CAMRA calls for Pub Design Award 2011 entries

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling for entries for its Pub Design Awards 2011, which are open to pubs that were refurbished or newly constructed last year.

The annual awards, held in association with English Heritage and the Victorian Society, aim to recognise pubs that ‘demonstrate imagination, vision and a level of restraint in their design’.

Click here to read more.

My evolution as a beer drinker

Dan Vaux-Nobes, of Essex Eating fame, recounts his transformation from a Stella-swigging teen to a lover of local beers…

My earliest real memory of alcohol is the smell. I remember being propelled down a 1970’s East London high street by my mum one sunny morning, past the huge gothic Victorian pile of a pub on the corner and suddenly being enveloped in the most incredible warm, comforting hoppy aroma emanating from within. I was intrigued, and every time our route passed the same spot, the smell absolutely fascinated me.

Many years passed before I settled into drinking as recreational pastime proper. Admittedly, as with most teenagers, there was a very brief, ill-judged flirtation with Thunderbird/Strong cider/20-20, but it didn’t take me long to realise beer or lager was my drink du jour, namely Stella Artois.

Imagine if you will, the oft reproduced sketch of the evolution of ape to man. Hairy crouched monkey over time gradually developing through Homo Erectus *snigger* and finally into modern man.  I like to imagine my drinking represented like this. My swaggering teenage pub posturing, sporting an earring, reeking of Kouros and swigging from bottles of Stella is represented by an ape just beginning to rise from the crouch and taking his first tentative steps.

I thought I was sophisticated, sipping my Belgian brew. I now realise I was anything but. Although I had got one thing right, something, which helped to push me a few steps up the beer evolutionary scale. I’d read an article once informing me how inferior beer in cans was to its bottled brethren, which apparently was more likely to have been imported and therefore more often than not, tasted better. I took this advice to heart and never really got into swigging flat, metallic tasting booze from cans like my mates. No, I was a connoisseur…. of sorts.

The next stage in my evolution took almost twenty years, I slowly worked my way through hard to source, trendy imported bottled lagers, Italian, Japanese, American…I considered myself the international playboy of lager drinkers. Albeit still pretty damn hairy and crouched and yet to discover fire, but I was getting there.

Then, last year I moved to Bristol and absolutely everything changed, a complete evolutionary jump.

Bristol and the South West in general has lovely beer and ale, and it’s everywhere. No one was more surprised than me at how quickly I ditched my favourite trendy imported lagers, and started drinking pints of Bath Ales Gem, Bristol Beer Factory Sunrise, Otter or Sharp’s Doom Bar. All of it absolutely cracking, all locally produced and absolutely a million miles away from the mass-produced Belgian crap I’d drunk way back at the beginning. I’m not quite ready to join the bearded ranks of the rabid real ale drinker just yet, but I’m getting there.

If you asked me now how I’m portrayed in the drinking evolution scale, I’d say I’m almost a Homo Sapien, still a bit hairy arsed and stooped, but with a bit more refinement, I reckon my evolutionary beer journey is almost complete.


The Times: Brewery king on £1bn pub crawl

Rooney Anand has built Greene King into a leading brewery, pubs and restaurant chain. He says he loves to compete. Rivals are less impressed.

The shy, retiring Rooney Anand is anything but. “Just going to have a jimmy. Then you will have my unbridled attention,” says the Greene King boss, placing two pints of IPA on our table before heading off to the gents. And there was I thinking that, because he never gives interviews and doesn’t mix easily with other brewers, he would be a hard man to pin down. How wrong can you be? To read more click here.


FT: M&B loses fifth chairman in three years

Mitchells & Butlers, the restaurants and pubs operator, will have its sixth chairman in three years after Simon Burke stepped down after just five months in the role.

The decision by Mr Burke to resign from his position as chairman and director of the group was his own, according to a spokesperson for the company, who declined to provide any further details behind the unexpected departure.

Click here to read more

The New Breed of Pub

Mark Charlwood aka Chunk, writer of beer and brewing blog ‘Beer. Birra. Bier‘, describes the emergence of a new breed of pub…

There are those with the football shirts hanging up and the big screens and the lager fonts, those in the country with a thatched roof and a real fire, those with a guest house above and a great roast dinner. Pubs come in different shapes and sizes, from countryside to city centre, evolving from Anglo-Saxon inn to Greenwich Village gastro, an evolution that continues with every pull of the pump handle and every pint of pale ale, an evolution that makes its next stride forward in the form of pubs like Craft Beer Co.

Craft Beer Co, nestled snugly between Farringdon and Chancery Lane, London’s newest beer destination. A pub that can boast 37 (yes 37!) draft beers and a bottle selection that’ll make you do a happy dance. Yeah, it’s cool and contemporary inside with a flash mirrored ceiling and great bar snacks, but whatever, it’s all about the beer. A whopping great beer selection that’s been hand picked to showcase beer at it’s very best – irrespective of style, country of origin, method of dispense or cost.

The one-off casks from the best breweries in Britain, the West Coast IPA’s from California and the sour beers of Belgium; beer is cool again, and there’s a thirst for more than just ordinary bitter. People want to drink good beer, and this new wave of pubs is happy to serve it to them. Craft follows in the footsteps of its sister pub Cask Pub & Kitchen, beyond that London also has The Rake in Borough, a Draft House at Tower Bridge, Clapham and Battersea, The Euston Tap and a Brewdog Bar on the horizon at Camden. All pubs with something in common, a huge variety of fantastic world beer and a desire to get people drinking it. As far as quality and selection are concerned, it’s a great time to be a beer drinker and a pub goer!

So is this a short-lived trend that’ll go away as quickly as it arrived, or is this the next big step in the development or our treasured pub? Will these pubs replace the ones we currently drink in, or will they survive alongside them? Time will tell, I’ll be at the Craft whilst we wait to find out …