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Issue 61 – December 2006

 

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Contents

 
EDITORIAL Hop Press index

The last issue, in early May, signalled our alarm and despondency at the sudden demise of the Cheriton Brewhouse. Now, barely half a year on, the picture is vastly improved with the strong possibility of that rarest of outcomes — everyone ending up as a winner.

When the original partnership at Cheriton came to grief, Paul Tickner the Flower Pots’ licensee, was tempted to relegate ideas of re-starting brewing and to just concentrate on running the pub. But fortunately for everyone, he concluded that the brewery was such an asset it could not be left idle, and, as he knew someone with a background in biochemistry who wanted to go into brewing the scene was set for a phoenix like renaissance.

The new brewer is Iain McIntosh who had been working in local government but is now free to pursue his true interest. First brews appeared in the summer, just in time to catch the Flower Pots’ enormous Bank Holiday beer festival and the home grown beers have now regained their places behind the pub’s bar.

The first beers were Flower Pots Ale, 3.8% session bitter and Goodens Gold, 4.8% premium bitter. Initially, the beers had a distinctly sweeter palate than those of the old Cheriton Brewhouse, this was due to the different yeast strain needing more oxygenation during the ferment — a simple fix.

To this sampler’s taste the brews are now excellent. As readers can now also find out without having to travel to Cheriton since a free trade distribution is being rapidly reestablished. November marked the addition of a third beer, the welcome return of an elder flower brew, Flower Pots Elderflower Ale, 3.8%. The first brew was slightly hoppier than the Village Elder from the previous brewery and undoubtedly there will be slight tweaking from Iain but this one is also sure to be a firm favourite in the portfolio. Other occasional beers will follow — one that Paul would like to try would be a bit specialised, a high gravity ruby mild — but already this particular phoenix has fledged and left its nest.

One problem that the new venture had to overcome was tracking down the stock of casks, a logistical headache for all brewers. There are still quite a number missing, whereabouts unknown, and readers may be able to help. If anyone knows of a cobweb encrusted Cheriton cask lying abandoned, please let the brewer know (01962 771166).

In the mean time another bird is about to hatch out as the other two original partners are busy building their own brewery at a site near Droxford, page 9 has some details of their progress.


On Friday, November 17th, the final documents were signed to complete the sale of one of our popular local Good Beer Guide pubs, the Oak at Bank, near Lyndhurst. This hardly seems an issue worthy of the second lead in this issue’s Editorial, but it undoubtedly is. For the purchasers were Fuller, Smith and Turner, brewers, of Chiswick in West London.

This was but one more example of a trend that has been under way and accelerating for some time; our regional brewers are assiduously picking off one-by-one the very limited, and un-replaceable, stock of free houses in our area. In recent years the main players in Hampshire have been Wadworth and Hall and Woodhouse (‘Badger’), now the even more powerful London brewer has joined in. Perhaps their take over of Gales at the turn of the year has stirred a long dormant empirebuilding tendency in the property department.

We can conceive of nothing that we can do to halt the process but from the beer-drinking public’s point of view it represents a creeping disaster. Not because there is anything intrinsically bad with these regional brewers, they make fine beer, support cask ale, run splendid pubs but the sparse supply of free houses are essential to the survival of the small and micro brewing sector.

Only legislation that reinstates the ‘guest beer law’ and in a stronger form, can save the day. CAMRA, along with SIBA (the Small Independent Brewers Association) have been lobbying Parliament on this for a long time but so far the legislators have failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation. Europe could be a last lifeline — by effectively denying small brewers a market the regionals are operating a policy that is a ‘constraint of trade,’ something that the Treaty of Rome forbids. Of course the European legal authorities are not famous as swift movers, so breath holding is not recommended!


Just half a year to go — we now have a date, July 1st — for the implementation of the ban on smoking in all public enclosed spaces. Yet many smokers seem to be in a state of denial, thinking in some confused way that it will not actually come to pass, but it will.

Talking recently to a number of members in a working men’s club (with a much higher than average complement of smokers) the almost universal sentiment was ‘Oh well, it won’t affect us, we can just ignore it and nobody will notice,’ some hopes!

However, from a CAMRA viewpoint and especially in this part of the country the real worry is further losses of pubs to the voracious property market. Greene King have just announced that they will be selling about 150 of their pubs (nationwide, 6% of their 2600 pub estate) which they describe as ‘wet-led, small freehold properties with development potential’ and ‘likely to face difficulties‘ in coping with the ban. These are almost certainly the classic little street-corner style pubs that so many of us appreciate. And in Hampshire they will certainly be priced out of reach of any commercial purchaser, and will go for private housing,.

The planning application lists are also just starting to show the impact of the impending new law, applications for outside decking areas and canopies have appeared in the last few weeks and this trickle will presumably soon turn into a torrent.


