Issue 80 – Spring 2016
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For many years now the Southern Hampshire Branch of CAMRA has, along with most branches throughout the country, selected their ‘Pub of the Year’ from amongst the entirety of pubs in the branch area. Initially, members may nominate whichever pub they prefer and a voting list is drawn up; after a period of collecting votes the top four go forward to be judged by a panel of branch members against a whole raft of generalised criteria – welcome, atmosphere, service, community involvement are just a few but of course beer quality is always at the top.
This year the four pubs that came out ahead in the voting were three city houses and one rural one: the new Bitterne micro-pub the Butcher’s Hook, the Bevois Valley free house the Guide Dog, the Hop Back Brewery’s Waterloo Arms in Millbrook and in the New Forest at Fritham the Royal Oak. The four judges each visited each pub un-announced and their reports, on ‘points out of ten’ scales for each of the criteria were anonymised and totalled, with this year’s ‘Pub of the Year’ being the Royal Oak at Fritham, as shown on this issue’s cover.
The results were close and the other three, all pubs very different from each other and from the winner,
fell into a narrow band of just a few points so all three are rated runners-up and not differentiated. The
Royal Oak will now go forward as our branch selection to the Wessex Region’s (Dorset, Hampshire, parts of
Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands) judges. Their regional winner then goes into this
year’s national contest.
The previous issue of Hop Press had an article describing a major concern of CAMRA at this present moment after its forty-fifth year of campaigning – whether its aims and beliefs were fit for purpose for the next forty-five years; or indeed even the next four or five.
The Revitalisation Project, as this exercise has been dubbed, is being steered by one of the original four founders of the Campaign, Michael Hardman, still actively working to keep our beer the best in the world, something he would admit would have been hard to conceive nearly half a century ago.
Essentially, a dilemma faces the Campaign: should we stick rigidly to our original one topic of supporting and proselytising for cask-conditioned beer or continue to spread our interests to cover all beers of good quality and to preserving our pub stock; in short to become the ‘Which?’ of the Licensed Trade.
In these first forty-five years we have inevitably gone along the mission-creep, broadening path – in the ‘80s, as apple orchards were being grubbed up around the land, we brought traditional cider into our remit; the farm cider market is transformed now. Since the millennium the alarming decline in our national pub stock has been a major element with many individual branches taking on battles with both planners on the one hand and rapacious developers on the other.
Now, in many ways, we are also a very political organisation – without a doubt a 177,000 membership, equivalent or better than the national political parties boast, provides lobby power. As a result CAMRA has had influence in numerous parliamentary initiatives: the duty relief for small brewers, scrapping the excise escalator, introducing ACVs (Assets of Community Value) into the planning system are just a few and we are almost automatically consulted by government agencies on any matters affecting ‘The Trade.’
But, with all of this history of success, many members are deeply puzzled as to how we will continue. The beer scene has taken a sudden and unpredictable lurch from being a boring and traditional interest of middle-aged men to a fashionable, metropolitan talking point! Centred to a large extent within the M25 but with outposts such as Manchester there are dozens of new smaller brewers producing new types of keg beer, non real ale, mostly high priced but many of them also interesting, palatable drinks. Should we praise them for their initiative, castigate them for straying from the righteous path or treat them with total indifference? At present an unanswered question.
The revitalisation project will take the rest of this year seeking opinions from a postal survey of the entire membership, from over fifty local meetings held in the main branches (including ours on July 5th) and even collecting opinions from non-members who may wish to put forward suggestions. The result will be a resolution or resolutions to be put to the Campaign’s annual general meeting in April 2017, in Bournemouth.
Should readers like to see the consultation document and take the survey themselves (open to non-member
returns), it is available on line at: www.camra.org.uk/revitalisation
The raw materials that go into the production of beer are fairly basic: some half-cooked seeds, a few dead flowers some mould and a lot of water. Of these the hops (flowers) on a £/lb basis tend to be the most expensive so it is with some alarm that the industry is facing an increasing shortage of hops. The European harvest last year was greatly reduced in many areas by an over-dry summer and, with the fashion for ever hoppier beers demand is rising, result: price rises of up to 50% for some varieties.
