Find a blog post

Refine your search here


National Pubwatch website - a key tool for licensees

On 04/09/13 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

Pubwatches are the original partnership schemes specifically aimed at pub licensees – low cost, easy to set up and controlled by licensees and managers themselves. Not only are they successful in creating a safe drinking environment in an area’s licensed premises through close working with the authorities, banning troublemakers and sharing good practice, they often form the initial foundation for developing further partnership working in the future such as Best Bar None schemes.

In the light of increasing numbers of councils seemingly shunning effective and established partnership schemes by consulting on unfair and unproven policies such as late night levies and EMROs, it is more vital than ever that the voice of individual pubwatches are heard, especially given the results of the recent Leeds Metropolitan University report which showed that the vast majority of local authorities (76%), Police (70%) and licensees (70%) surveyed believed Pubwatch to be contributing to a safer drinking environment in local areas.

As a result, the national body supporting individual pubwatches is gaining more prominence. National Pubwatch – supporting existing pubwatches and helping pubs set up their own – provides a wealth of free guidance on their website for licensees wanting to set up their own scheme. This includes the Good Practice Guide designed to help those setting up pubwatches avoid potential legal pitfalls and provide an effective working structure. In addition the guide provides sample documents and other useful information about solutions to specific problems that a watch might have. Alongside this a range of other resources are available for free download including posters alerting customers to the fact the pub is in a Pubwatch scheme, BBPA guidance such as the managing safety risk assessment and Challenge 21, and videos showing the benefits of being in a scheme.

More recently the website has been upgraded to incorporate a Pubwatch tracker tool which shows the location of registered Pubwatches across the UK – currently standing at over 400 schemes but with many more expected to register. There is also a licensing Q&A section where licensees can put their questions to licensing experts and a new pilot initiative to aid police investigations into serious crimes affecting the pub and hospitality trade. This 'Information Wanted' section can be accessed through the website showing the very latest images of those being sought for criminal activity in licensed premises, aiding the detection of crime and again demonstrating the benefits of partnership working through pubwatches.

The BBPA has been a supporter and promoter of pubwatches and National Pubwatch for a number of years, and we urge members to promote their website to their lessees, tenants and managers – especially those new to the trade - as it contains everything they need to get a watch started or to find out if there is one already established in their area. There are many successful voluntary partnership schemes which are leading the way in the good management of public spaces, such as local Pubwatches, Best Bar None, Business Improvement Districts and Purple Flag, and should be encouraged at every opportunity.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


Please login to comment.

Jamie Oliver’s challenge – food for thought

On 30/08/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Jamie Oliver has ignited a lively ‘silly season’ debate with his comments about lower income families who are more willing to spend money on the largest possible television than they are on better quality food for their families.

This is not the first time that Jamie has made himself unpopular in some quarters by challenging lazy eating habits and calling for parents to give more thought and money to ensuring that we eat more healthily as a nation. It is easy to be cynical about the timing of his outburst – as it seems to have been timed to coincide with his new TV series. However, I for one think we should listen to his advice.

The growing interest in food which Jamie and his contemporaries have promoted, should not be seen as a luxury, only affordable when the country returns to sustained economic growth. As the pub sector has demonstrated, it is possible to eat well on a budget and we do not have to tolerate mediocrity when we eat out. Pub food has been transformed in much of Britain and a focus on fresh local ingredients or rejuvenated classic British dishes is driving pub profitability.

Where pubs come into their own is in offering consumers a range of options which cater for their differing needs and budgets. The trend in sharing dishes is not only more sociable but it also helps groups by offering great value for money. As with offering smaller serving sizes, flexibility is key to retaining a loyal customer base and attracting back customers who may have been put off in the past by less than optimal service and a more limited menu on offer.

Jamie started his illustrious hospitality career in his parents’ Essex pub. We have been working with the Hospitality Guild to develop a pub chefs campaign to encourage newly-qualified chefs to consider pubs as a career choice.

If we are to drive growth through investment in beer and pubs we will continue to create new opportunities for young people in particular to pursue a career in hospitality in a pub setting. As consumers demand more and more from their pub food experience it is vital we invest in our talent to offer the best service and better quality food for the discerning customer. Jamie’s campaign to encourage all of us to think more about the quality of the food we eat is both a challenge and an opportunity for pubs.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


Please login to comment.

Beer Academy guest blog from Executive Director, Simon Jackson - Educate, Enthuse, Enlighten – Let there be Beer Training

On 30/08/13

This year the Beer Academy will celebrate its 10th anniversary. Established in 2003 by a small group of passionate industry supporters, the Beer Academy sought to emulate the success of the Wine and Spirits Education Trust – an industry body widely and enthusiastically supported by all the key producers, distributors and retailers from the wine and spirits sectors who quickly recognised it and supported it as the Industry Body for trade and consumer education in those sectors.

