Japanese beer giant Asahi buys British London Pride brewery; U.K. writer hopping mad

Would a London Pride beer brewed in the same location under Japanese management still taste as patriotic? Both sides weigh in.

If you say “Japanese beer”, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Probably Asahione of the most emblematic beers of the country, known for being super dry and not to be confused with the British fashion line that its catchphrase inspired.

Well, now it’s Asahi’s turn to pay Britain back. In a 250,000,000 pound deal (US$326,725,000) the drink conglomerate swooped in to buy the U.K.’s Fuller, Smith and Turner PLC, and all the brands and distributions of soft drinks, beers and ciders that go along with it. Most notable in the acquisition is Fuller’s London Pride beer, the brewery’s flagship beer since 1958.

Another 365 days of toil, craft and love have gone into making every London Pride beer. Here’s to the next 365. https://t.co/ObUXzip19U


London Pride (@London_Pride) December 31, 2018

With balanced levels of malt and hops, the London Pride is a pleasant pale ale with a medium strength. Asahi Beer has promised to continue brewing the ale out of the Fuller’s famous Griffin brewery in Chiswick, first established in 1845. Regardless of whether the taste changes or stays the same, there’s something else at risk: the drink’s image of national pride, which is mixed into the drink’s very name and branding.

Alex Brummer, in a distressed article for the Daily Mail, claimed that the buyout was a case of “yet another foreign predator” stripping the assets of home-grown British corporations. Describing Asahi as “acquisitive” and implying it to be one of many “big, characterless, mass-market brewers”, Brummer bemoaned the shrinking number of British breweries and implored Asahi to maintain the quality expected of Fuller’s so that Britain could “remain a land of long shadows on county cricket grounds, invincible green suburbs and warm beer.”

Upon hearing the backlash from homegrown news outlets, commenters in Japan had all manner of reactions.

“I’ve literally never heard of London Pride in my life.”
“They should be thanking them! It’s a good thing a Japanese company bought them up! What, they’d rather it be a German or Chinese company? If a Japanese company didn’t buy them, I can’t imagine they’d end up doing anything but go bankrupt.”
“They’re gonna make it so dry.”

“I kind of understand their shock. If some foreign conglomerate bought up a classic, established Japanese sake brewery we’d all be upset, too. But I feel like we’d forgive a German company for doing it, while we might feel resentful if it were a Chinese company. I wonder how the British feel about a Japanese company…? Is it more like our attitude towards Germany

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