A Second Showdown for Hogs Back Brewery

July 2018

Surrey brewer back on national TV

Farnham brewer Hogs Back Brewery is back on national TV this week with a timely repeat of its appearance on BBC One Daytime series, The Farmers’ Country Showdown, as the brewer prepares for its hop harvest.

The programme was filmed at the time of the 2017 harvest at the Hogs Back hop garden adjacent to the brewery and was originally broadcast in January. With The Farmers’ Country Showdown attracting regular audiences of 1.6m, the new broadcast, at 11.45am on Friday 20 July, comes just as Hogs Back is gearing up for the 2018 harvest.

The episode includes an interview with Hogs Back MD Rupert Thompson, where he talks about the brewery, and in particular its hop garden, as well as footage of the Farnham Food Festival, where Thompson gave a talk on hops. The programme also features local gamekeeper and butcher Jack Smallman.

Thompson said, “We were delighted to welcome The Farmers’ Country Showdown team to the brewery, and we’re glad there’s another opportunity for viewers to enjoy the programme.  The hop garden, which we planted in 2014, is a great example of brewing tradition and innovation working hand-in-hand, and an excellent fit for the series, which looks at a wide range of farmers and producers.

“Growing our own hops, including the Farnham White Bine, a traditional local variety which we have revived, is a great story and we’re always happy to tell it again, especially as we prepare for this year’s harvest.”

The Farmers’ Country Showdown celebrates the hard-working, devoted farmers who are the backbone of the rural economy. It illustrates the changing face of farming as well as the traditional ways of working the land they live on. It first screened in 2017 and a second series of 20 x 45-minute programmes was shown this year.

Notes to editors

The Farmers’ Country Showdown is produced by Sidney Street Productions, a production company founded in January 2016 by former MasterChef Creative Director, Karen Ross with Endemol Shine UK. It specialises in producing food, factual and lifestyle formats, including the Mary Berry Everyday series for BBC Two.

Drinkaware Crew to operate at Splendour Festival

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware is extending its Drinkaware Crew scheme to the Splendour Festival in Nottingham on 21 July.

Drinkaware Crew was launched in 2014 in pubs, bars and clubs as a way of keeping young people safe on a night out and has been introduced to 18 areas around the country. The Drinkaware Crew teams will operate at Splendour in much the same way as they do in bars and clubs; after receiving special training, developed by Drinkaware, they will interact with festival goers and support people who might be vulnerable after drinking too much.

Working in pairs, Drinkaware Crew will mingle with festival visitors, wearing branded Splendour/Drinkaware Crew clothing, and help vulnerable people where needed. As well as reactive support, teams will proactively promote a positive atmosphere, by talking to customers queuing to enter the festival, and engaging with them during the event.

Drinkaware Chief Executive Elaine Hindal said: “Drinkaware are delighted that the Splendour Festival has taken the decision to introduce our highly successful Drinkaware Crew scheme.

“Four years ago, Nottingham was the first city to have the scheme in bars, pubs and clubs, so it’s a natural progression to now introduce it to a festival in Nottingham, to help keep people safe.

“We are confident that Drinkaware Crew will prove to be an effective tool at Splendour and look forward to seeing it in action.”

Julie Tippins, Head of Compliance at venue operator DHP Family, which runs the Splendour Festival, said: “Over the 10 years we have been staging Splendour, we’ve seen it more than double in size and it now attracts around 25,000 people. It has a wonderful family friendly atmosphere where everyone comes together to enjoy the music, comedy and fringe entertainment.

“As a responsible and experienced venue operator and concert promoter, we take a progressive approach to ensuring we provide an environment that is safe and welcoming to all and we are proud to be the first festival outside of London to be welcoming Drinkaware Crew.”

Drinkaware Crew is designed for venues with a 500+ capacity and training has been delivered in: Bolton, Cheltenham, Glasgow, Plymouth, Shoreditch, Cardiff, Swansea, Nottingham, Bristol, Derby, Coventry, Leicester, Birmingham, Loughborough, Stalybridge, Pontypridd, Exeter and Wakefield. Venues interested in operating Drinkaware Crew should contact

Smaller venues can benefit from the Drinkaware Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course, based on the Drinkaware Crew training programme. This gives customer-facing staff the skills and knowledge to identify alcohol-related vulnerability and support customers at risk from harm. For more information:

Stonegate scoops Corporate Charity Fundraiser award

July 2018

Stonegate Pub Company has been named the Corporate Charity Fundraiser of the Year by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG).