The Beer Academy mission was (and remains) to Educate, Enlighten and Enthuse all those working in any way within the beer sector – and with a target audience of over 1 million working in in the beer and pub sector then the challenge at the outset was seen to be how all those people could be trained! The Industry was keen to support and many companies and associations came in board as Patrons. In 2007 the Beer Academy became a division of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling (IBD).

After 10 years, excellent progress has been made – but the Beer Academy Foundation Course has in the last 5 years been attended by fewer than 1500 people – and 50% of them are consumers. In total the Beer academy now trains over 1000 people per annum through its full range of courses and events – great progress – but this is only a fraction of those that are potential beer ambassadors with the public.

Let there be Beer Training

Now is the time for the sector to grasp the opportunity, take the initiative and seriously engage in training. ‘Let there be education’ is the rallying cry. Let’s support the sector by recognising that we could meet customer and consumer expectations so much more readily if we had a significant cohort of core employees that can talk and communicate knowledgeably about beer – how it is brewed, what are the raw materials, what is the role of the huge range of styles, how do beer and food menus work, what is the right glassware.

Our consumers are in some respects ahead of us – seeking out information and knowledge, but so often faced with a lack of information at the point of sale – be it B2B or at retail.

Beer is the engine of the On Trade – if ‘pub is the hub’ then ‘beer is the heart’ – and it needs to be a beating heart – pro actively proclaiming its role as the focal point of the on trade – supported by passionate, enlightened and knowledgeable people.

There is a beer for every occasion, for everyone and for every eating occasion –let’s hear it for beer and let’s hear it for beer education.
The Beer Academy offers a full educational programme for the Beer and Retail sectors -from the 90 Minute themed beer tasting events , through the one day Foundation Course and up the Beer Academy Beer Sommelier scheme.

For full details visit or contact Dan Cannas at The Beer Academy - Tel 020 7499 1156 E-Mail


Please login to comment.

The politics of beer communications

On 28/08/13 by David Wilson (Director of Public Affairs)

The appointment of former Deputy Political Editor of the Sun, Graeme Wilson (no relation), to the post of Press Secretary in Number Ten is but the latest in a series of moves to bolster communications efforts as the PM gears up for the bruising General Election campaign that will lead up to May 2015.

Having a spin doctor who speaks the language of the street and can help to define policy in tabloid terms must be good for the Government. I would argue that it is also good news for beer and pubs.

For some time we have sought to position support for beer and pubs as a significant barometer of how in-touch our politicians are with their increasingly cynical voting public. The voice of the man or woman down the pub is the voice of the majority of Britons and must be listened to.
It is no surprise to us then that the most populist of the current breed of Party Leaders, UKIP’s Nigel Farage, is often pictured with a beer in his hand in a pub. Nor that David Cameron sanctioned a photograph of himself clutching a pint of Tribute to be released during his recent Cornish sojourn. The Conservatives in particular have moved some way to demonstrate their support for our industry and MPs are now clambering for pictures with beer, in a pub or visiting a brewery in their patch.

Support from the Sun was crucial to our beer duty campaign success. Our distinctly positive tone, argued for by our Chairman Jonathan Neame and supported by the BBPA Board, fitted well with the ‘sunny-side up’ approach of the most popular red top tabloid. We framed our arguments in straightforward language that would resonate with Sun readers. With the Sun on board we worked hard to feed the machine with story ideas to maintain the momentum as Budget Day neared.

Aussie communications guru Lynton Crosby has given an edge to the Government’s communications and taught them to focus on the bread and butter issues that most concern the public. The price of your pint and a safe future for your local are among a range of quality of life issues that the British public care strongly about and the Sun, and now it would seem the Government press team, get it.

Policy will clearly still be driven by what’s best for the British economy but having the Sun in our corner will help us hugely in keeping up the pressure on the Coalition to go further to support British beer and pubs.

David Wilson
Director of Public Affairs


Please login to comment.

Food matching for the ale and hearty…

On 27/08/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

There is more and more interest in matching great beer with great food. For anyone new to making recommendations, getting started is fairly straightforward, and is generally easier than for wine.

There are no ‘right or wrong’ pairings, and in many cases these can be a matter of personal taste. Yet there is one very useful principle with which to start – match the flavour intensity of the beer to the flavour intensity of the food.

Delicate foods, such as fish need a delicate beer, while big tasting food needs something more powerful, brimming with barley malt and hops. This is why ales are a good match for richer foods.

