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Wells & Young’s Brewery

Wells & Young’s Brewery (Wells & Young’s Brewing Company) was formed in October 2006 from the merger of the brewing operations of Charles Wells Ltd and Young’s Brewery. Charles Wells have a 60% stake and Young’s 40%. Wells & Young’s is now responsible for brewing, distributing and marketing Charles Wells’ and Young & Co’s brands at the Eagle Brewery in Bedford. The company is operated at arms length from both Young’s and Charles Wells. However a combination of Directors from both companies sit on the Wells & Young’s Board.

At the beginning of 2007, Wells and Young’s made its first big investment and bought the iconic Courage brands which include Courage Best and Courage Directors.

As well as brewing their own brands, the brewery contract brews other beers including Red Stripe, Kirin Ichiban, and Estrella Damm.

Young’s main brands are Young’s Bitter (commonly known as Ordinary), a 3.7% abv bitter made with Red Tractor accredited Maris Otter and crystal malt and Fuggle and Golding hops; and Young’s Special, a 4.5% abv version of the Ordinary.

Bottle conditioned brands are Young’s Bitter at 4.5% abv, Young’s London Gold, and Young’s Special London Ale, a 6.4% abv strong pale ale which was awarded a gold medal for bottle conditioned beer at the 1999 CAMRA Great British Beer Festival.

Bottled beers which aren’t bottle conditioned are: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, a 5.2% abv stout which contains dark chocolate essence and chocolate malt; and Young’s Ram Rod, a 5% abv beer named after the Dorset Horn ram that lived in the Ram Brewery stables in Wandsworth, and on which the company’s trademark is based;

Bottled beers Young’s have brewed in the past include:Old Nick, a 7.2% abv barley wine; Young’s St George’s Ale, a 5.2% abv pale ale, dry hopped with English Pilgrim hops (occasionally available cask conditioned at 4.3% abv); Young’s Winter Warmer; John Young’s Christmas Ale; Young’s Oatmeal Stout and Young’s Christmas Pudding Ale.

Several Young’s beers, including bottled mild ale Dirty Dick’s, summer seasonal cask ale Golden Zest, Kew Brew and keg lager Young’s Pilsner were discontinued as part of the rationalisation process that took place when Young & Co and Charles Wells’ brewing operations merged. Kew Brew has recently been relaunched as Kew Gold, a 4.8% abv bottle conditioned beer, with a donation from every purchase made to Kew Gardens.

Courage

In January 2007, Wells & Young’s bought the brewing and marketing rights of the Courage brands, Courage Directors, Mild, Light Ale and Best from Scottish & Newcastle. S&N will keep a minority stake in the brands.

Beers contract brewed and imported by Wells & Young’s include –

Kirin Ichiban, a 5% abv pale lager, brewed under licence for the Japanese brewing company Kirin, the recipe includes rice. It is brewed using the unique Ichiban Shibori brewing process, the most expensive in the world. According to the Kirin Ichiban website, this is a process by which the beer is brewed from a single, first press of the finest ingredients, making the purest, most flavoursome beer every time.

Estrella Damm – a 4.6% bottle and draft beer, now available in the UK. Wells and Young’s import, market and distribute. Estrella Damm is brewed by Grupo Damm in Barcelona and is one of Spain’s most popular beers.

Red Stripe, a 4.7% abv pale lager brewed under licence and follows the authentic recipe using specially imported Yakima hops from the Washington state. Red Stripe’s roots date back to Jamaica, 1928, and it arrived on the shores of the UK in the 1970s. Diageo have announced that they intend to take back the licence to the brand during the summer of 2011.

Corona Extra, a 4.6% abv bottled premium lager imported from Grupo Modelo in Mexico. Wells and Young’s marketed and distributed Corona in the UK until January 2011 when it lost the rights to Molson Coors. Wells and Young’s (or Charles Wells as it was then) began importing the brand in 1995 when just 100,000 cases were sold in the UK, and built it to 5 million cases at its peak.

The cask ale has a burnished copper colour and a rich, tempting aroma of peppery hops and raisins. The palate is dominated by more dark fruit, juicy malt and tangy hops. Bombardier is a best selling premium real ale and sells faster than six other top ten brands.

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