Friday 28 November 2014

Little Saint Nick Official Launch

This evening sees the official launch of Little Saint Nick, a 4.7% Christmas ale brewed exclusively for us and other Pub People pubs by Castle Rock Brewery. The ale will be our main Christmas beer throughout December and with Castle Rock being our featured Brewery of the Month we'll be showcasing some of our favourites from the recently rebranded range.

Arrive from 4.30 to meet some of the Castle Rock team, as well as the bosses, and sample Little Saint Nick direct from the barrel. We're going all out and making the standard Friday teatime buffet extra special too so there's every reason to coax your colleagues into a cheeky payday Christmas beer.

Not only all of that but you may have seen on our Facebook and Twitter feed that we put our Christmas tree up yesterday! She's an absolute beauty and we've put her up especially to coincide with the launch of Little Saint Nick- the rest of the decs will go up on Monday!

Christmas Fair Announcement

You may know that every year we have a mega Christmas Fair here at The Lion and earlier this week we sent all the detail off to our print shop so expect lots of posters and flyers around the pub next week. It is to take place on Saturday 13th December from 12noon.

Highlights definitely include a vinyl fair, organised by our flippin' excellent (See what we did there) chef Paul, craft gift stalls- perfect to pick something up for her indoors fellas- as well as loads of games, raffles and tombolas. We'll also have a face painting lady here so you can bring the little ones too. We will also be unveiling our Spiced Mulled Cider that day and will have our Christmas burger "Santa Baby" available, an amazing pulled turkey burger served with melted brie and cranberry sauce mmmmm.

Black Iris 'Brewery Tap' Coming Soon

As some of you may be aware, the lads from Black Iris Brewery have set up shop in a unit just down the road from us. Situated directly opposite Shipstone Street Tram Stop they've been busy for a couple of months now getting set up and we can almost smell the first brew!! We can reveal that we will have one cask line and one keg 'craft' line dedicated to Black Iris, both of which will be rotating through their brand new range. As well as the dedicated lines we are flexible enough to be able to feature more of course... we have 11 to choose from!!! We'll let you know when the keg is installed but we have word that we will have their first official brew from the new digs in the next week or so- keep your eyes on our Facebook and Twitter for news as it happens.

Rock 'n' Roll Christmas Burger Co.

If you haven't yet sorted out your Christmas get-together with the lads from work, the girls in the office, your best pals, family or whoever, our Christmas Rock 'n Roll Burger Co. menu is still available to book. you can view the menu online here, the response has been overwhelming and we're well impressed with the amount of bookings we've had so far but there's still time as it's available until Christmas Eve ;)

See you this evening!

John, Josie & Team Lion x

Monday 24 November 2014

Pub Co's & Craft Beers....Back to the Future!

Just like the De Lorean.....The Major Pub Co's had a model that seemed perfect for its time and for ever, but it just didn't last the course.........basic design failings and a mismatch in funding.......The Pub Co's have taken longer to unravel than the infamous sports car but it does seem that MPs, rather than the government, have taken the opportunity to finally kick them, for serious misdemeanors which took place 10 years ago.......and with that put their business model under severe scrutiny and pressure.......Enterprise and Punch shares all but collapsed this week, as MP Greg Mulholland, supported by lobbyists, Fair Pint & CAMRA saw through Clause 2 of the Pub Legislation Bill, The Market Rent Only Option in a House of Commons Vote. The Government has been against it.

If the Bill progresses with this guess 2-4 years.....the landscape for the tenanted pub trade will a time when both Punch & Enterprise have gone through massive cultural and business practice change....for the better!.........In particular circumstances the pub tenant would be allowed the pay a higher rent for the ability to purchase their drinks products in the free market, rather than being tied to the Pub Co

As we have said many times before in this newsletter, the people to punish were the senior management from those Pub Co Companies and others 10-15 years ago.....if this was the USA, they would be indicted and if convicted, then todays Code of Practice standards their methods were underhand, fraudulent and unacceptable during a period when the German and Japanese banks took a financial interest and hold on the pub industry growing both Enterprise and Punch at lightening pace. Hashtag Pyramid scheme.......If CAMRA want a real campaign to get a hold of then this is surely it.

The premise, however, that suddenly the fortunes of tenants will change if they are able to buy beer free of tie is naive. The beer wholesale market and the brewers pricing will shift significantly and the model, as it always does will pressurise the person at the bottom........currently many people(not all)are able to enter the pub trade at low cost......moving into a high quality invested tenanted pubs and if they are good and work hard will earn a reasonable living......will they be millionaires?!....but they will get support and guidance from the Pub Co and if they are sensible....then so will the Pub Co and they will make a good living........if they act like idiots (which some do, and then generate negative PR for the Pub Co and the industry, because the media likes that) then the Pub Co will get upset.......I can assure you that the most difficult Pub Cos to deal with are those where the tenant is not tied.....they just collect the agreed vested interest in the business and investment in the pubs.....In Nottingham both Enterprise and Punch have spent major money on capital investments and received nil recognition......Old Volunteer, Nags Head, Bridge Sandiacre, Greyhound, Nuthall, Sherwood, Midland Stapleford to name a few.

