Hogs Back Brewery Offers Help for Vaccination Drive

January 2021

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery has stepped up to the national COVID-19 vaccination drive, offering its Hop Hangar as a drive-through facility for people in the area to receive the life-saving jab.

The brewery’s offer is currently being assessed by the Local Resilience Forum, the alliance of councils, police, NHS and other strategic partners which is co-ordinating the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Hogs Back’s Surrey and Hampshire heartland.

By opening up the large doors at either end of the Hangar for vaccine recipients to drive through, and housing the medical staff and chilled vaccines in the adjacent Tap Room bar, Hogs Back believes the brewery site in Tongham offers an ideal space for the vital programme.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, says, “We’re offering the Hop Hangar as our contribution to the vaccination roll-out, and we’ll work with the Local Resilience Forum to ensure we can meet its requirements.

“Our brewery is in a location well served by main roads, and we believe it would be very effective as a drive through facility. We think people might not even need to get out of their cars to be injected, although that’s for the organisers to decide, and it can all be done under cover. We have fridges for the vaccines, and rooms for the medical and support staff.

“We can even offer those who’ve been vaccinated a cup of tea afterwards, and for the staff manning the site, we’ll also provide a free bottle of our very own TEA – our flagship Traditional English Ale – for them to enjoy once they’re off duty.

“As far as we know, we’re the first brewer to offer a vaccination space. With the whole of the UK now getting behind the programme, we’re keen to play our part and support our friends and neighbours.”

The Hogs Back Hop Hangar opened in the summer of 2020 as a facility to process the harvest from the Hop Garden adjacent to the brewery, and at other times operates as a bar and function space.

‘Treat Yourself, Support Your Local Brewery’

December 2020

Hogs Back launches ‘experience’ vouchers for Christmas

After a treat-free 2020, likely to be remembered by most for the absence of any experiences outside the home, Surrey based Hogs Back Brewery is offering a selection of beer tastings and tours, some to enjoy now, others ideal as Christmas gifts for beer lovers, redeemable whenever COVID restrictions ease next year.

The Hogs Back Brewery Tap in Tongham has reopened and is taking table bookings for Friday and Saturday evenings, with a programme of live music lined up and comedy nights set to resume as soon as possible. They are also offering a Virtual Beer Tasting, to recreate the popular events which have been held regularly at the brewery, and a VIP Day which includes trying your hand at brewing.

Hogs Back Brewery owner Rupert Thompson said: “Before reopening after the latest national lockdown, we asked our customers whether they would feel comfortable returning to our Brewery Tap and what entertainment they’d like to see. Comments were overwhelmingly positive and have informed the way we plan to run our bar safely while restrictions are in place.

“The national and partial lockdowns have presented us, and the hospitality sector generally, with huge challenges. We’re all hoping that the situation will improve in 2021, but until then, we hope that local drinkers will want to support us, either by visiting the Brewery Tap, or purchasing one of our ‘brewery experience’ vouchers as a Christmas gift.”

The Hogs Back Brewery experience vouchers, all available to purchase online from, include:

  • Brewery Tap It’s my Round’ – £14

A table for up to 6 people and a flagon of any Hogs Back draft beer available in the Tap bar.

  • Brewery Tap Music Night – £24

Live music from popular, mainly local, bands, in the Hangar – used earlier this year to dry the hops harvested from the adjacent hop garden.  A table for up to 6 and a flagon of beer are included in the price.

  • Virtual Beer Tasting – £35

The perfect gift for beer lovers who want to learn while they drink! Recipients receive a box of five beers, a set of beer ingredients, a glass, snacks and an invitation to join the Zoom tasting, conducted by a Hogs Back expert. Tastings are scheduled for December 10th and 16th and more dates will be added for 2021.

A VIP day at Hogs Back Brewery, priced at £100, is ideal for anyone who’s ever fancied brewing beer as well as drinking it.  As well as a guided tour of the brewery and hop garden, you’ll be able to join the team in the brewhouse, and have a tutored beer tasting.  Available for a group of up to 6 people, dates to be announced.

Finally, tickets to the Hogs Back Hop Harvest Party, on Saturday 18th September, are also on sale at an ‘early bird’ price of £12, including a pint of beer. Although this year’s event was cancelled, previous parties have seen up to 2,000 people celebrate the harvest with beer, food, live music and other entertainment – a truly unique experience!

All experience tickets can be purchased from the Hogs Back website. Attending a Brewery Tap event may require purchase of a ‘substantial meal’, depending on regulations at the time of visit.

