Hop Presshops Hop Press Issue 45 front cover

Issue 45 – April 1998

 

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

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Contents


EDITORIAL Hop Press index

In the last issue of Hop Press we addressed the question of what the future holds for your local pub. This time there is an even more basic consideration – the future of the beer itself.

In the course of the last year, cask-conditioned beer sales declined by fifteen percent, perhaps the biggest drop ever in a single year. If '98 and '99 produce the same disastrous performance then our millennial parties will be the wakes for real ale.

The beginning of this month has brought the news that Ruddles brewery, in the newly liberated Rutland, is to be closed by Morlands, its latest in a string of owners. At almost the same instant Whitbread confirmed its long predicted intention of closing the brewery at Castle Eden and of scaling down production at Cheltenham. Of course, in both cases the companies paid the usual lip service to the beers with stock statements that the ales would continue in production at other sites. Of course, like Pompey Royal, Strong Country Bitter, all the beers from Wethereds...

The picture is of an industry that is splitting apart into two rapidly diverging continents. In one world the nationals and the larger independents are concentrating and coalescing into ever larger sites whilst in the other there is an expanding population of pub and micro brewers.

Members of CAMRA have a propensity to see the pub world through quite rosy coloured spectacles. We know definitively what we like to drink and tend to go only to those pubs that enthusiastically provide it. Mingling with the crowd, especially a young one, in one of the nationals' "superpubs" gives a much bleaker view. It is perfectly clear that a large majority of these customers have no deep interest at all in what they drink, only where and who with. The order for a lager (often, significantly, without a brand name) or for one of the new "smooth" keg beers may really be a way of saying: "I'd like a drink that I don't have to take any notice of, a drink that's not going to but in." This seems to be the view of the future drinking public that the national brewers are taking. It is a view that has no place for real ale.

If the national brewers, with their enormous strangle-hold on the market through their own pubs and their discounting agreements with the big pub chains, have really come to this conclusion then the game is up. Real ale cannot survive as a general drink on the output of the independents and the micro-brewers alone, however fanatical, dedicated and enthusiastic they may be.

The Campaign for Real Ale, CAMRA, expends a lot of its energies in criticising the big brewers on various fronts but, nevertheless, we still need them. We need them to continue to produce real ales (even though we will probably condemn most of them for mediocre quality!) to keep real ale's presence alive in that great mass of pubs that they control. Without this level of visibility real ale will soon become just a connoisseurs curiosity rather than the people's drink. This was not an outcome that CAMRA came into being to promote, it would constitute our failure.

In parallel with efforts to keep the big brewers "on message" (as journalists now have to say at least once in any piece) there has to be a second massive effort to improve the quality of the real ale that actually gets into the customer's glass. This may prove an even harder task than keeping the big players on the field.

The Cask Marque article below outlines one effort being started in this direction but it will not be enough. Many individual breweries, shocked by last year's fifteen per cent fall, have enhanced their own in-house quality programmes but these will not be enough. The quality initiative can only work if it begins from the other direction – from the end user. Real ale drinkers have to demand that their chosen drink is in perfect condition every time.

The lager and "smooth" drinkers have no such problems, not because these drinks are always perfect, but because they always have the same bland, innocuous sameness. It is just because real ale has the capacity to be totally vile that it has always to be perfect!

This seems to be something that the staff, especially the young, uniformed ones behind many of the "superpub" bars, do not seem to appreciate. Almost to a man and woman (boy and girl?) they do not understand anything whatsoever about cask-conditioned beer – what is in it, how it should be looked after, how it should be served and what constitutes a good or a bad pint. Particularly the latter. Nine out of ten pints that should rightfully be rejected should never get over the bar in the first place if staff training was adequate. It does not take an extensive training exercise to give the message that pints that cannot be seen through, pints that smell acetic, pints that are warm or freeze to the hand should never get within the customer's grasp. None of this is really the staff's fault, it is a problem entrenched within management's attitude, backed up by a national feeling, that serving behind a pub bar is somehow a lowly occupation, not worth the investment of more than a cursory amount of education.

This Editorial has perhaps strayed a little from its initial subject of brewery closures but the linkages are clear. Alarmist it may seem but there are good grounds for concluding that real ale is in a crisis of many dimensions.

