Liverpool in a pint – Cains down the drain?

 September 16, 2008         Leave a comment

I’ve been waiting for more information to emerge about the Cains brewery going under with debts of £30m before posting my thoughts on the situation.

The brewery was put into administration a couple of months ago when HBoS refused to fund a loan to pay a corporation tax bill – making Cains another real-world victim of the credit crunch.

Cains Brewery

The pair do seem to have a passion for the brewery, and they have put Cains at the forefront of the community in the city since buying it in 2002, although their financial nous may be called into question, with a counter-takeover for Honeycombe Leisure looking like the cause of Cains’ problems.

I’ve never been a massive fan of Cains’ bitter to be honest, and the lager is pretty awful, but I’d rather drink them in your typical Carling’n’John Smiths pub in Liverpool than the usual fare.

And I did once spend a delightful evening at the Everyman Theatre getting very drunk on free Cains Raisin Beer. The Dusanj Brothers sponsored the Liverpool Irish Festival and provided several dozens of bottles, which I was compelled to send to a good home.

That given, it seems like a crying shame that Cains brewery is on the edge after 150 years , having been saved from closure in 2002 and being closed for a time in the 90s.

I’ve been thinking about the lack of guest ales and speciality beers in pubs in Liverpool, Cains included, and it’s always a bit of a puzzler.

The city is well within striking distance of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria and Derbyshire – all hotbeds of bitter brewing – so why is it that you seldom see the likes of Robinson’s, Theakston’s, Black Sheep and (as a personal plea) Strongarm?

I’m a big fan of the Doctor Duncan’s, Willowbanks, and Baltic Fleets of this world (Click here for a great site on some of Liverpool’s more interesting pubs- and Sefton Park Cricket Club, where I’m often to be found, has a good range of guest ales and Hydes offerings – but Liverpool really seems to be a few steps behind on the beer front.

And you don’t see Cains as a presence in as many local pubs as you would see most city’s breweries.

Regardless, for the city to lose its brewery, in the Capital of Culture year of all years, would be an incredible shame.

24 pubs across the north-west have closed already, the administrators are in and Cains is disappearing from supermarket shelves.

However, there are bids in for the Liverpool brewery, and the Dusanj Brothers appear to be at the forefront of bidding, since a company associated with the previous owners has the leasehold to the site, potentially costing Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj far less than any other putative owners.

The brewery has the support of CAMRA too, with a pledge from the real-ale organisation to support any buyers who keep production in Liverpool.

 

Mike Benner, Chief Executive, said, “Beer drinkers in Liverpool should not lose out because of the credit crunch and we will support any company that puts forward a rescue plan for the ailing brewer to ensure great beer continues to be brewed at the Stanhope Street Brewery.”

So, there appear to be grounds for optimism. It appears doubtful than a rallying cry to support your local brewery will do much good under the circumstances, and a few more sales of local ale won’t make much of a dent in spreadsheets from the bank’s point of view in these difficult times.

Nevertheless, next time you’re in your local, consider venturing beyond that gassy, tasteless pint of non-specific. Even if you don’t like it, you can be assured you’ve done your part for your struggling local brewer.

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