Food with more robust flavours, such as spicy and herby sausages call for something strong, like an India Pale Ale with high hop bitterness, such as Marston’s Old Empire, an India Pale Ale from Burton-on-Trent, the spiritual home of British brewing.

When it comes to a pub classic like pies and scotch eggs, you can’t beat a traditional pint of bitter. It balances light hop bitterness and juicy malt sweetness. Timothy Taylor Landlord, Brakspear Bitter, Adnams Bitter and Old Speckled Hen are all good choices.

Food matching also works well with stronger ales when it comes to richer meat like steak or lamb. Try Fuller’s ESB, JW Lees Moonraker from Manchester or Old Tom, a lush oxblood-coloured ale swirled in chocolate, dark cherry and liquorice.

Meanwhile, blonde ales are great with chicken or fish. The classic drumstick pairs up perfectly with refreshing aromatic ales such as Deuchars IPA, Hopback’s Summer Lightning, Roaring Meg from the Springhead Brewery in Nottingham or Wainwright, from Thwaites Brewery in Lancashire.

Citrus, lemon hops are a major star of continental style blonde beers and will compliment fish and seafood such as salmon, prawns, scallops or even scampi. Fullers Discovery and Adnams Spindrift are wonderful examples that will marry the flavours of beer and surf perfectly!

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


Please login to comment.

Night at the museum – experiments in the science of brewing

On 23/08/13 by Gareth Barrett

Brewing science, I must admit, has not always been at the top of the list of themes for a ‘good night out’ – beer has its discursive moments, certainly, but discussion of the detailed science has been known to, on occasion, bring on a brief spell of narcolepsy.

This is set to all change. If you’ve got a free Wednesday evening in London next week, there’s an event that will satisfy the beer-lovers, trendsetters and scientists in all of us. Shepherd Neame have partnered with the Science Museum to be part of the latest Science Museum Lates series, focusing on food and drink.

The event will run from 6.45pm to 10pm, when Shepherd Neame Master Brewer Stewart Main will be giving a presentation on brewing, the core ingredients and what it takes to make a truly special beer. The evening does not stop there – you could enjoy further food and drink themed science shows, a pub quiz, Punk Science comedy shows, a silent disco underneath space rockets (I’m not 100% sure of the advantages of dancing under space rockets but it seems to be a popular thing) with further DJs and bars on three floors of the museum.

I have fond memories of the Science Museum both from childhood and from my early twenties, when thanks to free entry I could borrow a child from a relative or friend then take them round so ‘they’ could play with the variety of objects in their Launchpad section of ‘hands on’ science, entirely justifying my visit and not hitting my student wallet. Now this adults-only event will allow people to appreciate the atmosphere of the museum with a beer and find out ever more about the science of brewing.

As late night science has become more hip, with the Science Museum Lates now having over 3,000 attendees, this seems like the perfect opportunity – brewing, a museum that is thoroughly enjoyable and the company of London’s trend setters. The regular attendees of this event describe it as ‘drinking and thinking’ – on that basis I’m more than keen to participate.

To find out more about Science Museum Lates please click here.

Gareth Barrett


Please login to comment.

Brewers get crafty

On 21/08/13 by Simon Goldrick (Policy & Information Officer)

The number of breweries in the UK has more than doubled over the last decade, with hundreds on display at last week’s Great British Beer Festival. Adventurous drinkers have fallen in love with new styles such as American pale ales and more classic brews including stouts and IPAs have been given a new lease of life. Regional breweries, from Adnams to Wadworth’s, have recently invested in microbreweries or pilot plants to create the flexibility needed to produce smaller batches and develop new recipes for a smaller market than catered for by their flagship brands.

In 2012 Brains Brewery invested in a 15-barrel brewery and launched the Brains Craft Brewery brand initially developing a series of IPAs in collaboration with beer writers, including Barry Island IPA. This and their Boilermaker have been highly successful, gaining supermarket listings with Morrisons and Tesco’s. At GBBF they featured, possibly the most outlandish beer present, their bacon and chocolate A-Pork-Alypse porter.

The year before Wadworth launched its Beer Kitchen range of beers including an IPA, a Belgian wit beer and an espresso stout, and are a great accompaniment to any meal. The IPA made a starring match with the medallion of beef at last year’s BBPA Annual Dinner.

At over 300 and 200 years old, respectively, Shepherd Neame and Harveys are building on their tradition with new pilot plants being used not to just to develop new recipes but to educate staff, customers and consumers. For last autumn’s Wandsworth Common Halloween Beer Festival a one-off 666 beer at 6% ABV with six malts and six hops was brewed by Shepherd Neame at their microbrewery. And earlier this month the winner of the Beer Genie ‘Beer Moment Competition’ won the chance to brew a beer on Harvey’s micro brewery site, showcasing the versatile nature of a smaller brewery.