But not with a hopeless prognosis. As Roger Clayson, director of Adnams, recently said: "it [real ale] is out of intensive care, in the recovery room." The article on the next page takes the subject further, in the particular instance of Bass – a brewer that, since absorbing the old Ind Coope plant, now brews, on a single site, one in every seven of the pints drunk in Britain each day. A sobering thought.

The Star Hotel, High Street, Southampton.

In the last edition of Hop Press, in an article concerning the number of free houses currently being bought up and tied to breweries, we stated that the Star Hotel had been bought by Wadworths. This was not correct, the hotel is owned and operated by Star Hotels (Southampton) Ltd. We are sorry to have given this wrong information.

BASS CONTROL Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

It looks as if 1998 may be the crucial year in the battle to keep real ale in the mainstream pub trade. Beer sales overall are still declining – they have been doing so for more than a decade – but in 1997 real ale declined more steeply than lager and the nitro-keg "smooth" beers, which increased their market share considerably.

But, these statistics, which have such an affect on brewers' decisions and marketing men's strategies, are very deceptive since they are dominated by the production figures from the great beer duopoly – Bass and Scottish Courage – who make over half of all British beer. Whatevex these two companies decide is to be the future of the market will tend to end up as self-fulfilling prophesy. The raw figures suggest that real ale lost 15 per cent of its market last year, yet many of the established independents report much smaller falls and in some happy cases real increases. Beer production is becoming ever more polarised, there are the mass-market pedlars of goods that are almost wholly "image" and the host of medium to very small makers of quality products.

Bass have to take the most opprobrium since theirs is a very clear and detailed policy, already some years under way, whilst for Scottish Courage planning seems more like confusion within an ill-conceived conglomerate. There are strong indications that Bass may have taken the decision to quit the production of real ale entirely by about the start of the new millennium – some way to mark this once-in-tens-of-lifetimes event! In recent days, Martin Thomas, the production director has talked of cask ale's "irreversible decline," Mark Hunter, the marketing director, has spoken of Draught Bass as "declining in a declining market" and there have even been industry rumours that Draught Bass might be replaced by its arch rival, Marston's Pedigree. In the past ten years Bass have reduced their cask ale brands from twenty to just six, a rate of decline that fits well with a planned millennial coup de grace.

If these views from senior executives of such a major player in the industry were not dismal enough, a close study of some of their corporation-speak makes one almost weep. Marketing man, Hunter, for example is quoted in an interview for CAMRA's What's Brewing in the following vein:

"Cask ale comes with a lot of baggage, modern drinkers don't have an emotional attachment to heritage. They are repertoire drinkers looking for different brands in different moods. They may switch from Caffrey's to lager to cask. We listen to consumers and they tell us they want beers that are appropriate to their lfestyles. Heritage doesn't rate, they want consistency. We have to invest in the future, not in a declining market."

Mr Hunter spoke of drinkers using pubs as "congregation points" in which to exercise their "life styles" – quite clearly Bass only consider the youth market as having any importance in their future. From a business standpoint this seems an extremely rash strategy for a major corporation. Building business on a foundation of the fickleness of fashion shown by the young, supposed, "trend setters" looks very much like building on sand. The meteoric rise and subsequent fall of the alcopop trade in which Bass, with Hooch, had a big interest, is a graphic demonstration.

Why should we be concerned if Bass abandons traditional brewing when their remaining cask ales, including the once wonderful Draught Bass itself, are now pretty unexciting anyway? For several reasons. The effects could be devastating and could propagate throughout the industry.

Because of their market share, and especially because of their targeting of young drinkers, a whole swathe of the pub users would be going through their formative years in an environment where real ale was invisible. Even if, as naive drinkers, they choose not to drink it themselves, if real ale is available its proximity and consumption by other customers, however few, make it a rational choice that will come to mind in more mature drinking years. Conversely, if it is not available in that early environment it will for ever be stigmatised as something only used by people who are "other," people who are not of "our group." Such associations can last a lifetime.

The size of the company would also mean that a withdrawal from cask ale brewing would send a panicky message to the share markets. The independents, relying on a real ale base, would be marked down. This would still happen even if the market for their beers was buoyant. The investment houses would then lean upon these other brewers to follow what they would perceive to be a "market leader." The domino effect would be under way and the inherent instability of the stock market would feed it.

