'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Monday, May 16, 2005

Jennings, RIP

Forget Manchester United & Malcolm Glazer - the takeover exercising Cumbrians at the moment is the selling-out of local brewers Jennings Bros to midlands-based outfit Wolverhampton & Dudley. The consensus seems to be that this is A Bad Thing. Jennings, based in Cockermouth, are a local company with a heavily-branded Cumbrian image, good beers . . . and a string of extremely desirable tied pubs. The takeover has rattled people, who believe the predators are really just interested in the pubs as a regional outlet for their own beers - and that, in a year or two, boy-genius bean-counters down south will proclaim brewing at Cockermouth uneconomic, and we'll have Cumberland Ale brewed in Dudley and tankered up the A66.
Which may be true enough, but it's curious that local opinion has cast W&D as the sole villains of the piece. Personally, I'm suspicious of any organisation that has a mission statement that reads - to deliver excellence in managed community pubs - pass the sick-bag. But nobody seems to have asked the existing big shareholders, who've done very well out of building their local brand, just why it makes more sense to bail out than to stay in. Instead, the local media have front-page stories of local pensioners saving their groats to mount 'Keep Jennings local' campaigns - it's all tragically reminiscent of the OAPs who sent their fivers to Freddy Laker in 1982 when he was was rolled over by A Very Big Airline. CAMRA, our Blairite MP and the small shareholders have mounted a campaign, but it already has an air of doom about it.
So go down to the Jennings brewery shop and stock up on Cumberland Ale, Crag Rat & Snecklifter now: I've a feeling they'll have rarity value in a year or so.
Alternatively, forget about regional brewing superpowers and find out more about some of Cumbria's wonderful micro-breweries. There are loads of them - making tiny quantities of high-class, deeply individual artisanal beers all over the county. Why not try:
Hesket Newmarket
or The Bitter End
It's entirely possible that this blog may soon introduce a regular Beer-of-the-Week feature, with tasting notes on an outstanding Cumbrian beer. Purely as a public service, you understand. There'd be no question of our doing it for sheer pleasure . . .


Blogger User451 said...

They already have a rarity value in my house.... they're bloody awefull.

I prefer the clean and refreshing tang of a particularly strong Russian or Polish vodka. Now that puts hair on your chest.

16/5/05 11:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now I believe that the soul went out of Jennings when Trevor Green left the company. (not the Trevor Green - painter, cartoonist and raconteur but the other one.) Trevor had a passion for the business and the people the history and the brand. The present management I suspect do not have the same fever - to deliver excellence in managed community pubs indeed. To deliver profits to themselves no doubt. They probaly got some external consultants in to facilitate the crafting of that mission statement. RIP Off.

17/5/05 1:32 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Mmmm . . bison grass . . . just the thing. During my reasearches into the Cumbrian distilling industry of the 19th century (yes, it really did exist) I never came across any references to vodka. Which is odd given our much-overrated Viking descent & general geographic congruence with the northern European vodka belt . .

17/5/05 1:42 pm  

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