Thursday 5 April 2012

Time will tell on new beer deal

I see from this article in the Scottish Licensed Trade News (SLTN) that Glasgow brewing behemoths, Tennent Caledonian Breweries (TCB) has just secured a deal to become the main beer supplier for Alloa based Maclays Inns who have a portfolio of 26 managed pubs across Scotland.

My local real ale pub, The Three Judges, is a Maclay's pub but what makes the Judges a bit different from other Maclay's pubs is that they are given a bit more latitude and choice to decide what real ales occupy the eight pumps at the Judges given over to guest ales. These are usually sourced from Flyer and Firkin.

This new deal between TCB and Maclays still allows for Maclays to source "certain products outwith the agreement" however, according to the SLTN article, Tennent's believes that it will be able to "cover most of its (Maclays) beer needs". What 'certain products outwith the agreement' are TCB referring to? Well, Greene King, which own the Belhaven range of beers, has said that they are "delighted to continue to supply a selection of brands to Maclay".

My greatest fear is that this deal could restrict the Judges' ability to continue to select from a wide range of breweries and beers that increase drinkers choice and enjoyment. Hopefully this isn't the case and the Judges will still be able to choose and showcase some of the best beers from all across the United Kingdom, rather than being lumbered with a list that contains widely available, generic and lowest common denominator efforts from the likes of Greene King, Belhaven and Tennent's attempt at 'Scottish Craft Beer' (their words, not mine), Caledonia Best.

Time will tell.


  1. It sounds like it would be a massive mistake for the arrangement at The Judges to change, but I reckon the deal will make it far less likely that other pubs could become like The Judges.

    Cosy deals between Big Beer and retailers are not good for customer choice in general. It's the reason most of Ireland's pubs are as poor as they are.

  2. Great to see you back after your wee blogging hiatus Kenny. I do hope the three judges isn't impacted by this move. The ever changing range there is a huge part of its appeal.

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