Newcastle Brown Ale

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Newcastle Brown Ale
Newcastle Brown Ale logo.jpg
Newcastle Brown Ale
Type Brown ale
Manufacturer Heineken
Distributor Heineken
Country of origin United Kingdom
Introduced 1927
Alcohol by volume 4.7%
Colour Red-brown[1]
Website m.newcastlebrown.com

Newcastle Brown Ale is a brown ale, originally produced in Newcastle Upon Tyne but now brewed by Heineken at the John Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.

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 in the early 1970s.[2] The brand underwent a resurgence in the late 1980s and early 1990s with a cult revival in student unions.[2] 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, although it still sells 100 million bottles annually in the UK.[3][4] In 2005, brewing moved from Newcastle upon Tyne to Dunston, Tyne and Wear, and in 2010 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.[1] Ironically, in export markets it is seen as a trendy, premium import and is predominantly drunk by the young.[1] 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.

History[edit]

Tyne Brewery on Corporation Street, c.2006. The same location in 2010.

Tyne Brewery, Newcastle[edit]

Newcastle Brown Ale was originally created by Lieutenant Colonel James ('Jim') Herbert Porter (b. 1892, Burton upon Trent), a third generation brewer at Newcastle Breweries, in 1927. 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.[5] When Porter actually completed the beer he believed it to be a failure, as he had actually been attempting to recreate Bass ale.[6] The original beer had an original gravity of 1060º and was 6.25 ABV,[7] and it sold at a premium price of 9 shillings for a dozen pint bottles.[5]

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.[8]

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.

Vaux of Sunderland, a rival brewer, quickly developed Double Maxim to compete.

After the merger of Scottish Brewers with Newcastle Breweries in 1960, Newcastle Brown Ale became a flagship brand of Scottish & Newcastle 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.[9]

Move to Federation Brewery, Gateshead[edit]

Despite investing £16.5 million in a new bottling plant at the Tyne Brewery in 1999,[10] Scottish and Newcastle announced its closure 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 them with their £7.2m purchase of the Federation Brewery.[11] The purchase and consolidation at Dunston created the new brewing company, Newcastle Federation Breweries.[8]

The last production run of Brown Ale in Newcastle came off the Tyne Brewery line in May 2005.[8] Pre-production trial brews were conducted at Dunston to ensure there was no change in its taste after the move.[8]

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.[12] Demolition of the former brewery began on 8 March 2007.[13] 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.[14]

Move to John Smith's Brewery, Tadcaster[edit]

Bottling of Newcastle Brown Ale moved to the John Smith's Brewery in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, in 2007.[15]

Heineken bought Scottish & Newcastle in a joint deal with Carlsberg in 2008.[16]

On 13 October 2009, Scottish & Newcastle announced that it planned to close the Dunston brewery in 2010, moving production of Brown Ale to the John Smiths Brewery in Tadcaster.[17] 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 — as reasons for the closure.[17] The plan to close the brewery by the end of May 2010 was confirmed on 21 April 2010.[2][18]

Production and distribution[edit]

Newcastle Brown ale is brewed with pale malt and crystal malt.[19] It has a lower hopping rate than traditional English bitters.[19]

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 hL (2,200,000 imp gal; 2,600,000 US gal) annually.[20] At the time of brewing moving to Dunston in 2005, Newcastle Brown was being exported to 41 countries.[8] At times, over half of the brewery's output is directed overseas to the U.S.[21] In 2010, more than 640,000 hL (14,000,000 imp gal; 17,000,000 US gal) the beer were sold in the United States, more than double the 2001 total.[22] 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[edit]

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.[23]

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.[24] It is also known as Broon; 'brown', as pronounced in the Geordie dialect. Elsewhere in the UK it is known as 'Newkie Brown'.

Serving[edit]

The Geordie Schooner

Newcastle Brown Ale is traditionally sold in Britain in 1 imperial pint (568 ml; 19 US fl oz) and, more recently, 550 ml (0.97 imp pt) bottles. Typically the ale is consumed from a 12 imp fl oz (340 ml; 12 US fl oz) Wellington glass.[citation needed] This allows the drinker to regularly top-up the beer and thereby maintain a frothy "head." In the United States, it is sold in 12 US fl oz (350 ml) servings. In April 2010, Heineken USA introduced the Wellington glass, branded as the "Geordie Schooner," for Newcastle Brown Ale consumers in America. The glass features a nucleated base.[25]

Association with the North East[edit]

Like many British breweries, Newcastle Brown is strongly associated with its local area, in this case north east England. 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".[2]

Under the European Union Protected Geographical Status laws introduced in 1992, the name Newcastle Brown Ale was granted protected brand status in February 2000.[26] 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.[27]

The closure of S&N's Dunston brewery in May 2010 left Camerons Brewery in Hartlepool as the only remaining significant volume brewery based in the North East of England.[15]

Variations[edit]

Special editions[edit]

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.[citation needed]

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.[8]

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.[28]

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[edit]

Newcastle Exhibition is a draught pasteurised keg beer (4.3% ABV) first introduced in 1929 and commonly found around the Newcastle area.[29]

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.[30] 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.[31]

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 2012, Summer Ale (4.4%) and Founder's Ale (4.8%) were launched in Tescos across the UK.[32]

in winter 2012 Newcastle winter ale (5.2%) and Newcastle nocturnal ale (4.5%) were also launched in Tesco stores across the UK.

