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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


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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


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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


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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.


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Time to celebrate

On 14/08/13 by David Wilson (Director of Public Affairs)

Our industry has a lot to celebrate as the CAMRA Great British Beer Festival returned to Olympia this week.

Energetic Community Pubs Minister Brandon Lewis MP enthusiastically addressed the opening gathering of the CAMRA event. His passionate support for our industry was infectious as he made the widely-trailed announcement that pubs listed as community assets on local authority registers had topped 100.

Earlier I had bumped into a happy Andrew Griffiths MP – Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group – wearing a fetching Tribute trilby from St Austell brewery. He joyfully pointed out the Ceaucescu-sized banner photo of himself and the Chancellor which is hanging in suspended animation from the roof of Olympia. It is part of a photo montage from CAMRA toasting the beer duty campaign success and was taken at a BBPA-organised post-Budget celebration.

We have much to celebrate. Our brewers continue to produce fantastic new beers – I had the pleasure of sampling a good number yesterday in my stylish third of a pint glass. I was blown away by the Brains ‘Bragging Rights’ and the Courage ‘Russian Imperial Stout’ from Wells and Youngs is something to savour. As a Swindon boy, I had to sample the new Arkells’ beer ‘Bramling X’ and really enjoyed ‘Proper Job’ from St Austell.

Whilst beers from around the world were available at the festival, it is clear that British beer is more than holding its own up against trendy US and veteran continental European competition. GBBF is an important window on the world for the cask ale element of the British beer market. It provides a platform for the national media to talk about beer and pubs in a positive way.

There seems to be a gradual but growing awareness in the media of the huge diversity of beer styles and flavours and how they match with different foods - evidenced by the array of food and drink writers I spoke to at the festival’s Trade Day.

Even at GBBF the demographic profile of beer consumers is getting younger and more balanced. Whilst there were characters at the festival who clearly conform to the lazy media stereotype of a beer drinker, the diversity of attendees had notably increased.

We have still some way to go but I left GBBF feeling that we may be turning a corner in how our industry is perceived by politicians and the media alike. Let’s drink to that.

David Wilson
Director of Public Affairs


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After recent policy successes, what now for BBPA..?

On 14/08/13 by Andy Tighe (Policy Director)

After many years of hard work followed by seemingly inevitable disappointment at Budget time, achieving a 2% duty cut and abolition of the beer duty escalator was an extremely proud moment for all of us at BBPA. To be able to demonstrate such a significant and tangible return for our members’ investment in their trade body is an incredible feeling. This was, lest we forget, one billion pounds already accounted for in the public finances that now had to be found elsewhere. The Government ‘s decision not to go ahead with fiscal marks for beer last month was a further massive boost, again saving tens of millions of pounds a year and avoiding major complexity being added to brewery operations.

So what now? A long-term freeze in beer duty? business rate reform? reduced VAT rates? An accelerated and substantive reduction in red tape and bureaucracy for pubs? Expectations are running high!

Whatever our focus, as always, our policy ‘asks’ of Government need to credible and underpinned with rigorous analysis and a very robust evidence-base. They must be in tune with and acknowledge the political, economic and social landscape we find ourselves in but also with an eye for the future. We must build-on, not undermine, the support we have built up through our duty work and strengthen, not weaken, our own coalitions with key partners advocating a sustainable a prosperous future for beer and pubs. We must also continue to work with Government to support and deliver their policy goals.

Above all, our members must buy-in to our ambitions and objectives and continue the fantastic support and engagement we enjoy today. After all, it’s a long game. Cheers.

Andy Tighe
Policy Director


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Pubs are GREAT reaches the world (’s end)…

On 09/08/13 by Sophie McIntyre

Pubs are GREAT reaches the world (’s end)…

For many tourists, whiling away some time in a pub with a pint is a holiday-must-do when visiting the British Isles. And, whether visitors are walking in the magnificent Peak District, marveling at the grandeur of Chatsworth House or taking in the wonders of the Tate, there is always a GREAT British pub to visit just around the corner.

We know they’re there and we know they’re great, but to make sure visitors have pubs firmly on their radar, the Pubs are GREAT initiative has been launched. Pubs have now been brought under the wing of the broad reaching GREAT Britain advertising drive, coordinated by the Number 10 team, Visit Britain and UKTI, and I am happy to be able to tell you that the campaign has got off to a fantastic start.

Last week saw the launch of the iconic range of images that will accompany the Pubs are GREAT campaign. The posters encapsulate the quintessential British pub – they feature a village cricket match, London’s Borough Market and an idyllic riverside heritage pub. These images will be seen all over the world: in Visit Britain advertising, at British Council outposts and at UK embassies and missions.

