Why Meantime sold up to SAB Miller – the inside story

PrintMeantime Brewing’s surprise sale to SAB Miller, the second largest brewing company in the world, was prompted by a growing realisation at the Greenwich-based craft brewer that it did not have the resources and capability itself to move on up to the next stage of its growth journey, the company’s chief executive has revealed.

Nick Miller, who joined Meantime as CEO in 2011, said that he and Alastair Hook, the company’s founder, and the rest of the board were already looking at a tie-up with a big brewer as one of the strategic options that could be followed to enable the company to grow further. “We were on the cusp of making a decision that partnership was a better route than going to refinance,” he said. “I think we may have gone to a process later this year, could have gone for a float, could have gone for private equity money, could have gone to AIM, though that’s a hugely costly and time-consuming exercise, could have gone for a joint venture with a PE house, could have sold out to a major brewer, could have gone crowd-funding, could have borrowed money from the bank. But it’s a bit more than just a financial requireement. It’s ‘have you got the brewing capability, the engineering capability, the route-to-market capability, the global reach capability?’

“The financial side wasn’t that much of an issue to us, because we’ve got a very good relationship with our bank. They’ve been trying to chuck money at us for a while now. It was more about, ‘how do you sustain the growth, relative to the capabilities within the organisation?’ That was the key strategic challenge for us, and the partnership with SAB really helps with that.”

A chance meeting in March this year began the process that led to the sale, Miller revealed: “A very old friend of mine, who I had worked with, was having his 50th birthday party, and he rang me up and said, ‘I’d like to buy some pale ale to complement Peroni at my party.’ So he came over, and we sat down and had a beer and a bite to eat, and he said, ‘What are you doing with the business?’ I said, ‘Well, we’re coming to a stage where we need to look at capability and resources. We’ve got a number of options, we could do it ourselves, but we might be better off with a partnership with a brewer that gives us the capabilities that we need.’ Four or five days later his boss at SAB Miller came to me and said, ‘Look, here’s an opportunity for you, would you consider it?'”

A board meeting at Meantime took an hour to debate the deal, and Miller and Hook then visited most of the company’s 60-plus shareholders individually. “We’re very close to our shareholders, we know them well, we’ve talked to them, we’ve communicated with them on a regular basis, they know they can pick up the phone and talk to Alastair or myself at any time,” Miller said. “They’re all very happy people They’ve known the company’s journey intimately, and they’re delighted, not just because of what they’re going to get but because of where Meantime is now going. They can see the appetite SAB have for taking it to the next level.” Many shareholders are Hook’s family and friends, and around 40 per cent, Miller estimated, have been shareholders from the start of the company in 1999, while about a quarter of the employees of Meantime Brewing Company are also shareholders.

Looking at further possible takeovers in the UK craft brewing scene, Miller said: “From a modern craft beer perspective, ie keg, cold, unpasteurised, modern styles and genres of beers, there’s not really that many that can be bought, I would suggest, in the UK. Our peer group is essentially Camden, BrewDog, Thornbridge. At Thornbridge, Jim [Harrison] is probably happy doing what he’s doing, I can’t speak for what his next steps or strategy are, but it’s clear what’s happening at Camden and BrewDog, they’re going down the crowd-sourcing route and they’re trying to build their capability incrementally. That’s a thoroughly commendable route, but it’s a tougher one than partnering with a global brewer that will let you get on with it and support you.”

On the possibility of Meantime beers being brewed away from Greenwich, Miller said: “We’ve got plans to take the brewery up to a quarter of a million hectolitres [150,000 barrels] within the next 18 months to two years, and we can go a bit further than that in Greenwich.” The new experimental brewery at Greenwich is due to be commissioned in August, “and then I’m going to have to hold Mr Hook back! Anything that is shiny and goes ‘ping!’, he’ll be on it like a rash!”

There was “a buzz of excitement” among Meantime’s senior managers after the news was announced, Miller said. “We’re all looking forward to the opportunities that partnering SAB Miller brings. This isn’t a deal where we’re putting our feet up, going and lying in the sun. This is, ‘Right, how do we kick on again?’ I know Sue [Clark, managing director, SABMiller Europe, to whom Miller will now report] is extremely excited – she runs all the markets in Europe, and you can see her eyes lighting up. I think this is a great story for British beer. If we can take Meantime around the world under the SAB capability, I think it’s really a great news story for Britain.”