We have, though, been here before. Cask beer was finished, once and for all, in the sixties, Watney's Red saw to that. Or so the industry experts at the time pontificated. Whitbread based their brewing plans on the confident prediction that lager would have over 90 per cent of the market by the nineties, giant plants like Luton came, and went, as a result. More recently of course the nitro-keg flood was predicted to surely wash cask ale into history. It has been a tough battle but all the signs are that nitro-keg peaked during 1997. It may have taken some ground but cask still has enough territory to survive.

Stephen Oliver, Marston's brewing and trading director, believes that this year will see the cask market bottom, ready for a resurgence as "drinkers get tired of cold, bland products. Cask ale has a strong core following and it delivers a more rewarding product. There's certainly no doom and gloom at Marstons."

Adnams, Greene King and Shepherd Neame, executives, also interviewed by What's Brewing, were modestly bullish about cask's future, but all emphasised that cask's selling point must be quality. No lager or nitro product approaches the flavour satisfaction that a real ale in perfect condition provides. But, vice versa, nothing is much worse than bad pint of cask beer. There is still a long way to go in cellar work, training and staff commitment before this message is received. This must be the year to get it right. The article on page 10 may point a way.

BREWING UP Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

We mentioned in the last Hop Press that the Hampshire brewery had moved to Romsey. The brewery lost no time in producing new products. First came the launch of a new beer to celebrate the move. The 4.8% Pride of Romsey made its first appearance at the 1997 Eastleigh Beer Festival as an unnamed test brew and was enthusiastically received. A competition to provide a name, held at the festival, produced several hundred responses, mostly following the royal and Arthurian themes of the brewery's other beers but the brewery felt that the name had to celebrate their new home and so came up with "Pride" themselves.

More good news followed as the brewery won the contract to brew the bottle conditioned version of Norman's Conquest, a dark, strong (7%, original gravity 1066...) beer brewed in cask form by the Cottage Brewery in Somerset. In 1995 the draught beer was voted the Champion Beer of Britain at CAMRA's annual Great British Beer Festival. Until now the bottled version had been brewed at the Thomas Hardy Brewery (formally Eldridge Pope) in Dorchester. Hampshire are contracted to brew 20,000 cases of the beer each year, although it is hoped that this number will grow in the future. It is available in Tesco stores and many other outlets.

More new beers are being produced in Alresford. The Itchen Valley Brewcry has two new beers, Fagin's, with an abv of 4.1% and Judge Jeffreys at 4.5%. They are also joining the trend to producing seasonal beers, Father Christmas, Red Roses for St. Valentine's Day and now for the Spring, at 3.9%, Easter Bunnies. Bunny's would seem more felicitous.

Not all news is wholely good. After Gibbs Mew in Salisbury stopped brewing at the turn of the year (the beers are now being contract brewed by Ushers in Trowbridge and Hall and Woodhouse in Blandford) they have now sold their pubs to the Midlands based Enterprise Inns pub chain. How much longer we will be able to see beers with the Gibbs name in any local pub is anyone's guess

But now another new brewery! This time in the middle of the New Forest. Wadworths, the famous Devizes brewery, who own the Red Shoot Inn at Linwood, have built a £50,000 two-barrel micro-brewery in the pub. Last year they bought a pub in Gloucestershire (the Farmers Arms at Apperley) which had an established micro, when Wadworths realised how successful this operation was they finally agreed with the Red Shoot's landlord, Paul Adams, who had previously been canvassing the idea for some time. The first brew, a 3.8% "session beer" to be called Forest Gold, is due to be launched on April 29th. The beer is intended just for the Red Shoot. Later, Paul sees himself brewing more speciality beers and maybe some small run beers for Devises. The plant has been installed into existing buildings at the pub, New Forest planners rejected the application for a purpose made building

CASK MARQUE Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

A number of independent brewers, alarmed at the amount of poor quality cask beer that many pubs still offer, have joined together to promote a beer quality initiative.

They considered a single question: How can the decline in real ale be stopped? The answer was unanimous and succinct: Improve the quality at the point of dispense. Interestingly, and perhaps a cynic might say inevitably, there was no suggestion that quality at the brewery gate needed any attention.

