Hop Presshops Hop Press Issue 38 front cover

Issue 38 – Autumn 1994


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

Go to Previous Hop Press   Browse for another Hop Press
Go to Next Hop Press


EDITORIAL Hop Press index

Faced with the keyboard and no editorially blank mind, I search the daily press for any sudden news breaking with beer or pub connections – nothing! Surely we should expect the wonderful and continuing sleaze farrago to produce some "Minister has free beer!" stories soon? hoe use of the Ritz mini-bar is not good enough! Besides, what sort of person, loose in the middle of Paris, sits in their hotel consuming the mini-bar!!

So we will puss on from political peccadilloes to more serious Ministerial matters what will Mr. Clarke produce for us this month? Hop Press, in common with the rest of the press, has high-lighted the losses that British brewers are suffering from the cross-channel beer trade. The Chancellor must begin to adjust excise duties towards a European harmonised level. Only by an announced, sensible plan of phased reductions can we have any chance of going to Brussels with a credible negotiating stance to persuade France and the Mediterranean states to raise their duties. Britain must take the lead (although Denmark, a country that did have even higher duties than ourselves, has already made its first cuts) because it is Britain's industry that is suffering, a suffering that increases inexorably month by month.

Jovial, beer-drinking Ken might turn his thoughts to another simple reform that would bring tremendous long-term benefits to our brewing Industry. Germany has several thousand breweries, proudly independent. A major help in keeping this diversity is the system of brewery taxation – breweries are taxed by size. Below about 1000 barrels a week the smaller the production the smaller the rate of duty, the result is that there are almost no incentives for breweries to amalgamate, no take-over battles and no closure of small breweries on grounds of "rationalisation." Similar sliding scale systems apply in most of the original "six," so application here would be a move towards sensible and useful harmony, unlike considerations of the shapes of bananas and cucumbers. So, Mr. Clarke, just a single line in your budget speech is all you need.

Consideration of politicians and political matters leads the mind indirectly to questions of bad taste. In this case bad tasting beer! A feature in the new 1995 Good Beer Guide, published at the end of October, gives a depressing run-down on the bad (sometimes very bad) beer that we can so often expect in many pubs today. In the Guide's view, and emphatically in mine, we do not complain enough! The British grin and-bear-it-like-the-blitz attitude is not the right approach. If every bad pint was returned to the bar with a polite but forceful and authoritative reason for its rejection then the purveyors of such slops would eventually tire and even abandon their parrot cry of: "everyone else is drinking it."

Most younger pub-goers, indeed many CAMRA members, do not realise that the single main reason for both the production and the rise in popularity of keg beer in the fifties and sixties. was the dreadful quality of the real ale In many of the pubs of the time. The causes then, as now, were economic factors, although different ones. In the 1950's, when draught beer was 6p-7p a pint, the landlord's profit often did not amount to much more than ½p. Small wonder that "everything went back into the mild" just to get a few extra ha'pennies. Now, almost opposite factors sometimes lead to the same result – draught beer is now a profitable, expensive product so the 1990's temptation is more greed than desperation.

Forty-plus years ago the beer was mostly in unhygienic wooden casks, often not fined until it reached the pub, the pipes were frequently lead (truly!) and the landlord probably had another full-time day job. Not surprisingly, cellar work sometimes suffered. Now, although the cellar often looks more like a submarine's control room, the landlord still has problems of time for conscientious cellar work – his rent is probably too high to afford a cellarman and he also has a day-time job, in the shape of the immense amount of paper-work now expected of a licensee.

But to get back to the subject, we have to fight every bad pint. Otherwise the big brewers have a new keg revolution to offer us, complete with the same slogan of half a century ago, that the new "smooth kegs" can guarantee a consistent drink. The smoothest thing about them is their emollient advertising copy and their salesmen's grey suits.

These beers (Tetley Bitter Smooth Keg is an example) have not yet appeared in quantity in our area but in some parts of the North they are in many pubs and clubs. They rely on a recently developed technology – molecular sieving. Molecular sieves are certain plastic films through which particular molecules can permeate. One such plastic allows free passage of nitrogen but not oxygen, so by simply passing air into a chamber full of many layers of this film pure nitrogen can be drawn off the other side. By equipping the cellar with an air compressor, the sieve and a storage tank then a "free" supply of nitrogen is available to both preserve and dispense the beers.

