Sunderland brewery to release 20 beers to mark Vaux closure anniversary

Nostalgic beer lovers have 20 reasons to toast the New Year.

For Sunderland’s Maxim Brewery will be launching 20 tipples over the coming 12 months to mark two decades since the city’s famous Vaux Breweries closed.

Maxim Brewery boss Mark Anderson with a glass of new Dragon Ale.

Maxim Brewery boss Mark Anderson with a glass of new Dragon Ale.

Around 700 jobs were lost in July 1999 when the firm followed advice from financiers in the City of London by concentrating on its pub and hotel portfolio.

With the business soon becoming Swallow Inns and Restaurants, the distinctive Vaux signs quickly vanished from the Sunderland skyline.

Yet its trademark beers did not disappear for long as former brewery finance director Mark Anderson and two ex-colleagues began buying up established brands such as Double Maxim and Samson.

The resulting Maxim Brewery is now flourishing on the edge of the city and is Sunderland’s only full-time brewing operation.

Flashback to the Vaux signs coming down from the former brewery building in July 1999.

Flashback to the Vaux signs coming down from the former brewery building in July 1999.

The 20 seasonal tipples will combine new beers and old favourites.

First up will be Dragon Ale, a 4.3% pale ale named after the hops head brewer Glen Whale sourced from Slovenia.

It will be appearing on cask in pubs in the first week of January and will be quickly followed shortly by the relaunch of Black Maxim stout.

Mr Anderson said: “We thought it was a good idea to celebrate or commemorate the 20th anniversary of the brewery closing by producing 20 seasonal beers.

“These will include a special Vaux at the end of June or start of July to coincide with the anniversary itself.”

A Vaux staff reunion is also planned for the summer with full details still to be confirmed.

Managing director Mr Anderson is optimistic about the future of Maxim Brewery, based at Rainton Bridge, Houghton, during 2019 and added: “Over the next year we hope to continue to produce good beer that people like.

“We are slowly growing in a very competitive industry where we know money is generally tight for people going out to pubs and our products are holding up against competition from the big brewers.”