The four breweries involved were Adnams, Greene King, Marstons and Morlands – all companies with powerful real ale traditions and portfolios. A working party first set out to consider the reasons for the recent decline in real ale sales and to suggest steps to reverse it. The first action was to conduct a survey of the beer actually being offered to customers in the nation's pubs.

More than a thousand pubs, spread over all parts of the country, were visited by trained tasters. The results make interesting and depressing reading:

• In 23%, almost a quarter, of the pubs the inspector would not want to order a second pint.
• Of these outlets over a half had a large number of hand-pumps, there was a marked fall in quality in houses with more than four pumps.
• A fifth of all outlets tested had beers at poor temperatures – both too hot and too cold.
• Free houses were marginally worse than tied ones and, geographically, the South and South West the areas with most bad beer.
• Poor beer showed no preference for any particular pub style, it was as prevalent in the corner locals, the big food houses and the "superpubs."

These disturbing results persuaded the group that action was essential, not only to improve the quality of beer as it is served but also to provide the customer with some assurance of that quality. This has become the Cask Marque scheme.

The intention is that the Cask Marque becomes a nationally recognised award for licensees whose beers reach high standards of quality. Landlords will be required to apply for accreditation, which will not be actioned until assessors have made unannounced visits to the pub. At least two visits per year will be made. The award will be to the licensee personally but in his specific outlet, moving to another pub will mean re-inspection.

A pilot has started and will run through the first half of 1998. It includes the four founder member breweries as well as Carlsberg-Tetley, Fullers, Jennings, Mansfield, McMullens and Vaux. Four of the large pub chains – Allied-Domeq, Enterprise Inns, Regent Inns and Wetherspoons – have also been invited to participate. Upwards of a thousand initial applications are hoped for and the first awards should be arriving in the pubs at this very moment.

Once the pilot scheme has been assessed, later in the year, it is planned to open it up to the entire industry, both brewers and retailers.

Of course the scheme will cost quite a lot of money to administer if it is to run efficiently and to gain wide acceptance (the survey alone cost £30,000). The standing network of inspectors – mostly ex-brewery workers and quality control staff – will need to be pretty numerous if the level of inspections is to be anything like adequate. The funding is intended to be shared between the brewers and the licensees.

This may be the plan's Achilles' heel. There will inevitably be two problems.

Firstly, the awards will not be given to the best quality pubs selected from the whole population of pubs, only to those willing to pay a (quite substantial) fee. Pubs that are noted now for their quality ale may see no point in paying to join something that only tells their customers what they already know. In this scenario only the "second division" pubs will bother to pay in the hope of "promotion" – the end result could be the bizarre situation whereby the Marque identifies just the middling, average pubs, leaving aside the really awful and the really superb!

Secondly, the public will always have a lingering suspicion of any accolade that requires payment before its award. We see this in the public's trust (or otherwise) of some of the numerous pay-to-enter pub and food guides.

There has, of course, been an established quality mark system in use for twenty-five years –the Campaign for Real Ale's Good Beer Guide window sticker – which is shown by about five thousand pubs each year. This costs the trade nothing whatsoever. Also it goes without saying that it is awarded by a body that has no ties to any particular part of the licensed trade.

Cask Marque has set itself up as a separate body, a company limited by guarantee. It is headed by Paul Nunney who was formerly the trading director at Adnams. Paul is naturally very enthusiastic about his "baby," emphasising that only a nationally recognised scheme can hope to capture the customers' confidence. We agree (after all we have our own as already mentioned) but we see that there are a lot of un-answered questions:

• What sort of promotion will the scheme get? To get wide acceptance in a reasonable time will require massive mass media publicity, can it be afforded?
• What criteria are the testers going to use? If they are predominantly ex-brewery personnel will they insist on an acceptable beer having a fashionable, creamy, tight head from a swan-neck dispenser?
• As well as just tasting a couple of pints will there be any effort to assess the licensee's skill and commitment?
• Will the cellar and its practices be looked at? If a test pint tastes fine but there is a filtering back funnel on the shelf in the cellar, what will be the result of that inspection?
• How much pressure will there be in a borderline case from the knowledge that awarding a plaque brings in £140?

We wish the scheme well and will watch it with great interest (and not a little hope). We all know how much quality matters and that it has to improve. Please let us know of any plaques that are spotted!