For the new smooth kegs the brewers rely on the use of nitrogen, instead of carbon dioxide, because it does not dissolve in the beer and make it gassy in the way that carbon dioxide does. In essence, they have accepted (without publicly admitting it of course) one of CAMRA's lifelong objections to keg beer. The advertisements now stress the lack of gassiness, even the closer approach to real ale!

The problem they still cannot get over though, is that of life and death. These new keg beers are still dead products – filtered, often pasteurised and still relying on a certain amount of injected carbon dioxide to give a semblance of beer. They are ersatz products. Real Ale lives in the cask, it improves in the cask, it maintains itself with its live yeast, it has character.

We must not be fobbed off with these half-hearted pseudo-beers when the real thing is so easily served, in excellent condition, with only a little bit of simple cellar work from the conscientious landlord. Insist on it! Cask conditioned ales are a unique part of the British heritage, sales are rising at 9% a year at this moment and sales outlets are multiplying daily. All of this is down to the good sense of the British public, this is not the time to throw it all away.


Rob Whatley

A brewery located at The Old Sawmills, Nyewood, between Petersfield and Midhurst, suggests ramshackle buildings with the mash tuns and fermenting vessels scattered around a barn-like interior. Whilst Ballards have a rural address, the brewery's home is in a "unit" of a small modern industrial estate which would be equally at home on the outskirts of Basingstoke or Southampton.

Not that Ballards is that new, it first brewed more than 14 years ago, on 11th July 1980. Those first pints were brewed in a cow-shed, at Cumbers Farm, Trotton – owned by Bruce and Nancy Ballard, parents of Carola Brown who founded the brewery with her husband Mike. In 1985 a pub was purchased in Elsted Marsh, near Midhurst and the brewery was moved to out-buildings behind the pub. The Elsted Inn was sold in 1988 and the brewery moved to current site. However, the Elsted Inn still offers Ballard's beers and deserves its place in the 1995 Good Beer Guide.

Best Bitter (abv 4.1%) is the most popular of the beers. In the summer the lighter Trotton Bitter (3.5%) is the next best seller but the powerful Wassail (5.8%) – a 1993 barley wine finalist in the Champion Beer of Britain competition – takes over second place during colder months. A new, welcome addition is a dark mild – Midhurst Mild (3.4%). A small amount of wheat is added to the mild to aid head retention but the remainder of the ingredients for the beers are the traditional hops, malt, yeast and water. A blended beer is also made, Wild (4.7%), a mixture of roughly 50% Wassail and 50% Mild. The hops used are Fuggles and East Kent Goldings although a recent experiment with American hops has also proved successful. The yeast comes from the Ringwood Brewery and is used for about twenty-five brews before being renewed.

The recent installation of a new copper has increased brew length to ten barrels (2880 pints) – a capacity of fifty barrels per week, enough to supply the sixty or so free trade accounts and still leave some for the agencies.

The brewery relies on simple, practical solutions to problems. The water ("liquor") for each daily brew is heated overnight to use economy electricity, the heat recovery heat exchanger demonstrates its earlier life by the legends "milk in" and "milk out" and, lacking enough heating in the building, during last winter an effective combination of tin foil and bubble-wrap kept the fermenters comfortable. The overall impression is that of a compact, modern brewery with whitewashed walls and gleaming metalwork.

New, cooled conditioning tanks have been installed in a separate area away from the main brewery. This allows the fermented beer to be kept at the brewery for a week or so before it is put into casks and delivered to pubs. Keeping the beer in conditioning tanks rather than putting it directly into casks reduces the number of casks that the brewery needs, a major cost saving for any brewery.

In addition to the draught beers Ballards also brew an annual powerful Christmas beer that is mainly sold in bottles. The tradition started in 1986 when "Elsted 900" was brewed to celebrate the anniversary of the village's inclusion in the Domesday Book. It had an original gravity of 1086 and the subsequent brews have had gravities of 900 less than the year. Whilst the gravities have been increasing the naming decisions have plummeted. 1988's Old Bounder was followed by Out to Lunch, Volcano, Gone Fishing, Old Episscopal (sic) and most recently 1993's Cunning Stunts (sick).

