A microbrewery in Hackney has been acquired by drinks giant Carlsberg just days before its creator goes on trial for tax evasion.
London Fields Brewery (LFB) was started in 2011 by Julian Whiteway-Wilkinson, but a 2014 raid by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) led to him being charged with tax evasion to the tune of over £700,000.
Both Whiteway-Wilkinson and his wife Rosemary Spence, who helped run the business, deny three counts of cheating the public revenue and one of being knowingly concerned in the fraudulent evasion of income tax between 2011 and 2014.
Whiteway-Wilkinson’s trial is due to begin at Wood Green Crown Court on 10 July.
Commenting on the buy-out, Carlsberg UK’s chief executive Julian Momen said: “We thank Julian for his work in establishing London Fields Brewery and the creation of this exciting brand, and we wish him well in the future.”
The Danish beverage behemoth announced that LFB will “operate as an independent business” as part of a joint venture with New York-based Brooklyn Brewery.
Momen added: “We’re thrilled to add LFB to our growing portfolio of great quality craft and specialty beer. Our customers, and specifically those in London and other major cities, are looking to us to offer them the best possible range of interesting craft beers – and we think that, with nurturing, LFB has huge potential.”
LFB took full advantage of the exploding popularity of craft beer in the capital, finding success with creations such as ‘Make Love Not War’ and ‘Shoreditch Triangle IPA’, but its beers are currently brewed outside of Hackney.
Carlsberg has vowed to bring the brewery back to its home under the London Fields railway arches, and to upgrade its taproom and events space.
Brooklyn Brewery CEO Eric Ottaway said: “We’re excited to be able to work closely with this great London-based craft brewery. The range of beers, their eye-catching artwork and the great location of the brewery in Hackney makes for a fantastic platform.
“London Fields Brewery is surrounded by a thriving creative community that reminds us of home, and we’re looking forward to becoming part of it.”