SAB Miller is certainly buying into a success story. Beer volumes at Meantime grew by almost 60% in 2014, to something on the order of 80,000 hectolitres, and the company has grown tenfold since 2010. Turnover was £17m, and that will at least triple if it does hit that quarter-of-a-million-hectolitre target by 2018. (That makes it a very interesting exercise to try to work out what SAB Miller paid, because it won’t have been based on past earnings, but future ones: somewhere around £20 million to £30 million would be my guess, though if anyone wants to tell me I’m totally wrong I’m prepared to delete this comment …) SAB Miller is involved in two big markets in Europe where craft beer is rocketing away, Poland and Italy, and Meantime makes just the kind of stylish, not too far out product that would bee an ideal introduction to people wanting to explore craft beer, but not be frightened by it.

Of course, the haters and sneerers fell upon the news of Meantime’s sale with joy, although typically, they couldn’t get their stories to agree: while many commentators seemed to believe Meantime beers really weren’t up to much, one would declare that “Yakima Red remains one of the most insipid and uninspired beers I’ve ever tried,” while another insisted that “Yakima Red is the only decent one in their line up.” (Both genuine comments, one from Facebook, the other from a commenter on the Guardian‘s story about the takeover.) Come on, haters – do try at least to sneer from the same songsheet.

I also felt sorry for Tom Stainer, head of communications at Camra, who, asked for a comment on the story by the Guardian, felt obliged to parrot the party line and say: “We would urge the brewery to consider returning to brewing real ale in the future.” If he wasn’t a mate of mine, I’d have rung him up and said, “Hey, grandad, you really, really don’t get the craft beer scene, do you?”

I don’t mind admitting I’m a Meantime fanboy, and I’m delighted for everybody there that they’ve now got the strength of a brewing giant behind them to power their expansion. Anybody who knows Alastair Hook will be very aware that he’s not a man to compromise (which is why he won’t do cask ale), and I don’t doubt at all that as long as he still has anything to do with the brewery, its beers will continue to be among the best and most reliable available.

Meantime timeline

1983 Teenager Alastair Hook, a great fan of the cask ales he drank around his home in South London, visits the Hopland Brewery in Mendocino, California, only the second brewpub to be set up in the United States, and is hugely impressed with the flavours he finds in the brewery’s chilled, kegged beers.

1985 Hook, who back-packed across Europe and Asia with Michael Jackson’s Pocket Guide to Beer at the age of 17, realises he has a growing passion for beer and quits his Economic and Social History degree at York University (where he was doing a research project on Guinness) to take up a brewing degree at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

1988 Hook graduates from Heriot-Watt, learns German and enrols at the University of Munich’s Weihenstephan campus, the most famous brewing school in Germany, for postgraduate study. His first job upon graduating is for a German brewery, Kaltenberg, in Italy.

1991 Hook is asked to set up a German-style brewhouse at the Packhorse Brewery in Ashford, Kent, brewing Continental-style beers including Dunkle (dark) lager, Vienna and Pilsen-style lagers and Dortmunder Alt. The brewery closes in 1994, and Hook turns to importing beers to sell in the UK to make a living, using his contacts in Germany.

1995 Hook helps set up the Freedom Brewing Co in Fulham with property developer Ewan Eastham, making a non-pasteurised, bottled Pilsen-style beer.

1996 Hook is poached by the restaurateur-cum-entrepreneur Oliver Peynton to open Mash and Air, a brewery-and-restaurant in Manchester.

1998 Hook and Peynton open a branch of Mash and Air off Regent Street in Central London called simply Mash.

1999
Hook raises more than £500,000 from family and friends to launch the Meantime Brewing Company on Penhall Road, Charlton, South London, close to Charlton Athletic football club, where Hook is a season ticket holder.

2000 In April, Meantime brews its first beer, Union Lager.

2001 Meantime opens its first pub, the Greenwich Union.

2007 Output at Meantime hits 13,000 hectolitres a year,. A further £500,000 has been raised from shareholders to install a modern packaging line.

2008 Hook is named the Brewer of the Year by the British Guild of Beer Writers.

2010 Meantime opens its new brewery in Blackwall Lane, Greenwich at a cost of £2m. At the same time it opens a six-barrel microbrewery and restaurant at the Old Brewery in the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, costing £200,000.

2011
Meantime announces it wants to increase production fourfold from 25,000 hectolitres a year to 100,000hl in the coming five years. Nick Miller, former managing director at SAB Miller UK’s operating company, Miller Brands, becomes the brewery’s new chief executive.

