Aspall cider has been slurped up by an American beer company for an undisclosed sum, but the 290-year-old brewer's founding family will remain involved as the company aims to extend its international drinking base.
The new owner of Suffolk-based Aspall is Molson Coors, a US brewing giant says it will develop it into “the number one premium cyder in the UK”, a press release said. The cost of the acquisition has not been disclosed.
The Chevallier family has been making cider at Aspall Hall in Suffolk since 1728, when the brewery was founded by Clement Chevallier.
Aspall chairman and eighth generation family member Barry Chevallier Guild, pictured, said the acquisition was an “important milestone…and a proud day for everyone involved with the company”.
He said the two companies had been in talks for more than a year and had found they shared values including a passion for heritage and quality.
“Molson Coors is known for respecting the provenance of local brands it has acquired in the past, and has the scale and expertise to accelerate our growth in the premium cider category in the UK and beyond.”
His younger brother, Henry Chevallier Guild works on business development and said the deal would allow Aspall to raise the profile of English cider in the UK and internationally.
“We believe that Molson Coors' investment will provide the catalyst to grow Aspall and build the recognition for quality cider worldwide,” he said.
Not all Aspall loyalists were pleased with news of the sale.
“As a big advocate of Aspall this really is such a sad day,” wrote James Withers on Twitter. “Just another sell out to an bigger brand that can ruin years of heritage and quality.”
Another cider drinker, Lizzy, begged the companies not to change the 290-year-old recipes.
“Don't go adding sugar to appease the US market! I'm [an] American and I absolutely love dry cider but brands like Strongbow upped their sugar content to improve sales in the US. Aspall is one of my [favourites], please don’t ruin it.”
Molson Coors already employs more than 2000 people in the UK, and has breweries at Trent, Tadcaster, Burtonwood, Cornwall, and Cork. It has a 20% share of the UK beer market.
The Coors family still own just over 10% of Molson Coors. Aldolph Coors opened his first brewery in Golden, Colorado in 1873. Today, Peter Coors (chairman, pictured) his daughter Christien Coors Ficeli and son Peter J Coors sit on the board of the directors.
The Molson side of the business started in 1786 when John Molson opened a brewery in Montreal, Canada, now the oldest in North America. The two family businesses merged in 2005 to create Molson Coors. Geoff Molson serves as vice-chairman.
Phil Whitehead, managing director of Molson Coors UK and Ireland said his company and Aspall share “a similar history that is deeply rooted in family”.
The announcement for the deal claimed Aspall grew its cider sales by 10% in 2016. Molson Coors’ sales were just under $6.6 billion in 2016.