EDITOR'S POSTBAG Hop Press index

The Editorial in the last issue reflected on the effects that the rash of new pub openings would have on the street-corner locals, a Southampton reader comments:
 

Sir,

I agree with your comments in the September Hop Press regarding the possibility of megapubs killing off the smaller locals. You cite Wetherspoon as an example and while I have no particular allegiance to them, I do find much in their favour.

I remember their beginnings in London at a time when many existing pubs were either themed, noisy and expensive or untouched, filthy and expensive! Prices rose almost every other month to extortionate amounts for an often badly kept product.

Along came Wetherspoon with a (then) unheard of attitude towards customers – they gave us what we wanted a comfortable bar, good quality beer and food at very reasonable prices, no deafening music, no arguments over the pool table and a television-free zone. A place to sit and enjoy the finer points of life for a couple of hours and go home relaxed.

Whist it is true to say such pubs may be drawing people away from other places, the fault is largely with them – or rather the companies that run them. Many of these pubs belong to the large brewers or chains who must have equal or better resources to match the quality, price, service and environment offered by Wetherspoon. If they choose not

Although I enjoy Wetherspoons there are several places around the town that I visit more regularly. Each has its own attraction, be it friendliness, company, decor or above all, good beer. However, I will not use a pub merely to keep it open and increase competition, it is up to them to be inviting and make my visit worthwhile.

Fashions change, and although I will probably never visit many of the new Southampton drinkeries, lots will – for a while, until the next one opens! Already the Square Balloon is feeling the pinch and requesting later opening hours Most of these places rely on just three busy nights each week to be profitable and as the competition increases, some will inevitably fold, but those places who cater for a localised trade on a regular basis will survive if they continue to look after their customers. Again it is all down to service, choice and quality. The new megapubs are an alternative – not a substitute.

The fact that I can get a pint of Directors at the Standing Order for £1.40 does not deter me from paying 40p/50p more for a similar beer at my local(s).

Dave Marden
Midanbury

Regular readers will know that we do not take too kindly to practices such as those at Luminar Leisure's Barringtons pub in Winchester where the company go out of their way to promote a fiction that the pub is owned by a so-called (non-existent for most of this century) "Chelsea Brewery." We asked the Hampshire Trading Standards Department to take action but this was the somewhat disappointing response:
 

Sir

On further examination of the facts and discussions with management at the public house and Bedfordshire [Luminar is based in Luton – Ed] Trading Standards I can make the following comments:

a) The issue of bar staff stating that beer has been brewed by the Chelsea Brewery has been raised with house management to ensure that staff are aware of the implications of giving a false indication as to the place of manufacture and person by whom manufactured.

b) In respect of signage and decor and the allegation that the use of the Chelsea Brewery name is intended to deceive the public, it is the opinion of this Service that the nature of your complaint does not fall within the remit of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968. As such, no further action can be taken by this Service under the above mentioned Act in this instance

P D White
Trading Standards Officer
 

It would seem that the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 could do with some revision, its teeth seem somewhat blunt.

PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

The drinkers of Winchester are witnessing big changes, with new pubs opening, changes of licensee and transfers of ownership. Allied-Domeq's Fugue and Firkin, in the High Street, opened in October. It is one of the larger pubs in the chain and its live music and big screen television contrasts greatly with another newcomer, the much more peaceful Wetherspoon's house, the Old Gaol House, just around the corner in Jewry Street. (Or Jewellery Street as an advertisement for the Fugue and Firkin called it.) A couple of doors away, also in Jewry Street, the wine bar Muswells now boasts a "wide selection of real ales" we have not yet been in to see how wide.

Winchester is still waiting for the opening, in The Square, of the much delayed Slug and Lettuce. The listed building appears to be being rebuilt from the ground up and still looks to be many weeks away from completion. There should be some pretty high-class workmanship – recently one of the builders' jackets, reputedly worth £250 and containing £400 in readies, was stolen from the premises. Staying in The Square, the new landlady of the Old Market Inn is ex-air stewardess Eleanor Appleton.

There are also new licensees at Marston's King Alfred in Saxon Road, by the ruined Hyde Abbey that somewhere holds the King's remains. Gary Swan and Janet Graham are now running the pub, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this year. Gary was previously the licensee of the Litten Tree in Eastleigh.