Financial commentators are even placing the blame for the rising prices on ‘craft beer’ becoming so
popular in the USA but this seems a little like searching around for a fashionable hook to hang an
essentially dull story on – ‘beer is too bitter, it’s out-consuming the world’s hop
Another very successful Winchester Beer and Cider festival has just closed so put these dates for next year
in your diaries:
The beers voted best in show were all local, look out for them:
The Festival charity, the Winchester Live at Home, aiding the local elderly, received almost £2000 from
the festival drinkers, magnificent!
Huntsman, Brockenhurst - when it was the Rose & Crown
In addition to undergoing a substantial refurbishment, the Rose and Crown at Brockenhurst
has also been given a new name. It is now called the Huntsman and according to a spokesman
for Revere, part of the Marstons company, the name was chosen because the New Forest was originally a royal
hunting ground. We doubt whether those who decided on the new name recognised the irony of their choice.
Readers of a certain vintage will recall that a large picture of a huntsman adorned the outside of the pub
for many years. It was advertising “Huntsman Ales” a name used by former owners, Dorchester brewers
Eldridge Pope for their beers. Since the changes, New Forest National Park planners have refused permission
for two of the signs for the revamped pub, stating that they detract from the character and appearance of
the listed building.
The bar area of the former Forest Heath Hotel in Sway now has a new function. Janet Kirk
has taken on the lease to open a florist and gift shop.
The Rising Sun at Wootton underwent a major refurbishment at the beginning of the year. As
well as some internal restoration, there has been major work in the garden, with plenty to keep the
We have previously reported that an attempt to add a further 16 rooms to the 20 bedroom Premier Inn at the
Three Bells in Hordle was refused by New Forest planners. An appeal has now also been
refused by a government planning inspector who said that the proposal was out of keeping with the
White Horse, Milford on Sea
In the last Hop Press we noted that the future of the White Horse in Milford-on-Sea was uncertain. We are pleased to report that at the end of November it was taken over by Julia Weal, Liz Gunnell and Steve Weal, who collectively make up JLS Publicans. The group has run the Plough Inn at Tiptoe for the last three years and will continue to run both venues.
Staying in Milford, the Marine café and bar has closed. Owner Richard Thompson, who had
to refurbish the seafront premises after it was hit by storms on Valentine’s night 2014, wants to turn
the premises into bed and breakfast accommodation. The already established self-catering holiday
accommodation and the Blue Horizon will be retained in other parts of the building.
A new cocktail bar was due to open in April in Christchurch Road, Ringwood. YOYO (You’re
Only Young Once) has been granted a licence and will be run by the company that has a similarly named bar
in Salisbury. Elsewhere in the town, permission has been granted for extensive changes at the former
Finns, including the addition of B&B accommodation.
There has been some controversy in Burley as residents and visitors can no longer park for free in the car
park of the Greene King owned Queen’s Head. Visitors to the village, which can get very
busy during the summer, were using the pub car park as an alternative to the nearby council car park, where
charges apply. Queen’s Head customers can redeem the cost of the new charge against food and drink
purchased at the pub. Also in Burley, the White Buck Inn was awarded top prize in the best
hotel/inn in the Fullers group in a ceremony late last year.
With social media playing an ever increasing role in customers’ decisions on which pub to visit, skill in
its use by pub managers has taken on new importance. Late last year a message appeared on the site of the
Trusty Servant in Minstead that suggested that its secluded location made it the
“perfect place to have an affair”. The claim was followed by a smiley emoji. The comment was later
removed. Co-owner Debbie Lewis revealed later in an interview with the Lymington Times that the
pub’s managers are expected to, “…put a Facebook posting on once a day to promote their business,
ensure they get good Trip Advisor reports by delighting the customers and finally they must blog on our
website at least once a day.” So next time you are in a pub, getting frustrated as the bar staff seem
more interested in their phones than serving you, just remember that they may be working!
Bridge Tavern, Holbury
Ipers Bridge, Holbury
There’s no chance now of being served at the Bridge Tavern at Ipers Bridge. Planning
permission has been granted for a change of use to a new dwelling, including various extensions to the
On the same theme, the seven homes being built on the site of the Oak and Yaffle in New
Milton are now completed.