Bizimply and Moorepay Launch Partnership to help Hospitality ‘Bounce Back Better’

December 2020

Hospitality operators can ensure they and their teams are ready to ‘Bounce Back Better’ in 2021, with the support of a new partnership designed to keep staff focused on delivering great front-of-house service.

Workforce management expert Bizimply and payroll specialist Moorepay have joined forces to offer an integrated solution which frees managers to meet customer expectations, and gives hospitality employers clear oversight of all their employee requirements.

Bizimply and Moorepay’s integrated cloud-based solution enables key managers to save hours of ‘back office’ work each week, through easy attendance monitoring, rota-building and streamlined payroll, while saving money through accurate payroll and real-time labour cost tracking. It leverages the complementary strengths of the two businesses to offer operators complete insight into employee costs and working patterns.

CEO Conor Shaw says: “Hospitality businesses face a challenge like no other, and it’s  important to plan now to make the best of the opportunities that 2021 will bring. The new partnership between Bizimply and Moorepay extends to our customers; we’re working closely with operators to ensure they genuinely understand their staff performance and activity, and use that information to run their business more effectively. .

“As hospitality reopens and recovers, operators will need to adapt to a changing regime of restrictions, while still delivering on customer expectations. The right employees, in the right place, at the right time, will be key to success. The opportunity is to ‘Bounce Back Better’ in 2021, with a strong, customer facing staffing model.”

With Bizimply systems used by more than 33,000 employees across 2,500 hospitality locations in the UK and Ireland, Shaw says: “The operators we work with, especially those who trade across multiple sites, have a much clearer understanding of their business in terms of labour costs and pinch points at each location, and are able to easily demonstrate compliance in key areas such as health & safety, working hours and data management.

“Just as importantly, they typically have higher levels of staff engagement in terms of attracting, motivating and retaining the best people.”

To find out how they can benefit from the support of Bizimply and Moorepay, operators can sign up for a one-to-one ‘Bizimply Business Review’, a free 90 minute assessment of their business’s People Productivity, Compliance, Control and Engagement. Email  or go to for details.

Pubs step up again to support communities through second lockdown

November 2020

Pubs across the country have stepped up to help their local communities through the second national lockdown. Once again, many have pivoted to offer essential supplies to residents, deliver food parcels to the elderly and vulnerable, and boost local morale and mental wellbeing with online quizzes and chats.

PubAid co-founder Des O’Flanagan said: “This second national lockdown, coming hot on the heels of other restrictions, is hitting pubs hard – though this time, licensees and their customers are better prepared. Many pubs have continued to offer the takeaways and deliveries they started in the first lockdown, so they’re already up and running for this one.

“Pubs’ support for their communities is both physical, as they provide food and other vital supplies, and, just as importantly, emotional, with many pubs offering a friendly face and a chat to elderly and vulnerable people who would otherwise feel very isolated. The nation’s mental wellbeing was a big concern during the first lockdown, and pubs, as the social hubs of their communities, can help us all to stay connected over coming weeks.”

Pub Community Heroes

The Roebuck, Mobberley, part of the Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars group, was ready to turn itself back into the successful ‘pub hub’ from the first lockdown. It is again offering its popular ‘Just Heat’ meals – pub favourites, recreated for home dining – takeaway Fish & Chips on Thursdays and Fridays, and a range of sausage rolls, pies, local cheese, eggs and other goodies. The team has also introduced some festive twists including the ‘12 Wines of Christmas’ and hampers of local produce – with an order for 90 already placed by a local company.

Owner Tim Bird says: “Customers have welcomed our efforts to bring some early festive cheer to this rather depressing situation.

“Everything we did during Lockown 1 was about keeping our pubs visible and relevant by supporting our local customers and communities. They told me that we helped to create some good lockdown memories locally, so we’ll be aiming to do the same for the rest of this month.”

The Bowgie Inn in Crantock, north Cornwall, is focusing on helping people’s mental wellbeing during the lockdown.  Making the most of its position overlooking Crantock beach, owner Sally Pickles is taking people on daily virtual walks, via Facebook live streams. During Lockdown 1, the Bowgie Inn walks were enjoyed by half a million people around the world, who tuned in to benefit from the calming effect of the beautiful coastline and sounds of the ocean. Sally is also restarting free, weekly live yoga sessions, as another way of helping people combat their anxieties around the pandemic.

Dinnerstone in Saddleworth is working hard to keep local homeless people warm and nourished  as the nights grow colder, with a Compassion During Covid drop off point at the front of the pub. Licensee Charles Brierley and team members from Dinnerstone and sister pub The White Hart in Lydgate are requesting donations of essential foods and ingredients to create tasty nutritious meals, which they will distribute to homeless people in Greater Manchester.  They are also appealing for warm clothing and sleeping bags and have raised £350 in online donations.

