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Who Really Owns/Brews Your Favourite Beer?

There are many reasons to drink craft beer or real ale. There are other reasons to drink exotic ‘foreign’ lagers. But if ‘authenticity’ or supporting small, independent brewers is one of your motivations, you might find this useful.

There’s no getting away from the economic reality that if something challenges a big player in any market, the giant will either try to destroy it, replicate it, or if that doesn’t work, buy it.

As craft beer went mainstream, it attracted a much bigger audience than just beer geeks. It sold at a premium compared to mainstream lager. Big brewers had commoditised their own brands, so they got jealous and wanted a piece of craft’s action. (You might think that’s unfair, but if you were working for one of these big brewers, that’s what you’d do too.)

Many leading craft brands have now been acquired by the giants. That’s just how it is. Now – the ownership structure of the beer industry may be of no interest to you. If you’re already drinking mainstream lagers from global giants and you just occasionally fancy something hoppier, that’s up to you. I won’t judge.

However, if one of your motivations for drinking craft beer – or just as importantly, cask/real ale – is that you want to support small, independent businesses, it’s not always obvious whether or not the brand in front of you is the real deal. Big corporations pay a lot of money to acquire the cool cachet of craft brands, and they’re not always eager to tell you the truth.

So I’ve compiled a list of who owns what. If your favourite brand is not here, then it is what it claims to be – independent at least, if not always small.

I’m passing no judgement here. Some of the beers below remain excellent beers, and there are quite a few that I regularly buy myself. I’m not telling you not to buy them. I’m just providing the information.

As I went through the corporate websites, I also encountered a lot of what we now call “world lagers.” People often buy these beers partially because they’re buying into an idea of the country of origin, believing that they have been imported to the UK. But most of these lagers are in fact brewed in the UK. Some of them have never even been near the place they are supposedly brewed. So all the beers below are brewed in the UK unless otherwise stated.

First, here’s a list of brewery/beer brands in alphabetical order, so if you want to check on a particular beer, you can find it easily:

AmstelHeineken
Asahi (Brewed in Italy/UK – seems to be moving aroubnd a bit.)Asahi
BackyardCarlsberg Marstons
Banks’sCarlsberg Marstons
Bass (Brewed by Carlsberg Marstons)AB-InBev
BeavertownHeineken
BecksAB-InBev
Blue MoonMolson Coors
BoddingtonsAB-InBev
BrahmaAB-InBev
BrixtonHeineken
BrixtonHeineken
Brooklyn (not owned outright but Carlsberg Martsons has brand rights in Europe – they brew and sell the beers here)Carlsberg Marstons
BudweiserAB-InBev
Caffrey’sMolson Coors
CaledonianHeineken
Camden TownAB-InBev
CarlingMolson Coors
CarlsbergCarlsberg Marstons
CobraMolson Coors
CoorsMolson Coors
CoronaAB-InBev
CourageCarlsberg Marstons
Dark StarAsahi
DesperadosHeineken
Deuchars IPAHeineken
Eagle (Waggledance, Eagle IPA etc.)Carlsberg Marstons
Erdinger (Independently owned and brewed in Germany. UK marketing and distribution by CM.)Carlsberg Marstons
Estrella Damm (Independently owned and brewed in Spain, packaged in UK. UK marketing and distribution by CM.)Carlsberg Marstons
FostersHeineken
Franciscan WellMolson Coors
Fuller’sAsahi
Goose Island (Brewed in UK)AB-InBev
Grimbergen (brewed in Belgium, France, Poland and Italy)Carlsberg Marstons
Grolsch (Brewed in Netherlands)Asahi
Heineken (Brewed in Netherlands)Heineken
HobgoblinCarlsberg Marstons
Hoegaarden (brewed in Belgium)AB-InBev
HolstenCarlsberg Marstons
JenningsCarlsberg Marstons
John Smith’sHeineken
Kirin Ichiban (Owned by Kirin, brewed and marketed in UK by CM)Carlsberg Marstons
KronenbourgHeineken
Lagunitas (brewed in Netherlands)Heineken
LechAsahi
Leffe (Brewed in Belgium)AB-InBev
Lowebrau (Brewed in Germany?)AB-InBev
MadriMolson Coors
Marstons (Pedigree and all others)Carlsberg Marstons
MeantimeAsahi
MichelobAB-InBev
Miller Genuine DraftMolson Coors
MorettiHeineken
Murphy’s Irish StoutHeineken
Newcastle BrownHeineken
Peroni (Really brewed in Italy!)Asahi
Pilsner Urquell (Really brewed in Pilsen!)Asahi
PorettiCarlsberg Marstons
PravhaMolson Coors
Red StripeHeineken
RingwoodCarlsberg Marstons
Sagres (brewed in Portugal)Heineken
San MiguelCarslberg Marstons
Sharp’s (Doom Bar and all others)Molson Coors
ShedheadCarlsberg Marstons
ShipyardCarlsberg Marstons
SkolCarlsberg Marstons
SolHeineken
StaropramenMolson Coors
Stella ArtoisAB-InBev
Tetley’sCarlsberg Marstons
TigerHeineken
TuborgCarlsberg Marstons
TyskieAsahi
WainrightCarlsberg Marstons
Warsteiner (Brewed in Germany)Carlsberg Marstons
Worthington’sMolson Coors
WychwoodCarlsberg Marstons