Despite the proximity of the brewery, its beers are rarely seen in our branch area, so when you spot a Ballard's beer in a pub or at a festival be sure to give it a try – you are unlikely to be disappointed.

A PLOUGHMAN'S TALE Hop Press index

On a nice summer's day there is nothing much nicer than a "ploughman's" with your favourite tipple at lunchtime. But, you may have noticed that the simple ploughman's has evolved into more of a full salad on many pub menus – with a price tag to match.

Ploughman's Lunches, an invention of the sixties, were once a hunk of bread, a real dob of butter, some decent cheddar, a crunchy pickled onion and maybe some apple. Gray's homeward plodding ploughman would have been at ease with one. Today we find all types of lettuce, coleslaw, cucumber, and a whole host of herbaceous things; a decent pickled onion cannot compete for room on the plate. The butter comes in two styles, deep frozen or liquid, but both are packaged in the same gold tablet form.

At the same time the amount of bread has shrunk, in some cases, to a tiny bread roll. No carbohydrate there to give any ploughman the energy to lead a couple of Suffolk punches over many more acres – nor much good either today if you are a walker or cyclist looking for a quick boost! The cheese, on the other hand, although too often like tasteless rubber, has in many cases increased in bulk to levels positively unhealthy by modem day standards.

Many of you will know were a proper ploughman's can still be had, especially in a certain Gale's pub a little North of Romsey. The other more modern examples, with their £3 – £5 prices, should be called cheese salads, but are these what the customers want? I doubt it; as a supposed politician recently said: "Let's go back to basics ..."

1994 PRICE SURVEY Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

During April, CAMRA members throughout the country, visited many hundreds of pubs and took notes of the prices being charged. This was not the easy and enjoyable task that readers may imagine, as one in ten of the pubs (and one in five locally) break the law by not displaying a price list. Even when they do many are only readable with the aid of the highest powered binoculars. CAMRA has been monitoring prices in pubs since it was formed in 1971 and this annual comprehensive survey has now been established for ten years. The survey is objective, the pubs are randomly selected from all pub types to ensure an un-biased sample. The results are well respected in the licensed trade and receive considerable press coverage each year.

Locally, the price of a pint of standard bitter has risen only a penny during the past year, from £1.50 to £1.51. This static picture however disguises a more complex situation. A third of the pubs surveyed by the local branch have had a change of licensee during the last 12 months. Many of these licensees had lengthy lease agreements with Whitbread or Inntrepreneur and found that they could not take enough money to keep up the lease payments and still make a living. The new licensees in some of these pubs have actually reduced the prices. This may be because they have lower lease levels than their predecessors or, more likely, because they recognise that the previous high prices were dissuading customers from visiting the pub. Whilst these decreases are good news for drinkers, other pubs in the sample have increased their prices by l0p a pint or so (over six percent). A number of surveyed pubs were not selling a standard bitter (defined here as having an original gravity of between 1035 and 1040) in either 1993 or 1994 or were closed for refurbishment work during the survey period.

These various complicating factors had the largest impact on the price of a pint of Boddington Bitter, for which the average price actually fell by three pence between 1993 and 1994. A truer picture is gained if we consider the average prices for Ruddles Best, Ruddles County, Burton Bitter, Fosters lager, keg Whitbread Best Bitter and Flowers Original which rose three pence in each case.

The fact that the same price increase affected such different products is important to note. One reason is that there was no increase in the taxation levels on beer during the year. The level of duty on beer increases with the strength and the level of VAT obviously has more of an absolute affect on the higher priced beers than it does on cheaper products. An approximate breakdown ofthe1.5l for a pint of standard bitter is: 23p VAT, 25p duty, 27p brewing costs, 36p pub running costs and 40p profit, from which a licensee has to pay back any loans or rents.

Another reason that price increases are similar for different strength beers is that a number of pubs are now adopting the strange practice of charging the same price for all real ales.

