Hop Presshops Hop Press Issue 41 front cover

Issue 41 – June 1996


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

Once again the Home Office has announced a "consultation paper" on further proposals to increase licensing hours. We are living in a decade of unprecedented relaxation, paralleled only by the waves of restriction started during the Great War.

The proposals are to allow pubs with normal licences to open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Late licence establishments would also have another hour, so clubs would throw out at three am.

The last Hop Press editorial discussed and welcomed last year's Sunday afternoon law, even taking a bit of credit from CAMRA's ceaseless Parliamentary lobbying. CAMRA has been lobbying for this new proposal as well and as a national body we support it. Myself, I have slight niggling doubts forming in the back of my mind...

This is not a sudden, late in life, flowering of an authoritarian trait – Liberty Hall still appeals. No, the doubts arise on two specific fronts. Firstly, what will a continuation of liberalisation do to the nature of the country's pub stock, in the financial climate of the late '90s and secondly, is mere enlargement of permitted hours the best way to modernise and improve the overall licensing system?

Almost the last time that we had hours like these was under Victoria. The number of pubs was vast, every corner of every terrace was an ale-house, many open from six am to midnight. But the work ethic was a little different then! Most of the (male) population was engaged in heavy manual labour for fifty plus hours a week. The virtual slave labour of the average licensee and his family in that age would not appear out of the ordinary. Thankfully in 1996, publicans, as all of us, demand a little more of life. A climate of ever increasing hours must surely be putting an intolerable strain on the small, tenanted "back-street locals" that some of us prefer. If a couple of extra weekend hours were the straws to break their backs I, for one, would not think it had been worth it.

The second worry actually points the way forward; it is not simply increases in hours that the Government should be consulting over, it is the whole structure of the licensing system. The present, magistrate based, bureaucracy dates not to Victoria but back to Georgian times, it has no relevance in the last days of the twentieth century. The system is obscurantist, arbitrary and totally undemocratic – it should have gone with the rotten boroughs!

Some regulatory framework is needed, of course, but this should be municipally or agency based and, most importantly, should operate on a basis of "obligation to grant." In other words, licences should be available to anyone satisfying a few simple conditions – much like an application for planning permission. The range of establishments able to sell drinks could be much more heterogeneous with greater scope for small family businesses. Some of the benefits of the Irish combined shop/bar or the French tabac would ensue. Presently the British drinker is being forced more and more into the arms of big business, it need not be so. The replacement of the individual entrepreneur by the uniformed, management school cloned, company functionary provides the pub goer with no "added value" whatsoever!

Nevertheless, the consultation is going ahead and we need to ensure that the outcome is the best of the available options.

The Government are suggesting three possible scenarios (other than retaining the status quo).

Option one would extend the permitted hours for all licences by one hour on the two days. magistrates would have the ability to take into account particular objections and local circumstances in refusing to allow any specific licensee to have the hours.

Option two would put the onus onto individual licensees to apply for the extra hours, again with provision for the usual objections and local disturbance factors to be considered.

Option three would remit the whole power to the magistrates, they would have total discretion to decide if their licensing area should have the hours or not. This is clearly the worst of all worlds – we would be back to the bad old days of border-hopping to get that last drink. Notoriously reactionary benches, as for example Birmingham used to be considered, would have no part of it however deserving a case any pub might make out.

Of the three, the first option is the best although CAMRA has reservations about the blanket inclusion of all types of licence.

In our view the Home Office should retain the current two am closing for clubs until such time as we can have a comprehensive re-jigging of the entire licensing system.

The Government is consulting under the Deregulation Act which requires the widest possible investigations and Parliamentary Committee scrutiny. There will undoubtedly be a vigorous "anti" lobby so if readers want to drink later at the weekend then they should let the Government know!

The Home Office are actively seeking responses from the public:

Mr Dennis Wilmer
Home Office
Room 1183
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London SW1H 9AT

Is at this very moment waiting for your letters, and will be so until August 30th. It is a good plan to copy any letter sent to the Home Office to your local MP.

One definite benefit of an extra hour on the weekend days is that it will remove the need for lots of minor applications for "extensions" for functions, especially common in private members' clubs. This is certainly something that our magistrates would welcome, they seem to be doing all they can to put obstacles in the way of applicants at present. In the north of the county, magistrates will now only hear applications after their lunch (they used to be taken at the 10 am start of business), probably the most inconvenient time of the whole day for a busy licensee to attend the court!