2013 Meantime launches Brewery Fresh, the UK’s first tank beer, delivering its London Lager unpasteurised and without extraneous carbonation from specially installed five-hectolitre (880-pint) cellar tanks.

2014 Meantime builds an “urban hop farm” on the banks of the River Thames directly on the Greenwich Meridian Line. Meanwhile the brewery closes in on 70,000 hectolitres a year.

2015 Meantime is acquired by SAB Miller for an undisclosed sum, to spearhead the brewing giant’s assault on the European craft beer market.

37 thoughts on “Why Meantime sold up to SAB Miller – the inside story

  1. Hmm. One factual point and one about tone.

    Miller and Hook then visited most of the company’s 60-plus shareholders individually. “We’re very close to our shareholders, we know them well, we’ve talked to them, we’ve communicated with them on a regular basis, they know they can pick up the phone and talk to Alastair or myself at any time,” Miller said.

    about a quarter of the employees of Meantime Brewing Company are also shareholders.

    How many employees have they got? Are these in addition to the “60-plus” people who phone Alastair Hook whenever they feel like it?

    the haters and sneerers fell upon the news of Meantime’s sale with joy, although typically, they couldn’t get their stories to agree

    I hate ‘haters’ – it’s a silly and lazy turn of phrase. As I said last time you started banging on about ‘haters’ (although they were Greene King haters that time), “Calling your antagonists ‘haters’ excuses you from arguing with them – you’re effectively skipping the argument and going straight for the ad hom.”

    If you take out the sneer, all you’ve actually said here is that (a) a number of people don’t think the sale is good news and (b) those people don’t all have the same tastes in beer. It’s not exactly going to set the Thames on fire.

    If he wasn’t a mate of mine, I’d have rung him up and said, “Hey, grandad, you really, really don’t get the craft beer scene, do you?”

    Instead of which you’ve put the same putdown online where everyone else can see it as well as Tom Stainer. Much kinder! I do agree that it was a silly comment, but not because of anything to do with “the craft beer scene”, which is plentifully supplied with brewers of cask-conditioned beer. But it’s undeniable that Alastair Hook turned his back on real ale when John Major was Prime Minister; he’s not likely to decide it was all a horrible mistake now.

  2. If ‘haters’ is ‘a silly and lazy turn of phrase’, that’s very suitable, because haters are silly and lazy: they have a simplistic, black-and-white view of the world which says “corporate bad, big bad, only small good, anything made by a big brewer is automatically rubbish” and they’re too idle to educate themselves out of their knee-jerkery. Really, read the comments under the Guardian story on SAB and Meantime, and weep.

    Meantime has 50-odd employees in the brewery, so probably a dozen or so employee shareholders I’m guessing.

    And Tom Stainer is a big chap, with shoulders broad enough to take any insults I throw at him. We all know as a spokesman for Camra he has to say foolish things sometimes, that’s part of the job, and I doubt anybody holds it against him.

  3. This is what happens when profit overtakes product. Compared to Foster’s, Carling, Stella 4, of course any Meantime brew is superior, bit they could do so so much better. The pity is that under SAB Miller they sadly won’t .

    • “they could do so so much better” – I suspect you mean “they could brew beers that appealed more to hopnerds and extremophiles” – and so they could. But the point is, they don’t want to, and quite right too: there is a good (and profitable) market niche for brewers fulfilling the needs of people who want better beers than the mass market likes, but nothing so frightful it makes their teeth fall out. Meantimew is hitting that sweet spot, that’s just why SAB bought it, and SAB ain’t going to let Meantime’s focus drift away from that, because otherwise it’s leaving that market for someone else to come in and occupy.

  4. I’m a CAMRA member, but I also like Meantime beers (both in Greenwich and bottled), and I’m also concerned. SAB are interested, ultimately, in the bottom line. Thats why, having taken over Pilsener Urquell, they cut the maturation time in the brewing process. I fear SAB will start interfering with the production process, and once the “craft beer revolution” becomes mainstream, they’ll lose interest. (I’m also puzzled by the CAMRA statement – I’d have said something along the lines of “as they don’t brew cask ale, we’re not that bothered, but we hope the Meantime brand stays strong and independent”. But that’s just me.

  5. I’ll dissent. While I think it makes a lot of sense for beer fans to put a little distance between their emotions and that business down the street, there is a reason why rational people might not do somersaults over this news: http://beervana.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-consolidation-dialectic-or-why-buy.html

    I’ve met Alastair twice and he seems like a great guy. I don’t begrudge him the deal. (And I tire of people who blithely talk about passing up millions after taking large risks to build up a business through inconceivably hard work.) That doesn’t mean I’m a hater because I also don’t love consolidation.