In fact, the branded materials have already been spotted in various locations worldwide. Pubs are GREAT postcards were handed out at the premieres of one of the big summer blockbusters, ‘The World's End' in various countries, with the postcards even making it onto the red carpet in New Zealand. And, a little closer to home, the RT Hon Ken Clarke MP attended the launch of the GREAT campaign in Warsaw. I’m sure this is only the beginning of such global appearances.

Other than working with our partners to develop the campaign branding, the BBPA team has been busy working with Inapub and Visit Britain on developing the Pubs are GREAT social media platforms, due for launch in the autumn. The app will be designed to help visitors pinpoint the nearest GREAT pub to the tourist attraction they are planning to visit. It will also flag up pubs that are a little off the beaten track and something of a destination themselves…

If you’d like to recommend GREAT pubs from your estate for the app or would just like to find out more about the campaign, please do not hesitate to contact me - or 02076279155.

Sophie McIntyre


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Join us in the Midlands for our next Key Issues Forum

On 07/08/13 by Richard Matthews (Midlands Secretary)

On September 25th the Midlands will be hosting the next Key Issues Forum. These forums have become a regular event in the BBPA calendar, yet still more representatives of member companies could seize the chance to keep abreast of topics of vital interest to the trade.

These biannual forums are a great opportunity for members in the regions to get up to date with recent national developments including planned licensing changes announced in the Government’s response to the Alcohol Strategy consultation, Early Morning Restriction Orders (EMROs), the Late Night Levy, how pubs can engage in the tourism offer and how they can save money on utilities.

Most of all it’s a platform for members to give the association their feedback on issues and share best practice with colleagues. It is an event that is tailored for regional directors, business development and regional managers and those that may not have the chance to attend other BBPA organised events.

Two events are held each year – one in the North-West in April and the other in the Midlands in September – and they are open to all BBPA members, regardless of where in the country you are based. They are free for our members to attend - with lunch and refreshments always thrown in for good measure.

The programme for this September is almost complete and once again a great list (from an industry perspective!) of speakers has been lined up. They include BBPA’s Chief Executive, Brigid Simmonds; Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis; Poppleston Allen’s Jonathan Smith and Visit Peak District Chief Executive, David James.

There will be a talk on the energy market and energy efficiency by representatives from Europe’s leading provider of energy services Cofely-GDF Suez, while marketeer Arnold Fewell will speak on how pubs can become more accessible for those with access needs. The recently launched Pub and Bar Careers initiative by the Perceptions Group will also be featured. Alongside this a display on personal protective equipment by associate members 3M Healthcare will be of special interest to brewing members.

The next Forum is on Wednesday, 25th September, 2013 at the Moat House, Lower Penkridge Road, Acton Trussell, Staffordshire ST17 0RJ –– and it will run from 10.30AM to 3PM so if you have colleagues who you think might be interested in attending please pass on these details to them.

There is no limit on the numbers of representatives per company who may attend provided they register with BBPA Midlands Secretary, Richard Matthews, on 01562 67708 or

Richard Matthews
Midlands Secretary


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Great glassware is vital to creating the right impression

On 06/08/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

Diversity is an embedded principle when it comes to beer and, as a result, beer styles really do come in all shapes and sizes. Differences in alcohol strength; various combinations of ingredients and different degrees of carbonation are some of the variables that need to be accounted for when choosing the perfect glass. Glassware that is designed to enhance the main characteristics associated with aroma and flavour across these vastly different styles, and maintain head, can be a real plus!

For beers that have particular characteristics associated with aroma or flavour, the right type of glassware can be vital to the overall experience. Tulip or thistle glasses have a more bulbous central section which is then constricted by the taper of the glass that flares out to allow the head to collect. Ideally, the main body of the beer is held beneath the taper. The curvature concentrates bubbles in a smaller area so that you retain them for longer as you drink. This traps aroma and flavour compounds within the main body of the beer.

Of course, traditional, straight sided, pint glasses are also designed to work well with many cask beers which are commonly less carbonated than keg or bottle beers and where typically no one particular characteristic dominates. These beers are often produced with a balance between malt, hops, fruit flavours and aromas.

For darker, stronger, more indulgent beers smaller glassware is a good option, offsetting their heavier, full bodied flavour and character. Such beers make a unique accompaniment for dessert, where intense flavours and smaller volumes are often most suitable. However, smaller glassware can also encourage customers not only to interact with beer in a different way but also to experiment with new beer styles – many pubs now offer ‘beer flights’ (think beer-based tapas), to adventurous consumers!

For all beers, sparkling clean glassware is essential and, of course, branded glassware creates a strong visual impression which can build customer loyalty - a glass shape that is in tune with the brand image of the beer can be a powerful tool. However, all glassware - whether pint, half-pint - and even third and two-third pints - must be accurate and correctly marked, to ensure that weights-and-measures requirements are met.

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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