The Award was presented to Stonegate CEO, Simon Longbottom, at the annual APPBG Dinner in Westminster, in recognition of the company’s impressive commitment to charity support across its pubs and head office. Stonegate raises around £1.5 million for charity every year, supporting a wide range of worthy national and local causes.

Co-founder of PubAid, Des O’Flanagan said, “Everyone on the PubAid Steering Group was impressed by Stonegate’s support for charity. Fundraising is seen not as a ‘nice to do’ add-on, but a fundamental part of running a Stonegate pub.

“Managers and their teams demonstrate huge creativity and dedication in their fundraising, which embraces a variety of activities, from Fun Days to fancy dress events, sporting challenges and larger, region-wide initiatives, such as the ‘Spartan Walk’, where 300 southern pubs raised £73,500 for Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice. Head office are also active within their community in Luton, with ongoing support for the local children’s hospital.”

PubAid also highlighted Stonegate’s northern division’s mission to raise £60,000 for MIND and the Scottish Association for Mental Health. A whopping £45,000 has already been raised by the pubs and bars with a further £9,000 raised by the management and support team who trekked the gruelling Three Peaks. Fundraising continues until September so they are on track to hit the target.

On receiving the award Longbottom said, “It is an honour to receive this award in recognition of the tremendous amount of community fundraising and the phenomenal amount of money raised each year for charities large and small by our pubs and support team.”

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said “Stonegate has shown what can be achieved when charity support is embedded within a company’s culture, with all employees empowered and enthused to do their bit to help. Raising £1.5 million a year is a fantastic result and we are delighted to name them as the winner of our Corporate Charity Fundraiser award.”

As well as the Corporate Charity Fundraiser of the Year award, PubAid also recognises outstanding charity support by individual pubs with the Charity Fundraising Pub of the Year award. This award, supported by Magners, was presented for the first time earlier this year, with the Logan Rock in Treen, Cornwall, taking the winner’s title ahead of seven other pubs on a very strong shortlist.

The Corporate Charity Fundraiser award is in its fourth year. Previous winners are JD Wetherspoon, Greene King and Joseph Holt.

Caption to attached image (l-r): Mike Wood, Chairman of the APPBG and Simon Longbottom, CEO, Stonegate Pub Company

Counting cost as football comes home - Hogs Back boss rues free pint offer

July 2018

A Surrey brewery boss may be the only Englishman crying into his beer if England beat Croatia in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday, following an earlier promise of a free pint to customers in the brewery’s shop ahead of the final next weekend.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham, pledged back in May that if Southgate’s squad made it to the final, the brewery would give a free pint of ale to anyone stocking up on beers from the brewery shop on Saturday 14 July.

Thompson said, “Like many people my age, I’ve watched the England football team crash out of tournaments for the best part of three decades. The chances of them getting to the World Cup final seemed negligible and, therefore, so was the likelihood of having to honour our free pint promise.

“Looking back, we were somewhat dismissive of the England squad’s chances; we even suggested that any pubs stocking Three Hogs, our World Cup beer, should make sure they sold it all during the group stage.”

As Kane and his unstoppable young team storm on towards the final, Thompson is rueing his rash generosity and calculating the likely cost if England is one of the teams running onto the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday. An estimated 30 million-plus people are expected to watch at home or in the pub, many of them beer in hand.

He said, “The lesson, that I should perhaps have learned earlier in life, is never to underestimate football’s capacity to surprise, as we approach a semi-final line up that nobody would have predicted with most of the favourites knocked out.

“England playing in the World Cup Final will certainly cost us in beer we never dreamed we’d have to give away. However, if there were ever an occasion where we felt happy about taking a bit of a financial hit, then this is it!”