This is notwithstanding the fact that tenants are charged a wide variety of prices for their beer. In general, the cheapest beer will be a guest ale bought direct from a small brewer or an agency. The cost will be significantly less than that charged by the brewer to whom the tenant is tied for his main products. The big brewers also add large premiums to any beers brewed by other companies but supplied through them. This can result in the same price being charged for such diverse beers as Ringwood Best and Old Thumper. In such instances, for the knowledgeable drinker, the best value may seem to be the strongest brews, but is this fair to the customer? This encouragement to consume stronger beers in preference to weaker, is not something that CAMRA or almost anybody else would wish to support. Whilst such uniform prices are fairly common for real ales we know of no pub that charges the same for a standard and a premium lager, why is this? We would be interested to hear of any pubs where this does occur.

The average local price of £1.51 compares unfavourably with the national average of £1.41. Only in the London area (£1.66) and the South East (£1.55) is the average higher. In both Yorkshire and the East Midlands the average is £1.29 but the lowest price is enjoyed by drinkers in the North West, where the average is only £1.25. Even this would seem extortionate to drinkers in one pub in Avon at which Coopers WPA, brewed by the Wickwar brewery, was on sale at a regular price of only 88p a pint.

The cheapest pint we are aware of locally, other than promotions and happy hours, is the £1.26 for Pots Ale at the Flowerpots in Cheriton, which is matched at the newly reopened Tally Ho in Broughton. At the time of the survey Hop Back GFB was £1.30 at the Waterloo but a recent price rise (the first in well over a year) has now put it up to £1.35. Another local pub offering good value is the John O'Gaunt at Horsebridge with Adnam's Bitter at £1.34, Palmers IPA £1.38 and Ringwood Fortyniner at £1.40.

Although the real ale price rises have been relatively modest over the last 12 months, drinkers of other products have not been so fortunate. The average price of Guinness has risen by 5p a pint (3%) to £1.82 and the competing Murphys and Beamish has risen by 7p a pint (4%) to £1.83. Keg cider has also risen substantially with both Strongbow and Dry Blackthorn up by 6p a pint (4%) to £1.68 and £1.71 respectively. These average prices disguise a wide divergence with both products having a cheapest price of1.60 and a maximum of £l.80 in the pubs surveyed. A maximum to minimum price differential of some 13%. That is nothing when compared to a difference of 26% between the cheapest and most expensive standard whisky prices, 60% for orange juice and a massive 70% for white wine. The ranges for individual beers are much more modest, examples are: Flowers Original 8%, Ringwood Best 17%, Wadworth 6X 13% and Marstons Pedigree 10%.

As always the answer for drinkers looking for good value is to shop around. The relatively small increases this year, compared with previous years, and the increasing number of pubs with happy hours and other price related promotions suggests that at long last some price sensitivity is entering the local pub trade. We would welcome news of any examples of high or low prices and we are looking out anxiously for the first pub to sell a pint of ordinary hitter for £2.00.

ALE SALES SOAR (A BIT!) Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

For the second year running, the giant Carlsberg-Tetley combine have published their Cask Ale Report. This is no light-weight paper-back for casual reading, at several hundred pounds a throw it is intended as essential reading for investment managers and their ilk. However, it is full of facts and opinions of great significance to the average beer drinker – many things in such reports end up influencing the beers the brewers offer you and the pubs they let you drink them in.

The first message that comes over strongly is that real ale sales continue to increase whilst the general beer market continues to decline. In 1991 there were 54,000 pubs and clubs serving real ale, by 1993 this number had grown to 61,000 and now it is 65,400. A major factor in this increase is the fact that almost half of the CIU clubs now serve a cask beer.

The story is not all un-alloyed joy. Although cask beer sales are still increasing, at the expense of keg beers and lagers, as a fraction of the all beer production the increase is modest, the real success story of the last couple of years is packaged beers. Over the 1984-94 decade the changes are: real ale up from 16.7% to 17%, keg and lager down from 61.5% to 51.7% but packaged beers up from 21.8% to 31.3% – not much of this is drunk in the pubs so nearly a third of beer volume is now in the take home trade!

Another significant statistic is the decline in pub use by most sections of the public. Between 1987 and the present, annual visits by 18-24 year-olds declined from 65 to 54 and by the 25-plus from 31 to 29. The report expects this decline to continue although it also predicts a proportionate increase in pub going by women and families. This will lead to a further increase in the importance to the publican of the food trade – currently a quarter of the average takings.

