US firm eyes up Highgate brewery

An American firm has expressed an interest in buying Walsall's Highgate brewery, which shut after going into liquidation, it has emerged.

An American firm has expressed an interest in buying Walsall's Highgate brewery, which shut after going into liquidation, it has emerged.

Stone Brewing Company, of California, is considering the empty site.

It is one of several companies believed to be interested in taking over the Sandymount Road building, which has been shut since Highgate & Davenports collapsed with the loss of 22 jobs on June 14.

A representative from Stone brewery, which is looking to expand into Europe, has been in touch with Friends of Highgate Brewery (FoHB), which has spearheaded a campaign to save the building.

Steve Orford, chairman of FoHB, said he had received an email from Greg Koch at the brewery which said they were considering visiting Walsall during their search for a European base.

Stone heard about the brewery via Facebook, where the Friends' group has attracted more than 1,700 members.

Mr Koch said the firm would only be interested in brewing its own particular ales at the site.

He said: "They are looking for a facility, not the brands. It could be ideal for them.

"They are dipping their toe in the water to see how we would feel about them being there.

"Europe is a big place so they may not choose Highgate but it's a tentative hope.

"The last thing we want is for it to become a block of flats or a pile of ashes."

He said the 112-year-old brewery was part of Walsall's heritage and hoped the campaign to save it was helping to raise public awareness.

The company that owns the Grade II-listed brewery — Smethwick pub group Empire Star — was not available for comment today.

The FoHB have said the brewery could be turned into a museum if beer production could not continue.

A meeting to discuss plans for the brewery will take place on September 14 at 7.30pm at St Matthew's Centre, St Matthew's Close, Walsall.