At The Red Hart in Blaisdon, Gloucestershire, licensee Sharon Hookings is helping the community in a different way to Lockdown 1. She says: “This lockdown feels different, with different needs locally; there’s not the same demand for the village store we operated in the pub last time. However, we’re doing shopping for any vulnerable residents who need it and  offering takeaways over the weekend and a selection of fresh bakery goods every Friday afternoon.” The pub is continuing its weekly quiz on Zoom, offering takeway pizzas with £2 from each sale going to a local special needs school.

The Hope in West Norwood has brought back its popular takeaway service from Lockdown 1, including Pie & Mash and a Sunday Roast. They are also able to offer free roasts to a number of deserving people each week, thanks to donations from local residents and businesses – West Norwood Football Club provided four meals last week. During the first lockdown, the pub provided free meals to families, people isolating with COVID and key workers.

At The Dog & Parrot in Eastwood, near Nottingham, owners Kathryn & David Boam are again supporting local vulnerable residents by shopping for groceries, collecting prescriptions and offering a friendly face and voice – socially distanced.  During the first lockdown, the pub acted as a vital hub, helping residents who were shielding to stay physically and mentally well.


Notes to editors

All the pubs mentioned above have been nominated for the Matthew Clark Community Pub Hero Awards, organised by PubAid with support from the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group.  The competition, which was previously the Charity Pub of the Year, seeks to recognise licensees and teams who went the extra mile to help their communities through the pandemic. Pubs can enter before 11 December by completing a brief form on the PubAid website

PubAid is a working party created in 2009 to promote UK pubs as a force for good in their local communities, sharing the message that they raise over £100m per year for charities and contribute £40 million to grassroots sport. PubAid runs the World’s Biggest Pub Quiz, which has raised £750,000 since its launch in 2016, and the Charity Pub of the Year Awards, which ran in 2018 and 2019.

The PubAid steering group is led by co-founder Des O’Flanagan, and includes a number of well-known figures from the pub world, who lend their time and other resources to help spread the positive messages about pubs’ role at the heart of their communities.




Fresh beer to give drinkers ‘next best thing to the pub’

November 2020

Hogs Back Brewery ready for second lockdown

Beer lovers across Surrey will be able to enjoy their favourite pint despite the impending pub closure, thanks to a ‘brewery fresh’ beer service from Farnham based Hogs Back Brewery.

After successfully pivoting its business when the hospitality sector was locked down in March, Hogs Back is set to once again offer customers fresh beer, including its best-selling TEA (Traditional English Ale). What’s more, the brewer is now selling its draught beers in reusable glass Snorters, or flagons, so drinkers can choose an environmentally-friendly tipple.

Hogs Back customers can buy their lockdown beers in several ways: Drive Through, visiting the brewery and placing an order for immediate collection from a socially-distanced point outside; ‘click and collect’, ordering via the website and choosing their date and time to collect, and, for those who can’t get to the brewery, Local Delivery. Hogs Back expanded its Local Delivery area during the last pub closure and it is now offered to many thousands of customers living in postcodes radiating out from Farnham and into north Surrey.

Earlier this autumn, Hogs Back launched its Snorter, a 3.5-pint reusable glass flagon, and will be introducing a 1-litre Snifter shortly.  Once filled, these keep beer fresh in the fridge for seven days and can be reused time and again. Hogs Back estimates that if all their draught beer sales locally move into Snorters and Snifters, they can eliminate 18,000 plastic containers a year.

Hogs Back has taken care to ensure buying beer from them is a safe experience. All brewery staff members will wear a specially-designed face covering featuring a hog motif, contactless payments are encouraged and customer contact with staff is eliminated as much as possible throughout the process.

Rupert Thompson, Hogs Back managing director, said: “It’s heartbreaking to see pubs closing for the second time this year; they’re essential hubs in their communities and will be sorely missed again, particularly by those who are alone during lockdown. We look forward to them reopening early next month in time for the key festive season.

“In the meantime, drinkers across Surrey can enjoy our brewery fresh beers, which are the next best thing to a pint in a pub. Unfortunately, we can’t deliver the unique atmosphere of the pub, but we know many of our loyal customers enjoyed beers with friends over Zoom during the last lockdown, so we’re expecting these to be restarted.”