As a report directed at industry decision makers we should take the predictions very seriously, none more so than those on "draught in a can" and its latest devilish offspring, the so-called "smooth keg." The message on these two fronts is unashamedly bullish. In essence, Carlsberg-Tetley's stance on the development of these products vis-a-vis cask ale is that cask will become the fashionable, expensive, up-market beer of choice but that the new nitrogenated kegs can be the ordinary man's (or woman's) daily tipple since they rate them as almost as good as real ale – "...an acceptable substitute..." to use the Marketing Manager's words. What condescending rubbish! Beer drinkers can tell a good product from a bad one, we do not want substitutes, they are not acceptable, we want the best there is, the real thing.

It is up to us to prove these city analysts wrong. A decade ago there were a number of similarly prestigious predictions (especially from Whitbread, if I recall) that lager sales would easily top 90% of all beer sales by the mid-nineties. I wonder where the writers of those reports work now?

EDITOR'S POSTBAG Hop Press index

Our last edition only produced one letter of comment – clearly we need to be more controversial to get some dialogue going! The one communication I did get once again takes "Effy" to task for his (as some see them) cantankerous views.

Dear Sir,

Sorry I haven't had the "Dog's Bollocks" but at the King & Queen in Hamble , since September '93, we have introduced a weekly guest beer and so far we have not been stuck with a bad one.

Fortunately not all beer drinking customers follow Effy's train of thought and are prepared to try a new beer, provided we are able to give them some idea of what the brew is like. Those who are unlikely to try something different tend to be lager drinkers who wouldn't try a guest beer anyway.

Product names can be an indication as to the style of beer, however, micro breweries would be better off supplying tasting notes, following the example set by the wine trade for promoting different products. We have found that customers are far more discerning than Effy seems to suggest, names can attract attention but more often than not customers come to try the new guest beer no matter what it is called.

As a member of CAMRA and a publican I am keen to promote the consumption of new and different products, however, some guidance from those who brew the beer would help us sell their beers to a greater number of customers. Perhaps with more information, Effy, an average customer reluctant to try anything different, would be more willing to give a new brew a try.

Graham Dutnall
King & Queen, Hamble.

Graham has to be congratulated for getting in a nice half-page advertisement without our usual (very modest) fee! But his point is a very good one – I also have to buy in a lot of guest beers, a new one almost once a week. Whilst for many one can get a good description from the current Good Beer Guide, with the micros this is often not so since they change their brews so quickly that the annual GBG cannot keep up.

The comparison with the wine companies is even more telling than he mentions since if one is buying a few cases of a new wine then a tasting sample can usually be extracted from the salesman – not so easy with draught beer without making a pilgrimage to the brewery!

There is scope here for technology to develop a "draught beer sample pack." Something along the lines of a saline drip bag would be the idea – about half a pint, sealed in a plastic impervious to the passage of carbon dioxide (many plastics, such as polythene, let CO2 straight through) and made up without any airspace whatever. I look forward to the first brewery representative to arrive with a cool-bag of samples – Ed.

Ten Years Ago Hop Press index

The following topics were news in the Hop Press, published in September 1984.

Pub news reported the re-opening of the former Commercial in Bitterne as the Humble Plum. A real ale gain was reported with Flowers Original appearing at the Maypole in Hedge End. Today, the site is an overgrown waste, although many may argue that the view has improved immeasurably! The 1.4 acres are now for sale as "suitable for housing or other development", although planning permission is not yet obtained.

Advertisements included a full page for the Running Horse at Littleton. Let us hope it is still around to advertise in ten years time.

Feature articles included topics still on the agenda today. American Budweiser had just arrived. Hop Press contrasted its quality to that of the Czech brew, even then available in a few outlets. With the current rush to privatise Czech industry there is a real threat that the Americans will buy the Budvar company – what hope then of seeing the Czech beer in a British pub?

An article on opening hours pleaded the case for more flexibility. Having won most of that battle, CAMRA, with other organisations, are now lobbying the Government to consider allowing pubs to open on Sunday afternoons.

Finally, prices were again under the spotlight, with Whitbread pilloried for having just hoisted the price of a pint of 6X in its most expensive managed houses to the unheard of level of 98p. Next thing we'll be paying a pound a pint – unthinkable!

The Bishopstoke Brewery
Hop Press index

Gareth Davies

Would you believe that there used to be a brewery in Eastleigh?

