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Stella Artois Returning To Lancashire Brewery

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Stella Artois is coming home. The world-famous lager is to be produced at the giant Anheuser-Busch Inbev brewery in Samlesbury after a two-year absence.

The kegging line is running again after being mothballed and 24 workers have been taken on to man it.

The Evening Post can reveal that Budweiser may also be kegged in Lancashire next year when Anheuser-Busch shuts down another brewery next year.

Barrels will now be filled with Stella Artois for pubs across the country during the 10-week trial period.

It is hoped it will become permanent if the trial is a success.

GMB senior steward Alan McVann said: “The workers at Samlesbury have had a painful few years with job losses and it has hurt but now we are seeing some good news.

“About half of the workers who are coming back in temporary jobs are former employees who left as part of the previous round of redundancies.

“Initially it is going to be a trial for 10 weeks to see if the volumes are there but by the time that is over we will be into Easter and then we have a World Cup this summer, which usually increases people’s drinking.

“If things go to a 24/7 operation we could be looking at nearer 50 jobs but we are just glad to be back kegging.”

The kegging line at the brewery on Cuerdale Lane, Samlesbury, was mothballed by AB-Inbev two years ago as sales plunged with pubs and clubs forced to shut by the impact of the smoking ban.

It shifted kegging to its Wellpark brewery in Glasgow and Magor in South Wales but sold the Scottish site to C&C Group, the Irish brewers of Magners cider and Tennents lager, in August.

AB-Inbev decided to re-open the Samlesbury line which had previously focused on producing bottles and cans of beer to relieve pressure on the Welsh site.

It has also announced it plans to shut The Stag Brewery in London by 2011 meaning production of Budweiser could also shift to Lancashire.

An AB-Inbev spokesman said it could not comment on its plans for its lines at the site on Cuerdale Lane, saying: “We keep all our operations under review.”

The brewing giant ‘retired’ its Castlemaine XXXX brand, which was canned at Samlesbury, in June to focus on Stella, Budweiser and Beck’s.

It laid off 78 workers and announced last month a further 800 jobs would go across its European operations – but said they would not impact unionised workers at Samlesbury.

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Monday, September 25, 6:59 pm

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