The struggling Cains Beer Company in Liverpool has gone into administration, threatening the jobs of about 1,000 workers.
The future of the group's historic Cains brewery and its 100 pubs now hangs in the balance.
But administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers said it is working with staff and landlords to ensure the brewery and pubs remain open while it seeks a buyer for the business.
Last week, the family behind the Cains Beer Company - brothers Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj - had reportedly pledged more funds to try to save the business and its 158-year-old brewery.
But the firm said it had failed to reach agreement with Bank of Scotland after running into cash flow difficulties.
Cains, which runs pubs largely in the North West, has been battered by rising costs, the impact of the smoking ban and a disputed tax bill.
It reported widening half-year losses at the end of July, at £4.6m against £697,000 in the same period last year.
David Chubb, PWC partner and joint administrator, said: "Cains is a well-established business with a great brand and brewing facility which has been brewing ales since the mid-19th century.
He added: "It is currently our intention to continue to trade both the brewery and pub chain businesses and we will seek to achieve going concern sales over the coming weeks and months."
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