  6. I can’t say without consolidation there is no beer but the reality is they go so firmly hand in hand at such a fantastic pace I am tempted to say with cheek “hey grandpa – you don’t really understand the brewing industry, do you?”

    “Craft” is an unexceptional but distinct phase for better or worse in the long history of brewing that consistently progresses in the same way commercially – whether the innovation is juicy hopping, porter 200 years ago or ships beer in the 1500s and 1600s. Beer makes and seeks large sums. It succeeds at scale even if it can be made well at home. It’s a good thing for beer lovers that it does.

    • Two-score and four years ago our forefathers took a bit of a stand against consolidation, which had progressed commercially to the point where most beer was being produced by a handful of large brewers. I’m sure people told them they just didn’t understand the brewing industry, too.

      • You must be confused, then, by the reality of conglomerate craft following in the footsteps of their industrial forefathers. Must be the alcohol that drives all the myth hugging with craft.

        • I don’t follow. You might expect me to oppose a trend that CAMRA opposed 40 years ago, but I can’t see why you’d expect to be confused by it.

          • Camra opposed an industry that had come to put the interests of production before the interest of consumers, and was driving a massive reduction of choice. I suggest Meantime has always stood for the opposite of both those drives, and still will do, even after the takeover by SAB. As Nick Miller and Alastair Hok have pointed out, Meantime has produced something like 100 different beers in its 15 years

          • Yes – and to be fair I was not keeping in mind the gulf in meaning “craft” has in the UK and everywhere else. Consolidations and other business realities will, however, continue regardless of craft or CAMRA. Money will do what it does and in many cases like this it’s beneficial.

          • I appreciate what you’re saying, but if (when?) the weathervane turns away from ‘craft beer’, and back towards lowest common denominator everyman beers, SAB Miller (or their heirs and assigns) will have no reason to keep the Meantime legacy going. Differentiation, tradition, authenticity and quality may thrive despite consolidation, but consolidation itself doesn’t promote those things.

            I’m not writing from the standpoint of a true believer in craft beer, btw.

          • I know. I think my point is also informed by the general shift in food that beer is just a part of. I don’t think “craft” will last – in the sense of it defined as fruit sauced saisons made by folk who will look back at their bearded and tattooed years as more embarrassing than folk entering their 60s think of their disco years. But good quality beer will not go away now. Not so much because of CAMRA forty years ago but because of international trade and communications. Folk are simply more prosperous in western culture and can ask for the good stuff. That these breweries are so highly valued is a testament to demand. And that hundreds are lining up to join the parade is great as well. Many will fail and the best will be bought out if available. Money seeks quality and security. Often for good reason.

      • It wasn’t just consolidation, Phil, it was that big brewing was pushing flavourless, standardized keg beer – and later cheap lager – and removing naturally-conditioned beer from their inventories. Today’s keg and quality lager are quite different to the commodity stuff big brewing (quite successfully) was trying to push. Accordingly, a seeking out of a Meantime by SAB Miller is quite different to the Big Six buying out the small regional brewers between 1945 and 1990, say. We can have opposed its analogue of 40 years ago and feel indifferent or even positive (as some writers) to the same thing today because the market is completely different.

        In other words CAMRA has won. It and Michael Jackson basically created the modern beer world. This can’t be reversed by a few or even 100 acquisitions like this. There is too much choice, too many new start-ups, it has become a world phenomenon in fact.

        Gary

  7. I’m not going to read all the comments, unfortunately I do not have enough time atm.

    However what I took away from this article? They want growth with no risk and ideally no work at all. Let’s just sell out, and let others figure it out, right? How glorious…

    • If that’s what you took away from my article, then I’ve failed. Read it again. What it is meant t be saying is that they realise they have gone as far as they can on their own resources, and to grow more they need help. Nothing at all about putting their feet up now.

  8. “while many commentators seemed to believe Meantime beers really weren’t up to much, one would declare that “Yakima Red remains one of the most insipid and uninspired beers I’ve ever tried,” while another insisted that “Yakima Red is the only decent one in their line up.”

    God, don’t you just hate that? When two different people have different opinions on something? Everyone really should conform to an opinion somewhere in the middle.