In 1873, John Ross decided that there were good profits to be made from beer. Unhappily, he had no capital with which to set up. He approached a financier, one James Little, and convinced him that a fortune was to be made out of selling beer to the soldiery in the many army camps of the South of England. So a partnership was formed between Ross the brewer and Little the money man.

A site was needed – somewhere cheap but central to the rapidly expanding railway system, a transport network that they saw as ideal to reach directly into their intended customers' sites. Eastleigh was perfect.

A plot of land 164 feet long, on the Bishopstoke to Southampton road, was leased from the Chamberlayne Estate (big players then as now ...) for a thousand years at £30 per year! Mr. W. H. Mitchell was engaged as surveyor, and presumably general clerk of the works, since he was soon advertising in the local paper for tenders for "the erection of a brewery house and sheds."

As the brewery was under construction the partners applied for both brewing and retail licences (a bit late?). Their application was heard in September, 1874, their main argument being that they had already invested £3000 in the project.

There were objections, amongst others from the church, the landlord of the newly built Home Tavern and the Eastleigh stationmaster, perhaps worried that it would reduce trade in the buffet?

Their application succeeded and in 1875 the brewery was open for business. Success was short lived – within a year the partnership dissolved and then after only a few more months the whole brewery was let to a Mr. Smythe. He was no better at running a brewery than his unfortunate predecessors as he went bankrupt almost at once!

The lease now transferred to Messrs. Dilke and Tanner but Dilke married and moved away leaving Tanner to take another partner, Edward Atkinson. Again the brewery failed, in 1882, and the lease reverted back to the original founding partner, Mr. Little!

Little decided that he needed someone who knew about brewing (!) so the lease now went to a Farnham brewer, a Mr. Marshall. He bought the premises and brewed for over two years until, in 1885, he also finally gave in and sold out to a dog biscuit maker.

Why was this brewery so cursed in its short ten year life? I doubt we could ever know. No point looking for archaeological traces or for clues, the site is now the Swan Centre car park.

PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

Salisbury brewers, Gibbs Mew, have recently reopened the Dolphin, next to St. Denys station, as an "Alehouse". It is basically a straight copy of the Whitbread "Hogshead" pub style, with a bank of handpumps dispensing Gibbs' beers and a handful of guest brews, all, unfortunately, served through swan necks and tight sparklers. The blackboard listing forthcoming attractions largely contains beers from other long established regional brewers but perhaps the choice will be more adventurous once the pub becomes fully established. Despite this, the pub certainly offers a lot more for the beer drinker than it did previously.

Gibbs Mew have been extremely busy recently and have purchased the pub chain Centric which runs 197 pubs in the Midlands and North-West. Locally, they have bought the Grange at Netley, which had been run by Southampton based Star Hotels since 1991 after the first owners, Mill House Leisure, went into receivership. Recently rumours circulated in Littleton, near Winchester, that Gibbs were about to close and sell the only village pub, the Running Horse. Happily the brewery has issued a statement discounting all such stories and assuring us of the pub's safety. However, with all of these developments we hope that the company will not start to be more interested in property than brewing. Although it would be no surprise, when the property market recovers, if the brewing was moved from the present highly valued city centre site, a development that has been under consideration for many years.

Southampton has had more than its fair share of pub news over the past few months. The Queen of Clubs in Simnel Street, until 1984 known as just the Queen, has now been refurbished and is trading under the sign of the Atlantic Queen. The pub is one of two in the city bought recently by the Abingdon brewers, Morlands. A brewery best known in this area for their Old Speckled Hen strong bitter sold in many Whitbread pubs. Their other purchase. the Crown in Shirley, is currently undergoing substantial refurbishment which will hopefully see the surprisingly large building fulfil its potential. When the work is finished it will be renamed Tramways.

There is a new real ale outlet in Oxford Street, Kennedy's. Gales Ales are on offer at these "Wine Bars and Eating Rooms" which are named after one of the proprietors, Andrew Kennedy. Nearby, 25 Oxford Street, a name of stunning originality, has just opened as a free house.