In the last edition we mentioned the uncertain future of the Royal Oak at Hilltop, near
Beaulieu. We are pleased to report that the pub has now been taken over by Debbie and Duane Lewis. This new
venture is the latest in a group of pubs they run including the aforementioned Trusty
Servant, the New Forest Inn at Emery Down and the Mortimer Arms
at Ower. The pub reopened late last year after a five week refurbishment. There was a slight hiccup earlier
in January where what is believed to have been an electrical fault caused a roof fire. Fortunately it was
quickly brought under control by fire-fighters.
In February the Cricketers at Curdridge also suffered a fire, this time with more serious
consequences. It broke out in the kitchen during the earlier hours of Sunday morning. The pub was closed
for a considerable period for repairs but, happily, reopened in mid-April.
Permission has been granted for new signage for the Black Dog in Waltham Chase. As often
is the case, part of the application was retrospective. Also in the village, the Chase Inn
wants to more than double the size of its car park, from 22 spaces to 51. It is also looking to expand the
garden area of the pub.
The Woodman Inn at Lower Upham closed at the end of last year and the lease has been put
up for sale.
At the time we wrote the last Hop Press we reported that there were signs of the Malthouse
at Timsbury reopening. We are pleased to report that it is now open, with step brothers David Mellor and
Mike Carter in charge.
The William IV looks to have permanently closed. The pub name has been removed from the
front of the building and there is a security fence across the front of the plot. The following notice
appeared in the Romsey Advertiser on Friday 11 March:
We have reported in the past that the Harrier in Hamble had closed. The apartments that
replaced it are now complete in what has been named Folland Court, after the (also former) aircraft works
on the other side of the road.
Chamberlayne Arms, Eastleigh
The Chamberlayne Arms in Eastleigh reopened in early March after a short closure that saw
inside refurbishment and a new children’s area. In the High Street the Litton Tree has
changed its name to The Station, no one knows why!
Elsewhere in the Borough, the Hut Beefeater at Chandler’s Ford reopened at the end of
last year after a £200,000 refurbishment which saw both internal and external changes plus a new
Continuing a few miles north up the road to Compton, older readers may remember the Captain
Barnard, another food based outlet, a Brewers Fayre. Back in 2009 permission was granted to build
a 65 bed care home on the site. This permission was extended in 2012. As nothing has happened on the site
since the original go-ahead was granted, so with that permission now expired, a new application to
construct a 62 bed care home on the site has now been submitted.
Further north in the city of Winchester, late last year the Crown and Anchor reopened following a £50,000 revamp. The changes included new signage, a new interior including changes to the wallpaper and flooring and a sports bar. We reported in the last edition that the William Walker was due for refurbishment. An application has now been submitted for various changes to windows and doors.
A much more extensive refurbishment is taking place at the Westgate on Upper High Street at the time of writing. A new kitchen, en-suite bathrooms and new customer toilets are among the changes for which planning permission has been sought. A peep through the windows also revealed that a new bar has been constructed.
On the edge of the city, hence the name, the First In Last Out has been ordered to reduce
the hours during which music can be played at the pub after complaints from local residents. It can also no
longer sell alcohol after midnight on Thursday to Saturday.
A little to the north east, permission has been granted to build nine homes in the car park of the
Alresford Cricketers in Jacklyns Lane. There will be seven three-bed homes and two two-bed
Lord Palmerston, Southampton
Southampton: City Centre
While the Cricketers is still open, a long closed Southampton pub may at last find a new use, more than five years after it closed. There have been a number of attempts to convert the former Lord Palmerston into flats. The latest application is for alterations including rear extensions at first and second floor levels and reconstruction of the roof in connection with converting the existing public house into 13 flats (8 studios and 5 one-bedroom).
Not far away, the Royal Oak in Houndwell Place may well have served its last pint. It
closed in January but then briefly reopened before a second closure. Plans to redevelop the area around the
former East Street Shopping Centre include the demolition of the pub but there could be a replacement as
part of the new development. There may even be hope for the Anchor in East Street to be
resurrected in the wake of any development proceeding.