Derek Markell

Unhappily, this Editorial has to finish on a very sad note. We have to report the recent death of one of the branch’s longest standing members, Derek Markell, at his Freemantle home on October 8th. Derek was seventy. He will be remembered by many readers as an archetypical irascible, bearded, pipe-smoking, sandal-wearing, old style CAMRA member, always to be found on duty at the door of any of our beer festivals. Derek was buried in the New Forest at the Hinton Woodland Burial Centre, most appropriately a modest sample of real ale accompanied the interment and somewhat larger amounts were used at the subsequent wake. Derek is survived by his two daughters and wife Lynn to whom we extend our thoughts.

 

WALKING & DRINKING (4) Hop Press index

Ray Massey

This Autumn I would like to suggest a walk for drinkers based on Copythorne Common. Copythorne is a small hamlet on the south side of the A3090 (formerly the A31) about 2 kilometres northeast of Cadnam. Why Copythorne, when the delights of the New Forest are close at hand? Well it is a nice walk, through pleasant empty countryside (apart from the motorway), it is very dry underfoot, you can get there by public transport and it passes two pubs that are new entries in the Good Beer Guide 2007. What more could one ask?

The public transport in question is the 31 bus from Southampton to Cadnam, which leaves West Quay hourly from 0820 to 1820 Monday to Saturday. Alight at the far end of Pollards Moor Road, at the junction with Romsey Road (A3090) [1 on the map below].

Retrace your route about 200 metres, and turn left up Vicarage Lane, past a footpath sign (FPS), along a good gravel track. Go past Dell Cottage, through a farm gate, past a sign to Scammels Farm, and past the farm itself. When the track turns sharp right, go straight on along a well surfaced footpath [2], climbing gently. Soon you reach the corner of Copythorne Churchyard, with the church away on the left. Continue on the path past the churchyard to two more FPSs [3]. The long walk turns left here, see later. The short walk continues straight on along the right hand edge of the field to a stile. Cross the stile and turn half right uphill along the right hand edge of a field, going away from the school on the left. At the far corner of this field cross another stile into Pound Lane [4].

You may wish to take a momentary diversion here, by turning right. The OS 1:25,000 map shows a Roman Road crossing the field on your left. There may be a slight raise in the hedge on the far side of the field, but you certainly wouldn’t notice it without a map to suggest it.

However, what you really want to do at the stile [4] is to turn left, slightly uphill, along Pound Lane for 200 metres. Then turn right into Copythorne Crescent, a gravel road with houses on the right hand side. Keep bearing left, especially at a fork where a track branches off right. Soon the line of houses ends with a larger building, you reach the main Romsey Road, and the building on your right is seen to be the Empress of Blandings (Badger Beers, open all day, food all day, large car park).

The second part of this walk is very straightforward. Leave the Empress, and turn right into Barrow Hill Road — a quiet road with houses on the right and a wooded part of Copythorne Common on the left. Although the road has no footpath, it is reasonably wide with verges, and the visibility is good. After about 600 metres the road bends very sharply right [5]. Continue uphill; when the road then bends left, the houses end and there are now fields on the right. The route of the Roman Road is in the first field, but I could see no sign of it. Continue to the junction with Winsor Road, and straight ahead of you is the Compass Inn (Ringwood Best, Fullers London Pride, HSB and Greene King Abbot Ale; open all day, food available daily and with a small car park).

Most conveniently the 31 bus back to Southampton stops outside the pub, hourly from 0907 to 1807 Monday to Saturday.

Walking & Drinking 4 - map

If you want to take the longer walk, which makes a complete circuit of the northern part of the common, here are the details: Turn left at the two FPSs [3] along the left edge of a field, aiming for a newish wooden gate by a building. Go past the scout building and through 2 gates to reach the A3090, to be deafened by the motorway noise. Turn right along Romsey Road, past Copythorne Infants School to the school car park. Opposite the middle of the car park turn left across a single track bridge over the motorway.

Immediately after the bridge [6] turn left past a FPS, along a neat tarmac track. After 200 metres, just before a house, turn right over a stile into pleasant open conifer plantation, and climb gently with a wooden fence on your left. At the top of the rise turn slightly left (ignoring a tempting grassy ride that follows the property boundary) and continue for 200 metres through open woodland to a straight gravel track crossing your route. Look for the FPSs by a metal gate at the highest point on the gravel track [7]. (I think that this is the route of a very old road from Cadnam to Romsey via Paultons Park.) Go over the stile by the gate and along a pleasant grassy path through private woodland. The path ends at the corner of a large field. Go over a stile onto a well marked path edged by fences, under a line of mature oaks and then Scots pines. The path continues downhill to end with some steps leading down to Newbridge Road [8].

Turn right towards Newbridge, past a telephone box. When the road bends left continue straight ahead along the no-through road to the quiet Edwardian hamlet of Newbridge. When the road bends left and becomes private [9] follow a FPS half right along a track between hedges. After 150 metres cross a stile into an avenue of small trees, and then rhododendron bushes. Ignore a left fork just before the next stile. The track gradually reduces to a small but still well defined path, then grows to a track again as you approach Lyndhurst Lodge on the left [10].

