Caledonian Brewery closure ‘grim news’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Group urge: the Campaign for Real Ale has called on Heineken to rethink its decision to close the site
Group urge: the Campaign for Real Ale has called on Heineken to rethink its decision to close the site

Related tags Beer Campaign for real ale Heineken Lager

Heineken has been urged to rethink its decision to close its Caledonian Brewery in Edinburgh.

The closure, which was announced yesterday​ (Thursday 26 May), is partly as a result of the decades old infrastructure causing “significant inefficiencies and costs”.

However, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) hit back at the announcement, calling it “devastating” for Scotland’s brewing heritage.

Heineken UK supply chain director Matt Callan said the company hadn’t taken the decision lightly.

Economically unviable

He added: “We’re acutely aware of what the brewery represents in Edinburgh and its role in the history and heritage of brewing in Scotland – this is something we’re incredibly proud of.

“Our primary focus is the 30 colleagues based there and we will now enter into a period of consultation.

“The sad fact is, its Victorian infrastructure means significant inefficiencies and costs, particularly as it is operating below capacity.

“To modernise the brewery and to meet our own sustainability commitments, would require considerable ongoing investment, which would make operating the brewery economically unviable.”

Caledonian was established in Edinburgh and is the last of 41 City Breweries. Heineken took on the operation of the brewery in 2008, after the acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle.

Future in doubt

CAMRA chairman Nik Antona said: “This announcement is grim news for Edinburgh and Scotland’s brewing heritage and is part of a pattern of historic breweries, beers and brands being eroded through closures, mergers and lack of promotion in recent years.

“Years of consolidation of the majority of the brewing industry into the hands of just a few, large international players is to the detriment of Scotland’s brewing history, the diversity of beer in pubs and consumer choice for pubgoers and beer drinkers.”

While some brands are set to be brewed under licence at Greene King’s Belhaven Brewery, this could mean Caledonian beers will lose their identity and provenance as part of the city’s brewing history, according to CAMRA Scotland director Stuart McMahon.

He added: “[This] puts the long-term future of these brands, especially the brewery’s seasonal and special beers, in doubt.

“That’s why we are calling on Heineken to think again about this devastating closure, enter discussions with all interested parties and find a viable way forward to save this historic site as a brewery.”

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