GOODS IN TRANSIT Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

The Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association (the new persona of the Brewers' Society) is becoming ever more concerned about the cross-Channel drinks trade. This rising concern mirrors the rising rate of illegal beer imports from France. CAMRA, in a rare example of total accord with the BLRA, echoes this concern.

It might be thought, at first sight, that we would welcome cheap beer from any source, not so. This trade – especially the smuggled element, the beer for illegal re-sale – is having a measurable, serious impact on our own breweries and pubs.

The simple iteration of the statistics shows how awesome is the scale of business that has built up since the Single Market came into effect on January 1st, 1993. Everyday, at the moment, 1,100,000 pints of beer are crossing the channel; in 1995 the total was 1.4 million barrels. A third is estimated to be destined for illegal re-sale.

Ever greater quantities of this beer is now coming in vans and even HGVs. Over 1000 van-loads cross every week. Customs and Excise surveys last year found that, for the Dover-Calais route alone, in a single day, between 146 and 358 vans were disembarking. This is not only a problem of the south-east, vans are travelling the length of the land, even as far as Scotland and Ulster. Sheffield alone has over 100 per week!

To put this "van trade" into an understandable picture one has only to realise that it represents the entire beer trade of every licensed outlet of a county the size of Wiltshire. At £1.60 a pint, the "van trade" represents a loss of £3,225 per annum of retail sales to every pub in the United Kingdom.

A few individual anecdotes help with the picture: In Thanet, Kent a survey of landlords showed that 97% had been approached by bootleggers during 1995. This spring, Customs made a seizure at West Bromwich of 37,000 pints on 22 pallets in a 40ft container wagon (one at least that did not get away). They are even reaching Inverness, where an inappropriately named Rowallan Quick was fined £2,500 last winter for having a van with 1,000 litres of beer and 300 litres of wine.

So what can be done?

France exacts, if that is not too harsh a word, 4.2p duty on every pint, Germany 4.4p, Luxembourg 4.5p, Belgium 7.9p and Holland 9.6p. We extort, which is not too harsh a word, 30.7p. There is only one solution. Our chancellor must pledge to bring our duty down, perhaps over three or four budgets, by some 5p a time.

Unfortunately, if the response to our own self-inflicted fiasco of the insane ungulates is an example to go by, I would imagine that rather than this rational approach we will try to insist that every other EU state jack their tax up to our preposterous level. It will be interesting to see what xenophobic reasoning the Sun uses to back such a plan!

A HEAD OF OUR TIME Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

Lost in the mists of history there was a time when, at least in this part of the land, a pint of beer just came out of a cask in full view of the customer, to the top of the glass and onto the bar. So simple, so elegant, so efficient.

Not any more. Now we have swan necks. Now we have sparklers, and above all, now we have marketing men and advertising campaigns. Why should I have to drink my beer through a raft of polystyrene-like foam just because such a glass, supposedly, makes a nice picture on a bill-board or the television?

It is not at all clear why, where or when the desire for a "head" on beer originated. It could only be after the advent of the hand-pump (in the early nineteenth century). But even then, for many years, customers were content for the pump to be just a means of getting the beer from the cask to the glass, not something that processes the beer and actually changes its flavour and its feel. It would not have started before this century as it has to post-date the widespread use of glass (as opposed to pewter) in the average pub – the appearance of the agitated beer seems to be a key factor. The fashion certainly did come from the northern, heavy industrial regions. There is probably a clue here, is there some connection with the need to serve very large amounts of weakish beers to stay the thirsts of the miners, steel workers or shipbuilders? I do not find this idea holds water – why would these thirsty men want to wait the extra few seconds for the dispense of a "sparkled" beer and is it plausible that they would be concerned with the subtle aesthetics of a rising curtain of micro-bubbles? No.

I have a feeling that the origins of the "tight head" may be much more sinister, may have resulted from a prevalence of bad, flat beer. Good beer, well conditioned, will be "sprightly," there will be a small number of carbon dioxide bubbles rising through it and it will have a loose but definite froth. The dissolved CO2 will give a refreshing sharpness to the tongue. Old beer, poorly conditioned, perhaps contaminated by filtered-back slops, will be dull, lifeless and with an unpleasant acetic sharpness. A common enough thing in past eras. The customers' response was to consume a lot more bottled beer or bottle/draught mixtures. The bottled beer then was commonly "bottle-conditioned" and would pour with lots of head so it is easy to imagine that the presence of a nice thick head came to symbolise good beer.

