Martson’s buys Ringwood Brewery

Brewer and pub operator Marston’s has acquired the Ringwood Brewery in the south of England.

Americans know Ringwood – founded by Peter Austin in 1978 – best because Shipyard Brewing produces its Old Thumper under license in the United States. Many small breweries, particularly on the East Coast, use “Ringwood yeast” sourced from the British brewery and brew on systems manufactured by another company Austin started.

Hampshire-based Ringwood’s pubs will also be added to Marston’s estate.

“We plan to develop its excellent brands as part of our strategy to meet consumer demand for premium ales with local provenance and heritage, said Alistair Darby, Marston’s beer company managing director.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) expressed concern that the latest acquisition will encourage a “domino effect” of consolidation in pubs and brewing.

CAMRA Chief Executive, Mike Benner said: “The practice among larger breweries of acquiring smaller competitors is a race where the only loser is the consumer who is often denied a locally brewed beer. As one of the larger breweries buys a brewery and expands their estate their competitors start hunting for their next purchase to keep up. CAMRA’s fear is that an increasing number of smaller breweries will be lost if this race continues and consumer choice will suffer as a result.

“In the last three years alone we have seen another Hampshire brewery, Gales, bought and closed by Fuller’s and Greene King bought and closed Hardys and Hansons in Nottingham, as well as buying and closing Ridley’s brewery in Essex.

“Marston’s purchased Jennings in Cumbria and invested in the future of the brewery and we hope they will continue this model with Ringwood. But, it begs the question, who is next in line for acquisition?”