Cross the gravelled track (the old Paultons Park road again) and enter coniferous woodland (Copythorne Common) past a Hamp7 shire Wildlife Trust sign. Continue straight ahead along a pleasant grassy avenue for about 500 metres. Just as you begin to see and hear the motorway traffic again look out for a FPS directing you right [11] across an open space. The path runs along a very small embankment, under some local power lines, and continues straight on to meet the motorway fence [12]. Bear right with the fence and follow it back to the motorway bridge [6].

Cross the bridge to the far side of the Romsey Road (A3090), and turn left beside it. Walk past Copythorne Garage, and at Pound Lane either continue along Romsey Road for another 200 metres to the pub, or for a more peaceful short detour go down Pound Lane about 150 metres, and turn left into Copythorne crescent to join the short walk.

Note on maps: I definitely recommend the OS 1:25,000 maps for walking. Most good stationers carry a limited supply, Sussex Stationers seem a pound or so cheaper than others. Gorman’s Map Centre in Freemantle near the Shirley Road / Payne's Road junction is an OS agent that carries a very good supply (not far from the Waterloo Arms either). The number of the New Forest Sheet is Explorer OL22.

Note on seasons: The woodland of Copythorne Common is mainly coniferous so doesn’t change much seasonally. The Common is good for fungi, and early autumn is best for those. I saw my first goldcrest on the common, and that was probably in the spring. Personally I would like to try the walk after a hard frost or with a sprinkling of snow on the ground.

Note on times: The short walks from the bus stop to the Empress, and from the Empress to the Compass are both about 1.6 km, about 20-30 minutes for each part. The loop through Copythorne Common adds about 4 km, which would take a full hour more.

COMMUNITY, THE FABRIC OF A NATION Hop Press index

Mancunian realism in the Rover’s Return, an East End cultural kaleidoscope in the Queen Vic, true Yorkshire grit in evidence at the Woolpack and even the fey agricultural fantasies at the Bull all have one common thread. These nationally treasured (or loathed?!) pubs, centre pieces in their respective soaps, are all depicted as traditional community locals — none has even a whiff of being a ‘circuit pub, all have completely mixed clienteles, identifiable licensees and act as the focal points to all the sundry activities of their fictional communities.

Sadly ‘fictional’ is fast becoming the key word since in real life such essentials of community life are disappearing fast. One such pub is closing, for ever, every day and this rate is accelerating. For hundreds of years community pubs have proved their worth as hubs of their surrounding localities and, if gone, can never be re-created.

Saving community pubs will become a key element in CAMRA’s national campaigning, starting with ‘Community Pubs Week’ in February.

In our early days CAMRA’s fear was the disappearance of traditional, living beer. In the thirty or more years since, it has gradually become clear that, in reality, this threat is just a part of the real battle — to save the pub. A brewery can be switched back to producing real ale at the stroke of a marketing man’s pen but real pubs require generations of use to grow organically. Yet, just the glint in a property developer’s eye is enough to lose one. For ever.

 

BOWMAN ALE Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

Wallops Wood sounds a pretty good place to find some beer and so it is likely to prove in the coming months.

On the ordnance map it appears as a potentially tranquil green dell above the Eastern side of the Meon Valley. However, on approach, it might more likely be taken as a major production plant As, truly, it once was, a huge egg factory, happily now disused as battery hens are being freed from their lives of slavery, and it is being converted into a myriad small business ventures, one of which is a new 25 barrel brewery.

When the Cheriton Brewhouse partnership broke up earlier this year, it looked as if we might lose some of our favourite beers, from a splendid brewery, for ever. As we are pleased to report in this issue’s Editorial, brewing is underway again at the Flower Pots and the former brewers, Martin Roberts and Ray Page are now establishing their own totally new brewery at this John Parker Farm’s former poultry unit.

The site is a little over a mile South-east of Droxford, just off of the B2150 Hambledon road (map reference 630180 for the anoraks); only two miles for a healthy crow from Stumpy’s brewery, which of course also replaced some pensioned off hens.

First conditioning tank in placeAt our visit in mid-November conversion work had been in hand for about a month and the site was a hive of activity — the roomy building was fully insulated and lined out and most of the major stainless steel vessels (all newly fabricated) were in place. Services were being put in and secondary walling was being installed to form the cold store, conditioning room, cask wash and storage, hop and malt stores, office etc., etc. At the rate of progress so far the first trial brews should be possible before Christmas week

Martin and Ray emphasised that they will not be rushed into marketing beer too early, if necessary a number of brews will be made and destroyed until they are entirely satisfied with taste and quality. Three beers are in line for the first offerings — a 3.8% session bitter, provisionally named Swift One; a best bitter, Wallops Ale, in the 4.0-4.5% range and a powerful 5% beer to be called Quiver.

When ready to their satisfaction, the first brews from Bowman Ales as the brewery will be known, will appear at the Hampshire Bowman at Dundridge and then follow in free houses (if the predatory bigger brewers have left any!).