This would have left the landlord with his cellar full of dubious ale in a quandary, so he would need to try to produce a false head to demonstrate that his beer was good. He would know that having the pump tap nearly closed agitates the beer and so it became a common practice to flip the pump tap over on the last part of the pull to deposit a frothy topping to the pint – this was known as the "creaming stroke." This operation needed some dexterity so the addition of a permanent
restriction, the sparkler, was the obvious next step. All this because the beer was not good in its own right.

A quotation from Bar Service, a manual of pub practice written in 1965, is very revealing: "...if,however, you happen to be serving a beer which is out of condition, excessively cold or flat, it will be found advantageous to hold the glass well below the spout and, using pressure, endeavour to produce a head of sorts. On beer pumps the use of a sparkler may be found to help. This is an attachment fitted to the nozzle of the pump and has the effect of aerating the beer to give the appearance of a genuine head." Clearly, at that time, the sparkler was considered only as an aid to passing off doubtful beer.

So many evils arose from the common use of this gadget. The continuous production of aerated head increased spillage into the slop trays, thus increasing the amount of filtering back and so producing ever more bad beer. To overcome this the "economiser" and the "utiliser" were invented – these were beer pumps that automatically sucked in beer from the slop tray and mixed it into the beer coming from the cask. Many readers will be astonished to know that in pubs in West Yorkshire these are still in use now [and still in use 21 years later in 2017 – on-line Ed.].

All of this is small beer in comparison with the adverse affect that a sparkler has on the taste of a pint. The violent swirling action introduces millions of minute air bubbles to the beer and at the same time brings the dissolved CO2 out of solution. The aromatic chemicals of the hop aroma also come out into the bubbles. The result is a pint that for a short while smells sharp and hoppy from the CO2 and hop oils in the head but with the beer itself blander and less sprightly. This is accentuated by the physical effects on the "mouth feel" of the beer produced by the many small air bubbles which give a smoothness that tends to mask the different characteristics of differing brews.

Some brewers take these things into account when "designing" their beers. A northern session beer like Tetleys, which the Leeds brewers know will always be served sparkled, is over-bittered to allow for the reduction in the head. The vast majority of beers are not so designed and in many cases can be completely ruined by being served in this way. Marston's Pedigree is a good example, this excellent bitter, with its noted sulphurous nose, is destroyed by being brutalised by a sparkler. Yet Marstons, now in the control of marketing men rather than brewers, are assiduously fitting the evil swan neck sparklers throughout their estate.

No customer research has been done – when was the last time you were asked by anyone from a brewery how you liked your beer served?

It is up to customers resist this, the forced smoothing and sparkling of their drinks. Clearly a lot of people like beer served this way – the success of the widget can and the keg beers served by nitrogen (producing many of the same effects as aeration) show this.

But, we should be offered the choice.

The swan neck's sparkler can be turned off. There is no good reason for opposition from bar staff to so doing, it should be as simple a customer choice as, say, a straight glass or a handle. (That choice has to be a straight of course, but that is another story! ...)

Another despatch from the Brussels Battlefield
Hop Press index

The European Commission is starting its review of the tied house system. It is due to report its recommendations during 1997. At present the British tied house system is allowed under what is known as a "block exemption." In essence this is a temporary amendment to the Treaty of Rome, lasting only a specified time whilst a matter is under review by the Commission.

The Commission is now taking evidence from presentations by "interested parties." CAMRA is one of these, of course, and a delegation from the Campaign's Executive have recently been to Brussels to put our views.

Our view is that the tie is crucial to Britain's unique methods of brewing and that its abolition could put the whole of our cask-conditioned beer market at risk. The regional independent brewers are those at real risk from any legislation preventing them from having a vertical marketing structure. They are too small to be able to promote their beers on a national scale – they could not afford TV advertising or massive "loss-leader" discounting. The tied house is their only show-case.

Micro-breweries could probably survive, each one needs only a handful of outlets to get by but brewers of the size of, say, Gales or even more so Marstons, would have to do deals with the two or three giant brewing conglomerates that would control the entire licensed trade. Such deals would, inevitably, be sell-outs, probably ending in closures. It is instructive to look at the countries that have specific laws outlawing any brewery having a financial interest in the retail outlets. Southern Ireland is one as is the United States.

