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Brewing and Beer Brands Forum

On 08/05/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The Worshipful Company of Brewers hold a series of four short talks each year, followed by dinner under the title of Brewing and Beer Brands and I was delighted to be invited last night in Brewer's Hall (no excuse for being late!).

Professor Katherine Smart, SAB Miller, began with a fascinating look at the importance of brewing in science (not the other way round!). 'Standing on the shoulders of Giants' led us first to the British Museum where you will find brewing recipe calculations which date back to 3000 BC, through medieval monks who used branches dipped in the froth off the beer to achieve serial re-pitching of the yeast and then hung the branches outside their houses to dry! From the development of early microscopes (used of course to look at beer) to Joules law and Louis Pasteur, there is a conjoined history of brewing and science.

Professor David Quain (Herriot Watt University) argued the case for fit for work, employability of graduates, the importance of job or work placements and links with the industry.

Tom Falcon (Shepherd Neame) encouraged us all to attend the Campden BRI day on 6th June and show the same enthusiasm as our colleagues in the food industry for the importance of its services. Tom also challenged us to think outside of the normal brewing services and consider many of the complementary services developed within the food industry such as eye tracking technology, testing the attractiveness of labels, process verification and its wide ranging Membership Interest Groups. Tom also announced the first brewing MIG in September.

Finally, Chris Ward (Thomas Hardy) explained the growth in PET, observed by Hardy and Hanson, and what a disaster it would have been if Usain Bolt had a glass bottle thrown at him at the London Olympics and not a plastic one! Although new barrier technologies have improved this situation, there remain disadvantages to plastic based on longer term flavour stability and product shelf life. However, advantages are seen in cases where container return is difficult and unreliable. The lower carbon footprint of PET, improvements in Capex and its growing social acceptability, despite many consumers still seeing glass as a more premium material, was also discussed.

Dinner in Brewers Hall is always a treat and in this case accompanied by the Master’s beer (Mark Woodhouse) we toasted Her Majesty with Badger Wandering Woodwose – a fitting tribute as today we await the Queen’s Speech.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Unit Awareness – it’s all about choice

On 02/05/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Some licensees, already under pressure to keep their business afloat in a challenging economic climate, may see the Customer Unit Awareness posters(and the other downloadable materials), recently circulated by Sky Sports, as pointless. They might even be tempted to
chuck them in the bin.

However, it is important to remember that providing information to customers is not the same as telling them what to do. It is merely one step that responsible retailers can take to educate consumers about the unit content of their drinks and help them make informed choices at the bar . After all, pubs are already the home of responsible drinking and this is just another way to demonstrate that. As many licensees as possible should display the poster in their pub and download the additional materials available.

More broadly, the Public Health Responsibility Deal, an initiative by the Government to work with business to improve public health through voluntary mechanisms, has been a focus for businesses large and small to engage on the issue of public health. It encourages businesses to think about how they can help to educate and inform consumers so that they can make a healthier or more responsible choice, if they so wish.

Because ultimately choice is what it’s all about. No-one wants anyone telling them that they should give that last drink a miss or perhaps choose the salad option from the menu. But if we can help people know how many units are in their pint then shouldn’t we do so? And if customers want a lower calorie meal isn’t it sensible to give them the option?

Of course, plenty of people will still choose their pie and chips the same as they have always done, and it will do them no harm. It is not the pub’s role to stop them - each to their own – but, providing choice and responding to customer demand, well, surely that’s just good business?

Putting up a unit awareness poster, stocking a 2.8% beer on the bar, promoting smaller serves or highlighting the healthy choice on the menu - there are plenty of ways that companies and pubs can get involved in the responsibility agenda and really why would they not?

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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Visit Britain's new tourism strategy

On 02/05/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

Visit Britain, which promotes inbound tourism to the UK, launched a new strategy this week, which I was really pleased to attend.

As the organisation which promotes inbound visitors to the UK, Visit Britain wants to ensure that our Olympic legacy works for our tourism industry, and that we capitalise on the huge success of London 2012.

Visit Britain want to welcome an extra 40 million visitors to the UK by 2020, which will generate around 200,000 additional jobs. It is a big business, and a growth will contribute to the UK’s economic recovery.

Having these ambitious targets is great news. In the beer and pub sector, we know that we have something uniquely British to offer inbound visitors. Pubs in particular, are a top tourist attraction in their own right, (number 3 on the VB must visit list), so have a key role to play in delivering this growth.

Industry will have to work closely alongside Visit Britain in meeting these targets and we need to work with the Government, too. Ministers are certainly listening when it comes to looking at the barriers to tourism growth, such as tackling unnecessary red tape in the sector. We just need to translate the enthusiasm into something which cuts costs for pubs.

There’s no doubt that those who promote tourism in Britain are becoming ever more keenly aware of what pubs have to offer. This year, the BBPA is working with Visit England as a sponsor for their Tourism Pub of the Year, which will certainly showcase some of the fantastic pubs already delivering great things for our tourism industry. We have also worked closely with Visit Peak District on Pub Information Points and of course published our accessibility brochure.

There are huge opportunities for British beer and pubs in working closely with the wider tourism industry and we will make the most of them!

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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The Journal of the Institute of Brewing (JIB) Goes Online

On 30/04/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

A large scale project undertaken jointly by the Institute of Brewing and Distilling and Wiley Publishing, came to fruition this week. After many months of work The JIB, the leading scientific journal for brewing, distilling and malting science is now available to view online.