As well as brewery fresh beer, Hogs Back is offering a wide range of its bottles and cans for collection or delivery. Delivery is free to homes within its Local Delivery area, which extends approximately 30 miles from the brewery, with eligible postcodes listed on their website. Customers living further afield may buy bottled and canned beers for delivery, but not draught.

Caption to attached image: at Hogs Back Brewery, filled Snorters are ready for customer collection

Hospitality Must Plan For A Very Different 2021

November 2020

With coronavirus cases on the rise, a new lockdown imposed in England and stringent measures in place across the UK, many hospitality businesses are understandably focused on the immediate priorities of protecting the business and preserving jobs.

Workforce management expert Bizimply is urging operators to start to also plan seriously for 2021.  CEO Conor Shaw says: “Hospitality businesses have a challenge like no other. It’s now clear that Christmas will almost certainly be a very muted affair for hospitality, and predicting what will or won’t be allowed in the hospitality sector during December is next to impossible

“At this stage, it seems the best approach for operators is to start planning for some relaxation in restrictions from the start of 2021, and to make sure they can implement changes quickly when rules are relaxed or tightened. Employees are rightly concerned, and so reassuring key staff they will still be important to the business is essential.”

Unsurprisingly, the changed hospitality landscape is bad news for sector employees who would normally have been hoping for a seasonal uplift in their hours. ONS figures for the UK show the impact of the first lockdown, with the number of vacancies in the hospitality sector declining by 71.8% year-on-year in the three months from June to August 2020.

Shaw adds: “Now is the time to start planning for 2021, which will enable operators to show staff some light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever trading is allowed, having the right team members working the right shifts is going to be more important than ever.  Business owners, managers and staff will need to be flexible as the situation evolves between now and into the New Year.”

Bizimply’s staff planning guide

Put your GM front of house. At times of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to have the very best GMs running your pubs, bars or restaurants – and to make them highly visible. A strong GM leading their team and interacting with customers provides reassurance that the venue will provide a special experience, while keeping everyone safe.

Plan your rota in advance… 2021 is likely to be different in many ways to past years, at least for the first half of the year, but there will still be a number of familiar patterns to factor in, such as staff members who won’t want to work certain days because of family commitments. So consulting with your team and planning your rota well in advance allows them to manage their work life balance and keeps them motivated in their jobs.

… but build in flexibility. Chances are, the staff rota you carefully draw up will have to be redesigned if any of your team members are impacted by coronavirus, either needing to self-isolate, or caring for children if schools close, for example. Not to mention any further hospitality-specific edicts from government!

 Speed up staff rota admin: Bizimply estimates GMs can spend up to six hours a week creating a staff rota using Excel or similar. That’s a chunk of time where they’re not on the shop floor doing what they’re best at – managing the business. So equipping them with good software to produce rotas and payroll should be a priority – especially given that staff scheduling is likely to be more complex than usual this festive season. Giving this time back to GMs is why Bizimply’s solutions were designed: one operator using their software is now creating rotas for 60 team members, across five sites, in just one hour a week.

 Monitor your team’s health. Operators need an up-to-date snapshot of their team members’ health and fitness to work. Bizimply’s Attendance Questionnaire allows operators to design their own questionnaire which automatically appears on-screen as staff members log on to Bizimply’s clock in app at the start of their shift. By asking a few questions about known COVID symptoms, employers can be kept informed of any team members who might have the virus and take appropriate action. This simple, daily questioning reassures staff that their employer cares about protecting their health and that of their customers, meaning they feel confident about their working environment, and more motivated to deliver an outstanding customer experience.

Hogs Back Brewery features in new Channel 5 programme

October 2020

Hop harvest captured for Halloween on the Farm

The Hogs Back Brewery hop garden in Tongham, Surrey, is to feature in Halloween on the Farm, a Channel 5 programme airing this Friday, 30th October at 9.00 pm.

The film crew spent a day in the hop garden and brewery at harvest time in September, following presenter Peter Wright as he helped to load hop bines onto the tractor, feed them into the hop picker and then the kiln and add fresh hops to beer in the brewhouse. Finally, he enjoyed a glass of green-hopped TEA with Hogs Back owner Rupert Thompson.

This year’s harvest was Hogs Back’s first commercial harvest from its new hop garden, planted last year. It is also the first time they have carried out the harvest themselves, rather than sub-contract as previously, after investing in a new tractor, hop picker and kiln.

Peter Wright is the star of Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet and has also appeared in the channel’s Springtime on the Farm series.  He said: “I love working on farms, and helping Hogs Back to bring in their hop harvest has been a wonderful experience. There’s a lovely atmosphere in the hop garden and in the brewery, that comes from all the people who work here: they love their work, love what Hogs Back are doing in growing their own hops, and the result is great team work.