In Ireland, although there are many very delightful bars – and the lack of tie has probably preserved the variety – the beer supply is totally monopolised by a single company. The thirsty Irishman (is there another sort?) has absolutely no choice at all as to which brewery's products he wants to drink. In the USA the situation is not much better, the gigantic Anheuser-Busch Corporation (the ones who use rice to make a "beer" called "Bud" something) have almost two-thirds of the market.

The foolish implementation of the Beer Orders (conspiracy theorists have more jaundiced views) resulted in tens of thousands of pubs being nominally freed. In fact, most of these are now just as tightly tied into big pub chains which have long term supply agreements with the big brewers. The regionals gained little from the exercise. Only the guest cask-conditioned ale provision, a specific CAMRA recommendation to the MMC, has proved really successful.

Local MEP, Edward Kellett-Bowman (Con., Itchen, Test and Avon) was among a dozen or so who attended CAMRA's Brussels seminar and presentation so we can assume that he has an interest in this matter. Letters in favour of retaining our imperfect but functional status quo could do no harm!

Greene King takes to the field Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

Readers of a sporting persuasion may have seen that this season, Hampshire County Cricket Club is being sponsored by East Anglian brewers, Greene King. The company has been well represented in its home area and in the London trade for many years but they have now opened a distribution depot in northern Hampshire. They are best known for their strong bitter, Abbot Ale, which is frequently a guest beer in many pubs of the national brewers. They are opening a pub at Fleet and are looking to expand further into the county. The Alresford Ale and Cider House is a local pub that features Greene King beers.

For beer-loving cricket supporters there is a downside to this sponsorship. Last season saw the introduction of Hampshire Brewery's King Alfred Bitter to the pavilion, which made the poor season bearable! The replacement by Greene King beers is a blow to the local small brewer. Although Greene King have a reasonable reputation nationally, mainly due to Abbot, they are not too popular on their home ground. They have a virtual monopoly in most of north Suffolk and have closed many rural pubs. They also closed the Rayments Brewery, makers of one of the finest light bitters ever; an inferior version is now made in Bury St. Edmonds.

HCCC supporters looking for a change of fortunes in 1996 cannot take much comfort from Greene King's other sponsorship: Ipswich Town FC.

Conversion on the road to, Bitterne!? Hop Press index

Dave Etheridge

I confess, I admit it, I drink in Whitbread pubs.

It all started on a cold, wet and windy night last winter. I needed a pint but had not the will power to battle over to my usual watering holes in St. Denys or Bevois Valley. Yes, I know that relations between CAMRA and Whitbread have been a bit like those between the Serbs and the Croats, but needs must and it had to be my local, the Hop Inn, a Whitbread pub...

It was several years since I had visited the pub, I was in for a pleasant surprise. There were six real ales on offer – Boddingtons, Flowers and Fuggles Imperial from Whitbread breweries and Pedigree, Abbot Ale and Old Smokey from other brewers. I tried the Fuggles and the Pedigree, both excellent and at a sensible prices.

Since this eye-opener I have tried some more Whitbread houses and have found a fair choice of real ales in most, quite often including genuine guest beers. I am looking forward to the summer when my trusty bike will take me out to some of those that for years I have been pedalling past.

Although I can never forgive Whitbread for closing Strongs, Weathereds and Brickwoods I do feel that now they are the most pro real ale of the national brewers. They are not afraid of guest ales and they are investing serious money in real ale.

EDITOR'S POSTBAG Hop Press index

Here is a plea from one of our regular contributors. I hope it works, it might get me some copy for a future Hop Press!

Dear Sir,

I have been looking into the history of a local brewery but information is very thin on the ground, can anyone help?

The business was The Shirley Brewery and was part of a property sold at auction by Andrew Barlow, in eight lots, in 1866.

I know that the land was sold to Andrew in 1862 by an E. F. Dimond and an F. Breton but that is as far as my discoveries take me. I have no information as to when it started (although the 1865 Ordnance Survey refers to it as the "old brewery,") or as to what became of it after the auction. No traces remain in the 1865 map area, it is now all housing and small business units.

Can anyone out there help me with a new lead – the information I have came from the Southampton city archive, there seems to be nothing in the County archive at Winchester.

