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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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Drinkaware workshop builds on evidence

On 31/07/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Following the appointment of new Drinkaware CEO Elaine Hindal in January and the publication of an independent audit on the way that Drinkaware operates and carries out its core activities, I attended a recent workshop to discuss Drinkaware’s longer-term strategy and continued development (2015 – 2020).

The first section of the workshop was addressed by Derek Lewis, Chairman of the Drinkaware trustees, who talked about the need for Drinkaware to focus on measuring the impact of its work on harm prevention, working better with other organisations and bringing more independent voices onto the board, without losing the value of having close support and cooperation with industry.

Elaine Hindal looked at Drinkaware’s priorities for the year and concentrating on their core purpose of delivering ‘unbiased, comprehensive, accessible information’. She made clear that evidence on effectiveness was key to enabling appropriate targeting of resources. This would involve examining Drinkaware’s core areas of activity - parents and children, teenagers, young adults and older adults and ensuring that activities were tailored to ensure maximum impact.

Jean Nicol from the Department of Health spoke about Drinkaware’s unique role in working with Government on helping people to drink within safe limits. She highlighted the work of the Responsibility Deal in bringing about real change, in particular the billion unit pledge.

Louise Park from Ipsos Mori spoke about measuring impact of Drinkaware’s work in target areas. There were some interesting findings around young people’s access to alcohol being linked to parents drinking behaviour. This research indicated the following:

  • The average age of first drink has fallen, although the number of 11-17 year olds trying alcohol has remained at a similar level since 2009. • In the 18-24 age category there is a greater recognition of the issues around alcohol related harm, although this has yet to translate into behavioural change. They indicate the level of binge drinking has increased since 2011 and there is still high proportions who believe that they need to get drunk on night out. • In the 24-44 age bracket one third of people can correctly name their daily unit intake. There is good recognition of units, but less understanding of how many units are in their drinks.
    The second half of the morning was made up of a group-based feedback session. My group discussed the effectiveness of using social marketing in driving behavioural change. It was felt that Drinkaware could learn a lot from supporter companies in this regard and tap into their social media activity where appropriate.

The role of pubs in promoting change was discussed - although it was agreed there was a key difference between helping customers make more responsible choices and telling them to do so. Pubs were providing customers with a choice of lower alcohol options, water and information on unit content - and this, along with good staff training, could help people to make healthier choices.

It was an informative day with a real sense that Drinkaware has taken the recommendations from its review on board.

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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Beer – can you hear the music?

On 26/07/13 by Gareth Barrett

With Robinson’s new Trooper by Iron Maiden now selling out across the world, joining Elbow’s Build a Rocket Boys in their stable of brewing bands, the increasing interest in brewing and beer from the creative community only continues to grow. The recent production by the Growler Brewery of Gladness by Madness is yet another example of this creative partnership between artist and artisan.

In the UK, USA and Australia an eclectic collection of musical brewers from AC/DC to Pearl Jam, the Grateful Dead to Tony Hadley, even Hanson and Kid Rock have all produced beers which they helped to develop and firmly endorse. That these high profile celebrities not only back beer, but are prepared to attach their own carefully guarded public image to these brews adds a real reputational advantage to the sector.

Indeed it can certainly be argued that beer is now very much rock & roll. As the art and craft of brewing has taken a more central role in beer’s image, so the creative community have suddenly recognised that they want to be part of the movement.

The sector’s links with musical celebrities does have some historical precedent. In 1953 the Brewers Society (which is now the BBPA) hired ‘The Stargazers’, the first ever British band to get a number one single, to produce the track ‘Good Wholesome Beer’, as a B-side to their hit song ‘The Man with the Banjo.’ Slightly odd as that may seem, it was a ground breaking piece of marketing and brewers were looking at new ways to market beer even in the 1950s.

Times do change however, the developing image of beer becoming something more embracing, more a product of art and science. In the 1950s brewers sought out bands to make music that said something about beer. In the early 21st Century bands sought out brewers to make beers that said something about their music.

