Marston's Brewery

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Marston's plc
Traded as LSEMARS
Industry Leisure & hospitality
Founded 1834[1]
Founder John Marston[1]
Headquarters Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK
Key people
Roger Devlin (Chairman)
Ralph Findlay (CEO)[2]
Products Beer
Revenue £787.6 million (2014)[2]
£156.1 million (2014)[2]
£(50.7) million (2014)[2]
Number of employees
c. 13,000 (2014)[2]

Marston's is a British brewery and pub operator. It operates over 1,700 pubs in the UK,[3] and is the world's largest brewer of cask ale.[4] 90 per cent of profits come from the pubs division. It was known as Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries plc until 2007 when it rebranded as Marston's.

It owns five breweries and brands including Marston's, Banks's, Jennings, Ringwood and Wychwood. Its priority products are Marston's Pedigree and Wychwood Hobgoblin.


In 1834 John Marston established J. Marston & Son at the Horninglow Brewery at Burton upon Trent.[1] By 1861 the brewery produced 3,000 barrels a year.[5] In 1890 Marston & Son Ltd was registered as a limited liability company.[5] In 1898 Marston's amalgamated with John Thompson & Son Ltd and moved to Albion Brewery on Shobnall Road, which the company still operates.[1] By this time the brewery had a capacity of 100,000 barrels a year.[5] It was at this time that the Burton Union system began to be used.[1] In 1905, the company merged with Sydney Evershed to form Marston, Thompson & Evershed.[1]

Banks & Co has been brewing at the Park Brewery in Wolverhampton since 1875.[6] The Company was formed in 1890 as Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries by the amalgamation of Banks & Co. with George Thompson & Sons and Charles Colonel Smith's Brewery.[7] In 1943 Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries took over Julia Hanson & Sons, with 200 pubs.[8] It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1947.[7] It acquired Camerons Brewery in Hartlepool in 1992[7] and sold it to Castle Eden in 2002, whilst retaining some of Cameron's tied pubs.[9]

In 1999 Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries purchased Marston, Thompson & Evershed, and in the same year the Marston's took over the Mansfield Brewery of Nottinghamshire and closed it down, transferring production of Mansfield beers to the Park Brewery.[10]

In 2005 Marston's Brewery took over production under licence from Interbrew of Draught Bass, succeeding Coors. Later, in 2005, the Jennings Brewery of Cockermouth was purchased and in 2007 Hampshire based Ringwood Brewery, which was established in 1978, and brews Best Bitter, Fortyniner, and Old Thumper, was acquired.[11]

In 2007 the Company changed its name from Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries plc to Marston's plc.[12]

Late 2013 there was some controversy when it was announced that Marstons would sell some 200 pubs to new company New River Retail. The fear was that many would close and many be turned into convenience stores.[13]

In 2014 the Company took over production of most Thwaites beers after the closure of the latter's main brewery. On 31 March 2015 it was announced the Company was buying the bulk of Thwaites beer supply business outright and the top two brands Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber for around £25m.[14]


The Marston's Brewery in Burton upon Trent, 2009

The company now owns and operates five breweries:

  1. The Park Brewery in Wolverhampton brews Banks's and Mansfield beers plus most Thwaites beers under contract
  2. The Marston's Brewery in Burton upon Trent brews Marston's and Bass;
  3. The Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth;[15]
  4. The Wychwood Brewery in Witney (which includes the Brakspear Brewhouse);
  5. The Ringwood Brewery in Ringwood, Hampshire.

The company operates over 1,700 pubs and bars situated across England and Wales, comprising around 300 tenanted and 500 leased pubs, plus operating a hotel chain.[16]

It had a market capitalization of £830 million in February 2014.

Brewing methods

Marston's is the only remaining brewer to use Burton Union Sets; a system whereby fermentation barrels and troughs are linked together by pipework.[17] The basic principle is one of preventing excessive beer and yeast loss through foaming, but the consequence is that the beer is both in contact with more wood and in contact with more beer (fermenting in a bigger volume, typically totalling about 100 barrels or 16 hectolitres). This results in a more consistent flavour; and very little chance of a whole batch being ruined. All other large-scale brewers have abandoned this method in favour of stainless steel fermenting vessels, which while they assure (through volume) a consistent flavour, limit the use of traditional yeast varieties. They make selective use of the unusual double dropping process (for example, in the production of Brakspear Bitter [18]) which introduces complex flavours due to a period of accelerated yeast growth.[19]


The main beers are Marston's Pedigree and EPA, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Jennings Cumberland Ale and Banks's Bitter and Mild. Despite a general UK-wide decline in the popularity of mild ales, Banks's Mild still outsells its stablemate bitter in the West Midlands market and is the best selling mild ale in the world.[20] The company also owns Sunbeam, a blonde beer which is brewed and distributed from the Banks's brewery based in Wolverhampton. Sunbeam was first produced in 2011, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Wolverhampton achieving city status.

Half of all its beer is bottled.[21]

Marston's brews Draught Bass for A-B InBev and Tetley Bitter, Mild and Dark Mild for Carlsberg.[22]

Marston's Pedigree

Marston's Pedigree is a 4.5% ABV bitter.[1] Introduced in 1952, it is Marston's flagship brand, selling 150,000 hectolitres in 2010.[1] It is the only beer to use the oak Burton Union System so that it is fermented in wood; the ingredients are mineral enriched Burton Water, malted barley, and Fuggles and Goldings hops.[1]


  • England & Wales Cricket Board - Marston's Pedigree had been the official beer of the England Cricket team from 2007 through to 2017.[23] Marston's is the official supplier of beer at all home Test Matches and has exclusive beer advertising rights.[23]

See also


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  6. Marston's: Banks's Archived April 13, 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Marston's History & Heritage
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  9. End of an era at Castle Eden Northern Echo, 15 July 2002
  10. History & Heritage | Marston's PLC
  11. CAMRA fears “domino effect” following purchase of Ringwood by Marston's Archived August 3, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  12. Marston's: Change of Name
  13. [1]
  14. [2]
  15. Marston's: About us Archived October 23, 2008 at the Wayback Machine
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  18. Asserted on label
  19. Burton Union sets[dead link]
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  22. CAMRA Good Beer Guide; 2010
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External links