As with most journeys like this.....there will be unintended consequences and some sage will write "be careful what you wish for!"..............CAMRA will assume that all micro breweries will immediately have a brand new and larger market to target their ales.........This is credible as the Pub Cos priority will be to ring fence secure volume purchases of lagers and bitters through negotiations on capital expenditure on remain tied.....It is feasible they will sacrifice micro brewed is fiddly for them to deal with and the margins low once SIBA have taken their cut. This may impact on regional brewers however who actually do very well out of the Pub Cos....Pub Cos also resent having to install and maintain beer engines....which micro brewers may have to do in he future, thus creating a quasi tie.

But what of our new friends in the Craft Beer is the parody......Craft beers will play an important role in the future, but however clever the Pub Cos were at financial engineering, they will struggle to provide a platform to showcase these beers any where near as effectively as the free the same way they have toiled with cask.........they cannot pin down enough discount to make margin so the tenant has to buy at an exorbitant rate, nor can they procure the regional and local ranges required......the customers demand will grow for much more localised products rather than the domination of global brands........Pub Cos are too slow to react to these market changes ...and this market is moving very quickly....look at the new operations that have opened in Nottingham recently, Annies, Junkyard, Boilermaker....these operators cannot work with the inflexibility of the Pub Cos.

Whether you agree with the Market Rent Only amendment or not, the balance of power between tenant and pub will the tenant will have a choice....The Pub Cos will be destableised but will prepare for change.......Who knows what the Future holds?....We need Doc Browns De Lorean time machine!!

Andrew Crawford
Operations Director
Pub People Co

Friday 14 November 2014

Craft Beers Are About To Boom!

We have been learning about craft beers at the Lion and Bunkers Hill for well over 12 months.............there is no doubt, they are picking up in popularity.
There has been so much debate over what craft beers are and their relationship with cask ales. CAMRA in particular seem a little confused about whether they embrace them or disown though they were an embarrassing relative!......Our advert in CAMRA's Nottingham Drinker for craft beers was refused, as was Nottingham Brewery's......yet in the latest edition of CAMRA's What's Brewing, there is a leaflet specifically for for craft what is the policy?....and what is the problem?
The Craft Beer producers, I suspect are not bothered about CAMRA....and so, it seems, are the cask ale micro brewers...with several already producing their own craft beers........Nottingham, Thornbridge, Navigation, Oakham, Adnams et al all have a keg rather than cask product available.........and the customers love the choice and quality.
So what is the definition of craft know....who cares?.......they are beer products made to original recipies using very high quality ingredients and dispensed from a keg using gas.......and have bags of flavour.............
They are new and fresh and giving the pub industry something different to talk about.......but here is the rub.....THE IMAGE.......they are hip, stylish, female friendly, high quality with consistency and have a story which stretches over the water to the New World......USA.........Image of cask ale, however you dress it up is in a different place......and CAMRA, with justification, are reluctant to move from that..........and why should they?
CAMRA have overseen and supported the successful growth in cask ales and local micro breweries over the past 50 years.....especially the last a pub operator who has also supported cask ales for 20 years, we see craft beers as the perfect marriage to cask........the stories of both are exciting and vibrant.....attracting new and different customers to pubs......I could believe the younger members of CAMRA see this easily.....and Nottingham CAMRA has an excellent young members branch.
In the near future there will be a massive explosion of British and American craft bottled and draught beers........Meantime and Brewdog have led the way and from the USA expect to see the likes of Dogfish Head, Lagunitas, Blue Point, Bronx, Mad Fox,Sierra Nevada, Heart Land and many more make it to the pub the Lion and Bunkers Hill we will be developing our range of draught and bottled craft and the activity which goes with them........more real (hard) ciders, beer cocktails, flights of beers and growlers (take home bottles)..........all this alongside a great commitment to locally produced cask ales......perfect harmony!..............Today we have craft from Harvestioun, Meantime, Adnams, Fullers along side 11 cask ales.
Andrew Crawford
Operations Director
Pub People Company
Here at the Lion.......tonight we have the fantastic Loaded Dice and tomorrow Shinkickers, with our Sunday Jazz Cafe.......always superb.......Thornbridge are Novembers Brewer of the Month..........Check out our Christmas Burger Menu......bookings for Christmas parties are coming in fast