Marston’s, the brewers who bought the Eagle Brewery from Charles Wells in 2017, have signed a deal to sponsor the Bedford Blues for a further three years.
The deal, which will see the Eagle Brewery continue as the principal sponsor of the Blues’ home ground at Goldington Road, includes new beer dispense equipment in the marquee bar and access to Bedford brewed beers on match days across the ground.
And the brewery says the deal was a no-brainer: “What better combination than beer and rugby,” said head of sales at Marston’s, Richard Saunders.
“Bedford Blues is the iconic sports venue in the town and we’re just delighted to be continuing to be a part of it.”
While it’s great news for the Bedford Blues and rugby fans, chief operating officer, Gareth Alred, said it’ll help them freeze the the cost of draft beers and wine for next season, it also signals an awakening of the Eagle Brewery.
The site itself may have been continuing to pump out beer, but news from the site has been a little quiet since it was taken over from Bedford’s oldest brewers Charles Wells in 2017.
As well as the brewery itself, Charles Wells, which recently announced a branding change to Wells & Co, also sold Marston’s most of their beer brands.
This included their Bombardier and Young’s beers and the distribution and brewing rights to Kirin and Estrella in a deal worth £55million.
“We’ve been busy making a lot of changes and getting used to a new way of working,” said head brewer, Chris Chisholm.
“The team here, which are predominantly former Charles Wells employees, have been getting used to brewing new products and the Marston’s way of doing things.
“We’ve also recently started brewing Kaltenberg which is brewed to the Reinheitsgebot beer purity laws. This has had its own set of challenges, but we matched it on the first brew.”
One of the big changes that Chris was keen to talk about is how beer now gets from the brewery to the town’s pubs.
“The beer used to leave the brewery and head to a central depot before coming back to Bedford,” adds Chris. “Now it goes direct, meaning that the Eagle Brewery beers you’re drinking at your local were brewed as recently as three days ago.”
And quality is key, adds Regional Sales Manager, Jim Gill: “Consistency is key with beer quality, we want to make sure people know they’re going to get a great beer.”
While they’ve been making these changes, Bedfordians have wondered what the plans were for the Queens Park site.
A number of changes to staffing, with the removal of the bottling and canning lines and other areas at the brewery, did create some concern that Marston’s would use the site for logistics instead of brewing, but Jim says that’s not the case.
“We’re a Bedford brewery,” he adds. “What’s really important for us is that element of local and we want to work with the local area and deliver great beer to the people of Bedford.”
And it seem they certainly are putting their money where their mouth is. Malcolm Wyse, general manager at Bedford’s Swan Hotel says being part of a bigger network through Marston’s has given them access to some great products.
“Part of the [Swan] experience is having access to great products and we’re able to give our guests a blend of internationally recognised brands and locally brewed beers too.”
Eagle also recently announced a three-year-deal to sponsor the Bedford Park Concert series, which brings some of the world’s best musical acts to town each year.
“We’re committed to Bedford,” says Jim. “We want this brewery to reconnect with the local area.
“We’ve got some really exciting partnerships that will really connect the brewery to the people of Bedford.”
With all the brewing activity across the town, it’s a refreshing time to be a Bedford beer drinker.