Just around the corner, in Terminus Terrace, is the Tut 'n' Shive. But surely the real Tut 'n' Shive is in Bedford Place, we hear you cry – we read about it in Hop Press. And of course you are correct, the former Captain's Corner and Parker's Hotel is the second Tut 'n' Shive in the city and one of many around the country. While not everybody's cup of tea, it cannot be denied that the first one was successful in boosting trade and it did attract a large number of young customers to a pub which sold a variety of real ales. Surely though, the duplication of name is a marketing mistake? At least when pubs were converted to Beefeaters or Brewers Fayres they retained their original names, having two pubs of the same name so close to each other is bound to cause confusion to the customers. One comfort is that this type of pub rarely keeps its name for more than a couple of years so the sign writers had better keep their paints and brushes at the ready.

The Posthouse Hotel has opened Traders restaurant/bar, in the style of a Canadian log cabin featuring that well known Canadian brew, Courage Best, on handpump. The Bellemoor in Hill Lane is currently undergoing refurbishment, as is the Old Farmhouse at Mount Pleasant. Unfortunately work on an extension at the Northam pub commenced before archaeologists had the chance to survey the historic land. "It was a genuine mistake." said a Whitbread spokesman.

The most talked about real ale gain in the city, thanks to an excellent marketing campaign which was all too predictably lapped up by the local media, is Cloisters. The former St. Peter's church, opposite the Mayflower Theatre, had been closed since 1981 but is now de-consecrated and converted into a pub/restaurant. It has a late licence at weekends. Although the refurbishment contains many of the standard features such as bare boards, plastic plants and lots of brass, the original architecture of the building, which dates from 1845, has generally been well exploited. The stained glass windows and beamed ceiling have been retained but the latter are perhaps dangerously accessible from the upper floor. Although there are six handpumps there are usually only three or four beers on at any time, which should keep the quality higher. The beers all appear to come from the Whitbread list. Not only does this mean that the beers are little different from those offered by many other local pubs but the owners have missed out on the opportunity of offering their customers such beers as Abbot Ale, Bishop's Tipple, Cathedral Bitter, Church Bitter, Curate's Downfall, Deacon, Devil's Water, Parish Bitter and Reverend James Bitter, all of which are genuine brews from around the country.

On the outskirts of the city, the Vine in Old Bursledon has been tastefully refurbished and now boasts an enclosed patio and garden area. The Bugle at Botley was also refurbished earlier in the year.

Over in Romsey, Barry and Alison Wilson are the new licensees at the Three Tuns, following the retirement of Jean Mabey who had been landlady there for 23 years. The Tudor Rose, the only pub in Hampshire to have been in every edition of CAMRA's Good Beer Guide, also has new licensees, William and Mary Price. They are from Buckinghamshire and wisely chose the Tudor Rose after studying many pubs throughout the South of England, they are new to the trade and we wish them well in a hard profession! Staying in Romsey, the Dolphin still retains its name, despite Whitbread's plans to change it to the Lucky Sixpence (!). This may be because the signwriters could not find the pub, as a recent advertisement for a new lessee claimed it was located in the "Corner Market"!

It was good to see the revival of the Wheel Inn flower and produce show in Pennington after a gap of two years when the pub was closed before being reopened as a free house.

Another newly freed house is the Royal Oak at Fritham. There was concern for the future of this tiny rural pub, formerly Whitbread owned having come with the Strongs acquisition. This concern was heightened when Devenish took over the pub and were then themselves taken over by Greenalls, who have just opened a cosy little local in Southampton, the Grand Harbour Hotel. Fortunately the Royal Oak has now been bought by the Taylor family, who have run the pub for many years and we look forward to many more years of its inclusion in future editions of the Good Beer Guide.

Two pubs on the edge of the New Forest have undergone massive transformations. £170,000 has been spent on the White Hart at Cadnam which is now run by the Emberley family, who have previously run the New Forest Inn at Emery Down and the Fleur de Lys at Pilley. The emphasis is on the food trade but there are a range of real ales from the Whitbread portfolio. The Rising Sun at Wootton has been totally transformed and is almost unrecognisable from the long neglected pub that used to serve all too few customers and might well have been a candidate for closure. The decor is just different enough to make it stand out from other similar establishments and although there are some sad aspects to seeing yet another rural pub turned over almost entirely to food, its location made such a development almost inevitable.

