Hop Presshops Hop Press Issue 28 front cover

Issue 28 – December 1988


A rough scan & OCR of the original leaving out graphics, adverts & some sections such as the Crossword

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Editorial Hop Press index

As the reader will no doubt be aware, England and Wales have at last rejoined the 20th century by the introduction of flexible licensing hours. Provided that brewers and licensees act in the interests of the public, this long overdue change in the law should be generally welcomed.

As expected, actual opening hours now vary widely, and it is pleasing to see that many pubs have their opening times clearly displayed outside. This must surely be of benefit to both the customer and the licensee, and those licensees who have not taken this simple step please take note.

So far only a little has been heard of breweries pressurising their managed houses into keeping particular hours, thus raising the question of exactly how 'flexible' the new hours would be in practice. All being well, individual managers will continue to be able to decide their own opening times.

One direct effect that seems to be happening is an increase in the demand for bar staff, a demand that at the moment in this area is not being met. The inevitable long-term result of this is that wages for bar work will rise (from their present fairly miserable level). We can all guess how the brewers will translate a few more pence for the staff into the price of the pints.

The biggest threat, however, is to the pubs themselves. There is still the danger that the big brewers will proceed with their conversions of traditional pubs to plastic cocktail bars and eateries at an ever greater pace. These so-called 'refurbishments' are deplored not just by CAMRA members but by many, many others, their main effects appearing to be little more than increased hooliganism and higher prices.

The new licensing legislation has been welcomed by most people, even though it has had little effect on the opening times of some pubs. Whether this welcome will be unreserved depends on common sense prevailing among brewers, licensees and the drinking public. Ideally one would hope that over a decade or two it might lead to a reappearance of small, family run bars and pubs on the lines of many of those in Ireland.

Low quality – high prices Hop Press index

Mike Etheridge

Unlike normal strength brews, low alcohol beers must by law carry a complete list of their ingredients; the additives contained in some of these products give cause for some trepidation. Additives are used for a variety of reasons, such as colouring, flavouring, head retention and to extend shelf life. Due to the need to improve the flavour of some low alcohol beers, additives such as caramel (E150) and aspartame (better known as Nutrasweet) are often used, as are the preservatives sodium and potassium metabisulphate (E223 and E224). All these substances are believed to cause adverse reactions in certain people. Interestingly, nearly all UK brewed low alcohol brands contain at least one 'hidden extra', while the German and Swiss equivalents such as Clausthaler, Birell, Warteck and Werzenthalen are completely free of such additives, raising the question of whether any of these 'extras' are really necessary.

A tasting panel set up by CAMRA has concluded that low alcohol beers are generally lacking in flavour and body. With few exceptions the beers tried were described as either insipid or else downright revolting, the packaging often being much better than the product. Highest marks went to Clausthaler and Sainsbury's own brand beer, which are in fact the same product.

The biggest growth in the beer market at present is in the low alcohol sector and, as with lagers, the brewers are advertising their low alcohol products extensively, this time pushing the image of a quality product minus the alcohol. CAMRA has recently carried out a test of these products, and believes that, in short, they are the latest manifestation of the 'great lager con', being all image and little else.

Low alcohol beers are nothing new; they were, in fact, produced in the Middle Ages by re-mashing the barley malt, a process analogous to making a second pot of tea from the same tea bags. The low level of sugar produced from the malt is later turned to a low level of alcohol in the ale, which became known as small beer. Small beer was drunk by city dwellers as a substitute for doubtful quality of the domestic water, whilst agricultural workers often received several pints each day as part of their wages. In more recent times these beers were marketed under such names as luncheon and dinner ales as they were widely regarded as a perfect complement to food.

Modern low alcohol beers are generally produced by one of two methods; either by manipulation of the brewing process or by later removal of alcohol from a normally brewed beer. Sometimes both processes are combined. It is, however, well known that even a slight alteration to the standard brewing process applied to normal strength beers can have a considerable effect on the flavour and palate of the end product, a fact to which many home brewers will be able to testify.