    • Andrew, I’m going to be drinking one tomorrow at 5:00 in Toronto – a friend brought one over earlier this week. This will be the third Meantime beer I’ve had I believe. Earlier, I had its IPA and Porter which I found underwhelming. We’ll see. Of course it doesn’t matter what any one of us thinks as Martyn as said, but still, it will be interesting and I’ll give my opinion against a fairly detailed history of knowing the craft scene in North America and English cask beers as they were and some still are before the “Second American Revolution”.

      Gary

  9. Whatever the merits of the beer brewed by Meantime, it is difficult to think of a takeover of a UK brewery that has ultimately been in the public interest. This suggests that people are right to be concerned.

    • But what about breweries which would have ceased to carry on business but for being purchased? Either because they were near insolvency or had reached the point where failing the investment they couldn’t afford on their own they would have lost market share and gone under or become a minor player? You know the American expression I’m sure, go big or go home…

      Or take Young’s as another scenario. The Wandsworth property was worth more than the brewery. What do you do…? At least today the Young line is still produced.

  10. Not many long-established UK breweries (as opposed to the new wave of small businesses) have actually gone bust within living memory. Howcrofts of Bolton is the last one I can think of, and that was in 1969. Nor can I immediately think of an established brewery in the last thirty or forty years that was on the verge of insolvency when it was taken over, though clearly some brewers’ financial performance was better than others. As often as not, the crucial factor seems to have been whether or not the directors and shareholders had the determination to carry on. To give two examples, that spirit was evident at Fullers, despite the fact that closing the brewery was given serious consideration in 1968, but was lacking at Morrells thirty years later, despite Charles Eld’s valiant attempts. I see the point about “going big”, but growth in itself doesn’t seem to have enabled many of the companies that pursued that route to survive: what happened to the “Big Six” UK brewers of the 1970s, and to Greenall Whitley, for example?

    And, yes, there are still beers that are called “Youngs” (and quite palatable ones, I grant you), as well as, for example, “Morlands” and “Ruddles”. How much relation these bear to the original product, and how likely it is that the names will still be in use in ten or twenty years’ time (remember Wethereds and Fremlins?), is perhaps debatable.

  11. Good retort but I have to wonder about financial performance for many of those regionals closed down since ’69 …. didn’t Usher’s go into liquidation? (I believe it is back in some form, but I mean at the original trading business).

    And if it’s down often to what the family wants, well, we can’t gainsay that really, it has to be in the interest of the country to shut the doors if the very people who own it don’t want to continue in business.

    As for the Big Six, “go big” has an inexorable logic. Once in the Big Six, it’s go bigger or go home. 🙂 Consolidation internationally in the last 30 years has proven the truth of this. As long as the funnel is filled with new small players, it will all work just fine.

    • Usher’s of Trowbridge (as opposed to Usher’s of Edinburgh, which was acquired by Vaux) was taken over by Watney Mann in 1960; the brewery survived Watney’s rationalisation for many years, and the Usher’s name never quite died out (even in the early seventies there was a draught beer called Usher’s PA, though it wasn’t easy to find). From about 1975 onwards there was a revival of the Usher’s name, and in 1990 there was a management buyout of the brewery and a parcel of pubs. Sadly, the brewery was closed in 2000, and the company was bought by Punch in 2004, but I don’t think that constitutes an example of a brewery going bust.
      I think we’ll have to agree to disagree over your suggestion that the public interest lies with closing a brewery if the owners don’t want to continue! Where I can agree with you is that the huge increase in small breweries of recent years is a wholly positive trend (even if I wouldn’t go so far as to say “it will all work fine”). But that doesn’t stop me missing many of the established UK breweries that have disappeared over the last forty years or so!

      • It was the 2000 closing I was thinking of, when inefficiencies, as I recall the press stories, made it impractical to continue in business. It wasn’t literally placed in liquidation by creditors or anything like that, but the business wasn’t paying enough to be viable: at least that’s how I recall it, and I’d guess many closures fall in that category but maybe I’m wrong. The closing of the Strangeways and Tetley breweries is kind of similar I believe. You are quite right that the beers when made elsewhere often do not taste the same, but still, they continue and often that means something. McEwan’s Scotch Ale, now brewed by Wells Young, was re-introduced to the Ontario market recently and is very similar to the one I recall from 40 years ago. Authenticity is partly a function too of consumer pressure…

        The issue of public interest nearly counterpoints a difference of perspective perhaps between Britain and North America. In Britain, a long-established private company can be regarded by many in the community as a public resource and in that sense when lost, the public interest is affected. (One thinks of the laws which can prevent in some cases redevelopment of a pub for a housing development, something to which there is no counterpart here as far as I know). In other words, it depends how you view the meaning of public. The early CAMRA marches to mourn a closure or sale were an example of this although there was always I think a whimsical element there, but still. I saw many breweries similarly close their doors in North America but the pace and anonymity of life is such that it gets quickly forgotten, even in the beer world and the idea of a long-held public attachment doesn’t exist here in the same way – and not even in Britain any more I think (or to the extent it was).