 

GOODBYE TO THE CROWN Hop Press index

Calm down hopeful republicans out there, it is not the start of your long hoped for revolution!

More than three hundred years of history has come to an end without ceremony or pomp. The official crown ‘Government Stamp’ on pub glasses will be replaced from now on by the ubiquitous European CE mark.

The crown mark was introduced in the seventeenth century by the 1699 Act for Ascertaining the Measures for Retailing Ale and Beer. However the last two major British glass makers closed in 2001 (and here lies another story, how on earth can such a major manufacturing country not be able to profitably make a simple pub beer glass?) and the last stamping office, at Bury in Lancashire, now only approves glasses from small specialised makers.

The big French, Belgian and Czech makers who now produce almost all of our pub glass stock all have self-verification schemes approved by the UK’s National Weights and Measures Laboratory so direct measurements are now no longer conducted.

Old glasses with their regal markings will continue to be legal of course until the last one finally succumbs to the glass washer’s mercies. Without a doubt they will become collectable items as their numbers decrease. Anoraks (none of those in CAMRA surely?) will probably initiate trips to see the last specimens in use, it could be like the end of steam traction all over again...

 

COMPETITION CROSSWORD Hop Press index

QUETZALCOATL   (printable version here 111KB download)

Crossword Grid

Across

All across solutions are a set so are mostly only partially clued.

8.   Wear, Tyne? More on the west coast (8)

9.   Welsh in cut-throat horror (5)

10. Middle Eastern road ends here (4)

11. Is there a shrine to Satchmo here? (10)

12. Mesh high power and office complaint (6)

14. 442 (8)

15. American returns captured bear (but not dancing!) (7)

17. Able to walk tall in East Midlands (7)

20. Another Athens has been read into this (8)

22. Early street maps with nothing north of the river (6)

23. UK surely? No, nearly a world away! (10)

24. Favourite food, not timid — capital! (4)

25. Rhodes’ dream start for a trip south (5)

26. US energy supplies end here. (8)

Down

1.   Forest liquidation: gets into the papers. (4,4)

2.   Astound without more ado (4)

3.   Support the queen, a creationist (6)

4.   Lewd island woman, topless! Cry panic,run! (7)

5.   ‘Cuff pair at fault (8)

6.   Drunken orgy is a natural state (10)

7.   Fussy, cross Greek pair (6)

13. Enhancing effect of city’s green ways(10)

16. A kind of loathing (7)

18. Travel reporter emoted or showed confusion (8)

19. Left a green salad to grow (7)

21. Butter upon cloth ends mealtime (6)

22. Our Navy is saintly! (6)

24. A herd in relative ecstasy (4)

Prizes to the first two correct entries drawn. Closing date: 1st February 2007.

Send to:

The Editor Hop Press 1 Surbiton Road Eastleigh, Hants. SO50 4HY

May's Solution & Winners

May Crossword Answers
An excellent entry, twenty-five solvers with several new names appearing for the first time and coming from as far afield as Essex.

Winners: J E Green, St Albans; Stephen Harvey, Chandler’s Ford

Other correct solutions were from: Pauline Alderson; K T Bartlett; Jocelyn Britcher; C F Bussell; Kate Chessman; Rich Christie; Nigel Cook; Robin Cork; Ken Crawford; Trevor Crowther; Roy Garraway; Mike Hobbs; Bob Howes; B E Judd; Ash Mather; Al Mountain; Tim Parkinson; Nigel Parsons; Harvey Saunders; John True; D B Wallis; Andrew Withnall; John Yalden

 

ADVERTISING IN HOP PRESS Hop Press index

It is the advertising within Hop Press that enables us to print and distribute it free to some 250-300 local pubs and clubs in the Southern Hampshire area.

The print run is 3000 and these are entirely distributed to establishments in the licensed trade. Taking your message to a very selective audience of pub users.

Edition frequency is two to three per year although we would like to make this strictly quarterly if we could overcome the Editor's lethargy and the contributors' indolence.

Rates are:

Full page: £80 Half page: £50 Rear cover: outside £100, inside £80 Front cover: inside £90 £10 (£5 half page) early payment discount is available.

Sizes (H x W maxima) are:

182mm x 126mm and 90mm x 126mm

In most cases we can generate artwork to suit requirements although a 'cameraready' electronic file is always preferable. From experience, faxes never produce worthwhile artworks, colour photographs can be difficult and half-tone pictures will usually cause 'aliasing' problems . When preparing artwork it is essential to use a high definition – 300dpi or better. Input in a TIFF or a PDF format is usually good.

E-mail: hop-press@shantscamra.org.uk or ring the Editor on: 023 8064 2246

 

CAN CYCLOPS SEE HIS WAY? Hop Press index

Pat O'Neill

The Great British Beer Festival this year, at their new Earls Court venue, saw the launch of a brewing industry initiative that it is hoped will have far reaching and long lasting implications. This was the rather curiously named Cyclops scheme.