The Hogs Back Brewery shop will be offering a free pint of Hogs Back ale to visitors purchasing beers on Saturday 14 July, if England are in the final the next day. The brewery will also be screening England games in a newly-constructed outside area, allowing fans to watch the match with their favourite Hogs Back beer. Capacity is limited so places should be booked in advance at

Caption to attached image: Hogs Back Brewery MD Rupert Thompson calculates the cost of his offer of a free pint if England reach the World Cup final

The King of Soho is in the Pink with new gin launch

July 2018

The King of Soho is adding a new addition to its colourful line-up with the introduction of the King of Soho Variorum Gin, a berry edition of the original London Dry.

The King of Soho Variorum Gin adds a hint of pink and notes of strawberry to complement the essential juniper and citrus flavours of the classic recipe, making it ideal to be enjoyed over ice, in cocktails and mixed drinks; served with a strawberry garnish. The creativity and literary works of Soho are the inspiration behind the name – in literature, a variorum edition is an original work with notes.

With the original King of Soho London Dry celebrating its fifth anniversary in October 2018, the King of Soho Variorum is a new twist on the classic, with a lower ABV of 37.5%. It has been created to appeal to a broader audience and reflects the brand’s modernity. In its vivid red bottle, Variorum Gin is a vivacious and fun companion to the King of Soho London Dry; the perfect pair to stand out on the shelf or bar – day and night.

Like the original, Variorum is distributed in the UK & Ireland on-trade and off-trade by Hi-Spirits. The King of Soho brand is the creation of West End Drinks, owned by entrepreneurs Alex Robson and Howard Raymond, and styled after Howard’s father, the legendary Soho theatre impresario and businessman Paul Raymond.

Alex Robson, managing director of West End Drinks, said: “The King of Soho Variorum Gin is a celebration of the colour and style of Soho; a pink berry spirit inspired by the creativity and literature of London’s iconic district, to join our smooth and premium drinks line-up.

“We launched the original King of Soho classic London Dry almost five years ago, and the King of Soho Variorum Gin builds on that success with an appeal to a gin consumer who is looking for a slightly lower ABV and berry notes in their drinks and cocktails. Crafted in London , it reflects the modernity and innovation of our brand and the ever-changing spirit that is Soho.”

The signature serve for The King of Soho Variorum is the Variorum Cooler:

• 50ml King of Soho Variorum Gin
• 120ml Cranberry Juice
• 120ml Pink Grapefruit Juice

Build in a tall glass filled with cubed ice, and garnish with a grapefruit twist and a strawberry.

The King of Soho Variorum launches in late July, with a RSP of £33.50.

For more information, please contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email or visit

Fernet-Branca challenges the bar trade’s bravest at the Barback Games

July 2018

Britain’s bravest and boldest bar workers will be put through their paces when the Fernet-Branca Barback Games come to London this September, with a trip to San Francisco up for grabs for the winner.

The games will test the skills and endurance of competitors with a series of physical challenges, as well as their knowledge and passion for classic Italian digestif Fernet-Branca.

Originally held in San Francisco in 2007, the Barback Games are now one of the biggest touring bar industry events. With the games being held in the UK for the first time this year, Fernet-Branca and UK distributor Hi-Spirits are offering the winner a trip to San Francisco as their prize.

Bars can enter a team made up of one competitor and one coach, with anyone who works in a pub, bar, restaurant or club whose role has included barback duties eligible to compete. The final will see four knockout rounds put competitors through their paces, with the final battle between two teams deciding the winner of the San Francisco trip.

The teams won’t find out what’s involved until the day of the Games, but competitors are being warned that they need to be fit and able to compete in some very physical challenges.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “We’re delighted to be bringing the Fernet-Branca Barback Games to the UK this year. Barbacks are all too often the unsung heroes of great bars and the Games are an opportunity for them to step into the spotlight – if they’re up for the challenge!”

The Fernet-Branca Barback Games will be held at Village Underground, London on Sunday 9 September, with an invited audience from the bar trade cheering on the teams and a global judging panel of bar professionals overseeing the proceedings.

Entries are now open at and close on 10 August. Entrants need to explain why they should be selected, with the finalists announced on 17 August, 2018. Full terms and conditions are also online.