Meantime Brewery, which specialises in continental-style bee

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Alastair Hook, executive chairman of the Greenwich-based brewery, commented: "Meantime is now offering the brewing industry valuable new packaging...

Alastair Hook, executive chairman of the Greenwich-based brewery, commented: "Meantime is now offering the brewing industry valuable new packaging capacity in the important mid-batch size, small-pack market. We will be able to handle packaging runs for all beer styles from 50 hectolitres (1,100 gallons) upwards, with full, supermarket-compliant, on-site laboratory quality assurance facilities." Production of Meantime's continental-style beers is unaffected by the investment. * * * * * A Midlands brewery's latest seasonal ale celebrates the legend of the Devil's Chair, a spectacular rock outcrop high on the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve in south-west Shropshire. Devil's Delight, a 4.3% abv bitter, is the latest in Wood's Brewery's Heroic Drinks for Shropshire Legends series. It represents a departure for the county-based brewery, which has previously concentrated on famous Shropshire personalities, including scientist Charles Darwin, TV gardener Percy Thrower and the first cross-Channel swimmer Captain Matthew Webb. "We thought we would have a change this year to focus on places with fascinating tales or legends," said managing director Edward Wood. Devil's Delight is available at selected free houses throughout Shropshire, Mid Wales and the West Midlands. One of the first pubs to take it was the Stiperstones Inn, Stiperstones, where staff Elsie Rowson, left, and Liz Humphreys are pictured welcoming Edward Wood. * * * * * One of the north-west's biggest independent beer and drinks wholesalers has set up a dedicated cask beer division to serve individual licensees and small pub operators. The Stillage, based at the headquarters of John Stephenson & Son in Nelson, Lancashire, offers customers selected real-ale brands with the promise of delivery between 12 and 24 hours of placing an order. The company says it wants to promote cask ale and help licensees capitalise on sales of real ale. A variety of beers from independent brewers will be on permanent offer, together with a "Brewer of the Month" deal, which will see a minimum of four beers from the featured brewer available throughout the month. John Stephenson, founded in 1914 and still family-owned, says it wants to provide a cask-ale service that differs from other suppliers. Sales director Roger Young explained: "We want to work with licensees and other pub operators through a system that allows them to plan a structured cask ale offering to their customers. "The Brewer of the Month idea means they can work out a stocking policy well in advance, as all the featured brewers for the entire year have already been signed up." The Stillage will also stock special "anniversary" beers for events such as St George's Day and Halloween. * * * * * Bedford brewer Charles Wells has kicked off its seasonal beer programme with Banana Bread Beer. The 4.5% abv award-winning ale will be available in draught throughout February in both the brewer's own estate and via partner wholesalers and retailers. Banana Bread was launched last spring and has quickly established itself by winning the Beer of the Festival award at Camra's London Beer Drinker Festival in March. The ale has a ripe banana flavour and is finding increasing favour among female drinkers. * * * * * Red Stripe, the iconic Jamaican lager brand, is being given a £2.7m re-launch. The makeover will emphasise the "chill out" and "easy vibes" nature of the brand, which also entails a three-year sponsorship deal of major surfing events in the UK. Charles Wells, which has been responsible for Red Stripe since Bulmer's exit last August, is confident that it can re-build consumer brand loyalty. Sales and marketing director Nigel McNally said: "There are many lapsed consumers out there and our job is to get them back." Red Stripe will continue to sponsor the Notting Hill Carnival and other events in the UK. McNally said another aim was to position Red Stripe as an "alternative choice" to the major brands in the premium lager sector. * * * * * Northumberland's Federation Brewery has invested more than £100,000 building its export business to the USA with two brands leading the assault. Northumbrian Brown Ale, a brew developed exclusively for the North American market, together with a re-packaged version of its popular Angel Ale brand, are now achieving widespread distribution in the States. To ensure the brands appealed to American drinkers, Federation held taste tests in New York and Las Vegas. * * * * * Hardys & Hansons' Kimberley brewery has produced a commemorative ale in honour of William Clarke ­ who founded Trent Bridge Cricket ground in 1838. William Clarke Ale has an abv of 6% and is described as having an excellent hop aroma enhanced by complex fruit flavours and a dry finish. The ale is being made available in two of the most historic pubs in Nottingham ­ Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem and the Bell Inn. H&H's area manager John O'Donnell said: "We thought it very apt to honour this important figure ­ himself a former landlord of the Bell Inn ­ with a real ale specifically brewed in his honour.

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