Monday 20 October 2014

New Allergen Laws Cause Confusion!!

Dear oh dear..........does this government not think we can walk down the road avoiding the cracks in the pavement??............recently on the newsletter, we highlighted Nottingham City's fumbling around the Late Night Levy.......(lets get all the pubs outside the city centre to pay for policing in the city centre, whilst the pubs actually in the city centre don't pay for it!)

Next on the list is central government misguided attempt to implement a complicated allergen law......derived from the powers that be in sunny here we go......none of the following is made couldn't make it up one would believe you!!

The basic premise is that many European folk are allergic to one or more of 14 principle allergens...........therefore, if they dare to go into any type of restaurant or purchase any food every product must have either clear lableing and/or the staff have access to a compendium of information on every food and drink item sold by that business identifying any allergens in every food a pint of Harvest Pale and Lasagne, salad, chips and garlic it again before continuing.

This law will be implemented on 13 December 2014............OH YES right in the middle of the busiest trading point of the year.......WHOEVER made that decision should have their face on the front page of every newspaper in western Europe.

UKIP State..."throw it out with the beer slops!!" and we couldn't possible comment!
But maybe CAMRA should be commenting on the relevance to micro brewed ales and the added costs to brewers.

Here at the Lion we have a pretty simple food you know...The Rock n Roll Burger whats the problem......well even for that small menu we have to break down every ingredient in every dish and identify and record any possible allergen.....then produce a document that could be shown to a worried customer..........BUT hey don't forget this also includes all the special sauces that go with the burgers.......all the  specialty nuts and crisps......all drinks especially the beautiful bespoke real ales and hand made ciders.......oh and don't forget the Friday buffet and team food for the jazz and darts folk..........this is bureaucracy gone absolutely crazy........

So how is it going to be is a trading standards issue not food 12 years at the can count the number of people who have mentioned food allergies on one hand and that has always been gluten.........a prize for the first person to email in with all 14 allergens First three in win a cup of smokey nuts and a pint of Harvest Pale!!

Why can't the government leave our industry alone for a couple of years......meddle meddle meddle.....lets make up a job......But leave the NHS in total and utter crisis..............ELECTION YEAR is 2015!

Oh and just to end it, do you really think the French, Spanish, Greeks or Italians will take one jot of notice......unlikely......but our Civil Servants have a job to do and boy will they do the job properly............So, on December 13th, if you want to cause mayhem get down to your local Chinese takeaway ask for all the allergen Mandarin........oh yes....must all be in relevant languages....

See you down the Lion at tea time for a gluten free pork pie and a bloody good pint!!

Andrew Crawford
Operations Director
Pub People Company

Rant over!!......excellent ale and cider choice down here this weekend, along with top live local bands, Fri, Sat and Sun
CAMRA members very welcome, with 15p per pint off real ales and ciders

Friday 10 October 2014

What Does Doom Bar Tell Us About Cask?

Almost 20 years ago as a Greenall's Regional Manager based in Cornwall, I went to see a chap called Bill Sharp. He had started his little brewery a couple of years before in Rock, over the estuary from Padstow....... Greenall's, having bought the Devonish Pub Co, owned the Golden Lion in Padstein........... the tenant here had been badgering us for this locally brewed ale and having a longstanding love of real ale I did not hesitate to make a the full knowledge that persuading the Company to stock it would be virtually impossible............. Greenall's, whilst no longer a brewer at that time sold cask Bitter, Mild, Thomas Greenalls Original, Shipstones and Davenports range and having now inherited pubs in the South had access to Flowers IPA and couple of others....... Their new guest ale policy allowed the tenant to purchase from a painfully small range from mainly regional brewers, like Tim paying a £25 surplus per 9 gal firkin on a full list price...CRIMINAL!

Anyway, back at Rock, Bill Sharp was a wonderfully ethical gentleman........he already had a decent range, with Sharp's Best the biggest seller.........and was keen only to sell to one or two outlets in any town, barely venturing beyond the Cornish borders.
I managed to agree with the marketing automaton at Greenalls HQ in Warrington that having a local brew would culturally endear us to Cornish folk and Bill chose a couple of pubs in deepest Cornwall for a trial.......Cadgwith Cove inn and the Roseland Inn Philleigh.........

Roll on about five years..... Sharps grew dramatically and Bill had begun to focus on a secondary dark beer at 4% called Doom Bar, which was destined to be the company's vanguard product....a malty, quaffable ale. Production, sales and distribution had accelerated. No longer a hobby, Doom Bar was in huge demand way beyond Cornwall..........things were moving fast.

The man from Dolmio Italian sauces spied this and bought Bill Sharp out...........then spent around 8 years developing the Doom Bar brand and in 2011 Molson Coors bought them for a whopping £18m.........

