I've been itching to post about this since I found out about it a couple of weeks ago, but I haven't been allowed until now. But now the cat is out of the bag and I can mention what's happening.
I haven't mentioned before the goings-on at Tennent's since they became independent of InBev eighteen months ago. At first the message was pretty much that it was going to be business as usual; and I recall being at a Scottish Brewing Archive Association event where the Tennent's rep said, in not quite so many words, that the strategy was basically Tennent's Lager for the boys and Magners for the lassies.
C&C, the parent company of Tennent's and makers of Magners cider, has agreed to take a "substantial" stake in Thornbridge and its beer operations will henceforth be grouped together under the Tennent Thornbridge badge.
"Both Tennent's and Thornbridge are staffed by highly trained people dedicated to making beer to a high standard of technical excellence," said Dominic Driscoll of Thornbridge this morning. "We expect there will be a great deal of sharing of expertise and it'll be great for both breweries."
"Under the name of Tennent Thornbridge we will be able to supply both the mass and niche markets," said a Tennent's spokesman. "Our brewers love the Thornbridge IPA beers. We were making East India Beer 120 years ago and Thornbridge has shown that there is a market for these beers today. Perhaps we'll dig out some old recipes and see how they compare!"
The unique brewery set-up gives the combined company flexibility to produce beer over a range of brew-lengths, from the small plant at Thornbridge Hall to the 1.3 million bbl per year output at Wellpark Brewery.
With immediate effect a limited amount of Tennent's Lager will be produced at Thornbridge's Riverside facility for the English market and there will be another interesting development: Riverside-brewed Sweetheart Stout will be introduced to the free trade on an experimental basis as a draught product, both cask-conditioned and in KeyKegs. "If we can put Magners on tap with Magner's Golden Draught, we can do the same thing with Sweetheart Stout," confided an inside source.