An even more elderly city pub has changed hands. Gales have purchased the Wykeham Arms from Eldridge Pope. A price of about £1million has been rumoured. Gale's managing director, Nigel Atkinson, lives close to the pub and hopes that former licensee Graeme Jameson will continue to have a consulting role in its running. The pub is listed in CAMRA's Good Beer Guide and in almost every other pub and food guide going.

The Eagle Hotel, at the bottom of Station Hill, has closed. The owner, Gordon Holland, is activating a long-held planning permission to develop the site for residential use. Currently the car park is being excavated by Winchester's archaeology department – it was a Roman cemetery. Another closure, some months ago, was Marston's White Horse in St. Cross. A pub for 150 years it is now a sorry sight, boarded-up awaiting conversion into a private house. Of course the main closure by Marstons was their Hyde Street depot – the last tangible sign of brewing in Winchester. Demolition makes way for a large housing development which will take in the whole Hyde Street/North Walls block including the bowling green, social club and motor repair shop. Only the listed brewery counting house, next to the White Swan, will remain. On the Romsey Road hill, Wadworth's St. James Tavern has a new landlord, Tim Hore. Previously he ran Oxford's well known Good Beer Guide pub, the Folly Bridge Inn.

Eastleigh has another new pub, Porter Blacks in the High Street. The Irish theme pub run by Lionheart Inns opened in December. Draught Bass and Theakston's Best Bitter were available when we last visited, but only after we explained to the barmaid how to operate the hand pump. Although this is an improvement on opening night when there was no cask beer at all! Lionheart are believed to be disappointed with the trading levels so far. Hardly news worth reporting but yet another name has been has appeared on Eastleigh's purple eyesore, the Indigo Rooms are now Charlie Parkers and due to reopen as Eastleigh's very own lap-dancing club! After all the name changes: Crown, Golden Eagle, Royal Mail, Felix Park, Indigo Rooms and now Charlie Parkers (I may have missed some) we have come full circle. As the Crown, in the seventies, the pub earned great notoriety when it introduced lunchtime striptease shows, plus ça change... In the south of the borough, at Netley, the Grange is now the Mill House Bar and Family Restaurant. The new managers are Nik and Lynne Shore.

Two other Eastleigh pubs have changed hands in a recent deal transferring them from Whitbread to Ushers: the Clock at Bishopstoke and the Golden Hind in Twyford Road. The latter in particular is looking pretty seriously run-down, currently emulating the famous Fawlty Towers diminishing nameplate, this week's version manages just: •E G•LD•N HIzD

Pub closures continue in the Test Valley. The latest casualty is the 17th century Andover Arms in King's Somborne, which closed in September. It has suffered periods of closure and changes of ownership in recent years but this one is final, its fate is to be converted into a private dwelling. There is no further news to report regarding the contentious future of the long-closed Red Lion at West Dean but the planners are still discussing it.

Two nearby pubs have had changes of licensee. Michael and Vanessa Harding have retired from the Boot at Houghton. The new manager of this free house is Roy Gumbrell, who was previously at the Greyhound in Stockbridge. Another Greyhound, at Broughton, also has new licensees, Max and Lynne Dawson. They replace long standing tenants Jack and Agnes Orrell. We wish them well in their retirement in Fair Oak. In the very far west, the Cartwheel at Whitsbury, has been sold. The new owners are Patrick and Laura Lewis who have been in the Trade in London for the past ten years; we imagine they will find Whitsbury a little more relaxing! The good range of ales is expected to continue.

Moving towards Romsey, Eldridge Pope are now the owners of the Duke's Head at Greatbridge. Permission has been granted for an extension to provide more kitchen space. In the town itself there are plans for alterations at the Old Horse and Jockey and for a small additional seating area at the Tudor Rose. An extension to the dining area of the Sun Inn has been completed and the rest of the pub has been refurbished.

We mentioned in the last Hop Press that Judge's Club House Bar had been opened in Latimer Street, Romsey by Hampshire batsman Robin Smith. Now Robin's brother Chris has returned from his job as chief executive of the Western Australia Cricket Association to oversee the launch of a chain of "Club House Bars." No news as yet where the next one will be.