Now, here’s the same list sorted by corporation – just for interest really – so you can see who owns what:

Bass (Brewed by Carlsberg Marstons)AB-InBev
BecksAB-InBev
BoddingtonsAB-InBev
BrahmaAB-InBev
BudweiserAB-InBev
Camden TownAB-InBev
CoronaAB-InBev
Goose Island (Brewed in UK)AB-InBev
Hoegaarden (brewed in Belgium)AB-InBev
Leffe (Brewed in Belgium)AB-InBev
Lowebrau (Brewed in Germany?)AB-InBev
MichelobAB-InBev
Stella ArtoisAB-InBev
Asahi (Brewed in Italy/UK – seems to be moving aroubnd a bit.)Asahi
Dark StarAsahi
Fuller’sAsahi
Grolsch (Brewed in Netherlands)Asahi
LechAsahi
MeantimeAsahi
Peroni (Really brewed in Italy!)Asahi
Pilsner Urquell (Really brewed in Pilsen!)Asahi
TyskieAsahi
BackyardCarlsberg Marstons
Banks’sCarlsberg Marstons
Brooklyn (not owned outright but Carlsberg Martsons has brand rights in Europe – they brew and sell the beers here)Carlsberg Marstons
CarlsbergCarlsberg Marstons
CourageCarlsberg Marstons
Eagle (Waggledance, Eagle IPA etc.)Carlsberg Marstons
Erdinger (Independently owned and brewed in Germany. UK marketing and distribution by CM.)Carlsberg Marstons
Estrella Damm (Independently owned and brewed in Spain, packaged in UK. UK marketing and distribution by CM.)Carlsberg Marstons
Grimbergen (brewed in Belgium, France, Poland and Italy)Carlsberg Marstons
HobgoblinCarlsberg Marstons
HolstenCarlsberg Marstons
JenningsCarlsberg Marstons
Kirin Ichiban (Owned by Kirin, brewed and marketed in UK by CM)Carlsberg Marstons
Marstons (Pedigree and all others)Carlsberg Marstons
PorettiCarlsberg Marstons
RingwoodCarlsberg Marstons
ShedheadCarlsberg Marstons
ShipyardCarlsberg Marstons
SkolCarlsberg Marstons
Tetley’sCarlsberg Marstons
TuborgCarlsberg Marstons
WainrightCarlsberg Marstons
Warsteiner (Brewed in Germany)Carlsberg Marstons
WychwoodCarlsberg Marstons
San MiguelCarslberg Marstons
AmstelHeineken
BeavertownHeineken
BrixtonHeineken
BrixtonHeineken
CaledonianHeineken
DesperadosHeineken
Deuchars IPAHeineken
FostersHeineken
Heineken (Brewed in Netherlands)Heineken
John Smith’sHeineken
KronenbourgHeineken
Lagunitas (brewed in Netherlands)Heineken
MorettiHeineken
Murphy’s Irish StoutHeineken
Newcastle BrownHeineken
Red StripeHeineken
Sagres (brewed in Portugal)Heineken
SolHeineken
TigerHeineken
Blue MoonMolson Coors
Caffrey’sMolson Coors
CarlingMolson Coors
CobraMolson Coors
CoorsMolson Coors
Franciscan WellMolson Coors
MadriMolson Coors
Miller Genuine DraftMolson Coors
PravhaMolson Coors
Sharp’s (Doom Bar and all others)Molson Coors
StaropramenMolson Coors
Worthington’sMolson Coors

This list is correct to the best of my knowledge but clearly things will change. I am more than happy to accept corrections and additions from either the brands and brand owners themselves or from drinkers who spot something I’ve missed. I will keep it up to date from now on.

56 Comments

56 Comments

PeteBrown

You’re allowed to drink whatever you like! I’m just providing information.

