Page last updated at 14:34 GMT, Wednesday, 21 April 2010 15:34 UK

Closure deadline for Brown Ale plant in Gateshead

Newcastle Brown Ale bottles
Newcastle Brown Ale has been brewed on Tyneside since 1927

The Federation Brewery in Gateshead will close by the end of May, ending production of Newcastle Brown Ale on Tyneside, it has been confirmed.

Heineken UK, which owns the Dunston brewery site, is switching operations to the John Smiths plant in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire.

The company said 40 jobs had already been lost at the site, and a further 23 would follow when it closes next month.

The closure is being blamed on falling beer sales in the UK.

Rachel Anderson, from the North East Chamber of Commerce, said: "It's always sad when an iconic brand like Newcastle Brown Ale leaves the area, but we have been expecting news of the closure for a while, so it sadly comes as no surprise.

"These are difficult times for the brewing industry, and I think the important thing now is to find the right investment for the Federation Brewery site.

"Newcastle has always had a good reputation for brewing. We have a number of smaller, artisan breweries in the region and I think they should be encouraged as this is maybe where the future lies."

Newcastle Brown Ale has been brewed on Tyneside since 1927, and moved across the River Tyne from Newcastle to Gateshead in 2005.

Heineken said out of the 63 workers losing their jobs, 12 will take up new employment with the company at various other UK sites.

Graeme Stephenson, manager at the Federation Brewery, said: "It is a great testament to everyone here that throughout this difficult period they have shown the highest level of professionalism and maintained the high standards level of safety, quality and service performance associated with the site."

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