Here is the latest news about the branch and pubs & breweries in the branch area.

  • Dilapidations Wednesday 3 April 2019 An old article, but helps to explain an important subject
  • AGM Tuesday 2 April 2019

    Start time will be 20:00

  • MRO Monday 11 March 2019 Gary Murphy is locked in a national dispute over rent and beer prices that he fears will take as long to settle as the age of the historic coaching inn he runs in Barnet, north London. Ye Olde Mitre Inne dates from 1553, is Grade II-listed and has a regular entry in the Good Beer Guide. But as a result of the experience of a long drawn-out battle with his pub owner and the Pub Adjudicator, Gary fears that many pubs could become unviable. He has to pay a huge premium for beer as a result of the terms of the tied lease with the Olde Mitre’s owner, Greene King. Gary wanted to change from his current lease and enjoy the freedom of an MRO – Market Rent Option – that would allow him to buy his beers free of the Greene King tie. The government legislated in 2016 to enable this to happen. But pub companies are fiercely opposed to MRO as they make substantially more money as a result of the tie than they would for just a fair market rent. In the case of the Olde Mitre, Gary has found that negotiating an MRO is almost as difficult, frustrating and costly as Britain leaving the European Union.
  • 80% of Britain's beer comes from four foreign owned brewers Thursday 7 March 2019 80% of Britain's beer comes from Carlsberg, Molson Coors, Heineken and Anheuser-Busch.
  • AGM Wednesday 6 March 2019

    Start time will be 20:00

  • National news Sunday 3 March 2019
  • Social media roundup Sunday 3 March 2019 Online news
  • Beer prices Thursday 28 February 2019
  • National Pub of the Year Thursday 28 February 2019 CAMRA POTY
  • Beer and pub news Wednesday 20 February 2019
  • Social media roundup Saturday 16 February 2019
  • Pub Co greed by Roger Protz Friday 15 February 2019

    This is the story of Harry and the Dog & Duck in a small town in southern England. They’re not the true names: they have been changed because Harry is a leaseholder with the country’s biggest pub company, Enterprise Inns, now known as the Ei Group, and he’s keen to stay on when his current tenancy agreement ends.

    But this is a true and factual account of the trials and tribulations of working for a national pubco.

    Harry took over the pub in 2016. He’d worked there for several years with the previous and highly experienced tenant, Jack. Harry had two business partners and the three of them offered to buy the lease, free of tie, from Ei. They submitted a business plan to the pubco, which was turned down.

    But Ei then contacted Harry and offered him a short-term solo tenancy. He agreed to go on his own and signed a basic tenancy agreement that Enterprise said would allow him a variety of beers from SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers. Harry had to pay £20,000 for the rent up front plus fixtures and fittings.

    “It was a baptism of fire,” Harry says. “When I looked at the prices from Ei and SIBA, I worked out that I would be paying £60,000 more a year than if I bought beer on the open market.

    “My agreement meant I could buy wines, spirits and minerals free of tie but I was tied for beer and cider. The main Ei beer list had Dark Star Hophead. Jack had sold three 18 gallon casks a week of Hophead but Ei said I couldn’t have it as it was outside SIBA’s delivery area – SIBA has a 25-mile radius for beer orders.”

    Courage Best is a popular beer among regulars. Harry found he would have to pay £30 a barrel more than Jack had paid – and Jack had sold 100 barrels a year.

    The costs mounted as Harry discovered that Ei charged SIBA £39 for a nine-gallon cask but charged him £120. And he had endless problems ordering beer. He found a brewery in Windsor that produced popular beers but the brewery refused to deliver as it said Ei squeezed them so much on price that they couldn’t make money from the deal.

    It was the same story with every brewery Harry contacted. They all said they couldn’t afford to deal with Ei or use the SIBA delivery system as a result of the low prices they were offered.

    “I’ve lost a lot of custom since I couldn’t stock Dark Star Hophead. It’s especially hard at weekends, with groups of people going to other pubs,” Harry says.

    “The Ei business model doesn’t fit a small country pub. I’m paying 60 per cent above the market rate for beer and Ei won’t allow me to sell the beer my customers want. I’m subsidising other pubs that specialise in food, not beer.

    “People come to the Dog & Duck for beer but Ei aren’t interested in beer – they’re interested in property. I was given a favourable rent when I went in. I can make a decent living but I can’t grow the business and I can’t employ more staff.”

    Harry’s rent is £45,000 year. He’s worried that when his tenancy agreement runs out in five years the rent could be doubled.

    “They doubled the rent of another pub in the area and it became unviable as a result.”

    Harry says he worked 80 hours a week for the first year and half when he took over the Dog & Duck.

    “It’s fewer hours now and I enjoy what I do but I find it difficult coming to work, knowing the money the pubco gets. On top of the rent and other costs I have to contribute to the pub’s decoration fund.

    “When Ei redecorated the outside, they had painters coming from Essex and Plymouth and doing six-hour round journeys every day. I could have had the work done by locals for a quarter of the price.”

    Harry will soldier on. He loves the pub, the locals and the town but he wishes he could get the beers his customers would like and at a fair market price.

    •A spokesman for SIBA says that while its Beerflex direct delivery scheme does have a 25-mile radius it is flexible and would be willing to see if it can help Harry source the beers he would like to get.
  • The Railway Hotel, Southend Wednesday 13 February 2019
  • Beer and pub news Tuesday 12 February 2019
  • We're POTY about the West Road Tap Tuesday 5 February 2019

    Congratulations to the West Road Tap in Westcliff: SE Essex CAMRA PUB OF THE YEAR!

  • Fullers Brewery sold Monday 4 February 2019 Opinions from John Cryne and others
  • Beer and pub news Tuesday 29 January 2019

    Beer and pub news from Essex and beyond:

    News on social media about breweries, etc.

  • Burglary Tuesday 29 January 2019
  • Changes at Billericay Brewing Tuesday 29 January 2019

    From Billericay Brewing:

    Once again we are supporting Tryanuary, encouraging people to go out and try new beers, pubs, bars and bottle shops throughout January

    Our big plans for the New Year are we are starting to work in partnership with our good friends at Brentwood Brewery. We have reached capacity on our Chapel Street brewery and last year we really struggled to keep up with demand and have enough space to store all the beer. So some our most popular beers we are now going to brew at the much larger Brentwood brewery. Our great brewing team will still do the brewing at Brentwood to ensure that we maintain the excellent quality standards that you are used to. This will allow us to brew even more beer for you in the future.

    We will continue to use our Chapel Street brewery for our small batch and special brews, so we will still be brewing in Billericay. As we will be brewing a little less in Billericay and have more space available we now plan to open up the brewery every weekend to give you extra seating and drinking space, with an extra bar set up in the brewery on Fridays and Saturdays.

    We would like to emphasise that the Billericay Brewing brand will stay the same and we will keep and indeed expand our range of beers. In addition, we will keep the special atmosphere of the micropub which we know you all love.

  • Fullers Brewery sold Tuesday 29 January 2019