken the club's scoring record and was about to retire from football. The brewery produced the special editions featuring Newcastle United's black and white stripes and Shearer's portrait, in exchange for a donation to Shearer's testimonial match, and they went on sale from 17 April that year.
In 2007 a special edition was released to celebrate local rock band Maxïmo Park. The label was designed by the band and the beer released to coincide with the band's concert at Newcastle Metro Radio Arena on 15 December. Also in 2007, a special 80th anniversary themed bottle was distributed..
Other Newcastle brands 
Newcastle Exhibition is a draught pasteurised keg beer (4.3% ABV) first introduced in 1929 and commonly found around the Newcastle area.
Newcastle Amber Ale (1032 OG) was a light ale available until the 1980s. It was a diluted version of Exhibition. Amber Ale and a much stronger aged stock beer was formerly blended to create Newcastle Brown Ale. This method was discontinued sometime before the brand was moved to Dunston.
Newcastle Star was a strong bottled beer (7.5% ABV) available from 1999 to 2006.
In 2010, Heineken USA launched Newcastle Summer Ale in bottles. In 2011, Heineken USA launched Newcastle Werewolf (fall ale) and Winter IPA. In 2012, Heineken USA will introduce Newcastle Founders ale (an Extra Special Bitter style) as their spring seasonal.
in winter 2012 Newcastle winter ale (5.2%) and Newcastle nocturnal ale (4.5%) were also launched in Tescos across the UK.
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