Golden Goodbyes: Swindon’s Archers The Brewers Gets Credit Crunched
Archers brewery has gone into compulsory liquidation, making it one of the first of the real ale producers to go under in this recession.
Pub paper the Morning Advertiser tweeted the news yesterday that the Swindon-based brewer, which was created in 1979, was to be liquidated just over a year after a takeover saved it from administration. Now, with an insolvency practitioner appointed, Archers are hoping to find a buyer to keep their beers in production.
When it was just estate agents and bankers, it was funny. Then the Credit Crunch started to chewing up ordinary ‘hard working families’. And me. Now, somehow, watching society slough away like putrefying flesh isn’t the endless source of chuckles it once seemed. Especially after news like this.
Because while the loss of any brewer of ale moistens the ducts, Archers feels closer to home, mainly because it was, a Google Map close. For as someone who pretty much started their ale-drinking career with pints of Golden in an Archers pub only a few hundred metres from the brewery, today my mucus membranes have become almost desiccated.
To guess why and how this 10,000 barrels-a-year plant and its 20 staff have ended up surplus to requirements would be to indulge in wild, pointless speculation based on no inside information whatsoever...
But this is a blog, it’s what we do.
Part of the problem must have been the sheer range of beer, produced in addition to the core four of: Golden, Village, Best and Crystal Clear. Back in 2007, then administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP quoted Archers’ beer range as 190 brews strong. The stupidly comprehensive Beermad also list 274 ales produced, although they have 194 of those down as dead or deleted.
And if you could ever identify an Archers’ beer you liked from this ever-changing range, finding them in the South West seemed to increasingly be a problem.
Despite living in Bath for a decade the amount of times an Archers ale turned up in any pub could be counted on the webbed fingers of one hand. The same goes for that former Archers pub in Swindon in which I did so much of my formative drinking. Never again has a beer from 400 metres away made it across the tracks to former freehouse The Gluepot. Instead various Golden-like pints were spotted and sunk on days out in Stoke, Huddersfield or Oldham, but never seen again in Swindon.
So was it a case of aiming too far and too wide? Who knows but one landlord I spoke too even said that he found the brewery difficult to deal with, with them preferring answerphones to answering calls or answering his questions.
For most beer drinkers Archers were probably a producer of some pleasant but samey straw coloured ales but for some of us, Swindonians mostly, it will be missed. Even if we haven’t so much as seen a beers of theirs in ten years.