Supermarket and off-licence customers have become accustomed to examine labels on their wine bottles and expect to find an easy to understand, more-or-less universal, set of indicators of the wines’ taste, body, dryness/sweetness, flavour elements and so on. Nothing of the sort has existed for beer. Beer is just brown(ish) liquid that, in sufficient quantity, produces inebriation. Even worse, over generations, there has been an attitude from many brewers that, in some way, it was impertinent for customers to even ask about the details of their products! CAMRA’s lengthy battle to get alcohol content displayed was a telling example.

Now, a regional family brewer, Everards of Leicester, have come up with what they hope will become a widely adopted system for the simple description of a beer’s characteristics. The idea came from the brewery’s head of marketing, David Bremner, and is aimed at new, first-time drinkers, who are notoriously wary of the supposed arcane mysteries of cask beer.

The scheme aims to cut through the complexities and to eliminate the more highflown, pretentious language used by some beer writers and brewery PR departments. Seven key one-line descriptors are included. A zero to five scale of hop symbols will show the bitterness and a similar scale of sugar lumps the sweetness. Stylised symbols for an eye, a nose and a pair of lips will precede short descriptions of colour, aroma and taste respectively. Finally, perhaps for the slightly more knowledgeable, the varieties of malt and hops will be listed

Cyclops has met with a great response from the brewing industry and many other independent brewers have recognised the benefits of joining a standardised scheme. In our area companies such as Fullers, Wadworth and Hall and Woodhouse (Badger) have agreed to join in. SIBA, the smaller brewers’ organisation, is enthusiastically promoting the idea and even the giant multinational Scottish and Newcastle have made approving noises and may take it up to help their, rather limited, commitment to cask beer.

CAMRA has, of course, welcomed the idea and we will do what we can to further its aims. It chimes directly with all of our objectives.

Another important , although not immediately obvious, benefit is toward the education of bar staff. Almost everywhere customers are inhibited from enquiring about aspects of the beers on offer by the expected response of “dunno” to any question asked. In any other form of business an intending purchaser expects to be able to ask simple questions about a product, why not in a pub? Cyclops, if it can engage the imagination of pub staff, could be the answer.

An area still needing some work is the presentation of the information. Everards have started with beer mats but they are a bit stark and functional. An opportunity for media creativity to meld the information into, for example, artistic pump clips.

And the choice of name is still a mystery...

 

WHERE DID THEY GO? Hop Press index

1. Mixed drinks. Anyone with a bus pass in their pocket will have been brought up in a pub scene when boilers, black and tans, light splits, platers and many, many more were the common currency of orders across the bar. Now, to ask for one of these would be as likely to be successful as if one had addressed the bar staff in Anglo-Saxon! Why have these drinks, which are all various mixtures of draught and bottled beers, fallen out of fashion?

This question should be recast as ‘why did they come into fashion in the first place?’ The answer is quite sad. An age ago, when all draught beer was real ale a great deal of it was served in very poor condition. Poor cellar hygiene and management and particularly the evil practice of ‘putting back’ were rife. This was so prevalent that the general drinking public came to assume that this was just how draught beer was and to overcome the flatness and to mask the poor flavours it needed a carbonated bottle to perk it up (the same considerations were largely responsible for the rise of keg draught beers).

The, almost, total ascendancy of keg and lager beers (which are essentially just bottled beer in rather large bottles) in the ‘60s and ‘70s more or less put an end to the mixed drink era and the recognition now of cask ale as a high quality product in its own right should prevent any renaissance.

[Historical notes: Black and Tan — bottled Guinness and Bitter, named in the ‘20s after the colours in the uniforms of the brutal British mercenaries recruited to suppress the nationalist Irish. Boiler, or more accurately Boilermaker — bottled Brown Ale and Mild. A number of mixtures have supposedly humorous names like Mother in Law — Old and Bitter or Grandma — Old and Mild. There are many more, some just popular in particular areas or particular brewer’s houses.]

2. Nips (all the other ones). Although not strictly a matter concerned with real ale, part of the vastly varied pub scene in the past was the great number of strong beers in the form of bottled, third pint nips. Usually described as Barley Wines or Strong Ales and with alcohol content of 6% to 9%. Virtually the only survivor, and by no means the best of them, is Gold Label.

[Local note: In Hampshire we have lost some fine little gems. Watneys (really) Stingo and Courage Imperial Russian Stout were two once widely available dark nips. Two paler but beautifully warming beers from Dorset were Devenish’s Crabber’s Nip and Eldridge Pope’s Goldie whilst the Pompey brewed Little Bricky still evokes many fond memories.]

3. Scottie dogs made of Players cigarette packets (!). My up-bringing (in Weymouth) introduced me to pubs in the 1950s and probably more than 50% of the town’s pubs then sported a full size model of a terrier, woven from the fronts of Players packets (the sailor’s head surrounded by a life belt). Whether this was a local thing (from Naval connections?) or national, I do not know.

