News Extra – January 2020

In case readers are wondering why we have the occasional ‘News Extra’ column, let me explain. Advertising and editorial content are compiled separately by John Galpin, our Advertisements Manager, and me, as editor. Each required different skills and any overlap is easily dealt with. The advertising deadline is also later. We don’t match the two halves until very late in the production process and so it is not possible to substantially change the editorial that has already been written. Consequently, if there is any space to be filled, you get a ‘News Extra’. This does have the advantage of allowing me to include more current stories. So, there you go…

YE OLDE ROSE & CROWN, WALTHAMSTOW

Further to the news on page 38 of the previous edition, this well known theatre pub has now gone ‘free of tie’ from its owners, Ei Group, with a ‘Market Rent Only’ agreement. Viv Barrett, one of the group of five who run the pub, told the Morning Advertiser, “All over Christmas I was like a giggly school girl every time I thought about it. It’s a liberating feeling, it’s like paying off your mortgage and you’ve suddenly achieved it.” Viv is happy that the increase in rent is balanced out by what they no longer have to pay Ei Group for drinks and it gives them the option to put their support behind smaller breweries. They already have an agreement with East London Brewery (ELB) to have one of their beers available on rotation. As Viv explained, “Those people need help with their business so it’s a really nice symbiotic relationship now rather than not being able to use these people in the way we want to do. It’s allowed us to build a local brand.”

This is an important story because it shows that, despite their pub owning business (POB) being less than encouraging, determined publicans can still go free of tie. Viv made it clear that it had not been an easy process and her advice is to take external legal advice and look to fellow publicans for support. Hopefully the process will get easier as POBs begin to realise that they cannot turn back the tide and that the Pubs Code Adjudicator will be policing their compliance in negotiating fair terms.

You can find Ye Olde Rose & Crown at 53-55 Hoe Street, Walthamstow, E17 4SA.

NEWS FROM SHEPHERD NEAME

Shep’s are continuing with their Cask Club range of seasonal beers into 2020. The first, for February, will be Crossfire, an English IPA at 4.2% ABV. The beer features Ernest hops, which give it flavour notes of apricot and citrus fruit. This is the first time that Shep’s have used this variety of hop, even though it was developed at the then East Malling Research Station, not that far from Faversham. They are named after Professor Ernest Salmon who was responsible for their initial cultivation. This was in the 1950s and they did not come into general use because, as Stewart Tricker, Shep’s Senior Brewer explains, “It was not extensively developed due to the belief at the time that it had a strong American aroma. Following the changing tastes in beer styles and flavour profiles in recent years, however, this hop is now a perfect choice for us to use. We are very excited to be creating a new beer with this historic hop.”

Looking ahead, the beers to come are, for March, a botanical beer called ‘Why can’t we be Fronds’, followed by ‘Samuel Adams Blonde Ambition’ in April and a honey ale, ‘May Bee’ in May. For more information, go to www.sncaskclub.co.uk.

ONLY HERE FOR THE BEER

According to VisitBritain, the official tourist agency, we are expecting 39.7 million tourists to visit to visit Great Britain in 2020. In particular, an increased flow from both the United States and China is expected. Tourism is forecast to contribute £26.6 billion to our economy, an increase of 6.6% on 2019. We all know how important the pub is to tourism. Apparently, going to a pub is the third most popular activity for visitors from overseas after dining in restaurants and shopping. The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) summed it up in the Morning Advertiser, “Pubs are uniquely British and a key part of our culture, so it is no surprise they are popular with tourists. They’re also the perfect place to try both British beer and food, making them essential for any tourist wanting to get a taste of the UK.” Let’s hope that tourists are welcomed, get what they are looking for and are not cynically exploited.

LET THE DOGS IN

This in some ways follows on from the issue of ‘invisible disabilities’ which I mention on page 20. There are now a number of different types of assistance dog in addition to ‘seeing eye’ dogs. They are used by a variety of people, including those with hearing loss, epilepsy, diabetes and physical mobility problems, as well as the blind. Sadly, the Guide Dogs charity reports that in the year to April 2019, some 19% of assistance dog owners were refused entry to pubs. I wonder if this was because the dog was supporting someone who wasn’t obviously blind. In an effort to clarify the situation, the BBPA has issued a new information pack to licensees, pointing out primarily that if they refuse entry to a person with an assistance dog when that person needs that dog to help them access services in the same way a non-disabled person would be able to, it may be counted as discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. Joel Young, campaigns officer at Guide Dogs, told the Morning Advertiser, “It is great to see the BBPA taking proactive steps to raise awareness of the access rights assistance dog owners have under the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Northern Ireland). We urge all publicans to review their policy relating to access for people with assistance dogs and to consider the different types of assistance dogs that may enter their establishment.”

The chief executive of the BBPA, Emma McClarkin, explained that the guide would help licensees understand how to ensure their site was as welcoming as possible, “Pubs are rightly known for being the heart of their communities, bringing people together under one roof. The hospitality of the pub extends to people with disabilities too. As a sector, we must continue to be as inclusive as we can be and highlight the accessibility of our facilities and their improvements. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.” I don’t always agree with the BBPA but I can’t fault that.

BREWDOG GOES ALCOHOL-FREE

On the subject of dogs . . . BrewDog have announced that they are opening their first bar selling only alcohol-free beer. The ‘BrewDog AF Bar’ opened on 6 January at The Bower, 211 Old Street, EC1V 9NR replacing the Draft House. It promises up to 15 taps of alcohol-free beer on draught and the food offering, as well as the usual burgers and wings, will include healthy specials and weekend brunch. For opening hours and further information, go here. BrewDog are adding more alcohol-free beers to their core range. There will be a coffee stout called Wake Up Call plus an alcohol-free version of their existing New England IPA Hazy Jane called Hazy AF.

NO POGONOPHOBIA HERE!

Congratulations to the Bumble Inn micropub in Peterborough, which has won the Beard Liberation Front’s National Beard Friendly Pub of the Year award. This is the first time that the award has gone to a pub outside London.
Compiled by Tony Hedger