Yours hopefully,

Gareth Davies
44 Imperial Avenue
S013 8PS

The last Hop Press bemoaned, in passing, the paucity of readable price lists and the difficulties of the over-stretched Trading Standards Departments in policing them. This drew an encouraging response.

Dear Sir,

I read with interest your issue no. 40 in which you stated that Trading Standards Departments have "as good as given up pursuing" the display of price lists in pubs.

May I point out that when officers visit licensed premises they always check to see that the price displays satisfy the 1979 Order, which requires them to be "Clear and legible and easily read by an intending purchaser."

As stated in your article, some price notices are poorly positioned or have very small print and therefore fail to comply. Officers draw this to the attention of the licensee and, when appropriate, leave a written notice to have the matter put right. However, other priorities mean that we do not have the resources to make return visits solely to see this is done.
As a result of your survey I shall be reminding all licensees of their obligation to display prices. I would also be interested to hear of any premises which your members feel are particularly bad at displaying prices. If possible perhaps you could collate any such information and send it to me to save your members having to contact us individually. [Readers, send any cases to Hop Press, we will pass them on – Ed.]

I hope you will find that this action will result in an improvement.

A. E. Langstone
Assistant County Trading Standards Officer

Ten Years Ago Hop Press index

The May 1986 Hop Press incorporated the programme for the seventh Winchester Beer Festival. The beer list makes interesting reading. There were relatively few of the new small and micro breweries that we now expect, most beers were from long-established independents. These included Devenish and Boddingtons (the genuine original). A Whitbread beer was featured – Pompey Royal. This was to support a campaign to continue its production. This was just about successful as it can still be found in a few pubs but not as many as in 1986.

There was a critique of the changes which the Grapes in Oxford Street, Southampton, had suffered. Whilst a visitor today may find it a rather quaint and comfortable old city pub it had, before 1986, a completely untouched, beautiful, Victorian interior. There were many letters objecting to change but the Southampton planners allowed the last Victorian pub in the city to be gutted and then rebuilt – as a poor Victorian fake!

Pub News included the demolition of the Railway in preparation for the Portswood bypass and the closure of the Fox and Hounds in Lyndhurst. Happily this pub later re-opened and is thriving yet. The Belmont [now the Pickled Newt, see this edition's Pub News] had become a disco and snooker hail. Lymington's Monkey House had acquired its present name – the Tollhouse. But even in 1986, pubs were reverting to their original names, the Newlands had returned after some years as the Prince Regent. Unfortunately this Portswood pub has since closed, burnt out, been demolished and is now replaced by a block of flats.

PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

We start this edition with news that two of our best loved pubs are to undergo changes. The Flower Pots at Cheriton has been granted permission to build an extension to the public bar. Readers who have visited on a summer evening will see the need for the extra space. More extensive changes are in the offing at Fritham's Royal Oak. Andrew and Eileen Taylor bought the pub a couple of years ago (after being tenants for many years) and they have now developed plans to build a multi-purpose hall which can be used as a community hall and a shop during the summer. Some additions to the pub are also proposed. Although the first scheme was turned down by the New Forest planners they have suggested that negotiations should result in a mutually acceptable plan.

Many other Forest pubs have had structural or personnel changes over the last few months; most have been at those emphasising the food trade. The New Forest Inn at Emery Down re-opened at the start of the year after a major refurbishment and the White Hart at Pennington has become a Whitbread Wayside Inn after £½m of expenditure. The Haywain in Bartley, a Whitbread Brewers' Fayre, has been redecorated and extended to increase outdoor summer facilities.

Discontent rumbled at another Brewers' Fayre, the Three Bells at Hordle. Keith and Sarah Stewart, relief managers for some months last winter, had increased takings and endeared themselves to the locals. However, Whitbread's rigid training protocol demands that they move around a number of pubs. Despite a 2000 signature petition they have been "rotated." They are now running the Plough at Tiptoe. Meanwhile the Three Bells is also due to be extended. Also in The Whitbread lists, the Old Farmhouse at Totton is now a "Berni Menu" establishment.

In Lyndhurst the Waterloo Arms is now under the control of Fred and Lynn Lundberg, having been run by the Waltridge family for the previous forty-five years. Meanwhile the Stag, which at one stage looked set to be de-licensed and turned into flats, has happily re-opened in April boasting a complement of seven real ales!

