Aston Manor Brewery
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Aston Manor Brewery is a brewery and beer bottling company in Aston, Birmingham, England. The company produces beer, cider and perry. It is the third largest cider company in the UK by market share, and its products include Frosty Jack's Cider, the UK's leading brand of white cider. It is managed by Peter Ellis, son of Doug Ellis.
The company was formed in 1981 by four ex-employees of Ansells after Ansells closed its Aston Cross brewery. A new brewery was opened, in the nearby Thimble Mill Lane (at 52.4989°N 1.8728°WCoordinates: 52.4989°N 1.8728°W). In
1984, Herefordshire hop farmer Michael Hancocks, one of the company's suppliers, bought into the business. By 1998 Aston Manor was reporting profits of over £1million, with 70% of its sales being cider. However, because of a slump in the market, and strong competition, by 2001 profits had fallen to £740,500.
Industrial sabotage plot
In 2001, Michael Hancocks, a major shareholder (12% of the shares), whose family owns 44% of Aston Manor, organized a conspiracy to contaminate the cider products of the company's rival, H. P. Bulmer. He recruited a former Aston Manor employee, chemist Richard Gay, to produce a yeast that he planned to introduce into Bulmer's production line, recruited his daughter's partner, Paul Harris, to transport the contaminant, and paid a Bulmer's employee, Russell Jordan, £16,000 to introduce the contaminant. Jordan did not introduce the contaminant, but reported the plot to Bulmers and to the police, and the plot was foiled. If the plot had succeeded anyone drinking 20 glasses of the contaminated cider would have suffered disorientation and nausea.