“I’ve visited quite a few microbreweries in my time and the beers I’ve had today are some of the best I’ve tasted. It’s a shame Hogs Back isn’t a bit closer to Yorkshire!”

Rupert Thompson added: “We were delighted to host Peter and his colleagues and we’re thrilled to be sharing our hop harvest with millions of Channel 5 viewers.

“It has been a difficult seven months for us, as it has been for everyone in the beer and pubs sector, but we have no complaints about our harvest, which has gone pretty smoothly, especially considering that it is the first commercial harvest from our new hop garden, using our new equipment.”

He added: “Processing our hops at the brewery reduces our carbon footprint. They never leave our site, so they really are travelling ‘from field to firkin in a furlong’, allowing us to become a more sustainable brewer, which has been our ambition since planting the original hop garden six years ago.”

Halloween on the Farm is a special episode within the Friday on the Farm series from Channel 5, based at Cannon Hall Farm in Barnsley with farmers Rob and Dave Nicholson but celebrating farming across the country.

Halloween on the Farm is on Friday at 9pm on Channel 5.

Caption to accompanying image: Halloween on the Farm presenter Peter Wright in the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden

Membership club promises 2021 ‘head start’ for Cheshire Cat group

October 2020

Despite trading challenges facing the hospitality sector well into 2021, one independent pub group is looking forward to a ‘head start’ to the new year thanks to a popular new scheme created using gift card platform Toggle.

Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars launched its pay-ahead membership scheme for customers of the group’s six pubs, launched when they reopened after lockdown on 4th July and redeemable after 2nd January next year. The success of it speaks volumes for the fierce customer loyalty inspired by each pub, especially during lockdown.

Tim Bird, who founded Cheshire Cat in 2008 with Mary McLaughlin, explains: “We created the Cheshire Cat Pub Club after customers at several pubs asked how they could help us; they’d bought food or drink from us during lockdown and seen how we’d supported the local community, and they wanted to see us come through the other side.”

By pre-purchasing a membership, customers provided a cash boost to the business, and in turn were rewarded with added value on their membership; if they bought a Gold membership at £250, for example, they received an additional £50 to spend in the pub next year.

The Pub Club offers three levels: Bronze (£50), Silver (£100) and Gold (£250). Membership runs for a year from 2nd January, and customers can redeem in any of the six pubs at any point during 2021. A number of additional member exclusives, like a special bottle of wine, will also be offered at certain points in the year.

Bird says: “We’re excited about the potential of Pub Club. It has longevity and flexibility, and most importantly it bonds our pubs with their communities, something that’s been at the core of our business since the start, and came to the fore during lockdown.”

Having hit upon the Pub Club idea, the Cheshire Cat team turned to sector technology experts Airship, using their gift card platform Toggle to create the pay ahead membership cards, and add them to the pubs’ website. Bird says: “The three cards were set up quickly, and are easy for customers to purchase. There’s flexibility in the system so we can offer the ‘value added’ element again for a limited time, or extend the scheme with a Platinum level.”

The success of Pub Club has its roots in lockdown. When pub closure was announced in March, Tim and Mary moved at speed to adapt the business and two days later they’d turned The Roebuck at Mobberley, Cheshire, from a pub into a hub.  The head chef started recreating some of the pub’s favourite dishes as ready meals for customers to take home, alongside draught and bottled beers, wines, groceries and other essential supplies.

Bird said: “We took the view that if there was customer demand for something that we had in stock, or could secure through our supply chain, then we’d sell it at the hub. At one point while garden centres were shut we were doing a roaring trade in flowers and shrubs, and I was delivering bags of compost to customers!”

The pub also looked after key workers, delivering free packages of essentials to local care homes and thanking the refuse collectors with a six-pack of beers. Bird said: “Everything we did during lockdown was about keeping our pubs visible and relevant; they couldn’t be meeting points any more, but they could still support their communities in other ways.  People have told me that we helped to create some good lockdown memories locally, and they appreciate the efforts we made.”

Looking ahead, Bird says: “We want customers coming in to redeem their membership to have the best possible experience, so we’re training our team now to make sure the redemption process all runs smoothly.   We’re also getting demand from customers who want to buy a membership as a Christmas gift for family or friends.”

Andrew Whiteley, chief experience officer at Airship, said: “We’ve been delighted to see how operators have used the Toggle platform to connect with their customers, both during lockdown and since reopening.  Cheshire Cat’s membership club is a fantastic example; it’s so much more than a gift card, rewarding customers for their loyalty and giving them reasons to visit the pub throughout 2021.”