Other new outlets have been announced as part of the WestQuay Watermark Development. They include the first All Bar One in the city. The chain is part of the Mitchells & Butlers group.
The end of the tenancy in its previous location in Portswood gave Talking Heads the
opportunity to move to a more central location, the former Maple Leaf Club in the Polygon area has now
donned the name. The set up in the new venue is much the same as in the old premises, with separate bar and
stage areas. Owner Guy Benfield and his team have also taken on the running of The 1865 in
Brunswick Square. It is now known as The 1865 (a Talking Heads venue).
Southampton: Regents Park
Moving out to the west of the city, the future of the King George in Oakley Road has still
not been confirmed. After an initial planning application to construct six three- bedroom houses on the
site was refused, a revised application with only five homes has met the same fate.
On the other side of the Itchen JD Wetherspoon have been granted a licence and are to take over the
Red Lion. The pub closed in the middle of April to begin a £1.6m rebuild. Also in
Bitterne, following its saving from the clutches of McDonalds, an application has been made to install a
new paved area at the rear of the Bittern, plus a children’s play area.
Towards the end of last year landlord Kevin Guerrier and his wife Lisa left the Obelisk
Hotel, which they had run since 2011. After a short period of closure the pub is now trading
again. The Rose and Crown at Brockenhurst is not the only Marston’s pub to have changed its name
recently. The Bridge (formerly New Bridge) Inn has been renamed the Cricketers
Arms. Apparently there was a cricket pitch to the rear of the pub at one time. A licensing
application has been made to open Olaf's Tun Craft Ale Bar in what was a shop at 8
Portsmouth Road. The application says that it will be a micro bar selling “traditional cask ales, ciders,
a selection of fine wines, craft and continental bottles beers and a selection of quality soft
The Joshua Tree in Northam closed last September. Fortunately it has been reopened as
Browns by new owner Harvey Brown, who also owns three other businesses in Millbank
Southampton: Bevois Valley
Another long-closed pub has reopened but in a very different guise. The former Dorchester
Arms now houses a café that offers customers the opportunity to choose to play any of more than
200 board games! The new name is Board in the City. Just down the road, the
Dungeon club was rumoured to be closing permanently but after a short closure it reopened
at the beginning of March.
Southampton: Bedford Place/London Rd.
The proposed new Brewdog outlet in the former Coco Rio restaurant has been granted a
licence. Work is well underway on the conversion and boards outside the premises feature adverts for staff.
The premises will be on two levels and is due to open in April. On London Road, Varsity
closed in January. At the time, licensed house specialist estate agents Savills hoped to quickly find a new
operator for the pub but it was still closed at the time of writing.
Following the successful opening of two new micro-pubs that we featured in the last edition of Hop Press,
the Overdraft in Shirley and the Bookshop Alehouse in Portswood and the
proposed new micro pub, Olaf’s Tun, in Woolston, we learn that there may be another new
pub/bar in Portswood. The Tramstop Bar Ltd has a registered address of 186 - 188 Portswood Road, previously
home to Portswood Road Surgery. We understand that a licence application will be made shortly with a
possible opening late May, although this looks a little optimistic. They plan to be a food-led bar but with
provision to serve up to six real ales at busy times.
Southampton: St Denys
When a pub is under threat of closure it is common for the owners to come up with reasons such as, “there just aren’t the customers around anymore”, “this pub just isn’t viable” or “we can’t compete with supermarket prices”. For the last few years the Dolphin at St Denys has had a somewhat chequered history, with temporary closures, changes of licensee and falling custom. What a pleasure it was then to visit on a recent Friday evening and find a thriving pub, full of customers who spanned a wide range of ages. There was an extensive range of real ales available, food being served and the live music was about to start. So next time you hear about a pub being unviable just remember this example of how a pub can be completely changed round with the right people in charge. So congratulations to Steven Wicken, Inez Williams and all their staff for making this pub such a success.
Continuing on the theme of successful pubs, deadlines for the last edition of Hop Press meant that
we missed paying tribute to Paul Barden and Margaret Bridle, who left the Guide Dog in
Earls Road last autumn. During their time at the pub they won the Southern Hampshire CAMRA Pub of the Year
on numerous occasions, one year also going on to be CAMRA’s Wessex Regional Pub of the Year. We wish them
a long and happy retirement.