Low alcohol beers may lack taste and body, but they are certainly not low in price. Pub prices are on average 70% higher than those charged in supermarkets, at a staggering average of £1.18 per pint. Despite recent changes in legislation which reduced the duty charged on low alcohol beers and the fact that there is no duty at all on those below about 1%, this does not reflect in the prices. The low, or zero, duty charged on low alcohol beers, compared with normal brews, more than makes up for the higher production costs; the brewers are making a killing. Hence, presumably, the massive advertising budgets for this type of product.

But despite a quadrupling in sales during the last two years, low alcohol brews still hold less than 1% of the beer market. These products have been aimed mainly at young health-conscious drinkers, even though some of the ingredients used in their production seem far from healthy. It has also been found that, as regards drink driving, these products are not necessarily a guaranteed way to beat the breathalyser; even those marketed as 'alcohol free' contain alcohol, albeit in small quantities. Low alcohol beers are generally a very poor imitation of bitter or lager, and are hardly worthy of the name: a better description would perhaps be 'Reduced Alcohol Drinks'.

In short, low alcohol beers do not provide a magic no-compromise solution for those who are concerned about their alcohol intake. The only sensible answer is the encouragement of moderate drinking, preferably in the controlled and sociable environment of a well run pub.

The big rip-off continues Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

Britain's major brewer's are ripping-off local drinkers according to the results of a survey of beer prices by CAMRA.

The survey, which was conducted in February, found that the average price of a pint of standard bitter in southern Hampshire was 95p. Since then the budget has added another three pence or so to the prices quoted here.

Although the average price was 95p there is a huge difference in the prices charged by the various breweries, as this table of standard bitters shows:

Beer OG Price
*Usher BB 1038 105
*Webster Yorkshire Bitter 1036 100
*Courage BB 1039 98
*Strong Country B 1037 94
Gale's BBB 1037 94
*Charrington IPA 1039 92
Ringwood BB 1040 92
Wadworth IPA 1034 89
Marston BB 1037 85

* = National brewer.

The table shows that drinkers have to pay more for the beers of the big brewers despite the fact that the beer is often of a poorer quality than that produced by the regional brewers.

The one regional brewer to go against the general pattern was Gales. This was further highlighted recently when the price of a pint actually went down in the Bay Tree, Southampton, when Bass took over the pub from Gales.

Comparing the prices with those in the same pubs a year ago we find that the gap is widening. The average increase was 6p a pint but Ushers BB and Courage BB both had a hefty 8p increase. Presumably somebody has to pay for all those Foster's lager advertisements.

Looking at the price increases in individual pubs, we found two where there had been a lop increase in the price of a pint of ordinary bitter over the previous twelve months. Elsewhere, a refurbishment at one Whitbread pub boosted the price increase to 8p. The lowest increase in any pub was 2p for Ringwood Best Bitter.

There was a similar pattern in the average prices of premium bitters:

Beer OG Price
*Courage Directors 1046 107
*Burton Ale 1048 104
*Pornpey Royal 1043 103
*Flowers Original 1044 103
Farmers Glory 1046 99
Badger BB 1041 99
*Draught Bass 1044 98
Wadworth 6X 1040 95
Marston Pedigree 1043 91

* = National brewer.

The main point of interest in this table is the good value offered by Bass, although you will find it more expensive in some local pubs. CAMRA branches all over the country took part in this survey and Bass was found to be the cheapest of the national brewers in many regions. Also we would suggest watching the price of Marston's Pedigree now that it is set to appear all over the country in Whitbread outlets.

However, the national results show that even Bass are hitting Hampshire drinkers in the pocket. In Yorkshire the average price of Draught Bass Was 63p, 15p cheaper than the local price. We can perhaps take some comfort from the fact that we are still slightly better off than London drinkers who have to shell out £1.01 for their Bass.

The price of Courage Best shows an even greater regional variation. The London price of 99p is only a penny more than the average price locally yet the average price in the West Midlands was just 78p – a massive 20p less than we pay in southern Hampshire.

The prices charged by some of the smaller brewers in other parts of the country further emphasise the high level of prices charged locally. Holden's Bitter in the West Midlands sells for an average 69p and in Manchester Holts bitter is only 68p a pint. And this for beers which many drinkers would rate among the best in the country.