The Toggle platform allows hospitality businesses to quickly set up bespoke, branded gift cards. The service was made free to operators during lockdown, now charges are only applied after £1,000 worth of gift card sales. Users can be up and running in around 30 minutes, making gift cards available for customers to buy online and in-venue, send to recipients by email and post.

Hundreds of pubs, bars and restaurants are live on Toggle, including: JW Lees, Yummy Pubs, Boston Tea Party, Brewhouse & Kitchen, Côte, Turtle Bay, San Carlo, Bob Bob Ricard, Park Chinois, Revolución de Cuba, Hickory’s Smokehouse, Ego Restaurants & Rosa’s Thai Café.

Hogs Back Brewery Unleashes the Snorter to Deliver its Freshest Beer Yet

October 2020

Brewery-fresh beer for take away or delivery

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is offering the very freshest local draught beer to customers with the launch of the Snorter – its new, reusable, glass container.

The 3.5 pint stylish, branded Snorter makes a number of Hogs Back‘s draught beers, including its flagship TEA, Hog IPA and Hogstar lager, available to enjoy at home exactly as they come out of the brewery vats. Once it’s been filled to order at the Brewery Shop on the Hogs Back site in Tongham, the Snorter will keep beer fresh in the fridge for seven days.

Beer lovers pay just £5 for their very own Snorter, which can be rinsed, returned and refilled time and again, reducing plastic waste and giving a further boost to the brewery’s strong commitment to sustainability.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “We’ve always sold fresh draught beer from the shop for those customers who can’t get to the pub – and unsurprisingly, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand this year, particularly while pubs were closed.

“The new Snorter means that our beers stay fresh and full of flavour for longer, tasting just as our head brewer Miles Chesterman intends. In the same way as growing our own hops in the hop garden just yards from the brewery reduces our food miles, the reusable Snorter improves sustainability by eliminating plastic containers that would have gone into landfill.

“As we like to say, our hops go From Field to Firkin in a Furlong, and now our beers are going Fresh to your Fridge as well. A Snorter of TEA will also cost customers 50p less than when we sell it in a plastic container, so it’s a win-win.

“Beer lovers can now enjoy brewery-fresh beer in a local pub, or served from a Snorter at home.”

Hogs Back estimate that, if all their draught beer sales to local drinkers move into the reusable Snorters, they will be eliminating around 18,000 plastic containers a year. There are also plans to add a one-and-three-quarter pint Snifter and a seven-pint Grunter to the range.

Snorters are available from the Brewery Drive Through and Click & Collect at the brewery, or delivered direct using the Hogs Back Local Delivery service – available to customers living in a number of postcodes radiating out from Farnham and into north Surrey.

To find out more and to place an order, visit the brewery website.  Postcodes currently eligible for Local Delivery are: GU1 to GU24, or starting with GU34, GU35, GU46, GU47, GU51, GU52, GU95 or RG27, RG29, KT8, KT10, KT11, KT12, KT13, KT14, KT15, KT16, KT17, KT18, KT19, KT20 or KT22

Beers available in a Snorter are: TEA, Surrey Nirvana, Hogstar lager and Hog IPA, as well as Hazy Hog cider.

Hard-Pressed Hospitality Faces Supply Chain Challenges, Warns Lynx Purchasing

October 2020

Hospitality operators working flat out to deal with the challenges of the tightening of Covid restrictions will also have to cope with a series of challenges set to disrupt supply in the coming months, warns buying specialist Lynx Purchasing

Planning for uncertainty could well be the definition of the ‘new normal’ for hospitality, says Lynx, as it publishes the Autumn edition of its regular Market Forecast.  As operators try to plan for what would usually be the peak trading period, the impact on trading of restrictions including 10pm closing and the new three-tier system shows how fragile the sector remains.

Lynx warns that the combination of the continuing pandemic and uncertainty over Brexit are having an impact right through the supply chain, not just at the front line.

“The Eat Out To Help Out scheme clearly did its intended job, with almost all operators seeing an uplift in sales,” said Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing. “For many, this continued into September, helped by continued offers and discounts.

“However, the new restrictions are forecast to last at least six months, with even stricter measures for those in the higher tiers, to control spread of the virus. The final three months of the year is the key trading period for the hospitality sector, and restricted hours and limits on the numbers that can meet will have a clear impact.”

The Market Forecast offers operators an in-depth look at pricing and product trends over the coming months, using exclusive data gathered from the range of suppliers who work with Lynx Purchasing.

