Tyneside says goodbye to Newcastle Brown

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The Independent Online

Like coal, Newcastle Brown Ale will now be carried to Newcastle. Heineken, which now owns the beer, once as synonymous with the North East as the Gallowgate End, the Tyne Bridge and The Likely Lads, is to shift its production to North Yorkshire.

Heineken blamed falling sales for its decision to close a factory at Dunston, in Gateshead, to where production was controversially moved across the River Tyne from Newcastle in 2005, with the loss of 63 jobs.

"Clearly this is a sad day, but the proposal to close Dunston is not a decision we have taken lightly," said Paul Hoffman, the operations director of Scottish & Newcastle, the brewer that Heineken part bought last year. "Nor is it a reflection on the employees at the site who have done an excellent job over the last few years in a very challenging market."

The beer, which has been brewed in the region since 1927, will now be made in Tadcaster.

Scottish & Newcastle argued that the Dunston site was running at 60 per cent capacity and that the drink risked becoming uncompetitive.

However, the chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce, James Ramsbotham, said the move was bad news for the region. "Fans of the brew will be disappointed to learn of this change because the unique flavour flows from the rich heritage of this part of the world, which is integral to its appeal," he said. "Likewise, the closure of the Federation Brewery will be mourned by all who recognise this landmark on Gateshead's skyline."

The demise of the drink in the North East reflects the region's below average economic performance during the downturn. Newcastle and the surrounding area has also suffered from above-average unemployment and relatively poor education and health standards.