        It’s new wine for old I think, that’s the upshot. (Sorry for seemingly inapt metaphor!).

        • A lot depends on what you (or rather the owners) regard as being viable: in many cases, it wasn’t so much that a brewery was unprofitable, but rather that closing the brewery and buying in beer from elsewhere, or redeveloping the brewery for housing, or simply selling up could potentially yield a greater profit. Morrell’s of Oxford was a case in point: the company was profitable, but a majority of the shareholders thought they could make more money by selling the company. This can, of course, be regarded as a justifiable and prudent way of making one’s assets work, or alternatively as a short term view with no regard for history and the place of the company in the community. My own view is that it’s a pity when such far-reaching decisions are made on the basis of some arbitrary level of profitability, but clearly there isn’t anything we can do about it.
          As you say, it’s new wine for old – or perhaps it’s just the brewing circle of life…

          • Good scission and just (for me) a final point I’d like to make which is, even when ownership and production locate are consistent over long period, so often the beers end up changing anyway. Either new products are introduced – beers which taste of American hops, say which was anathema to ancestors in the 19th century – or the beers still end up different. It was said of Young’s Bitter that it wasn’t as good pre-disposal as compared to 20 years before, say. I feel Fuller ESB is not the same as 20 years ago and if I am not mistaken, I read somewhere that the recipe was tweaked along the way, adding more hops I think and taking out the sugar.

            Chimay is another example, and Palm Ale, in my humble opinion. As I get older, I start to think if I had the one perfect beer I’d just stick with that, don’t need anything else. Courage Director’s, say, when brewed in Bristol, or even its Best Bitter. or Old Hookey. Or ESB from 20 years ago. Or Young’s Special from ditto.

            Gary

          • Yes, indeed a good discussion. I must say I agree with you about beers changing over time: from my own experience (I used to drink a lot of Young’s), the taste immediately before closure was certainly different from the flavour in the 1970s. Shepherd Neame is another beer that tastes quite a bit less bitter than it did in those days, though I’m never sure whether part of the problem is that my taste buds have changed – perhaps becoming blunted – over the years. Of the beers that I drink reasonably regularly, I think Harvey’s Best Bitter is probably the one that, to me, tastes closest to the version of forty years ago. And I agree with you about sticking to the perfect beer; the difficulty would be in choosing it! For me, the contenders would include Boddington’s Bitter from the late seventies (before the recipe changed); Courage Best Bitter from the old Reading (Simond’s) brewery from around the same time; and King and Barnes Bitter (again, the taste had changed by the eighties) – but there are several others!

            John

          • I knew most of the beers you mentioned. Such were the good old days that even in the later phases you mentioned, most were very good. Even in the 90’s, the two-for-one special on cask Boddie’s after work in the houses around the big square presented pretty everything one would want in real English beer. (That was worth a whole passel of cloudy grapefruit beers, IMHO). I know Martyn will concur at the superior excellence of Ind Coope’s Burton Ale with its plum-like fruitiness. I hope beers like these are still available in the Realm…

            Gary

  12. Meantime’s management and shareholders are quite entitled to run their business how they see fit but it’s interesting that they reached the conclusion that their interests were best served by partnering with SAB Miller under the stewardship of a CEO whose previous role was as managing director at SAB Miller UK’s operating company, Miller Brands.

    • Clearly the fact that Nick Miller knew people at SAB Miller, having worked there, was enormously important in the deal, not least because it was an informal chat with an ex-colleague at SAB that kicked the whole thing off, as my story makes clear. But if the Meantime team believed they could have got a better deal elsewhere, they would have had a legal obligation to their shareholderrs to reject SAB Miller’s offer.

  13. Surprised to see that Meantime provided the first “tank beer” as the Home Brewery in Nottingham was doing this on a pretty large scale in the 1970s.Unpasteurised and unfiltered, it was delivered by tanker to the pubs.
    As for consolidation , many of our present respected brewers are the result of such.And don’t forget Gales who rolled over and fortunately Fuller’s was there to do the right thing.

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