The real question though is not so much ‘where did they go?’ — with the cardboard packets no longer available, supply of dogs had to dry up. The real question, which has puzzled me for decades, is ‘where did they come from in the first place?’ Follow up questions then include ‘why always Scotties?’ and ‘Who made them? (they were all identical)’ Even Google fails on this one, if anyone out there knows, let us in on it.

 

ETHICALLY DOES IT Hop Press index

CAMRA has been banging on for years about the iniquities of capitalism and how the money-grubbing policies of breweries are usually detrimental to the real interests of the beer drinking public — who are the part of society that we are dedicated to support.

Now we seem to be setting up a plan to defect to the other side, for we are proposing to establish a Venture Capital Trust (VCT) to channel investments into brewing or pub related projects. However, we have not thrown out any of our principles, this VCT, although only investing in projects that make sound business sense, will also only do so in ideas that it finds ethical from the consumer’s viewpoint.

For a number of years CAMRA has had its Investment Club, a cooperative movement of ordinary CAMRA members who contribute small monthly sums towards buying investments in the country’s brewing companies and which operates on the lines of a unit trust. In its initiation the intention was to give us a say at all shareholders meetings. It has been very successful (on the back of the generally bullish performance of the pub/brewing sector of the economy) and its fund now stands at more than £10 million.

The Investment Trust is now in discussions with an investment firm with a view to setting up the separate VCT, also with a £10 million initial kitty. The Investment Trust will contribute a £50,000 seed and will then canvas for individual investments of £1000 plus. Once the details of the scheme are settled they then have to be reviewed by the FSA (Financial Services Authority). The public launch should be next summer.

The ability to arrange ethical investments, although they would be on strictly commercial terms, dovetails with our campaigning aim of also encouraging social ownership or cooperative ownership of pubs to help maintain the free house base and to counter the ever increasing power of the big pub chains.

The Society of Independent Brewers has already welcomed the initiative which will give their members another route to development financing.. Obviously this represents only a very small drop in a pretty large financial ocean but it demonstrates CAMRA’s firm commitment to the industry.

 

IS PRIZE OLD SAFE? Hop Press index

Fullers of Chiswick have taken the last Horndean brewed batch of the wonderful 9% Prize Old Ale up to their West London brewery where it is still quietly maturing prior to being bottled early in the New Year.

Many local CAMRA members have expressed fears that Fullers’ takeover of Gales would be the end for this fine strong, dark beer. To allay these fears the brewers have issued a statement confirming that they will continue to brew the old ale into the future. The one thing not clear is whether any will be bottled in the old style half pint corked bottles or if it will all go into the crown corked nips.

Future brews, however, will not be made in the original Gales fermenter — an 80 year old, copper-lined wooden vessel made from rare New Zealand kauri pine — this has been sold to Ringwood, not to use but to form a major exhibit in a museum of Hampshire brewing that they are setting up in their brewery yard.

 

PUB NEWS Hop Press index

Rob Whatley

The landlord of one of the most popular pubs in Winchester had two reasons to celebrate recently. David Nicholson has obtained planning permission for an outside seating area at the Black Boy on Wharf Hill, which he has run successfully for over ten years. He has also taken over the Kings Arms just across the road in Chesil Street. He plans to concentrate here on food, similar to the present Black Boy’s menu. While designs for the conversion of the new premises are being finalised it is opening from 9.00pm to 1.00am, Tuesday to Saturday, with Taylor’s Landlord on offer for the discerning drinker. When the work is finished the Black Boy will concentrate more on beers although still providing food but to a more limited menu.

Just up the road in Bar End, the Heart in Hand has had a reprieve from the threat of closure. Earlier this year a licence was refused after police raised concerns over crime and disorder. An appeal was lodged by landlady Eileen Osborne and just before the hearing was due to be heard the police dropped their objections. Back in the centre of the City, the Foresters in North Walls closed in mid-August. In February 2003 the pub had a substantial revamp and the licensee responsible for that design, Martin Meijer, has now left the pub. Owners Greene King said that the pub, which is now open again, may become a more food-focussed operation.

One City pub that closed years ago, the Prince of Wales in Hyde Street, attracted the attention of the fire brigade in October after a small fire was spotted in an outbuilding. The pub had been up for sale for a long time. It was one of a number of local pubs that were purchased by the Inntown Pub Company from Eldridge Pope. In 2004 applications were submitted to convert the premises to housing but there has been no sign of action over the last two years.

This summer Eldridge Pope, the owners of the Stanmore Hotel on the City’s Western edge, consulted local residents on a proposal to demolish the pub and replace it with a 65-bed care home. A survey in the Hampshire Chronicle found that two thirds of respondents wanted to retain the pub and it is still open at present. No planning applications have yet materialised. Meanwhile, the future of the former Chimneys pub site is still unresolved as the enquiry into plans to build a supermarket was postponed due to a witness having an emergency operation

With all this talk of closures and long-closed pubs, at least one bar/night-club in Winchester has reopened. The Porthouse reopened on 14 October with a promise of going upmarket after a £½ million refurbishment. Meanwhile, Mix Bar has opened in the increasingly bar oriented Jewry Street. During the day it is offering a selection of teas and ‘health’ juices while at night the emphasis is more on ‘music, beers, cocktails and champagnes.’ Another change of name may be on the cards for a High Street pub. In an interview with the Daily Echo, in September, licensee Colin Clark, said that he had was thinking of changing the name again of the former India Arms (now the Old Coach House) to Alfies. Why oh why?