It is a hugely exciting time for beer drinkers and the above are clear examples of the current levels of investment in UK brewing and industry development and how traditional breweries are combining their heritage with experimentation.

Simon Goldrick
Policy & Information Officer


Please login to comment.

Red tape – the power of local solutions

On 20/08/13 by Richard Matthews (Midlands Secretary)

Over the years the industry has been inundated with major pieces of legislation affecting both pubs and alcohol. Add in regulation on food standards, planning, smoking, environmental issues and responsibility and you have a minefield of compliance challenges. In fact every time a licensee opens the doors of his pub he can be facing up to 1,000 legislative issues at one time (I haven’t checked this personally so you’ll have to take my word for it). Given this figure, it is little wonder that the industry wants to see less red tape and an easing of the regulatory burden that is strangling it. One way of doing that is to engage in programmes aimed at reducing the burden and bringing about a more common-sense approach to red tape and regulation.

I have been a member of the Leicester Better Business for All (BBfA) group since its inception, operating under the auspices of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), working closely with the Better Regulation Delivery Office (BRDO). The overriding aims of the group are to bring regulatory officers closer to businesses, break down the barriers and build partnerships.

Particularly beneficial has been a series of business awareness days which led to regulatory officers going into business premises so they could gain a better understanding of the problems being faced at the sharp end. The aim was to improve the ability of officers to interact more effectively with businesses and provide the support that all business people need in these difficult times.

After stressing that officers would not be acting in an official regulatory capacity or undertaking a formal inspection, a number of licensees opened the pub doors to environmental health, food safety, health and safety and trading standards officers in an effort to help them see things from the other side of the bar.

This has led to more harmonious relations all-round but it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Complaints at the over-zealous attitude by some fire officers when carrying out inspections at pubs led to representations being made to the Better Business Group and an immediate “clear the air” meeting arranged at the county’s fire headquarters.

Procedures have since been revised and I jumped on an invitation to accompany a fire officer on an inspection visit to a pub. I soon realised though that these visits can be a very thorough and in-depth affair that could seem quite intimidating for an unprepared licensee. That is why we are now jointly working on ways of making the process smoother.

Member companies will do well to acquaint themselves with the workings of the Better Business Group because this pathfinder project - there’s a similar one in Greater Birmingham and Solihull - is now being rolled out to 13 other areas across the country. I would encourage members to nominate representatives to sit on steering groups as efforts continue to bring regulatory officers and businesses closer together.

To find out more please go to or contact me on Tel. 01562 67708.

Richard Matthews
Midlands Secretary


Please login to comment.

Bringing British beer to the Balkans

On 16/08/13

At home the big beer event of the year has been the Great British Beer Festival (GBBF). On the other side of Europe, around 1,300 miles away, a totally different beer festival has been taking place. The Belgrade Beer Festival is an outdoor festival, attracting around half a million people. Many global and local brands are represented, and for the first time British beers were represented. The festival also doubles up as one of the region's largest music festivals.

The local UKTI team had identified the festival as an important opportunity for British brewers to make an impact in a part of the world in which they are underrepresented. Serbia is an important country in the region. Whilst still outside of the EU it continues to act as an important cultural hub, attracting tourists and businesses from neighbouring countries like Hungary, Croatia and Bulgaria.

The UK presence was the GREAT British pub. The GREAT branding was prominently displayed on, and inside, the 'pub'. The nation’s beers were represented by Fuller's, Shepherd Neame, Wychwood and Bath Ales. Despite the British beers selling for a premium, about 50 per cent more than local brews, the pub was constantly full for the first two days. In fact it's predicted that the locals will have drunk the British stand dry by the time the festival draws to a close on Sunday.

The festival gives a fantastic opportunity to showcase British beers to consumers, but it's obviously crucial to strike up deals with local distributors and retailers so that their thirst can be slaked. With this in mind the British Embassy hosted an event, at the rather more sedate Ambassador's residence, on day two of the festival. Bar owners, supermarket buyers, importers and local media were invited along to try the British festival beers, added to by samples provided from St. Austell, Hobson's, Great Yorkshire Brewery and a number of others.

The event was a success with a number of contacts made, and much press coverage generated. Local TV coverage of the festival has featured British beer prominently and a number of newspaper articles are expected in national dailies. The Embassy team will be collating these to circulate to the participating brewers.

Whilst not a natural target market for UK brewers this area of Europe is up-and-coming and could see significant growth. There also appears to be a growing demand for niche products, to sit alongside the established brands. British beers can fill this space, in bars, hotels and shops. This year was a great start and, fingers crossed, by the time of next year's festival there will be British beers to buy outside of the festival grounds.


Please login to comment.