Betteridge’s Brewery is not so much a cottage industry as a barn in the garden of a cottage industry. Unlike so many new breweries, it is not sited in a new industrial unit but in the centre of the north Hampshire village of Hurstbourne Tarrant. Brewing takes place in a barn that was once used to brew beer for the Coopers Arms which at that time was one of five pubs in the village. The pub itself was destroyed in the great fire of Hurstbourne Tarrant (1893) but the barn and other outbuildings survived.
The brewery and the house in the grounds of which it stands are owned by Mark Betteridge and his wife Jenny. When Mark left the army after 37 years serving as an infantry officer and a pilot in the Army Air Corps he spent some time thinking about what to do next and came up with idea of brewing. In preparation, in addition to working in a number of breweries Mark went on the brewing course run by Brewlab in Sunderland, a path into the trade for many new brewers.
Mark adding one of the four varieties
of malt needed for this brew
Brewmaster brewing equipment was then purchased from Devon and installed in the barn, which in more recent times had served as the headquarters of the Hurstbourne Tarrant branch of the Oddfellows and also as a venue for parties. It is an extremely efficient 2 ½ barrel plant that is all run from one plug and one tap. It is also designed so that most of the heavy work is at the same level and requires a minimum of bending and stretching.
The brewery was launched in April 2014 and four beers are now produced. All the beers are brewed using Maris Otter malt which Mark collects from Warminster Maltings. The hops come from Worcestershire and in all but one case are English varieties. Private Sector is a 4.2% amber best bitter while Old Chap (3.8%) is a well balanced, malty bitter which is brewed using First Gold and East Kent Goldings hops. The 4.2% cream stout, Serious Black, has won the brewery a number of awards while Jenny Wren (4.2%), a pale golden ale brewed with only a New Zealand variety of hops, Nelson Sauvin, was voted into second place at last year’s Basingstoke Octoberfest by the customers.
Most of the output of the brewery is sold within a short distance of the brewery and is delivered by Mark
when he is not cleaning casks, bottling beer or doing one of the of numerous other jobs that are involved
with running a brewery. It seems to be going well as output has doubled in the last year. If you haven’t
come across them yet, find out for yourself how good Betteridge’s beers are by sampling some at this
year’s Southampton Beer Festival, in the first week of June.
Since the last issue of Hop Press the process of listing threatened pubs as Assets of Community Value with New Forest District Council has been challenged on appeal by pub owners in three instances.
The owners of the Red Lion, Milford on Sea (Questmap Limited) initially engaged a town planning firm to make a detailed written appeal submission on their behalf. There appears to have been a totally uninformed approach to the appeal as among other things the pub garden was claimed to be generally inaccessible to the pub customers, the pub was deemed to have ‘failed’ and a group of ‘mere customers’ was considered to be an invalid group for submitting an ACV application.
The Red Lion appeal was held at a morning meeting at Lyndhurst in January and attended for CAMRA by Deric Payne (Branch Pubs Preservation Officer and Chairman) and Peter Simpson (member and lead nominator for the Customers of the Red Lion). It was made clear that the CAMRA Branch representatives were volunteers and that no cost is expected to be incurred by a group submitting an ACV application nor to be incurred by the Council in the event of an appeal.
Rather worrying in the climate of financial cutbacks is the considerable amount of paperwork and communications which New Forest District Council had to deal with to enable the appeal to be properly conducted.
It was quickly established that the required group of at least 21 local people needed to submit an ACV application can validly consist entirely of customers. A statement had already been made by New Forest District Council that the named persons were on the Electoral Roll. The important point was made that events subsisting at the date of application were those to be considered, not any events subsequently occurring. In the case of the Red Lion, the Customers of the Red Lion had expanded into the Red Lion Supporters with a formal constitution and committee with the intention that the whole community could have a say in how future events could further the community value of the pub. The only point of relevance for appeal on this matter was whether the original applying group was valid.
