My Basket

5 Lost Beer Brands that left the UK we’d love to see back!

June 5, 2024 3:51 pm

Trends in beer come and go, and over time we’ve all seen some favorites disappear quietly off the bar, never to be seen again. In this list, we explore some of the classic brands we’d love to see back. Brands with classic advertisements and brands with huge nostalgia value. We reminisce and dream about five of the brands we’d love to see back in UK pubs.

1. Labatt’s

A staple around the UK in the 1980s and 1990s, this classic Canadian lager is no longer widely available on draught in the UK. Finding anything Labatt’s is difficult outside of a few select websites. Purchased by Interbrew (now AB InBev after several mergers) in 1995, Labatt’s slowly disappeared off UK bars towards the turn of the millennium, presumably as Interbrew began to amalgamate their product lines. Labatt (as it’s now known) is still widely available in the US and Canada, howeve

For those too young to remember, Labatt’s used to be everywhere. They were associated with some awesome sports sponsorships, including Tim Harvey’s classic 1989 Ford Sierra RS500. They also sponsored Nottingham Forest between 1992 and their relegation from the Premiership in 1997 (with a gap). Labatt’s really does cause an iridescent glow through the nostalgia goggles.

There is potential for good news on the Labatt front. In November 2023, the company invested £23 million in its London brewery with new tanks, as shipping costs from its native Canada continue to bite. We, for one, would love to see them back. Labatt, if you’re reading this, give us a call.

2. Hop House 13

When Guinness announced they were diversifying into a lager, the world of drinkers looked on with wonder and bewilderment in equal measure. Hop House 13 was the fourth release from the successful Brewers Project based inside Guinness. They have gone through Guinness’s history books, piecing together or reimagining long-forgotten recipes. The resultant lager, however, was very good, and it quickly gained a foothold in the UK market.

Sadly, the momentum that was building was abruptly ended by the coronavirus pandemic. The subsequent sales drop was enough for Diageo to call time. Hop House 13 was removed from the UK market in 2021 after six short years. Despite the quality glassware, decent taste, and stylish fount, Diageo saw no way back for Hop House 13 in the UK. The beer is still available in Ireland and other locations, but in the UK, it is no more.

3. Castlemaine XXXX

Australians wouldn’t give an XXXX for anything else. A classic line from some of the best beer advertising campaigns of the time. In an age when beer advertising was great, Castlemaine XXXX produced some of the finest advertising campaigns.

Founded by the Castlemaine brothers in Founded by the Castlemaine brothers in 1924, the beer quickly grew in popularity and was exported. At a lowly 3.7%, the UK brew was a little weaker than the Aussie versions. In the UK, Castlemaine XXXX was last brewed under license by InBev. It was a staple in UK pubs and bars for decades, first by Carlsberg, then by InBev. By 2009, the licensing agreement had expired, and Castlemaine XXXX left the UK at that point. In reality, the wind-down of the brand had started long before that.

It makes a lot of sense, as InBev amalgamated, it definitley would have competing brands in the same space. Paying a license to compete with their own products seems a little pointless.

4. GB Lager

Created by Whitbread in response to their potential loss of the rights to brew Heineken in the UK, GB Lager was born. In 1999, Whitbread released GB Lager in the UK, AKA The Get Brewing Co. The drink itself was perfectly drinkable. At 4.4%, it sat nicely positioned between Carling and Stella, which were popular at the time.

Whitbread drove hard on the British Humour and irreverance. However in a post “Men Behaving Badly” world the marketing fell a bit flat. Aiming at the younger male demographic described as “proud brits” the 90’s style approach fell a bit flat as the millenium turned.

The whole exercise ultimately came across as contrived, with a boardroom of people certain they knew what people would like, but ultimately it was a bit patronizing. GB Lager was ultimately unsuccessful, and when Whitbread sold their brewing arm to Interbrew (now AB InBev), it was swiftly killed off by 2003. Ironically, Interbrew chose to develop the existing brand of the number 3 on this list, Castlemaine XXXX.

All that being said, Old Blighty has been on quite the bumpy ride this last decade. Surely there is an emerging gap in the market for something that would stir up a bit of national pride. Why not GB Lager? However, this time, done properly.

5. Carling Premier

To describe Carling Premier as a beer with a cult following is a bit of an understatement. The much loved premium strength lager from Carling was introduced in 1994. Coinciding with Carling’s sponsorship of the fledling Premiership. Football fans across the country fell in love with this smooth and refreshing lager.

A Nitro infused creamflow lager, Carling Premier, unlike most lager’s took a while to settle before you could get stuck in. This did leave behind an extremley drinkable lager that punters really enjoyed.

Molson Coors drove a stake into the hearts of Carling Premier drinkers, culling its packaged form in early 2024. This action removed it from supermarket shelves. In the ensuing press statement Moslon Coors revealed the lager remains on tap 300 establishments. That release was in March 2024 but that number must surely be dwindling by now.

An excellent lager that ultimately could do well from a rebrand and a bit of Guerilla marketing. Calling it something else but not too secretly letting fans know know that the new product is basically Carling Premier.