So would Doom Bar simply disappear into the swamp of other Coors brands and replicate the journey of Deuchars IPA? Or was there a longer term plan to establish the product as the successor to the likes of Draught Bass and Marstons the branded sessionable medium coloured cask ale market. Emma Bebbington, Pub People's Coors Account Director was put in charge as General Manager........ so jealous!!!

In 2014 the brewery in Rock, over seen by Emma, has seen £3m worth of capital investment and  is forecast to brew 350 000 barrels of Doom Bar going forward.......this is about a tenth the size of Carling... and already Doom Bar is the biggest selling cask ale in the UK.....recently overtaking Greene King IPA.

Doom Bar as a brand is here to stay.... Coors have remained true (ish) to the Cornish heritage by investing in the local brewery and generating more jobs. Doom Bar has meaning (it is a sand bar at the mouth of the Camel Estuary) and credibility which has been subtly and successfully communicated....... further entrenched by local Doom Bar boating related sponsorships and then the Boat Race sponsorship........ together with associations with the Padstein culinary fraternity and now their own pub, The Mariners at Rock

All of this knits well with the new breed of customer wanting the taste of cask ale coupled with the reassurance of a brand with a name and a story........before and alongside trying all the wonderful local microbrews that will be available at the Nottingham beer festival this weekend.............. here at the Lion Draught Bass is still one of our best selling has been on permanently since the Lion opened in around 1996 and we have very very loyal customers for it.............. there won't be many pubs in the East Mids that can say that....... in reality though it is us that has kept it going. The Bass owner has just milked the product and it is unlikely younger or female drinkers would give it a second glance.

Doom Bar has broken through that ceiling and whilst the beer snobs may turn their noses up.........customers awareness of the overwhelming number of micro brands is a solid anchor point product with high credibility and consistency will be a winner with new drinkers of cask ale along with those who want to be loyal to a top pint.

Our range at the Lion today does not include Doom Bar (Hop Pole, Waggon and Horses, Bunkers Hill, Keyworth Tavern all have it on) but the choice is excellent........Bass, Harvest Pale, Scarlet Macaw, Red Baboons, Legend, XXXB, White Squall, Bradfield Stout, Grainstore, Pheasantry, Equinox.

See you at the Lion for a Friday tea time beer and a few pork pies!!

Andrew Crawford
Operations Director
Pub People Co

The Rock n Roll Christmas Burger menu is on the website. if you have not tried our excellent range of handmade burgers, then what are you waiting for??....... we have carnivores and herbivores fully catered for with luxury burgers at a realistic price!!..... all served by our team of executive chefs from midday to 8pm every day

Friday 3 October 2014

Enterprise Inns Develop A Managed Division

The UK pub landscape is on the if it had ever stopped!!.......the trend in the past 18 months has been for the main pub co's and breweries to develop their managed estates of pubs or start up managed divisions........this is nothing new. It was perfectly normal for the main Brewers of old (Whitbread, Bass, Greenalls) to own a tenanted group of pubs and usually a smaller but higher quality managed group.

During the late nineties and 2000's the mode was to convert the bottom of the managed pubs to leases.......often blackmailing the existing managers with redundancy only if the took the lease......this strategy was a catastrophic failure as most managers struggled to convert to the requirements of the leased model......along with scandalously expensive tied beer prices and exorbitant rents............many, sadly lost their money.

In Nottingham, good examples of managed to tenanted pubs included.....Fiveways (then back to managed), Vale, Robin Hood Sherwood, Larwood & Voce, Hayloft Giltbrook, Bridge Sandiacre, Fairway Clifton, the Wollaton.  Predominantly, whilst the early transfer years for the leaseholder were tough, as time has gone on the quality of the pubs in this group have actually held strong. Most have weathered the storms and remain very good pubs even though the first leaseholders are probably not still there.

This new development therefore of pub co's beginning to transfer pubs back to managed is more than would hope that they will be less ruthless in their journey to convert tenancies to managed..........but what will they do....almost certainly not focus on the lower end as there will be no more money in it... if they are serious, the top end will be the target....physically big pubs, in good locations with good catering and car park facilities...........hey ho!!..........the worry is that a batch of established entrepreneurs who have gallantly and successfully tackled the pub co's could be moved out and with it a commitment to local products and services...........micro brewers in particular may not get the freedom to sell into a big managed division... at a fair price??

Enterprise have almost 5000 won't be worth doing unless they have a mark of around 500 managed pubs in mind......they are saying the first 10 will be converted in two months!!...............

More topical stuff from the UK pub industry, with a local slant next week.........What does Doom Bar and the Cask Report tell us??

Here at the Lion, a top selection of real ales, ciders and entertainment this weekend.........Bradfield are brewers of the month

If you are Goose Fair bound, then why not come to the Lion for a decent burger before or after.......easy parking and walk down Noel St

Andrew Crawford
Operations Director
Pub People