In popular culture[edit]

  • Newcastle Brown Ale is mentioned in Eric Hutchinson's song "Rock 'N Roll": Lately it's been a big hassle/Heineken and Newcastle
  • In the film 'Celeste and Jesse Forever', Jesse is seen drinking a bottle of Newkie Brown in a bar
  • The ale is mentioned in the popular blues rock song "Thirty Days in the Hole", by British group Humble Pie
  • It has been seen drunk in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory.
  • Also seen in the Showtime drama/comedy House of Lies.
  • It also makes a brief appearance in the film Taken in the scene where Bryan's friends turn up at his front door during the barbecue scene.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Oxford Companion to Beer (7 October 2011). 7 October 2011. Oxford University Press. p. 608. ISBN 978-0-19-536713-3. Retrieved 12 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Andy Pike (10 November 2010). "Origination: How brands are capturing the power of place and why it matters". Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  3. ^ Hawkes, Steve (13 October 2009). "Newkie Broon leaves Toon". The Sun (London). 
  4. ^ "Newcastle Brown Ale". Retrieved 29 May 2012. [dead link]
  5. ^ a b Jenkins, Dan (28 May 2005). "CITY'S STAR HAS FALLEN". The Northern Echo. 
  6. ^ http://s3.amazonaws.com/cuttings/cuttingpdfs/9793/113_FEATURE%202_NEWCASTLE%20BROWN.pdf
  7. ^ Whitbread Gravity book held at the London Metropolitan Archives, document number LMA/4453/D/02/001
  8. ^ a b c d e f Kerr, Rachel (27 May 2005). "Last orders for landmark brewery". BBC News. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  9. ^ The Evening Standard (London) 12 February 1997 Wednesday 'NEWKY' ON TAP SECTION: D; Pg. 21
  10. ^ "Bobby opens Geordie bubbly". THE JOURNAL (Newcastle, UK). 1 December 1999.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help);
  11. ^ "S&N to close Newcastle brewery". BBC News. 22 April 2004. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  12. ^ "Science plans for Brown Ale site". BBC News. 8 November 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  13. ^ "Time called on historic landmark". BBC News. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  14. ^ "Sir Bobby blasts Brown Ale plant". BBC News. 23 June 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  15. ^ a b BBC Television News, 13 October 2008
  16. ^ Bill Condie (18 February 2009). "Foster's UK dive leaves Heineken with a hangover". Mail Online (London). Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  17. ^ a b "Closure plan for Brown Ale plant". BBC News. 13 October 2009. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  18. ^ "Closure deadline for Brown Ale plant in Gateshead". BBC News. 21 April 2100. Retrieved 23 April 2100.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  19. ^ a b Newcastle Brown Ale & Rachel The Brew master ~ Top Beer
  20. ^ http://newcastlebrown.com/toaa/our_story/index.php?section=tale_of_an_ale[dead link]
  21. ^ "Scottish And Newcastle: Newcastle Brown Ale". Retrieved 11 January 2007. [dead link]
  22. ^ Euromonitor 2011[unreliable source]
  23. ^ Gibson, Neil (13 December 2004). "Ale's well again for Newcastle Brown". The Journal (icNewcastle.co.uk). Retrieved 28 January 2007. [dead link]
  24. ^ "Last orders". Evening Chronicle. 25 January 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  25. ^ Ewalt, David M. Forbes http://blogs.forbes.com/booze/2010/05/17/meet-the-geordie-schooner/ |url= missing title (help). 
  26. ^ "Newcastle toasts brown ale success". BBC News. 25 February 2000. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  27. ^ "Commission Regulation (EC) No 952/2007 of 9 August 2007 cancelling a registration of a name in the Register of protected designations of origin and protected geographical indications (Newcastle Brown Ale (PGI))". Official Journal. European Commission. 9 August 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2007. 
  28. ^ "Shearer brown ale bottle honour". BBC News. 17 April 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2009. 
  29. ^ University Library - Special Collections - Services - Exhibitions - So Thats Why Its Called - - Newcastle University[dead link]
  30. ^ Heritage means little to the marketing men
  31. ^ "Newcastle Star - 53 at RateBeer". Retrieved 29 May 2012. 
  32. ^ [1][dead link]
  • Good Company: The Story of Scottish and Newcastle, Berry Ritchie and Susannah May, James & James (Publishers) Ltd (September 1999), ISBN 0-907383-08-4

External links[edit]