Further west, at Sway, the Forest Heath has new owners, Guy and Karen Amey. At Setley the Filley Inn has finally had an extension approved after an appeal. Licensee Tony Bargrove has been battling with the planners for two years. The planning authorities are still active however, having rejected extension plans for the White Hart at Cadnam.

Most readers will know that the national brewers' infatuation with all things Irish has fmally reached Southampton with Bass's opening of O'Neill's in Oxford Street. Constructing this pastiche from the former New Oxford Hotel cost them half a million. There are spreading throughout the land and they are all equally banal. The beers on offer are Bass and "O'Neill's," which might well taste very much the same as Worthington Best Bitter... Another, more independent, Irish pub is what was the Onslow and is now Lennon's. It is owned by Terry Lennon who also runs the nearby Dorchester Arms, it has a late licence and is perhaps more of a club than a pub. The pub was in danger of being lost to flat conversion but it has preserved a much needed music venue. The outside colour scheme is "striking" but the planners drew a line at green neon around the rooftop!

A little further down the road, in St. Mary's Street, Aggie Grey's has been painted violet and is now re-named The Edge with an adjacent nightclub area called The Box. Another music venue that is back in operation is the Brook in Portswood Road. After refurbishment it can now hold 300. Joint licensees, Bryn Lewis and Richard Davey, have lined up an impressive list of artists.

Two city pubs to have major changes are the King's Arms, just off Shirley High Street and the Honest Lawyer, in Lodge Road. Untouched for years they now both have the expected mix of bare wood and brick. They also seem to have regulars with remarkably similar vocabularies. The Echo advertisement for the King's Arms has a "regular of 29 years" quoted as: "I was a bit worried when I first heard it was closing for refurbishment. So many pubs change completely when they are renovated ..." Some weeks later "a regular" (no antecedence given) of the Honest Lawyer is quoted saying "We were a bit worried when we first heard about the changes... Often when pubs are modernised they change completely ..." Of course it is just possible that both pubs have the misfortune to be hosts to the same loquacious old bore! The Honest Layer has been extended to add a rear games room and the bar has been moved. The good news at the King's Arms is that the superb exterior is retained and the range of real ales has increased.

Bedfords has been refurbished again – it is only two years since the last time – and then, almost at once, had to be done again after receiving the unwelcome attention of some "sports fans." Just around the corner another piece of Southampton brewing history has gone with the removal of the Coopers windows from the Cricketers (Coopers stood where there is now the Bargate Centre). In the silly name game the Mitre in Portswood has put in a good effort by becoming the Pickled Newt. The Canute Hotel is now Henry's, the upper floors are to become seven flats for the Hyde Housing Association. Around the corner in Terminus Terrace the London has been purchased by the Drisco Trading Company, who also run the Crown and Sceptre and the Gordon Arms. In Newtown, the Northumberland may be extended and then converted into an Islamic Centre! In Belvidere Road there is a plan to demolish the long-closed Yacht Tavern.

The serious pub news for 1996 in Southampton is that the city is likely to end the year with five or six new central pubs (in some cases the word "pub" is perhaps a bit stretched). The first one is already open, the Square Balloon, in what was the old ABC cinema Above Bar, opened at the end of May. The giant establishment, owned by Greenalls, is a disco pub with, according to its advertising, a "64-screen video cube and loud sounds." There are two handpumped beers – Tetleys Bitter and Greenalls Original Bitter, although only the Tetleys was on at the time of our visit. The place is vast, with an atmosphere less of a pub than of some sort of waiting area, perhaps an American hotel lobby or an airport lounge. Notable features include no-smoking "alcoves" and provision for the disabled, even to the extent of a special lift to the balcony level. It will be interesting to see if the real ale sales can holdup against the likely clientele's predilection for designer beers by the neck. On the other side of the road there are to be two new licences, either side of the Tyrrell and Green store. The old Gas Showrooms at 164/174 is set to become an "Ale Café" although exactly what this means is not yet clear. At 130/132 a licence has been applied for premises that we believe will be called "Just So" but there are no other details yet.

Below Bar work is much more advanced on the city's first Wetherspoon pub. Using a former bank building, as they have in a number of other cities, it will be called the Standing Order (groan). Assuming it follows the successful pattern of the other Wetherspoon pubs it will be a big pub without loud music, with a large number of real ales (although somewhat heavy on the Scottish-Courage range), reasonable prices and with food always available. It should be open by the autumn. Just a little further south, Allied Domecq have put in a licence application to turn the old Woolwich Building Society building into a "Firkin" pub to give Wetherspoons some competition! Not to be left out, the other big brewers are also to open new outlets – Whitbread will set up one of their TGI Friday café-bars in the Western Esplanade and behind Bedford Place in Lower Bannister Street there will be a Bass house to be called The Academy. Finally, there is a rumour that Southampton is also to get a Yates Wine Lodge although there are no details as to where or when.

