Wells & Young's Brewery
Wells & Young's Brewery (Wells & Young's Brewing Company) was formed in October 2006 from the merger of the brewing operations of Charles Wells Ltd and Young's Brewery. Charles Wells initially had a 60% stake and Young's 40%. In 2011, Charles Wells took full control when it bought Young's 40% stake. Wells & Young's is now responsible for brewing, distributing and marketing Charles Wells' and Young & Co's brands at the Eagle Brewery in Bedford.
At the beginning of 2007, Wells and Young's made its first big investment and bought the Courage brands which included Courage Best and Courage Directors.
As well as selling its brands to all the Charles Wells Pub Company sites and the Young's Company sites, Wells and Young's supplies hundreds of 'free trade' sites and other pub company sites (including Enterprise Inns, Punch, Spirit, Admiral Taverns and Stonegate Pub Company) as well as major supermarkets such as Sainsbury's, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and ASDA. The company's 'International Sales' department is also in growth with distribution to the USA, Canada, Russia, Japan, Europe and Australia.
Following a full rebrand in early 2015, the company went back to its roots and traded as Charles Wells once again, reuniting the different arms of the business under its founding name.
In May 2017, Charles Wells announced that it was selling the brewery and wine business to Marston's Brewery together with the Bombardier and McEwan's brands and rights to the Young's brands. It said it would set up a separate brewery in Bedford to brew Charles Wells-branded beers in two years' time.
Wells and Young's beers
- Wells Bombardier – marketed as the 'Drink of England' with a strong link to English Heritage, it is a 4.1% cask beer, in bottles at 4.7% abv and canned at 4.3%. In 2009 Bombardier introduced the Cask Beer font. In 2010, 4.5 million litres of it were sold in Italy.
- Wells Bombardier Burning Gold is a 4.7% abv golden coloured light ale.
- Wells Bombardier Satanic Mills' is a 5.0% abv dark coloured bitter.
- Wells Banana Bread Beer, A beer brewed with fairtrade bananas which is sold filtered and pasteurised in bottles at 5.2% abv, and unfiltered in the cask at 4.3% abv.
- Wells Eagle a 3.6% abv session bitter available in cask and smooth.
- John Bull, a 4.1% beer made with English Challenger and East Kent Goldings hops;
- Waggle Dance, a 5.0% abv pale ale made with the addition of South American honey, named after the waggle dance a bee performs to alert the hive of a source of nectar. The brand was originally owned and brewed by Sunderland-based brewer, Vaux; it was bought by Young's Brewery when the Vaux brewery was closed in 1999, and by 2008, the brand was transferred to Charles Wells beer.
- Kestrel Super, 9.0% abv. Super strength brand acquired by Wells in 2005 from Scottish & Newcastle.
In a bid to move away from 'super strength' and to focus on the brewery's core brands, the Kestrel brand was sold in October 2012 to the company's managing director.
Young's main brands are Young's Bitter (commonly known as Ordinary), a 3.7% abv bitter made with Red Tractor accredited Maris Otter and crystal malt and Fuggle and Golding hops; and Young's Special, a 4.5% abv version of the Ordinary.
Bottle conditioned brands are Young's Bitter at 4.5% abv, Young's London Gold, and Young's Special London Ale, a 6.4% abv strong pale ale which was awarded a gold medal for bottle conditioned beer at the 1999 CAMRA Great British Beer Festival, and it received a Grand Gold Medal at Monde Selection's World Quality Selections in 2010.
Bottled beers which aren't bottle conditioned are: Young's Double Chocolate Stout, a 5.2% abv stout which contains dark chocolate essence and chocolate malt; and Young's Ram Rod, a 5% abv beer named after the Dorset Horn ram that lived in the Ram Brewery stables in Wandsworth, and on which the company's trademark is based;
Bottled beers Young's have brewed in the past include:Old Nick, a 7.2% abv barley wine; Young's St George's Ale, a 5.2% abv pale ale, dry hopped with English Pilgrim hops (occasionally available cask conditioned at 4.3% abv); Young's Winter Warmer; John Young's Christmas Ale; Young's Oatmeal Stout and Young's Christmas Pudding Ale.
Several Young's beers, including bottled mild ale Dirty Dick's, summer seasonal cask ale Golden Zest, Kew Brew and keg lager Young's Pilsner were discontinued as part of the rationalisation process that took place when Young & Co and Charles Wells brewing operations merged. Kew Brew has recently been relaunched as Kew Gold, a 4.8% abv bottle conditioned beer, with a donation from every purchase made to Kew Gardens.
In January 2007, Wells & Young's bought the brewing and marketing rights of the Courage brands, Courage Directors, Mild, Light Ale and Best from Scottish & Newcastle. It has subsequently rekindled production of the famous 10% abv bottled Courage Imperial Russian Stout initially for sale in the USA. S&N kept a minority stake in the brands until 2011.
McEwan's and Younger's
In late 2011, Wells and Young's Brewing Company purchased the Scottish McEwan's and Younger's brands from Heineken UK. This acquisition put Wells and Young’s into the top three premium ale brewers in the UK.
Beers contract brewed and imported by Wells & Young's include –
Kirin Ichiban, a 5% abv pale lager, brewed under licence for the Japanese brewing company Kirin. It is brewed using the unique Ichiban Shibori brewing process, the most expensive in the world. According to the Kirin Ichiban website, this is a process by which the beer is brewed from a single, first press of the finest ingredients, making the purest, most flavoursome beer every time.
Estrella Damm – a 4.6% bottle and draught beer, now available in the UK. Wells and Young's import, market and distribute. Estrella Damm is brewed by Grupo Damm in Barcelona and is one of Spain's most popular beers.
- "Young & Co's quits the brewing business". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
- "About Wells & Young's – Wells & Young's Brewing Company Limited – www.wellsandyoungs.co.uk". wellsandyoungs.co.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
- "Young's – history". youngs.co.uk. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
- "Last orders for UK's oldest brewery". The Guardian. London. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
- "Kirin Ichiban | Our Lagers | Wells and Young's Brewing Company". Wellsandyoungs.co.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- "Estrella Damm". Wellsandyoungs.co.uk. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
- Wells and Young reveal biggest innovation in cask beer ... ever Archived 14 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Euromonitor 2010
- "Conclusion of review and brewing merger with Charles Wells Ltd" (PDF). Young & Co.’s Brewery, P.L.C. 23 May 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2011.
- This beer was brewed to celebrate Kew's 250th birthday. "Wells & Youngs". ratebeer.com. Retrieved 13 July 2009.
- Milner, Mark (18 January 2007). "Courage beers to switch breweries after brand sale". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
- "WELLS AND YOUNG'S ACQUIRES McEWAN'S AND YOUNGER'S". Retrieved 15 October 2012.