The latest edition also spotlights other key challenges impacting the hospitality supply chain:

  • People – many businesses had to cut back on staff during the lockdown, and this would take time to rebuild even if levels of consumer demand were guaranteed – which they aren’t. Right through the supply chain, producers, growers, manufacturers, distribution, pickers and packers are working with lower staff levels.
  • Availability – many suppliers have cut back their range to focus on core products, and bringing back a wider choice isn’t as simple as turning on a tap. Some products will continue to be in short supply.
  • Transport – the cost of moving goods is high, due to factors such as staff shortages and less freight on the move generally, creating uneconomic ‘empty leg’ journeys.
  • Brexit – the UK leaves the EU at the end of the year, and uncertainty over the ease, or otherwise, of importing and transporting goods remains a key concern.

Specific menu areas that operators will need to be aware of over the coming months include:

Meat & Poultry: Demand for beef boomed during the Eat Out to Help Out campaign as hospitality customers treated themselves, and this is expected to have a knock-on effect through the autumn and winter, pushing up the price of steaks and other premium beef cuts.

Fish & Seafood: The winter months are more of a challenge for home-caught fish, as boats are able to go out less often, which reduces choice and availability, while the crucial post-Brexit fisheries arrangements have still to be agreed.

Dairy & Flour: With a global shortage of grain, there is upward price pressure on eggs, due to both high demand for free range eggs in particular, and the higher cost of poultry feed. The grain issue has also affected the availability of flour, which will be seen in prices of pre-made baked goods such as bread, cakes and desserts.

“We’re working hard with our suppliers to offer operators as much clarity as we can, but most of the uncertainty is generated by factors beyond the hospitality sector’s control,” adds Dobson. “Our advice is not to be tempted to over-order on core products, not only because it can create more widespread availability problems, but also because customer demand is uncertain and operators could end up with products they can’t sell, creating waste.

“Instead, keep menu descriptions flexible, and work with suppliers to get the best value as availability changes.”

A free copy of the Autumn 2020 Lynx Purchasing Autumn 2020 Market Forecast is available to download at Lynx-Purchasing-Market-Forecast-Autumn-2020. For more information visit or email

Harvest Home! Hogs Back completes first harvest of new hop garden

October 2020

After two weeks of dedicated toil by a team of 22 workers, Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham, Surrey, has completed the first commercial harvest from its new hop garden, collecting and processing 1,500 kilos – or 30 zentners, the traditional measure of hops – which are now in cold storage at the brewery, ready to be added to their range of beers.

Hogs Back staff, loyal customers from its Tongham TEA Club and local residents worked in the 8.5-acre plot next to the brewery, cutting down the 6,600 hop bines, which had grown up to a height of 18 feet. The bines were fed into a hop picker – which carefully separates the hop cones, required for brewing, from the rest of the bines. The cones were then dried in a kiln, quickly vacuum packed to capture their flavour, and are now cold stored at 5°C until needed by the brewing team.

To harvest the hops themselves, rather than contract the task as in previous years, Hogs Back commissioned new equipment including a tractor, reconditioned Wolf hop picker and a new kiln. The picker and kiln were housed in the Hop Hangar, which functions as the Brewery Bar when not in use for hop processing.  It is just yards from the hop garden and the brewhouse.

Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson said: “Bringing in our first harvest is a real achievement, and we’re delighted that it went so smoothly. Its success is a testament to the hard work by our harvest team, who put in long hours in the garden and Hop Hangar.

“We cut the hops at just the right time, then processed them quickly, so the hops we now have ready in storage are in optimum condition, which will translate into top quality, flavourful beers when they’re added to the brew.

“By harvesting the hops ourselves, we made sure they never left the brewery site, travelling just yards from the garden to the brewhouse, or ‘from field to firkin in a furlong’. Cutting our carbon footprint and becoming a more sustainable brewer has been our ambition since planting the original hop garden six years ago and this harvest is a milestone in achieving that.”

He added, “The hop plants are still establishing themselves, so the crop was light this year – but it still represents about 25% of our total hop requirements. When the garden is mature, and with the right weather, we eventually hope to harvest around 4,000 kilos.”

The hop harvest team were rewarded for their labours with a supply of Green TEA – a version of Hogs Back’s flagship beer, brewed with newly picked hops rather than dried ones. Green TEA is available for just a couple of weeks after harvest, and a limited number of firkins were also distributed to local pubs and drinkers.

Hogs Back harvested three hop varieties this year: Fuggles, used in its flagship TEA or Traditional English Ale; English Cascade, used in its Hogstar lager and Surrey Nirvana Session IPA and Farnham White Bine, a traditional local variety that the brewer saved from near-extinction.