East of the Itchen, the Manor House in Portsmouth Road has been refurbished with the dining area extended and the Bittern has had £50,000 spent on it. In Sholing the Chamberlayne Arms has been done up, although it still retains two bars. It is now being run by Jim Steele, one of the Saints' cup winning side. The Robin Hood has a planning application for a new entrance and "elevational alterations."

Prohibition hit North Baddesley at the end of last year when both of the village pubs, the Steak and Stilton and the Bede's Lea closed for refurbishment at the same time. This did no harm to the trade at the Luzborough, along the road at Whitenap before, in February, they returned the compliment by closing for their own revamp.

Permanent prohibition has been brought in at West Dean where the Red Lion, famous for having one bar in Hampshire and one in Wiltshire, has served its last pint. This leaves the village without a pub but still with a railway station. What odds on that lasting until the end of the century?

In Romsey it was thought that the former Horse and Jockey (long since dc-licensed and operating as a veterinary surgery) might reopen after a new licence was granted to Nicholas and Simon Embley of the White Hart at Cadnam. It was hoped that it would open in the spring but was turned down by the local authority after considering objections. All may not be lost as a new application has been lodged and we may yet see this former Strongs house selling beer again.

In Eastleigh there is a new pub in the offing (and where more needed!) The builders have just started turning Cantors, an old furniture shop in the High Street, into a two level pub for Surrey Free Trade Inns. This pub chain owns a number of houses in the south of England, including locally the Sir Walter Tyrrell. The proposed name for this venture is the Litten Tree which may cause some confusion in parts of Bursledon. Also in Eastleigh Whitbread intend to build a new Travel Inn and Brewers' Fayre at junction 13 of the M3, opposite the Manor Bakery. How will it all fit in? The site looks very small for such an enterprise. At Bishopstoke the River Inn, being rebuilt as a Bass "Innkeeper's Fayre," at the cost of £Nm, will be managed by Darron and Lorraine Fee when it opens on mid-June. In Chandler's Ford the Tabby Cat has been refurbished and re-named. Built in the 1960's the name supposedly originated from a cat seen roaming the site. This is now replaced by Ashdown Arms taken from the road it is on. For a re-opening publicity stunt it was visited by its political namesake Paddy Ashdown, drinkers at Shirley's Old Thatch beware!

The Wheatsheaf at Shedfield has been sold by Marstons and is now a free house. The new hosts, Jim and Debbie are specialising in beers from independent brewers. The range on a recent visit was: Fortyniner, Summer Lightning and Hog Bitter on handpump and Pots Ale and Archer's Village (at a very reasonable £1.25) straight from the cask. It remains a two bar pub – well worth a visit.

Other changes in the east of our area include new tenants at the Cottage in Butlocks Heath, Marie and Steve Edmonds have taken over there. In Botley Sarah Lyons and Dan Emery are the new managers at the Bugle. At Bursiedon, by the bridge, the former Swan, later Mulligans, is now the Yachtsman, a Whitbread Wayside Inn and up the hill the Wlndhover Manor has had a major refurbishment.

In Winchester, Harley and Barbara Buckner have taken on the enlarged St. James' Tavern. They have been twenty years in the trade. Nearby, the former South Western has been listed amongst the country's "hundred best places to get married" – the exMarstons pub is now the city's registry office! In Twyford the battle to save another Marstons pub has been lost, the Dolphin is being converted into two dwellings. However, the village still retains two pubs and in the Phoenix Paul Munday is just celebrating his fifteenth year (although many of the first ones were under father Reg's tutelage).

The Whitbread Hogshead chain have lost a few local links. The Anchor in East Street, Southampton is now a Tap and Spile (with an interesting range of ales at reasonable prices). The nearby Hogshead and Eagle has reverted to just the plain Eagle whilst the Cricketers at Eastleigh has had the hogshead sign replaced with a "Berni Menu" one, the beer range remains as wide as before. The local reduction is out of line with national policy, Whitbread intend to add another twenty or so to bring the total up to a hundred and a new one, the Spire, has opened in Salisbury. there is also a planning application for one at the Forest Home at Hardley.