We are sorry to record that the man who created the Peg and Parrot in Totton 12 years ago has died. Brian Rowland took over a wine bar in Rumbridge Street and gave it a nautical theme. Brian, a former chef on both the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, died after a long illness. He is survived by his wife Joyce and two sons.

The Village Bells at Eling has reopened following a major refit. There are real ales on offer from the Scottish Courage stable, plus Ringwood Best. An application was submitted to construct a car park for the pub, but it has been refused. Changes are in the offing at the Holbury in Long Lane. Planners have given permission for the addition of a restaurant, despite health and safety worries. Planners were concerned that the restaurant would attract customers from outside the area who would add to congestion in the case of an accident at Fawley refinery. In the village of Fawley itself, permission has been granted for alterations and extensions at the Falcon Hotel. Extensions have also gained approval at the Sir John Barleycorn in Cadnam and at the White Horse in Netley Marsh.

David Mills, who for 18 years was the landlord of the Trusty Servant at Minstead, has died after being taken ill on holiday in Austria. He retired from running the pub five years ago. We send our condolences to his family.

The Filly Inn at Setley has won approval for a car park, a beer garden with play equipment and a poultry house! In Lyndhurst, an application has been submitted for an outdoor eating and drinking area adjacent to the Stag Hotel in the High Street. Jack and Eileen Mountain are the new licensees of the Hare and Hounds at Sway. There are also new licensees at the East End Arms near Lymington, Paul and Jennie Sykes are keen to retain the best aspects of the pub, very much as before. Ringwood beers will be regulars and guest beers will be on offer in the busier months. Permission has been granted for an extension for improved toilet and storage facilities and an extension to the licensee's accommodation.

In Lymington permission has been granted to convert the Captains Inn into three flats, with four additional dwellings on adjacent land. An application to convert the first floor of the White Lyon in the High Street into self contained flats was refused, but a resubmission succeeded and it now looks as if it will become a restaurant and fiats. An application has also been made for alterations to the nearby Blue Pig (the former Angel Tap Bar). Will it be a different colour? One idea that might catch on in other pubs, we hope, is the introduction of tines for the use of a mobile phone. At Harpers Bar, in Lymington, which has had a good selection of guest beers recently, customers are fined SOp by manager Frank Hardman if their mobile phone goes off. £200 has already been raised for the RNLI.

Permission for replacing the Speckled Trout in New Milton with a surgery and two shops has been granted, despite concerns over traffic problems at the busy junction. Work is already well under way, the pub has already gone. At the other end of the town, revised plans for a new pub in Gore Road have now been approved by the Town Council and are before the District Council. Half a million pounds will be spent on converting a 19th century barn if the go ahead is given. Plans to demolish the Nags Head in Ringwood for housing look likely to go ahead.

Moving to Southampton and starting to the north of the city, an application has been submitted for a substantial extension to the Horns Inn at Nursling. In Lordshill, Mike and Vivien Woodcock have beaten off competition from 1600 other licensees to win the Southern Region "Cellar of the Year" award. The Bricklayers Arms in Wimpson Lane has reopened after refurbishment, as has the Griffin in Shirley. The latter has been renamed the Henry Paget and Ringwood Best is available alongside beers from Scottish Courage. Another name change has occurred in Milton Road, where the Corner Post has reverted to its former guise as the Fitzhugh (as well as being totally rebuilt). In Highfield, Jackie Hahyer and Steve Grimble took over the Crown, in High Crown Street, in August. They previously ran Goodies restaurant in the city. On the other side of the river, in Eastern Southampton (terra incognita to most pub goers) the Merryoak is another Whitbread house bought by Ushers.

The pub music scene has had some changes. A change of licensee has occurred at the Joiners. The tenancy of this renowned music house had been advertised in the New Musical Express. The new licensees are Dave and Sandy Bulpitt who have put in a manager to run the pub on a trial basis whilst they continue to run the Bevois Castle. Dave and Sandy ran the Onslow for six years and built up a reputation for blues; the music in the Joiners will be more varied. They are joined in the venture by Alison Pennicott who previously ran Talking Heads in Portswood. This pub has now been taken under the wing of the management of the nearby Brook, an addition to the already acquired Platform Tavern. Another pub that promises more music is the Station Hotel in Bitterne, this pub was recently taken over by Roz and Simon Crook.