TEA Club member Ted Block said: “Helping to bring in the harvest was a wonderful experience.  It was hard work, as it’s very physical, whether you’re pulling down hop bines onto the trailer, or feeding them into the picker or kiln.

“After the year we’ve had, being able to get out in the fresh air and sunshine was a really welcome change of scene. It felt good to be continuing the tradition of hop farming, which has been such an important part of life in Farnham. I’ll definitely be volunteering to help with next year’s harvest.”

Hogs Back Hop Garden – key points

  • The September 2020 harvest was the first full harvest of the hop garden planted in spring 2019, occupying 8.5 acres of prime farmland on Manor Farm, next to the brewery. Last year, most of the hop plants were left in the ground, as is good practice, to allow them to grow stronger for subsequent years
  • Total of 6,600 hop plants harvested this year including 2,000 transplanted from the original hop garden.
  • Harvesting took seven days in total, spread over two weeks
  • The hop plants are supported with over 100 large posts and ten miles of high tensile steel wire, strung 18ft above the plants. A further 97 miles of string are then used to bind hop plants to the poles – the distance from Tongham to Leicester!
  • Hogs Back planted its original, 3.5-acre hop garden in 2014, and completed four harvests before moving to the larger site in spring 2019.
  • Farnham was historically one of the most important hop farming regions in the UK. The Farnham area is ideal for hop growing with a rich, loamy top soil over a chalky subsoil.
  • The Farnham White Bine hop was originally developed in the early 1700s just a mile and a half from the current Hogs Back brewery. It was highly prized for its aromas and was the precursor variety to the better-known Kent Goldings.
  • Hop farming in Farnham started to wane at the end of the 19th century in the face of growing competition from the Kent hops, which were preferred by London’s brewers, and the rising cost of agricultural labour. The industry declined and finally died out in the mid-1970s.

Budweiser Budvar Delivers Greetings from the Republic of Beer

September 2020

Premium Czech beer launches new on-trade support package

Budweiser Budvar UK is raising the profile of its premium Czech beer range with a new on-trade support programme, including a distinctive brand refresh across tank, draught and packaged formats, alongside new POS that delivers Greetings From The Republic of Beer.

The new on-trade programme builds on success of the striking new brand design which has been rolling out on Budvar bottles and cans since July. The new graphics will now also be seen on a brand new draught fount, t-bar badge and distinctive new tap handle. It will also feature on brewery-fresh tank beer served in selected outlets; and a range of POS including posters and bar runners.

Also being launched is a new premium branded glass that reflects the brand’s roots in Czech beer hall culture. The glass is based on a design shown in a popular work by Czech painter and illustrator Joseph Lada, who also illustrated the classic Czech anti-war novel “The Good Soldier Švejk”.

In Lada’s painting “Palivec and the Gang at U Kalicha in Praha”, a group of friends are depicted enjoying a beer in one of Prague’s best known pubs, which features in the novel. Contemporary Czech glass artist Rony Plesl has designed the new Budweiser Budvar glass based on the beer glasses shown in Lada’s work. For the UK on-trade, a pint-marked version of the glass will be rolling out to selected Budweiser Budvar stockists during November and December.

The brand’s overall new look takes its stylistic cues from the brewery’s archive, dating back to its founding in 1895, with a classic colour palette inspired by the Czech flag. The statement OWNED BY THE CZECH REPUBLIC which frames the logo at the bottom of the bottles and cans, also appears on the draught badge and on Budvar’s full-flavour ‘Tankové Pivo’ tank beer.

This celebrates Budvar’s continuing independence as a brewery owned by a nation, not a corporation. Supporting the new design is the positioning Greetings from the Republic of Beer, which will also appear on the distinctive new POS. The message will form the basis of a programme of live sampling and experiential activity in 2021, which will see the new BudVan promotional vehicle visit a range of venues and events.

Simon George, managing director of Budweiser Budvar UK, said: “The lockdown meant that our beer lovers first saw the distinctive new branding in the off-trade this summer but we’re now delighted to be rolling out our Greetings from the Republic of Beer message into pubs and bars.

“Whether it’s served from the fridge, poured through our new draught fount, or our ‘Tankové Pivo’ enjoyed brewery fresh from the tank, Budweiser Budvar is recognised as one of the world’s great lagers, and the new positioning helps us to tell our unique story.

“It is also great to get our brand-new BudVan out on the road. It can operate as mobile bar, a training centre for bar staff and as a way of highlighting our premium beer, brewed only in the town of České Budějovice.”