Thus we have seen that the big brewers charge higher prices than the regional brewers and that the prices in Southern Hampshire are a good deal higher than those in most other parts of the country. When a national Whitbread spokesman was asked to justify such differences he came up with an interesting reply. He said that when the customer pays his money at the bar he is not just buying a pint of beer but is purchasing a "leisure experience". So remember next time you go into your local Whitbread pub, instead of asking for a pint, perhaps a "leisure experience" would be more appropriate!

Peter Austin Hop Press index

Nigel Parsons

After over forty years in the brewing industry, the father of the small brewery revival has finally hung up his malt shovel. At the age of 68, Peter Austin has decided to retire from Ringwood Brewery.

Ringwood has become one of the country's most successful micro-breweries, a success crowned this year by winning CAMRA's supreme champion beer award for its "Old Thumper". The quality and popularity of Ringwood beers have inspired many other would-be brewers to start their own plants, this has led to the revival of many regional tastes and styles of beer which had been killed off by the national brand policies of the big brewers. All this was achieved under the leadership of Peter Austin.

Before launching his first brewery, Peter Austin had spent 30 years at the Hull Brewery, retiring as head brewer and production director. An invitation from Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) led to his involvement in setting up a small brewery at Penrhos Court, in Herefordshire. The experience left him with a passion which he has still not shaken off – the desire to set up breweries the length and breadth of Britain and eventually all around the globe!

In 1978 he founded the Ringwood Brewery, which could only brew in five barrel batches at its original site in Minty's Yard. Such has been the well deserved demand for its beers that the brewery is now producing 35 barrels at a time at its new Christchurch Road premises.

Not satisfied with this, which for a lesser man would have been a lifetime's pioneering work, Peter has now set up over 40 other real ale plants in places as far afield as Orkney – and even China! Those of us who are reluctant to go abroad on holiday for fear of missing a decent pint can now visit many countries without going thirsty.

In Peter Austin's dictionary, retirement has a definition somewhat different to that in the Oxford English. In the spare time that he now has available he will be setting up a brewery in Lisbon, and possibly one in the Algarve. I doubt that he will ever retire in the true sense of the word.

Finally, on behalf of all the palates that have been delighted by his beer over the years, I would like to wish Peter a long and happy retirement (if he still insists on calling it that!)

Bars of Soap – episode two Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

The story so far: In the January 1987 edition of Hop Press we looked at the pubs that are featured in TV's soap operas. It is now time for us to look at what has happened to the nation's best known pubs over the last eighteen months.

In last year's article we called for the return of Davenport's beers to Crossroads. The producer must be a keen reader of Hop Press as when the Running Stag was introduced to the programme the pump clips on the handpumps showed that Davenport's mild and bitter were on sale as well as Ansell's mild and bitter. Thus the pub had the best selection of beers of all the soap pubs. The quality of the beers may not have been up to much in the early days, however, as licensee John Maddingham learnt how to run his first pub through trial and error, an occurrence sadly all too common in real life.

But of course we have seen the last of the Running Stag on our screens as Crossroads is now no more. At least that means we are spared the sight of Ray Grice at the bar. Indeed, one possible ending for the programme the writers might have considered would have been for Ray Grice to have consumed one can of lager too many so that his stomach exploded and suffocated the entire population of King's Oak and a large part of Birmingham!

Meanwhile, the Rover's Return has gained a new licensee during the last year in the rotund shape of Alec Gilroy.

In one episode Brian Tilsley was heard to complain about the quality of the beer. He was told by Alec that if he didn't like it he should take his custom elsewhere. If it means less of Brian Tilsley on our screens I think this is one occasion when a publican could be encouraged to serve poor quality beer!

Fans of Coronation Street will soon be able to sample the quality of the beer in the Rovers for themselves as Granada have built a replica of the pub as part of its 'Granada Studios Tour' project. We are informed by the company that it has licensed famous Manchester brewers Boddingtons to produce a 'high quality, distinctive Northern bitter' for the pub. It is not yet known if the beer to be sold will be real ale or keg. The beer may also be marketed in cans as Newton and Ridley Bitter throughout the country.