The Journal, which is published four times each year was first issued by the Institute of Brewing in 1890 and, due to the huge volumes of work, it has taken three years for the Institute to digitise the archive. The work has been funded by a grant from the IBD/BBPA Grant Fund.

With the completion of this project the entire JIB archive resource, from 1890 to the latest edition, is now available to view on line in a fully searchable format (by author and subject key words). All but the past two years of publications are available free to view from today, IBD members will have access to all journal articles.

To visit JIB online please go to and click on the JIB online link from the publications tab.

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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The Brits are back. Now let’s back beer from the Brits!

On 26/04/13 by David Wilson (Director of Public Affairs)

The world’s top brewers gathered in the august setting of the 15th century Guildhall in the City of London this week to toast our success at the International Brewing Awards. The awards, dating back to 1886, showcase the growing global market for beer and cider. The 2013 Awards saw 953 samples entered from 50 countries across the World. To become one of the 10 Championship winners is, to put it mildly, no mean feat.

The Brits are back. Four of the ten International Trophy winners announced this week were from the UK reflecting the growing quality and range of beer styles coming onto the market.

It was fitting that the BBPA’s Andy Tighe dashed to the Awards lunch organised by the BFBi from an exports roundtable with the UKTI – discussing ways in which the UKTI GREAT Campaign and our consulates and trade missions overseas can bang the drum bolder and better for Britain’s brewers.

With the economy this week showing early signs of modest growth returning, we now have a timely opportunity to ride the crest of the wave of interest in all things British stimulated by London 2012. Let’s turn our gold medal winning beers into golden export opportunities for British brewing.

David Wilson
Director of Public Affairs


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The need for sustainable business rates

On 25/04/13

Business rates are a major cost burden to pubs in the UK and although the Government has recognised this pressure, there is more that could be done. The problem, to put it simply, the country’s 50,000 pubs pay nearly £1 billion in rates and with increased cost pressures and a stubbornly sluggish economy this cost can have a major impact on the profitability of a pub. Unlike other taxes, business rates are not flexible - they don’t take the changing fortune of premises into account (except at revaluation time).

The Government has to an extent recognised the pressures that business rates put on small businesses and has taken action to alleviate these. This year Small Business Rate Relief was extended for another year to reduce the cost to publicans. Rural rate relief was also introduced to help pubs in small communities, often where they are the last remaining community asset, to survive.

These moves are welcome as part of the Government’s commitment to be ‘pub-friendly’. However there is more that should be done. Pubs’ business rates are based on their turnover, and re-assessed every five years. The current business rates are set using the performance from 2008, which was, frankly, a different world from the one we are currently living in.

The Government’s decision to delay the revaluation of Britain’s businesses has exacerbated this problem. Pubs that have struggled in this period are therefore paying rates above what is affordable (whilst conversely, and perversely, pubs that have thrived are benefitting).

The BBPA is keen that pubs are allowed to have their rateable value reassessed more frequently, so that their tax rate reflects their turnover. This was previously possible through a regulation known as Section 20 (2) (c) but was later abolished. The reinstatement of this little-known line of legislation would be a huge boost to helping pubs that have hit hard times.

In addition BBPA will be asking for a further extension of Small Business Rate Relief. This has been a lifeline for thousands of small pubs across the country. Keeping it in place up to the General Election of 2015 would reduce costs and provide greater certainty to thousands of licensees providing a fantastic service to Britain’s pub goers in difficult circumstances.

Rural rate relief has also proved useful but the level of take-up is not measured, and is thought to be fairly low. Local authorities and the industry itself have an obligation to promote this benefit, and make sure that local pubs are able to reduce the burden of taxation they face. This will help preserve the tradition we have in the UK of having pubs at the heart of communities.

There are many pressures facing pubs in the UK, and a reduction of the business rate burden on pubs would be a welcome step for the Government to take. Let’s hope, as The Chancellor suggested, the Budget measures were just the beginning of industry support from the Treasury.


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BBPA - Bringing British beer to the world’s best chefs

On 23/04/13 by Sophie McIntyre

Members of the BBPA team spent their Monday with Raymond Blanc and friends - tutoring some of the world’s best chefs about the diversity and quality of British beer.

As part of the annual Dîner des Grands Chefs, held in Paris and New York in previous years, Raymond Blanc hosted Grands Chefs from around the world at his mind-blowing Michelin starred restaurant, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, in Oxfordshire. Raymond invited his culinary contemporaries to his Great British Farmers' Market event to sample the wares of his favourite British producers. The Frenchman entertained his guests with morris dancing, Cornish singing and a fiery address to the haggis as he encouraged his overseas guests to celebrate British cuisine and culture. A perfect opportunity to spread the word about British beer...

Squeezed between towers of cheese and freshly shucked oysters, the team, lead by Beer Sommelier, Steve Livens, leapt on the opportunity to introduce members’ beers to some of the world’s finest culinary brains and palates. There was a great deal of interest in the spread on offer, in terms of both food matching and the innovation and changes in the British market. Many of the overseas visitors were in particular awe of the selection on offer, with many curious about beers such as porter – not common in Italy, or wheat beer – not often associated with Britain, for example.

Throughout the afternoon, Steve spoke at length about various brews, hops, malts and food combinations with, to name but a few: Claude Bosi, Michael Caines MBE, Lanshu Chen, Patrick Bertron and Patrick Henriroux – as well as Messieur Blanc himself.

All in all a fantastic showcase for British beer!

Sophie McIntyre


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