Independent chain, Star Hotels, have had some changes. Both the Master Builder at West End and the Humble Plum in Bitterne are now controlled by Wadworth, although guest beers are still on offer.

Our postscript is the old Winchester Brewery, for half a century the Marston's depot. This is to be developed as 59 houses. Beers will no longer be stored or fined locally; our Pedigree may never taste quite the same again.

Just a question of economics
Hop Press index

In the last edition of CAMRA's national Good Beer Guide, a guide to some five thousand pubs throughout Britain judged on the quality of their beers, I criticized the Bunch of Grapes at Bishop's Waltham for being expensive.

Understandably, the landlord was not entirely pleased when he turned to the description of the pub in his copy of the new guide. On my next visit we had quite a discussion on the economics of pub tenancies and on whether it should be in CAMRA's brief to comment on pub prices, especially in a national publication ostensibly promoting the country's best ale pubs.

For those who do not know the "Grapes," it is a very small, unspoilt, Victorian, town ale-house – essentially just a terraced house. It sells no food and must make all of its income from the beer consumed in its single bar-room. The pub has been in almost every edition of the Good Beer Guide for over twenty years and it has been run by members of the same family for the best part of the century. For many years it was a Courage pub with the Best Bitter served straight from the cask in the bar. The recent "Beer Orders" saw the pub become part of the Ushers of Trowbridge estate and their seasonal beers are now sold by handpump but the gravity dispensed Best is still the mainstay and it was this beer's price that drew my comment.

The licensee's justification is quite simple and straightforward. The prices must reflect all of the overheads without any help from a food income and with only a few square feet of customer space to earn from. As a tenancy there are no discounted prices from the brewers – widely available to the free trade, though often not noticeable from their prices. As he rightly points out, pubs like the Bunch of Grapes are now far and few between and have atmospheres that deserve preservation; something that will only happen if they can remain profitable.

I must admit that I agree with all of this argument, so where does this leave CAMRA?

We are a consumer organisation, started originally by consumers in revolt at the way beer and pubs were going in the sixties. Over our twenty-five years of existence we have grown into the pub user's only coherent voice on every aspect of the licensed trade. So, of course, we are interested in prices and very interested in value for money. And therein lies the rub.

How do we put value onto ambience? How much should I expect to pay for a quiet, unhurried drink in pleasant surroundings? If we really believe that these pubs are worth keeping then the answer has to be "as much as it takes" but it will be the customer that will finally decide. One thing is certain, when a pub goes it can never be resurrected.

The current price for a pint of the Best Bitter is £1.90, why not go along to the Bunch of
Grapes and sample one yourself?

BEER FESTIVALS Hop Press index


Once again we will soon be holding a Beer Festival in Southampton. Our first venue, twenty years ago, was the Blighmont Territorial Army Centre. This useful little hall was lost to us as a result of the Irish troubles, in the climate of the seventies civilian use of army property was thought too dangerous!

This time we are more central. After approaches from the City Council, we have come up with a format for a festival under canvas, on the Common, during this year's Balloon and Flower Festival.

Although on the same site and the same days, the Beer Festival will be separate from the Balloon Festival. Entry will be ticket only, early purchase is advised, we may well sell out!

Full details, In the front page advert. [Sorry, not in this scanned edition]


After being turned out of the Old Town Hall we have had two successful festivals in the Nightingale Centre. Now we have another problem as there are no free weekends left for an October booking for this year.

Unless we can find yet another 300-400 capacity venue soon then there will not be an Eastleigh event this autumn.


The Great British Beer Festival is once again being held at Olympia in August, from Tuesday the 6th until Saturday the 10th.

For years publicans have asked "why isn't there a special trade session at the GBBF?" In 1996 there will be. On Tuesday, the opening session from 3pm until 5pm is reserved exclusively for licensees and for brewery representatives. The ball will open to the public at 5 and of course you can stay on and make a night of it!

For special complimentary tickets please write to CAMRA's headquarters:

Publican Tickets CAMRA
230 Hatfield Road St. Albans
Herts, ALl 4LW

The offer is limited to two tickets per pub or club. For any further information on GBBF, ring 01727 867201.

Hop Press issue number 41 – June 1996

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

© CAMRA Ltd. 1996