The method through which the beer reaches the glass at the Woolpack was one of the main story-lines in Emmerdale Farm in recent months. Amos and Henry were in dispute over the use of the Autovac system for dispensing beer. The system is not used in our area but is common in Yorkshire where it is used to give the beer a tight, creamy head by recycling the froth that flows over the glass. There were a few errors in the presentation of the arguments but it would take too long to go into the question of the Autovac here. However, the Autovac is a hot major issue in parts of Yorkshire where environmental health officials would like to see the pubs abandon their use. It is good to see a soap opera reflecting real life issues in this way.

Although the settlement of the Autovac dispute means that the Woolpack has been spared a visit from the Environmental Health Officer, it may well be receiving a visit from a Wages Council inspector in the near future. Amos recently told Kathy that she would receive £7.50 for a night's work at the pub, starting at 5.30. We believe that £1.50 an hour (excluding any time spent clearing up after closing time) is considerably less than the legal minimum for pub bar staff.

Meanwhile, in London, the drinkers of Albert Square have gained one watering hole and lost another in recent weeks. Dirty Den has moved from the Queen Vic to Strokes wine bar. There is a distinct lack of real ale in the bar, which was previously called Henrys and, as Pete Beale so succinctly put it at the re-opening, "'Ere where's the bleedin' dart board?"

Although Den is not the greatest respecter of the law it was a surprise for him to get the licensing hours wrong in a recent episode. While he was still at the Vic he told Dot Cotton to get out of the pub as it didn't open until 10.30. A quick look through the Good Beer Guide confirms that the opening hours in the East End are (or were then) 11.00am to 3.00pm. (Of course, with Den on a one-way trip to a mystery destination, this will no doubt be of little concern to him.)

Pat and Frank, the new pint-pullers at the Queen Victoria, may soon really have a new brew to offer the regulars as BBC Enterprises are reported to be looking for a small brewery to produce Luxford and Copley ales.

Meanwhile the Dagmar is currently closed for business after Dirty Den got a bit carried away with his support for the Solid Fuel Advisory Service's efforts to get real fires into pubs. We can only hope that Wicksy's ubiquitous turquoise uniform shirts were completely destroyed in the blaze.

Before its demise one feature of the Dagmar was that customers could only purchase halves of beer and lager, since pint glasses were not available. Was this because Wilmott-Brown thought that pint glasses did not fit in with the image of the pub, or was it that he hoped customers would drink more as a result?

Finally, a local story – and a true one. In 1979 Jack and Betty Mellan bought the Jolly Sailor in Bursledon for less than £50,000. It has always been a busy pub, and the couple built up the trade in their early years there. With the advent of the sailing soap Howard's Way, however, the Jolly Sailor became known to millions of viewers throughout Britain and beyond.

Last year Jack and Betty sold the Jolly Sailor to Dorset brewers Hall and Woodhouse for a rumoured £500,000. It is certainly not only the actors and the television companies who can gain from the most popular programmes they make.

The Cleveland Bay
Hop Press index

Derek Markell

It is a very rare occasion indeed when we can write about a brand new pub opening in the area What is particularly pleasing in this case is that I am writing about a new pub built by an independent brewery rather than by one of the 'Big Seven' national combines whose pubs swamp the country.

The Cleveland Bay, opened in March this year by Wadworth's of Devizes, is an attractively designed custom built modern building situated in Knightwood Road, in the South of Chandler's Ford, on the edge of the huge new housing developments of Valley Perk. Although the pub consists of a large single bar, the barn-like feeling found too frequently in pubs of this type has been avoided by the use of large raised bays offset from the bar area. Instead of the flock wallpaper and plastic beams so often considered de rigueur by designers today, the decor here relies on the attractive use of bare red brick and green and brown paintwork. I liked the flagstone flooring, the carved wood bar front and especially the foot-rail, a rarity these days and particularly welcomed by bar-leaning, vertical drinkers like me. The marble bar top looks good too, but I am less sure about the glass survival rate!

For the very young family there are high chairs in the conservatory and – praise be! – real plants, rather than the usual plastic garbage. There is plenty to look at around the walls, ceiling and shelves, Wadworth's apparently having turned over an antique shop or two, or maybe a museum; either way, it is certainly not 'tat'. While some purists would no doubt object to 'instant' collections like this, others would, of course, prefer not to see the walls bare – a difficult decision for the brewery to make; in this case Wadworth's approach is, I feel, justified. I would, however, have liked to see some kind of historical background to the pub's unique name, the Cleveland Bay being a type of horse which has been bred locally. Illustrations of a horse on the pub's menu and sign are a start, but I am sure that more information on the subject would be of interest to many customers. The absence of a public bar is also regrettable, although I have been assured that there will be a separate games area.