Moving to the North of the City, there was an impressive reopening for the March Hare in Harestock. To mark the occasion there was a fanfare by buglers from the Light Division, who are based nearby at Littleton. The public bar has doubled in size and the there are new kitchen facilities. And, in the South on the very City limit, there is a new licensee at the Bell in St. Cross. Penny Appel-Billsberry took over on October 4th, for the past three years she had been running the Yew Tree at Lower Wield near Basingstoke. The Bell’s previous landlord had been due to move up to the Fulflood in Cheriton Road but at the last minute decided against, the Fulflood is now under relief management until a new licensee is appointed after Christmas.

Just East of Winchester, the Chestnut Horse at Easton, which is now owned by Dorset brewers Hall and Woodhouse, can now open until midnight and have entertainment inside the pub. This is later than the previous closing time but not as late as the 12.30am that had been applied for, and to which local residents objected. Going North, up the A33, older readers may recall the Lunways Inn, which was known as the Roman Post before it closed for the last time after a fire. At long last the future of the site may have been resolved as the Winchester Gospel Hall Trust have won outline planning permission to construct a hall to be used by up to 100 worshipers each week.

A pub that was built with the intention of being a chapel but is happily offering customers a wider choice than just communion wine is the Rockingham Arms at West Wellow. Although there were fears, which we expressed in a previous Hop Press, that the pub would close and be converted into housing, a recent advertisement proclaimed that the pub was ‘Not Sold’ and we are pleased to report that long standing licensees Paul and Wendy Broomfield, who have had the pub since 1988, are looking forward to serving customers throughout the Christmas period and into 2007.

Continuing along the A36, during the summer the Shoe Inn at Plaitford underwent a substantial refurbishment with the addition of five en-suite bedrooms. Also refurbished during the summer was the Mill Arms at Dunbridge, which also underwent a change of ownership. A little to the Northeast, in King’s Somborne, there are also new owners at the Crown Inn. The pub was closed for five months but is now reopened under Hayley Marsh and Gary Gates, who hope to install new kitchens in the future.

There were threats to the Greyhound in nearby Broughton but the pub was sold as a going concern to Punch Taverns and after the addition of eight letting rooms it is now being run as a ‘gastro-pub’ by Tim Fiducia. The real ale includes Butcombe Bitter.

Also changing hands was the Enterprise Inn the New Forest Inn at Emery Down, near Lyndhurst. It now has Karen Slowen, from the Oak Inn at Bank, as licensee. The Oak itself has been purchased by Fullers. It appears that the London brewers are intent on expanding their estate in Hampshire following their recent purchase of Gales. Michael Turner, Fullers’ chief executive, said recently, after Fullers posted better than expected yearly figures, that he is ‘looking for more family brewers...’ How ominous is that?

Another change of ownership during the summer was at the Trusty Servant at Minstead. Previous owners Tony and Jane Walton, who had been in the village for 10 years, handed over to a newcomer to the trade, Chris Onions, who will run the pub with his brother.

Right on the Western edge of our area, the Tyrrell’s Ford at Avon is under the new ownership of Mark and Sara Watts who say they have made the free house into a ‘family friendly country inn.’ Nearby in Bransgore the appeal to build houses in part of the former car park of the Carpenters Arms was rejected by government inspectors. Unfortunately a further application is expected from our old friends(?) the Inntown Pub Company, but meanwhile the Carpenters Arms continues to trade after a redesign of the remaining car park facilities.

Moving to the Waterside, one of the first non smoking pubs in the area, the Traveller’s Rest in Hythe, also changed hands in the summer. It was purchased by two local couples, Mr and Mrs Dean, who previously owned a local tea rooms, and Mr and Mrs Bennett. A new smoke free establishment in Hythe is Ebenezers in Pyewell Road. Mark and Angie Holland, who previously ran the sports bar at Gang Warily have given the pub (which returning to an earlier theme was previously a place of worship for the United Reformed church) a complete makeover to turn it into an airy bar with modern furniture and Greene King IPA on offer. The Waterside Inn has at long last been put out of its misery, with 34 flats, in two blocks, being constructed on the site. Moving on to Totton, an application for a rear extension and front patio extension has been granted for the Old Farmhouse. We might expect to see more applications going in for changes to the front of premises as the inside smoking ban approaches.

A Forest pub that had rather too much smoke earlier this year is now open again. The Happy Cheese was hit by a kitchen fire in June but reopened a couple of months later. At the end of June the White Hart at Cadnam reopened in the guise of a Blubeckers restaurant/bar. There about twenty pubs in the Blubeckers chain, all in the south of England.

