Around 1,000 jobs were under threat at Cains Beer Company today after the brewer and pubs group went into administration.
The future of the group's historic Cains brewery in Liverpool and its 100 pubs now hang in the balance.
But administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said they were working with staff and landlords to ensure the brewery and pubs remain open while it seeks a buyer for the business.
The family behind the Cains Beer Company - brothers Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj - had reportedly last week pledged more funds to try to save the business and its 158-year-old brewery.
But the firm said today it had failed to reach agreement with Bank of Scotland after running into cash flow difficulties.
Cains, which runs pubs largely in the North West, has been battered by rising costs, the impact of the smoking ban and a disputed tax bill.
It reported widening half-year losses at the end of July, at £4.6 million against £697,000 in the same period last year.
David Chubb, PWC partner and joint administrator, said: "Cains is a well-established business with a great brand and brewing facility which has been brewing ales since the mid-19th century.
He added: "It is currently our intention to continue to trade both the brewery and pub chain businesses and we will seek to achieve going concern sales over the coming weeks and months.
"We have already received some early indications of interest and we would also invite any parties interested in acquiring either the brewery or pub chain businesses to contact us as soon as possible."
Cains has won a number of awards for its ales, most recently the World's Best Fruit Beer in the World Beer Awards 2007.
It is also a major supplier of own label beers to the supermarket sector, with popular brands such as Cains Formidable Ale and Cains Lager.
The Dusanj brothers took over the Robert Cain & Co brewery in July 2002, promising to return it to its former glory after years of under investment.
They completed a reverse takeover of former Preston-based pub operator Honeycombe Leisure last year to create a firm that brewed and sold its own beer.
Cains' pub portfolio includes 26 freehold and 76 leasehold pubs, most of which are managed houses.
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