Last, but far from least, the beers: Wadworth's IPA, 6X and Old Timer are all available, along with Hall and Woodhouse's Tanglefoot.

Despite the two omissions mentioned above, I liked the Cleveland Bay and the beer served there. This pub will, no doubt, take time to develop its atmosphere, but it has certainly had a good start.

Record breaker

THIS autumn's Eastleigh Beer Festival in Hampshire broke all records for attendance and raised more than £1,000 for charity. Some 1,200 visitors sampled 40 beers in the town hall. The festival was run by CAMRA and Chandler's Ford Round Table.

From Marston's Life, Autumn 1988...

About 50 great British traditional landmarks were snapped up in a Winchester sale by nostalgic bargain hunters when rows of familiar red telephone kiosks went under the hammer. One known buyer – who ended up with no less than four of these fast dying symbols – was David Smith, landlord of the CART AND HORSES, Kings Worthy. David commented "I believe that these kiosks are part of our British heritage" and has now installed them in his fine garden. He warns imbibers that they are not able to phone for a taxi from them, but if stuck for shelter they would be as uncomfortable as any!

Pub News Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

It was tempting to rename this column 'An Analysis of Recent Trends in Nepalese Yak Farming Well, it would certainly be no more obscure or meaningless than the recent name changes to two local pubs.

Following considerable alterations Ye Olde English Gentleman in Lymington has re-opened with the name the Famous Black Cat. If a newspaper advertisement is to be believed, the name was chosen because the imprint of a cat's paw was found in a brick at the pub. We were not aware that the colour of a cat could be determined simply by looking at a paw print. As for the 'famous", surely even Andy Warhol would find it difficult to justify! At least there is a reasonable choice of beers with Wadworth's 6X, Marston's Pedigree and Devenish Wessex Royal on offer.

The other name change is in Eastleigh where the Golden Eagle (which, of course, used to be the Crown...) is now the Royal Mail Diner and Bars. Why?! The interior of the pub is very similar to the Golden Eagle when it first opened, with Eldridge Pope IPA and Royal Oak available.

A more acceptable new name has been given to the Rising Sun (Whitbread) at Horton Heath, which is now called the Lapstone following considerable internal alterations. There is a Lapstone Farm and a cottage of that name nearby, and the pub was originally divided into the Upper and Lower Lapstone bars. There has been much debate in local newspapers as to the exact origin of the name.

Staying in the east of our area, we give a belated welcome to Malcolm and Lynn Chapman, who have taken over the Mafeking Hero at Bishop's Waltham. There are also new pint pullers at Hedge End where Brian and Pat Holt are the new managers of the Maypole.

Two well-known pubs have been trying to expand. Plans for 33 bedrooms and conference facilities at the River Inn, Bishopstoke were thrown out by Eastleigh council, while the some councillors are to pay a visit to Bursledon's Jolly Sailor to decide whether to allow a new restaurant and other alterations, a recent prosecution for problems in the kitchen would indicate that some changes should be allowed.

There has been a welcome increase in choice for the drinkers of Winchester. The Hop Inn has reverted to its former name, the Bird-in-Hand, and now offers Bunce's Best Bitter, Adnams Bitter, Fuller's London Pride and one guest beer. New owners Peter and Norsia Bernfeld have done a pretty good renovation job; the substantial alterations to the pub make it almost un-recognisable from. its previous rather tatty state, with a lot more space for the customers. We can recommend the Indonesian food night on Fridays.

There are also changes at the Roebuck, where Derek and Diane Cole are the new hosts having previously been at the Wheatsheaf Hotel, North Waltham.

The Broadway has lost two licensees recently with Stan and Fiona Masters leaving the Crown and Anchor and Reginald Smith bidding farewell to the India Arms.

Nearby, the Riverside may be closed and the site sold for an office development. We are relieved to hear that the future of the Rising Sun seems more assured as it has been made a Grade Two listed building.