The Tut'n'Shlve, formerly Parkers, in Terminus Terrace is now a Morlands house. One pub that has closed is the Spring Inn in Sholing. It has been sold to developers for housing, having previously been offered for sale as a pub but without success.

Turning from closures to openings in the city, the Quayside has opened in West Quay Road. Part of the Tom Cobleigh chain, the large pub is next to Leisureworld but is a separate building. Unlike the bars in the main complex, the pub offers a range of real ales. Also open is the Above Bar, the new Whitbread Hogshead in the former Clarkes shoe shop. There are bars on both the ground and first floors and the pub is less designer spit and sawdust than some of the others in the chain. Above Bar may also get a Yates Wine Lodge at the former Miss Selfrige store, if a licence is granted.

Plans by the Wychwood Brewery to open a Hobgoblin pub in the former Transport and General Workers offices in London Road were withdrawn before going before the licensing magistrates. The Bruinns Beer Kellar a little further down London Road opened in February, expect nothing very German except the prices, a colleague is still recovering from having to part with three brass sovereigns for a single bottle. Wyntons furniture shop opposite is being converted into the city's second Wetherspoon outlet. This will be named the Giddy Bridge for reasons that seem too obscure to go into.

The second floor of the Goose and Granite is to become one of Bass's Edwards chain of "young persons' venues" – if the licensing magistrates approve. A potentially massive new outlet is proposed by Luminar Leisure, owners of Barnngtons in Winchester. They propose to convert the Hypervalue store to the rear of Marks and Spencer into the Chicago Rock Cafe. If it comes about it will be interesting to see what imaginative "Chelsea Brewery" style "ownership" will be claimed for this one.

Moving back to the High Street, the Burton store by the Bargate is now closed and the first floor is set to become Jongleurs. A little further down, by the Job Centre, there are numerous applications to turn many of the premises, on both sides of the road, into pubs and restaurants. One artist's impression shows a pub by the name of the Bugle.

In Oxford Street, the lower ground floor area of the Pinocchio restaurant may become a Wine and Bier Kellar and an application to convert the closed premises opposite O'Neills into a pub has been re-submitted. At Ocean Village, the new Cork and Bottle has been sold to Surrey Free Inns (themselves now trendily renamed in just capitals as the SF1 Group), they purchased the company that owned the pub for £l.46million.

The final application that has come to our notice is to convert Canute Chambers, next to the Cork and Bottle, into yet another pub. Part of the building was previously the Danish Vice-Consulate. Perhaps this will make it easier for Stig, Danish owner of Bunces Brewery, to get his beers into a new pub! But not, if, as rumoured, the application is from Marstons – they still continue to buck the tide and turn their face almost entirely against any infiltration of "guest beers" into their estate.

NOT THE FULL MONTY Hop Press index

Hampshire Trading Standards have found that two thirds of all "pints" served in local pubs fail to give a full pint of liquid. Visiting Hampshire pubs in a recent survey 146 out of 218 supposed pints were nothing of the sort, with some up to ten per cent short. More than half were below the brewer's own stated, informal guideline of 95% liquid.

Although customers can usually get a top-up on request, this is often difficult in a crowded pub. The recent imposition of tight sparklers in many pubs and the spread of the "smooth" nitro-kegs exacerbates the problem as it can take minutes of settling before a short measure becomes apparent.

At present the law is so poorly worded that prosecution of deliberate cheating is very difficult. MP Dennis Turner's private member's bill, to ensure a full pint of liquid is served, has had its second reading and has been through committee. The bill has the support of consumer affairs minister Nigel Griffiths, who has hinted that a full pint law is likely, even if this bill is talked out.

The only certain way to ensure a full pint is the lined glass. Amongst others these glasses are currently used locally at the Foresters in Bishopstoke, at the Bevois Castle in Southampton and at our two Wetherspoon pubs (Standing Order in Southampton and Old Gaol House in Winchester)

Curious footnote: in a recent survey of 800 pub users, 71% agreed strongly that: "When ordering a pint of beer, you should receive a full pint of liquid." 24% were indifferent but, astoundingly, 5% disagreed!

Hop Press issue number 45 – April 1998

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
Eastleigh
Hants.
SO50 4HY
01703 642246
hop-press@shantscamra.org.uk

© CAMRA Ltd. 1998

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