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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 17:46 GMT
Fears for historic Gales brewery
Fuller's beers
Fuller's said it would continue to brew Gales beers alongside its own
Fears have been raised about the future of an old Hampshire brewery, after it was bought by London-based Fuller's.

Gales, founded in 1847, is Hampshire's oldest independent family brewery and known for locally-produced cask beers.

The Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) is concerned its Butser Bitter and Prize Old Ale will eventually be replaced with Fuller brands like London Pride.

Fuller's says it will carry out a review but intends to continue brewing Gales's beers in the future.

Fuller, Smith & Turner bought Gales for 82.7m, it was announced on Tuesday.

Consolidation is eroding our brewing heritage and reducing consumer choice
Mike Benner, Camra

Gales chairman Charles Brims said: "Although it is always sad when a long-established family business decides to sell, I am confident that this decision is right for Gales Shareholders and right for the business."

But Camra is concerned that Gales's identity will be overwhelmed and that its distinctive beers will end up playing "second fiddle" to those of Fuller's.

It also wants a commitment from Fuller's to keep brewing operations in Hordean, Hampshire.

Chief executive Mike Benner: "In 2005 alone we have seen Ridleys of Essex and Belhaven in Scotland fall victim to Greene King and Jennings of Cumbria swallowed up by Wolverhampton and Dudley.

"Consolidation is eroding our brewing heritage and reducing consumer choice."

But a Fuller's spokesman said Camra always fought any brewery mergers, acquisitions or threats of closure.

He added: "As we have already said, we will be conducting a review of the operation over the next few months, but it is our intention to continue to brew Gales great beers as well as our own in the future."

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