The Rising Sun is one of five pubs that have formed "The Golden Club." The others are the Gun at Keyhaven, the Woodpecker at New Milton, the Crown and Stirrup at Lyndhurst and the White Horse at Netley Marsh. The Golden Club is aimed at the retired, of whom there are very many in the catchment area of these pubs. The club offers discounts on weekday lunches – they are all Whitbread pubs so any discounts on the food price will be more than recouped by the higher than average prices of drinks! However, membership is free and new members get a free glass of Harvey's Bristol Cream – but why do Whitbread think that the chronologically challenged would never drink an amontillado or a tio pepe ... ?

In the East of our area, Marston's West End Brewery has just re-opened after major refurbishment. The two bars have (how did you guess?) been knocked into one with screens being used to re-separate the areas. A games area – darts and bar billiards – has been constructed and shove ha'penny and bar skittles are expected to be added. The design brief was for a "community local," we need lots more. As our correspondent, Effy, remarks: "It's worth a look.."

In Winchester, another Marston's pub, the Green Man has just closed for £90,000 of work. Again, we will see the two separate bars being knocked through although we understand that only two arched openings are being made so there will still be two differing areas. Re-opening is expected by Christmas. The King Alfred has featured a number of times in the pages of Hop Press, most recently when we differed with Marstons on their policy of turning it over to management. We are now happy to relate that the light has dawned and it reverted to a tenancy on October 24th. Mr Peter Stockton, from London, is the new licensee. The "Alfie" will be a bit of a change since his last few years were spent running a Leicester Square brasserie and before that he had eight years as manager of Stringfellows Night Club! What should Saxon Road expect?

EFFY'S ROUND – a personal view Hop Press index


EFFY'S ROUND – a personal view

Some like it small, some large, some creamy and others not at all, but what is sure is that the choice is not yours. You may have guessed, it is the head I am on about. I would like to be asked, when I order a pint: "How would you like it served?" Personally, my reply would then be: "With just a small head, please!"

Seriously, the head on your pint is now almost a fashion accessory – some television advertisements would even suggest it is a sex aid! Most people would agree that a head on a pint is good presentation. There have been regional differences for years. For example, up in Yorkshire, it can vary from a very large head to a relatively small one but it is always tight and creamy, sitting on top of the pint at first but ending up on the bottom of the glass when the beer is drunk. We in the south have traditionally never been head-struck and in many areas beer is served flat – like dishwater a Tyke might put it.

How often have you heard the statement: "It's a good pint, it's got a good head." The head doesn't make it taste any better, but the amount of "condition" in the beer does. The condition is the amount of carbon dioxide dissolved in the beer. The head is achieved by natural CO2 being displaced as the beer is poured. Swan-neck dispensers with tight sparklers enhance aeration of the beer and displace almost all of the CO2 – the beer below a tight head is much flatter than a so-called "flat" Southern pint! Perhaps the latest technical innovation in this field is the use of nitrogen to help head formation. Beers are being kept under nitrogen gas, this gas has the advantage of not dissolving through the walls of the bubbles. Beers served with nitrogen keep a very dense head – draught Guinness was the first example. These methods can ruin many fine beers; Marston's beers loose their Burton "sulphur snatch" and the hop character in the nose of the beer.

Brewers are making the head an ever more prominent part of their advertising. You only need look at Boddingtons ... This, in turn, brainwashes customers to think that beer must be served with a large creamy head, fine if you like it that way, but many do not. The worst knock-on effect is the short measure.

The Government's U-turn on the full pint promise, will not help. Congratulations to those few of you using lined glasses. I know that many pubs will top up when requested but what about easing the sparkler to stop aeration if requested? Often when challenged about the head, "That's how it's served up North" may be the reply. Perhaps a good response would be to proffer coins equivalent to the price of a Northern pint!

The head on your beer should be your personal preference, but too often the marketing team, with their advertising powers, dictate the fashion. As I see it, it is only another way to maximise profits, so, if they insist on large heads what about large glasses, such as in every Banks's Midland pub, where huge heads are traditional. Here in the South where a flat head, or even no head, is preferred, please give us our chance to choose.

Hop Press issue number 38 – Autumn 1994

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
SO50 4HY
01703 642246

© CAMRA Ltd. 1994