Finally in Winchester, the Southgate Hotel has been sold to the owners of the Royal Hotel. There must be some doubts as to whether the current range of beers will survive the considerable changes that are planned.

Moving out to Easton, we welcome Ken Clayton and George Bartlett to the Chestnut Horse. According to the new owners who previously had a pub in Kent, the choice of beers will depend on the wishes of the customers.

Numerous local marina developments continue to spawn new watering holes. The Lock n' Quay has opened at Hythe Marina and there are plans for a new Beefeater steak house in the Ocean Village area.

Another Beefeater, the Hut at Chandler's Ford, underwent considerable changes recently. The drinking area is now considerably lighter, but the outstanding feature of the new fittings must be the plastic plants standing in pots which, believe it or not, contain 'real' dirt!

Staying with food oriented pubs, the Malvern in Winchester Road, Southampton has, rather like Doctor Who, magically changed from being a Barnaby's Carvery to a new life as a 'Country Carvery', whatever that may be. In August the pub was visited by some cheeky thieves who removed a 14f boot, which had a children's slide attached, from the garden, police are looking for a one-legged man 85ft tall.

There is an increased range of beers at the Dolphin Hotel in Southampton's High Street. Courage Directors has been replaced by 6X, Bass, and Websters Yorkshire Bitter, Also in the city, it would appear that a light-hearted request for a railway station to serve the Bay Tree has unfortunately been turned down by British Rail!

The Glebe in Northam Road has been re-named the Queen Vic and has been painted purple. Meanwhile, the Rum Runners near the docks has closed for the site to be redeveloped with the erection of a five storey office block.

Among a number of recent changes in personnel in the St Mary Street area pubs, Mike and Janet Gulliver have left the Joiners and have been replaced by Alan and Sheila Harris who were previously at the Red Lion in Portswood.

Also moving to pastures new is one of our own CAMRA members, Roger Laird; Roger and his wife ran the Key and Anchor in Freemantle and they have now left to take over the Brunswick Hotel in Bournemouth. A couple of years ago the Key and Anchor was one of only a handful of pubs which sold Pompey Royal.

The Pompey Royal situation has changed dramatically in recent months and we are pleased to be able to report that the number of local outlets for 'Pompey' is still increasing. The Lord Nelson, Hythe, the White Hart, Pennington, the Gun Inn, Keyhaven, the Potters Heron, Ampfield, the Pensioners Arms, Southampton, the Cricketers, Eastleigh and the Otter at Otterbourne are all reported to be selling this once threatened brew.

Moving to the far West of our area, the owners of the Cat and Fiddle at Hinton Admiral have warned that the pub may be forced to close due to the high rates bill.

There is, however, one Forest pub which is now back in business – the Fox and Hounds at Lyndhurst, which had been closed for two years. Whitbread has spent £200,000 on the pub which is under the control of John and Fionnuala Pettley who were previously at the George Inn, Fordingbridge. Another Forest pub which has re-opened after alterations is the George Hotel in Ringwood,

It is good to see that the new Henry T Bear restaurant, which is part of the Elmers Court Country Club at Lymington, has Ringwood Old Thumper and Fortyniner available at the bar.

Retiring after 28 years at the same pub are Roy and Bunny Chamberlain, who ran the Rising Sun at Wootton. They are replaced by Susie and Paul Palombi who were previously at Bay Trees restaurant in Milford on Sea.

There have been a number of planning applications for new pubs in the South East of our area in recent months. For example, despite a great deal of opposition, especially regarding its proposed size, there will be a new pub in Grange Road, Netley, following the demolition of buildings at Grange Farm. The new pub is expected to have a restaurant, a skittle alley and a function room.

Another new pub is to be built by Bass, as part of a local centre in Townhill Way, West End. The pub will be close to Tamer Gardens.

A proposal from Whitbread to convert Grange House, Providence Hill, Bursledon, to a restaurant was originally refused by Eastleigh planners. A couple of weeks after the refusal thieves stole fireplace fittings and kitchen units worth £2000 from the house. The company has now submitted a revised plan to the council.

Hop Press issue number 28 – December 1988

Editor: Dave Neale
25 Withewood Mansions
Shirley Road
0703 701648.

© CAMRA Ltd. 1988