Heineken set to close Edinburgh’s most famous brewery

Drinks giant Heineken has announced plans to close Edinburgh’s most famous brewery.

The firm says that running Caledonian Brewery is becoming “economically unviable” due to the building’s Victorian infrastructure.

It is now speaking to the 30 members of staff currently working there and has stated that its beers – such as the famous Deuchars – could now be produced at Belhaven Brewery in Dunbar after an agreement was made with Belhaven’s owners Greene King.

The supply chain director of Heineken UK, Matt Callan, told Scottish Licenced Trade News (SLTN) the company has not taken the “decision lightly”.

He said: “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’ll 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.”

However, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has hit out at the decision stating that it is ‘devastating’ news for Scotland’s brewing heritage.

The brewery first opened in 1869 and has been operated by Heineken since 2008 after the global brand took over then owners Scottish & Newcastle.

Speaking about their anger over the decision, 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 pub goers and beer drinkers.”

CAMRA’s Scotland Director Stuart McMahon added: “While some brands are due to be brewed under licence at Belhaven, this nonetheless will see Caledonian beers losing their identity and provenance as part of Edinburgh’s brewing history and 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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