Doom Bar and the Question of Origin

Doom Bar bottles on a supermarket shelf.

It’s official: thanks to Lucy Britner at Just Drinks we now know that Sharp’s Doom Bar – the bottled stuff, at least – has been being brewed outside Cornwall since 2013.

From the moment Mol­son-Coors bought out Sharp’s in 2011 peo­ple down here in Corn­wall have been won­der­ing how long it would be before pro­duc­tion moved to Bur­ton-upon-Trent. Oth­ers assumed it had already hap­pened and that there was sly­ness afoot. One local source even told us they’d heard a Sharp’s brew­er drop­ping big hints about it last year.

Now the cat’s out of the bag, what does it mean?

In a part of the world where the act of buy­ing local is high­ly politi­cised it might cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for oth­er Cor­nish brew­ers to sup­ply restau­rants, super­mar­kets, del­i­catessens and bars which have, until now, been hap­py with bot­tled Doom Bar.

In real­i­ty, though, we sus­pect it will take months for most peo­ple to clock this news and, even then, many won’t care – it’s a pop­u­lar beer which pre­sum­ably sells to the trade at a com­pet­i­tive price and it’s still Cor­nish-ish, right?

But if we ran a busi­ness and had for the last two years been buy­ing those bot­tles on the under­stand­ing that the beer was Cor­nish-made – and prob­a­bly pitch­ing it to our cus­tomers as such – we’d be pret­ty annoyed.

We came to this sto­ry via the West­ern Morn­ing News and are grate­ful to Kev Head for point­ing us to the orig­i­nal source.

UPDATE 01/07/2015

We asked Sharp’s the fol­low­ing ques­tion on Twit­ter but have yet to get a reply despite prod­ding:

15 thoughts on “Doom Bar and the Question of Origin”

  1. They don’t go big on the beer being brewed in Corn­wall, though. Some­thing I dis­cov­ered the oth­er week – on a trip to Bath – is that Bath Ales are brewed in Bris­tol; nobody seems par­tic­u­lar­ly both­ered, apart from a cou­ple of small oper­a­tions which do brew in Bath.

    1. Who’s the ‘they’ in this? Sharps/MC, you mean? The front label says in big let­ters (or did last time we looked) ‘Rock, Corn­wall’ (with­out spec­i­fy­ing that it’s actu­al­ly brewed there) and there’s this on the web­site:

      From our brew­ery in Rock, we cre­ate beer that’s alive with Cor­nish ener­gy. Every drop we brew har­ness­es our pas­sion, cre­ativ­i­ty and adven­tur­ous spir­it.…’

      But, no, they don’t go as all in these days on the Cor­nish lifestyle angle like they used to, and as St Austell increas­ing­ly do.

      At point of sale, though, in Cor­nish restau­rants, it’s usu­al­ly sold as ‘Cor­nish ale’, pre­sum­ably because the pro­pri­etors of said restau­rants think it is.

      Fun­ni­ly enough, we’ve always known about Bath Ales and nev­er clocked that it might con­fuse peo­ple, even though we thought it was a bit weird. Too late for them to change it to Bris­tol Ales, I guess, but they could per­haps make it more obvi­ous on the pack­ag­ing and at point of sale.

      1. To stand up for Bath Ales, the brew­ery is not in Bris­tol or in Bath. It’s in North Com­mon, South Glouces­ter­shire, tra­di­tion­al­ly part of Kingswood bor­ough, not with­in the bound­aries of Bris­tol but now (but only rel­a­tive­ly recent­ly) part of the con­tigu­ous met­ro­pol­i­tan area.
        The main brew­ery is about 2.5 miles from the Bris­tol city and coun­ty bor­der, and about 1.5 miles from the bor­der with Bath & North East Som­er­set coun­ty. So Bath Ales is fair enough real­ly.

      2. How about Ascot Ales – who are in Cam­ber­ley, Sur­rey, rather than Ascot, Berk­shire? I’d always assumed they start­ed in Ascot and moved to Cam­ber­ley when they need­ed big­ger premis­es (not that I can see any­thing on their web­site to that effect.)

        That also seems dif­fer­ent to me than the Sharps thing, but it may be because (oth­er than the occa­sion­al horse-relat­ed nam­ing on the beers) Ascot don’t seem to make much of a thing about their loca­tion.

      3. Sounds exact­ly the same approach as MC takes with Fran­cis­can Well Brew­ery “Cork”. Almost all of the beer is from Bur­ton too, I under­stand. Sharp prac­tice, no pun intend­ed.

    1. Don’t think a men­tion in the Spe­cial Secret Brew­ers’ Club fan newslet­ter counts as the cat being out of the bag, though…

  2. Otley Brew­ery is in Pon­typridd, north of Cardiff and rather more than a stone’s throw from the town of Otley in West York­shire.

  3. Where it’s brewed mat­ters far less than how it tastes and last bot­tle I had was bloody dire. I hear claims that the cask in Corn­wall can taste decent but bit far to check out and frankly bot­tle was dire enough I would­nt cross the road to try cask nev­er mind trav­el to Corn­wall

    1. Obvi­ous­ly the taste is impor­tant but to peo­ple who have been choos­ing it over oth­er sim­i­lar beers because they believed it was Cor­nish, then this mat­ters too.

  4. Absolute­ly bizarre that Doom­bar is reput­ed to be ‘Spoons best sell­ing cask ale nation­al­ly. And they even charge a pre­mi­um price for it when com­pared to the ordi­nary guest ales.

  5. I’m Cor­nish, and whilst the taste of any beer is the most impor­tant pri­or­i­ty, I always like to sup­port any prod­uct ema­nat­ing from my place of birth.
    I feel a bit cheat­ed that such a strong impres­sion is giv­en that this bot­tled beer is Cor­nish – as Corn­well has been giv­en ‘Nation’ sta­tus by the EU, then sure­ly unless the bot­tle clear­ly states the beer comes from Staffs, the brew­ers are break­ing trad­ing laws?

  6. If where it’s brewed is unim­por­tant, why didn’t Mol­son Coors announce the move of their bot­tled pro­duc­tion? At least that would have been hon­est. They’re guilty of decep­tion.

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