Fourpure and Magic Rock are interesting – they’re now independently owned again. But I suspect some people won’t forgive them.

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Lee

Caledonian and subsequently Deuchars is Greene King. So not touching that with a Barge pole, but other than that this list doesn’t really mean anything. The cull in brewers has already begun, and supermarkets aren’t helping and I think the mentality in thinking all big brewers are bad is somewhat of a childish and small minded position. Are you still rebelling against your parents too?

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PeteBrown

Lee – don’t be a twat, mate. I never said all big brewers are bad. The post specifically says “I’m passing no judgement here. Some of the beers below remain excellent beers, and there are quite a few that I regularly buy myself. I’m not telling you not to buy them. I’m just providing the information.” Maybe you could do me a favour and actually read the fucking post properly before insulting me? Cheers.

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rod harrison

What gets me is the pretence that they were brewing THATparticular beer hundreds of years ago.

Scott

Thanks for all the hard work put into doing the list. Unfortunately you always get negative smart arses like Lee who can’t wait to try and knock you down.

Louis Kenmare

Hi Pete, and fair play to you for bringing some light about that tangled web. Of course the article is way too short to deconstruct craftwashing but I assume you must keep simple to suit a large audience.

You said Magic Rock and Fourpure are now independents again, but they are owned by Odyssey Inns. Would you please explain as I don’t know too much about Odyssey Inns ?

By the way, as you include Ireland, there is a few more (eg 8 Degrees, Five Lamps, O’Haras [even not 100%],… What about Rye River now ? )

Regards

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Oscar

O’ Hara’s is still majority owned at over 65 percent by the O’ Hara family

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Santa

This seems like the Industry or Portland Place knobs encouraging or dare I say …..paying! someone to blog and associate them with the word Craft! none in the list represent craft brands nor anywhere near to craft beer. sounds like the Portland possy have instigated the digital signature association, or if they haven’t then they will be grateful to you Pete Brown. just to clarify that I believe a genuine taproom or craft beer bar will have none of your list for sale….

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PeteBrown

Not sure I understand what you’re saying here mate. I may have got completely the wrong end of the stick, and if I have, I apologise. But this comment reads to me like you’re basically accusing me of being paid by big brewers to promote them as craft. If that is what you’re saying it’s actually the complete opposite of what this blog is trying to do. It’s also libellous and deeply offensive.

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Oscar

The Lady Well brewery (Murphy’s) only brews draught beer the cans are done elsewhere. At least with Guinness the canning and bottling is done in Belfast but the beer is delivered up there.

Mark Briggs

Cheers for the informative listings, Pete. A few brewery ownership details that I was unaware of.
All the very best for 2023

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Andy Duckworth

Interesting list with a few surprises to me. I drink very few of these! Backyard. Used to buy direct from them but didn’t realise they’d gone the same way as so many!

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Andrew Grave

Correction: Michelob is an AB Inbev brand (not Carlsberg Marstons)
Additional info: Asahi is brewed in Italy (At the Asahi-owned Peroni brewery)
Additional info: Caledonian and Deuchars are now brewed by Greene King’s Belhaven Brewery.

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AdeBrewBeer, formerly ElectricPics

Asahi is currently brewed for the UK at Hartlepool by Camerons as are several other big brands, but it’s moving to Chiswick soon when production of Hophead moves to Meantime.

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Andrew Grave

I suspect draught is brewed in the UK but the cans and bottles are currently produced in Italy though it’s possible production could move to the UK as well.

From this Asda listing

Brewed and canned by: Birra Peroni S.r.l., Via Birolli, 8,Roma, Italy.
For: Asahi UK Ltd, Asahi House, 88-100 Chertsey Road, Woking, GU21 5BJ, UK.
https://groceries.asda.com/product/canned-lagers/asahi-super-dry/1000272271881?cmpid=ppc-_-ghs-_–_-bing-_–_-dskwid-s92700044654060331_dc&cwc=ppc-pla&cwd=ghs&cwf=pm&ds_kid=92700044654060331&gclid=008ff891d4391d6895a39b0e5c4edb5a&gclsrc=3p.ds&ds_rl=1254319&msclkid=008ff891d4391d6895a39b0e5c4edb5a&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Bing%20PLA%20-%20Brand%20-%20All%20Products&utm_term=4578572603220713&utm_content=All%20Products

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Edd O'Hale

Remember the monopolies & merger balls up, those of us in the trade new it only helped the fat boys get fatter……..