It was pointed out by Peter Simpson that the Red Lion had been successfully run by Paul and June Lines throughout their tenancy until retirement, with 14 years entry in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide. The solicitor representing Questmap equated entry in the GBG as being equal to a Yellow Pages entry until being informed that a GBG entry cannot be paid for, was selected democratically and constantly monitored by CAMRA members.
Photographs were produced as evidence showing the back door of the bar clearly leading to the ‘inaccessible’ garden and to show the community involvement, reinforcing the cultural and sporting value provided. Importantly, these included an RNLI coffee morning at the pub.
The manager responsible for the pub estate of Questmap stated the Red Lion was their most successful licensed premises which made a complete nonsense of the initial argument that the pub was a failure. Interestingly, the Red Lion was seen to be the only pub in their estate that sold real ale. There was also an embarrassing huddle around the table of the appointed appeal Officer as the internal layout of the pub showing the entrances to the tenant’s accommodation appeared to be mysteriously unknown to the owners. Claims were made that the tenant’s did not need to live on the premises but these were refuted by Deric Payne on insurance and licensing grounds.
The listing of the Red Lion as an Asset of Community Value was rightly confirmed in the required time scale
by the Officer (who was required to be a different person from the original officer entering the premises
on the Statutory Register).
The Enterprise Inns owned White Horse, also in Milford on Sea, was the subject of an application for ACV listing by South Hampshire CAMRA, a permitted body, at the time it was closed following departure of the previous tenants over a now familiar and too common dilapidations and premises maintenance dispute. Over 100 supporting signatures were obtained within a fortnight of commencing the application procedure through the greatly appreciated help of the proprietor of the Village News.
In the case of the White Horse, the ACV application of the pub itself has, surprisingly, not been disputed but instead, a large area of car park space has been claimed by Enterprise Inns not to have ever been used for the pub. The appeal was still under the statutory period of consideration at the time of writing.
The concern of South Hampshire CAMRA is that sufficient car parking space be kept to ensure viability of the pub in the absence of otherwise adequate parking close by. The car park area shown within the premises boundary on the Land Registry records is without question huge. However, when the pub was reopened there were local reports that much of it was being used for second-hand car sales. A subsequent visit has confirmed this and much of the car park near the entrance has been unavailable to the pub customers.
It would appear to be only a matter of time before an application for development is made on much of the
land within the White Horse listed boundary but whether attempts will be made to encroach onto the ACV
listed pub area remains to be seen.
The third appeal against listing as an ACV, this time for the Augustus John in Ashford, Fordingbridge is at the earliest of stages but is understood to be on the grounds that the pub offers no more community value than other pubs in Fordingbridge. The current owners are New River Retail who informed CAMRA members will be aware acquired a large swathe of pubs deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ by the Marstons group.
The argument based upon the facilities of other local premises is actually a non-starter as every pub is considered on its own merit without reference to other premises under the ACV listing rules. The Augustus John itself is, in my opinion, one of the most community oriented licenced premises within the branch area and indeed publishes a calendar of regular and changing events on printed ‘menus’ and posters and through the pub’s website and Facebook site. Saturday hours have also just been extended to offer breakfasts to walkers and cyclists.
Previously overlooked was a recent application to build houses in part of the pub car park. Fortunately that application was rejected but the intentions of New River Retail would seem to be other than fully supporting the pub in the current form. The listing of the pub as an ACV would presumably have been given much weight in rejecting the planning application.
Any attempt to overturn the ACV listing of the Augustus John as a pub, including its car park, will be
strenuously opposed by South Hampshire CAMRA.
As the number of pubs being listed as Assets of Community Value increases, the ‘quality’ of the applications has necessarily increased. It has already been mentioned earlier in this article that the resources of the Councils are limited and for this reason applications must be supported by sufficient evidence that the pubs further, or could further, the social, recreational or sporting activities of the local community.
This is taken to mean pubs hosting meetings of identifiable local groups, events involving more customers than just the passing trade, with accessible publicity of community events taking place in the pub.
The South Hampshire Branch of CAMRA is happy to support applications for ACV listing to ensure as much detail as possible is submitted with applications. As has been mentioned in an earlier article, a failed application can mean denial of listing of a pub for a period of five years.