Another new name that we missed in the last edition is Stars Bar in Eastleigh. This is the new name for Lucky Jims in Leigh Road. Round the corner in the High Street, the lease of the former Bar 101, closed now for several years, is available for £40,000 a year. It remains to be seen if anyone will risk this much to reopen it again as a bar. Across the tracks, under new management is the Prince of Wales in Bishopstoke. New landlady Janice Davies took over in September. On the South side of the town Greene King has spent £360,000 on refurbishing the Cricketers in Chestnut Avenue, including a substantial extension to the drinking area. And a couple of miles to the West, the formerly Whitbread owned Clump Inn is now in private hands and has had a massive refurbishment of well over £½ million and reopened as predominantly a food house, now named the Chilworth Arms. It still has cask ale though, Old Speckled Hen and Taylors’ Landlord at the time of reopening and the presence of bar stools suggest that just dropping in for a beer is acceptable. The extensive array of pressure fonts includes things like Amstell, Leffe and Birra Moretti

The big Suffolk brewer’s attempts to spend a lot of money in Bishop’s Waltham were thwarted by planners. An application to build 12 hotel rooms at the Barleycorn in Lower Basingwell Street was rejected by Winchester City Council. The City council and Greene King were also involved in a dispute over the licensing hours of the Prince of Wales at Shirrell Heath. The licensing conditions for the pub state that no customers are allowed in the garden after 9.30pm. The new tenants, Wayne and Melanie Tiller, consider that this will put the pub at a disadvantage next summer when the smoking ban in enclosed areas comes into force.

One of the new powers in the current licensing act was used for the first time in Southampton recently. Following a brawl outside the pub in late October, the latest in a string of problems, the police issued a temporary closure order on the Merry Oak in the East of the City. The Licensing Committee have since decided that the next licensees will have to call last orders at 10.30pm and close at 11.00pm. Owners Punch Taverns have also been ordered to install new CCTV equipment. When police went to check coverage of the recent disturbance on the previous CCTV, the video in the CCTV recorder played a children’s show...

Also under the 2003 Licensing Act, an application has been made to alter the internal layout of the Shirley Hotel on Shirley High Street. The pub has been shut for a number of months but it may well be open again by the time Hop Press hits the pubs. Open again in West End is the Two Brothers, which is now under the banner of the ‘Sizzling Pub Company.’ This is a subsidiary of the largest UK managed pub company, Mitchells and Butlers. Older readers will remember the name in a former guise as the West Midlands arm of Bass. The same company is also rebadging the Ship Inn in Lymington as a gastro pub.

Moving back to Southampton, the Crown and Sceptre in Bassett has changed hands for the second time in a year. The new licensee is Chris Ellis from County Durham. Along the road to the Gate, we come across a new variation on the theme running through this edition of pub news. The pub is hosting informal Christian workshops on Thursday evenings and Friday mornings in its coffee lounge. Back to the centre of the City, the Hampshire Ram is now Jones Wine Bar.

Down in the old town area we find new licensees Norman and Carole Trainor at the Duke of Wellington in Bugle Street. Just round the corner at the Town Quay we finish with a similar story to that with which we started this Pub News. Landlord Stewart Cross took over the Platform Tavern nine years ago and then purchased both the pub and the cafe next door three years ago. The former cafe opened as an extension to the thriving Town Quay pub during the summer months and is now open from 8am for breakfasts. Known as the ‘News and Blues Cafe,’ a special fish menu is available in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday.

 

BAH HUMBUG Hop Press index

OK, so we’ve just been reluctantly forced to notice that this is a December edition and there is usually some antiquated old festival at this time of the year. So for those who still celebrate the winter solstice...

For many the essential jolly Christmas scene is Dickensian — the florid, gaitered countrymen, fresh from pursuing some unlucky fox, seated around the roaring fire in the inglenook of a country inn. Many in that bucolic throng would be plunging the fire’s poker into their pewter flagons to mull their ale. To modern tastes the results were probably not too wonderful (and the practice would undoubtedly break some Health and Safety rules) so here is a much more wholesome version to welcome your guests in from the chill winter storms.

Have a good Christmas and New Year – Ed.

hollyMULLED ALEholly

Ingredients: (for a dozen servings)

3 pints dark, malty ale
3 measures dark rum
1 stick of cinnamon
4 cloves
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ginger
Handful of raisins and sultanas
1 dessert spoon dark treacle or molasses

Method:

Place all the ingredients in a large, attractive, flameproof casserole. Cover and place over the lowest possible heat and leave to come slowly just to a simmer, do not allow to boil. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for a few moments to cool slightly. Ladle into small, heavy tumblers.

 


Hop Press Issue number 61. December 2006

Editor: Pat O'Neill
1 Surbiton Road
Eastleigh
Hants.
SO50 4HY
023 8064 2246
hop-press@shantscamra.org.uk

© CAMRA Ltd. 2006

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