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Steve

I notice there is no mention of Sam Smiths Brewery which although smaller than others is still a reasonable size and currently fiercely independent even if Humphrey Smith has most of his pubs around the Yoek area closed

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Rob Wosley

Gutted to hear that Caledonian are no longer brewing in Edinburgh.
Perhaps GK will sell through their website though, something that was sadly lacking before. Who knows?
interesting article, and although I knew a fair bit of this info already the extent of what’s going on was still an eye opener.
Looks like Courage Directors has been allowed to die a slow death, which saddens me also. I used to keep a decent pint of that back in the day.

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Carlos

Correct, it is still brewed at Tyskie Browary in Tychy/PL, which is owned by Asahi since 2017 😉

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Paul Gamble

Hi Pete,

Hope you’re well.

Regarding Estrella Damm.

The beer is brewed in Spain by the independently owned Sociedad Anónima Damm. The beer is imported into the UK and packaged into kegs at the old Eagle brewery in Bedford. The bottles are imported direct from Spain.

Carlsberg Marstons have the distribution rights for the beer. They don’t own the brand or brew it under license in the UK.

It’s a complex business model, but I don’t think they deserve to be called out and tainted with the same brush as a lot of the other brands you’ve mentioned here.

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Tim Edwards

Not to be facetious but I would argue that S.A.Damm is a privately owned brewery but not independently owned.
There are a number of big shareholders in the business.

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Beer

Beamish is owned by Heineken
Islands Edge is Heineken
Diageo / Guinness have Guinness, Rockshore, Harp, Kilkenny, and Smithwicks

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Bam

Foster’s is a brand within CUB, which is owned by Asahi.

It’s brewer under licence by Heineken within Europe.

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A Beer In Preston

Thank you for this list, knew most of them but still a few surprises. A lot of once very decent beers there ruined by being macro-brewed hundreds/thousands of miles from where they originally were often with the original site closed and sold off.

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Bob

Thanks for the list and well done. As you say, not judgemental – just presenting the facts. Ignore the d***heads.

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Peter Olding

Great list, what would interest me is knowing where the beer is brewed. I’ve long time suspected that not all Ringwood beer is brewed in Ringwood anymore. But I have no evidence to prove or dis-prove that.

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Roy

A great list Pete that no doubt has taken a long time to compile. Thanks. You could maybe add to your workload and include Diageo into the list too? Cheers and Happy Christmas to you.

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Kev

Hi Pete, I think Grolsch is back to being brewed in the Netherlands. At least the bottle of 4% Grolsch I picked up in the supermarket said anyway. Tasty it was too for a low strength macro brewed lager.

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Loz

hasn’t the Eagle brewery just been sold to Damm SA ? who in turn, 25% of the shares owned by Dr.Oetkler of the frozen pizzas and baking powder, apparently they owned loads of breweries in Germany, accounting for over half of production. As my Italian mother in law says ” you gotta have beer with a pizza!”

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Martin price

What happened with magic rock and four pure ??
I thought were still owned by the big boys ?

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PeteBrown

FourPure and Magic Rock were sold by Lion, who decided they’re not going to do craft in the UK any more. As Louis says above they’re owned by Odyssey Inns, which is a company owned by one of the founders of Utopian. They’re independent again – but some purists won’t forgive them for once selling out!

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Bam

Foster’s is a brand within CUB, which is owned by Asahi.

It’s brewed under licence by Heineken within Europe.

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JR

And then there’s C and C group that have a few well known brands under their umbrella that might be worth adding?

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Ian Thurman

Whilst cask Bass is brewed in Burton by CMBC, the bottles and cans use beer brewed by AB InBev at Samlesbury near Preston.

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Bazwold

I’ve just commented on untapped to a German friend after he said about the same thing happening over there. Like someone else said there isn’t any craft brewery’s on the list that I purchase. If I now go into a pub and see beaverton and doom bar, two beers i used to drink i no that I’m not going to get something tasty and probably move on.

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Steve

I notice there is no mention of Sam Smiths Brewery which although smaller than others is still a reasonable size and currently fiercely independent even if Humphrey Smith has most of his pubs around the York area closed

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PeteBrown

Two reasons for that, Steve – one,SS is not relevant to this post. It’s not about who owns every brewery in the UK, just what brands the multinationals own.

Two, I won’t give them any publicity or buy their beers or visit their pubs while Humphrey Smith still runs the company.

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Jane Price

Thanks for the list, Affligem, Mort Subite and Edelweiss are also part of the Heineken stable, maybe more widely available in Europe than the UK

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Dave

Hi Pete,

If you’re still updating, how about adding Krosovice? I looked for the answer here (such a great resource) but couldn’t see it in your list. It was aquired by Heineken in 2007 it looks like.

Reply

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