The main thrust of the CAMRA Campaign to list pubs as ACVs has so far concentrated on protecting threatened
pubs. It is now clear that a pub listed as an ACV is a place respected by the pub customers and local
community and listing is seen as a badge of honour. Because of this increased recognition a number of pubs,
not feeling currently threatened, are wishing to become listed. CAMRA is very happy to support these
applications and will make every effort to enable them to progress as smoothly as possible within the
requirements of the legislation.
Hop Press issue 76, in the spring of 2014, described Southampton’s baptism into the new world of the micro-pub with the opening of the Butcher’s Hook at the Bitterne Triangle. In the brief time since its opening, it has been so successful that it was a runner-up in this year’s South Hants CAMRA Branch ‘Pub of the Year.’
Just before Christmas 2015 the Butcher’s Hook was joined by the Overdraft, once a branch of the National Westminster Bank in Shirley High Street.
Now, on February 17th of this year, a third micro-pub, the Bookshop Alehouse in lower Portswood joined what is starting to resemble a movement!
Also this year, plans are well advanced for an opening, east of the Itchen in Woolston of, Olaf’s Tun Craft Ale Bar, (many Southampton residents will probably not recognise Olaf’s Tun as the original name for Woolston – the fortified dwelling or ‘tun’ of Olaf) on Portsmouth Road. Neil Horlock and Neil Horsfall applied early in March for the premises licence. Opening is expected by early summer.
The story continues, for back in Portswood, as mentioned in the Pub News section, plans are being put in place for an application to convert the former Portswood Road Surgery (on the corner of St Denys Road, opposite Trago Lounge) into a micro-pub that will probably be named the Tram Stop.
Thus the city started this year with two and could end with (at least!) five micro-pubs in operation – time for entrepreneurs in Winchester, Romsey, Eastleigh etc. etc. to look around at the available empty shops in their areas perhaps?
In some ways this outbreak of minute ale houses is a throwback to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when anyone could open a ‘beer house’ in their own house or cottage. These were virtually swept away by the brewery tied house system which flourished under Victoria reaching a peak of astonishing opulence with the magnificent gin-palaces built at the turn of the twentieth century.
But, in another way they may be a preview of the future; significantly their clientele differs from that of
the average pub. They are mostly young and what the media vaguely define as ‘hipsters,’ trend-setters.
It is here that we can see a circularity back to CAMRA’s theme of the moment – our fitness for the
future; for all of the micro-pubs feature keg craft beer very strongly, a product that the Campaign never
envisaged and, currently, has no policies to handle. Even with five or more open their total custom will
not equal one busy big pub but their influence might be profound!
Once again, now for the twentieth year, the Southern Hampshire branch of CAMRA will be embarking on their Southampton Guildhall Beer Festival.
The festival, which will feature some 100 cask ales from more than fifty breweries, plus dozens of real ciders and perries, will be over 5 sessions:
Tickets are available at: The Bitter Virtue Off-licence, Cambridge Road, Portswood; The Guide Dog, Earls Road, Bevois Valley; The Waterloo Arms , Waterloo Road, Freemantle and The Guildhall Box Office (023 8963 2603). Or visit the website: www.southamptonbeerfestival.org.uk
Advance ticket purchase is strongly advised as some sessions traditionally sell out. The ticket includes a
souvenir glass (straight pint or handled half); these are provided against a deposit on the free session.
Food and soft drinks are available at all sessions and door pass-outs are permitted at all sessions.
A few readers will be aware of a device called the KeyKeg. Introduced (from the Netherlands) as a non-returnable beer cask (for keg or so-called craft beers), claimed to be recyclable and hence very ‘green.’
Unfortunately many local authorities will not or cannot recycle them so they end up in landfill – extremely un-green! However, with a little careful attention from a Stanley knife or hacksaw (Warning: be certain it is de-pressurised first) each one can convert into two sizeable cloches for the green(fingered) whilst the moulded end units provide a bonus as planter holders.
What happens at a Brewery Annual General Meeting? Yes some drinking is involved but much more besides as I had a chance recently to find out. This year the Hop Back AGM was held in the Waterloo Arms pub owned by the Brewery in Southampton, a short walk from Millbrook station and the main rail line.
