Consumer group CAMRA has blasted a beer giant for closing down an artisan brewery saying global companies are killing the industry's heritage and reducing consumer choice.

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has announced plans to close Wychwood Brewery in Witney, blaming fierce competition and the need to cut costs.

The closure will happen in November when there is a break clause on its lease with the landlord who owns the site.

Until then it will continue to operate as normal.

Hobgoblin ales, as well as Wychwood brands Firecatcher and Dry Neck beers, will now be brewed at CMBC's other sites which include breweries such as Marston’s Brewery in Burton-on-Trent.  

The firm said it will begin consultation with the six staff - who have about 100 years of beer making experience between them - and will also try to redeploy them within the business where possible.

CAMRA said it was 'the latest casualty' of the beer giants and part of the slow destruction of the country's brewing heritage.

National chairman Nik Antona said too many breweries across the UK "are shutting their doors forever at an alarming rate.

"Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company’s (CMBC) proposal to close Wychwood brewery in Witney this November is the latest in a growing list of casualties at the hands of global brewers.

“Whilst it is heartening to know that the Wychwood brand will continue in some fashion at CMBC and the iconic Brakspear Double Drop beer will live on at Banks’s, it is a great shame for Oxfordshire to lose such a classic, recognisable brewery.

“Fresh off the heels of closing Jennings brewery in Cumbria and selling off Ringwood brewery of Hampshire, it is worrying to see the UK’s brewing heritage slowly erode.

"The diminishing consumer choice at the hands of the commercial giants is of great concern.”

The brewery, which is on Eagle Industrial Estate behind Corn Street, closed its tap room Wychwood Brewery Tap in March 2020 having only operated it for a couple of years.

And following Covid it closed down its brewery tours and laid off its guides.

Jon Tillson, one of the top brewing team, said: It was a really tough decision regarding the tour and tap operation, but myself and the brewing team remain focused on brewing great beers.”

CAMRA Oxfordshire slammed Carlsberg Marston's for "selling off the family silver big time”.

Chair Tony Goulding said: "It's an absolute tragedy but we've been waiting for it.

"They've even been brewing other ales in Witney and transporting them to their other sites.

"They are not worried about craft ales. Big is beautiful. It's cheaper to produce mass produced ales never mind the quality.  

"It's nothing short of a tragedy."

There has been a brewery near the current site for 150 years with the first established in 1841. 

Wychwood was founded by Chris Moss, from Oxford, who teamed up with Paddy Glenny in the early 1980s to form the Glenny Brewery, at the former Clinch and Co brewery site off Church Green.

It changed its name to Wychwood after the nearby forest in 1990 after Mr Glenny emigrated to Canada.

By 2001 its flagship beer Hobgoblin was the seventh biggest selling bottled beer in the UK and was exported worldwide.

A company spokesman said Mr Moss "lived and breathed the brewery" often starting work at 6.30am and delivering beer on his way home in the evenings.

In 2000 the brewery was bought by Refresh which was set up as a management buyout of Ushers of Trowbridge.

Refresh was bought by Midlands pub and brewing group Marston's in 2008 and Marston's merged with Carlsberg UK in 2020.

As well as brewing Hobgoblin, it also produced beers under the Brakspear name having inherited the original, historic brewing kit from the long-closed Henley brewery.

Paul Davies, CEO of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, said: “We understand the depth of feeling towards Wychwood Brewery, and have tremendous pride in our team there.

"Our number one focus is giving them all the support they need as we begin the consultation on this proposal.

“The UK ale market is an incredibly competitive space, and combined with a turbulent economic outlook for the UK provides for a challenging environment for industry to navigate.

"By making use of the break clause in our lease for Wychwood Brewery, we can consolidate our brewing network to achieve greater efficiency and productivity, supporting ongoing investment in our people and business.”