This dramatic flip tells us something - for those who enjoy a rich variety of music there’s a whole world of flavour out there in beer – and the two are very much complementary.

Gareth Barrett


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The three certainties of life – death, taxes and more changes to the Licensing Act….

On 24/07/13 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

Coverage of last week’s Government response to the Alcohol Strategy was dominated by the postponement of Minimum Unit Pricing and the decision not to outlaw multi-buy promotions of alcoholic drinks. However, a number of changes to licensing law were amongst the proposals – both positive and negative for the pub trade.

First up, the positives. An increase in the number of Temporary Event Notices (TENs) a venue can apply for, from 12 to 15, will allow pubs to hold more events over the course of a year. Speculation as to what would happen to personal licence renewals in light of the upcoming mass renewal date was laid to rest with the decision that ten-year renewals would be abolished – along with the promise of an upcoming consultation on whether there is a need for a personal licence at all.

Whilst these moves are helpful, the Government missed a key deregulation opportunity in deciding to retain the requirement to advertise applications and variations in local newspapers - despite the majority of respondents to the consultation being in favour of abolishing it. This is a bureaucratic obligation that is unnecessary and ineffective in eliciting responses from residents.

Placing such advertisements incurs unnecessary cost for businesses (Government quoted a cost to the trade of £7-8m per year). A study by licensing solicitors indicated that of some 8,000 premises licence applications lodged under the Licensing Act requiring public notice, none had attracted a representation because of a newspaper advertisement. The Government’s defence, that this needs to be retained in case it reduced opportunities for local people to have a say in licensing submissions, is weak given the wide range of other opportunities for them to do so, and cuts across the Government’s commitment to reduce unnecessary red tape and cost for businesses.

The Alcohol Strategy response also proposed changes to the Mandatory Conditions. These include requiring pubs to list the price of the smaller measures (in addition to the existing requirement to offer the measures themselves) of half a pint of beer, 25ml or 35ml spirit and the 125ml glass of wine. The promotions condition is tightened up – with a proscribed list of promotions similar to that existing under the Scottish licensing regime replacing the current requirement that promotions have to be proved to have been carried out irresponsibly.

Finally, a strange new stipulation around the free tap water condition – the Government announced that ‘the water that all pubs and clubs must offer their customers is drinkable’. This raises concerns as to the choice of hostelries frequented by civil servants, if drinkable tap water is worthy of clarification in national legislation!

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


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Theft from the Person

On 22/07/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

I sit on the Forum for Innovation in Crime Prevention which is chaired by Jeremy Browne MP, the Minister for Crime Prevention. Our meetings have focused on the issue of ‘Theft from the Person’, otherwise known as pick-pocketing (it is only classed as robbery if force is involved).

Whilst most crimes are falling, ‘Theft from the Person’ is not. There was an increase of 8 per cent in this type of crime, according to the 2012 Police Recorded Crime Figures.

Specifically, two thirds of offences occur during the day, with more than a quarter in and around shops (often supermarkets). There are fewer offences at weekends, but there has been an increase in offenders targeting night-time venues and late night transport.

Why is this important to the licensed trade? One of the licensing objectives is the prevention of crime and disorder. If there is a high rate of theft from the person recoded in a specific premises and no remedial action is taken, this could be cause for concern by the police and licensing authority, as they might threaten the premises with a review.

One outcome from the Forum has been the publication of a ‘Theft from the Person’ information pack for partners which looks at lessons learned from police forces, key partners and academia around the UK.

After some background on the problem, the pack contains a section on lessons learnt, tone of voice and language sensitivities when advising customers on the safety of their belongings such as suggesting “be discreet” rather than “put it away”.

Adverts or promotional material reminding people to keep their valuables hidden or safe have proved to be effective. There is then a section on example messages and advice for students, young women out at night and local businesses operating in this environment. Examples of campaign material used by various police forces are included.

This all seems very sensible and worthy of further review. The more we can cut down crime in our venues, the happier our customers will be and the more likely they are to return.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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