The Hop Back Brewery produced its first brew in 1987 in the cellars of the Wyndham Arms in Salisbury. The brewery grew rapidly, moving to the nearby Downton industrial estate. It funded expansion through the Government’s Business Expansion Scheme, raising a total of £565,000 through individual subscribers in 1993 and becoming a public limited company in the process. It now has some 400 shareholders eligible for the annual general meeting each year.
On arriving at the Waterloo Arms for the AGM, I was invited to sign the register and given two tokens for free pints at the bar (a good start). A convivial group had assembled and although it was a week day about 10% of shareholders were there, many from Hampshire, Wiltshire and Dorset as you would expect but a few from wider afield including one from Cheadle in Cheshire (representing the CAMRA Members Investment Club that has around 131,000 shares in the Brewery). I didn’t have a chance to speak to everyone but some clearly had travelled further than I did.
After an opportunity to chat and down at least one of our pints (a range of Hop Back beers were on offer all in excellent condition), we were called through to the formal meeting in the conservatory at the rear.
The meeting followed a set process, an overview of the year from chairman John Gilbert; formal resolutions put to a vote; and then an update from Head Brewer Steve Wright. All shareholders had been sent an annual report for 2015 together with a covering letter and a form with the resolutions to be put to the AGM, so we were well briefed beforehand but we heard in addition all the latest updates and had a chance to put questions to the directors.
The chairman’s overview and questions touched on most of the big current issues for breweries and pubs in general as well as Hop Back in particular, from ‘craft’, the pub trade, changes in drinking patterns, to the structure of small brewer duty relief.
All resolutions put to the vote were passed including a dividend of 4p per share for the year (about a 4.4% yield at the last traded price of 90p).
Next up was the Head Brewer Steve Wright, with a series of photographs of the new brewing kit being purchased for the Brewery. Steve talked us through the process of researching and selecting the new kit, highlighting some of the advantages of reducing the boiling intensity – not just in terms of energy savings but potentially for the brewing process itself.
Hop Back are getting a copper/whirlpool which will take both 25 barrel brews and 50 barrel brews so enabling them to use both of their current mash tuns. This will be coupled with a new external wort boiler; all being sourced from Musk Engineering of Swadlincote. The external wort boiler will be driven by steam generated from a Byworth gas-fired boiler, which is being sourced separately. Musk Engineering are also supplying some new spent grain discharge equipment and a hot water circulation system for generating the brewing liquor much more efficiently; they will also be installing all the pipework and control systems. Steve is hoping to commission the installation in mid to late April.
After Steve’s presentation and questions, we concluded the meeting. A good lunchtime spread was provided by the Waterloo Arms and conversation and drinks continued in the bar. All told a friendly, relaxed, and informative AGM.
Brewery Open Days: Once they are happy with the new kit, Hop Back will be inviting shareholders to one or two open days. They will also be inviting the local CAMRA branches separately for brewery tours over the next few months, so keep an eye out for announcements.
Hop Back Shares – are traded on BritDAQ (https://www.britdaq.com). It offers a share matching service for buyers and sellers as the
brewery is not listed on the main stock exchange or AIM markets. Alternatively if you are a member of
CAMRA, you can join the CAMRA Members Investment Club (http://www.cmic.uk.com). By being part of the club you are investing in a range of real ale
breweries from smaller ones like Hop Back to larger ones like Fullers.
QUETZALCOATL (printable pdf version here 77KB download)
Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn. Closing date: 15th August 2016.
The Editor, Hop Press, 1 Surbiton Road, Eastleigh, Hants. SO50 4HY
Issue 79 (Autumn 2015) Solution & Winners
A modest entry for this puzzle, seventeen, of which fifteen were faultless. Even amongst these correct solvers there were several appended messages asking for an explanation of the clue to 11 across (GROUNDLESS). It referred to Wolverhampton Wanderers, one of the 12 teams founding the football league in 1888, who did not get a permanent home ground (Molineux) for several years.
Hop Press Issue number 80. Spring 2016
Editor: Pat O'Neill
©CAMRA Ltd. 2016
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