Hogs Back Brewery offers beer at 1992 prices to mark 25th birthday

August 2017

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is celebrating its 25th birthday this month by turning back the clocks and offering its flagship Traditional English Ale (TEA) at 1992 prices in a handful of pubs close to the brewery in Farnham.

On Thursday 24 August, around 10 local pubs will be offering pints of TEA at £1.30, the price paid by the first drinkers to taste the full-bodied, well-balanced bitter, 25 years ago. The ‘retro’ price is less than the combined duty and VAT alone paid on a pint of TEA in the pub today.

The participating pubs will be selling a cask of TEA at the 1992 price from 6.00 pm until it’s gone. They include some pubs which served the first casks of TEA to leave the brewery back in 1992. TEA was an instant hit and became the cornerstone of Hogs Back Brewery’s success.

Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson, said, “We’re delighted to be celebrating our quarter-century with some very local pubs and their customers, who will be able to enjoy TEA at 1992 prices for one evening.

“The fact that duty and VAT paid on a pint of TEA today are, at £1.36, more than the total price of a pint 25 years ago serves to highlight the high taxes charged on beer and we’re sure will gather drinkers’ support for the brewing and pubs industry’s request for a cut in beer duty at the next Budget.”

TEA remains the brewery’s best-seller, winning awards including a Gold Medal at the World Beer Awards in early August this year, and gathering a loyal customer following in Surrey and across the south. Hogs Back’s reputation as a brewer of exceptionally fine ales was bolstered by subsequent launches such as Hop Garden Gold and RipSnorter and in recent years the brewery has broadened its range, launching new beers such as Hogstar English Craft Lager, London’s Outback golden pale ale – both available in cans as well as on draught – and Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager.

This combination of innovation with brewing tradition has become Hogs Back’s hallmark and was evident in its decision, in 2014, to plant a hop garden adjacent to the brewery and restore the near-extinct local hop variety, Farnham White Bine. It is the first new hop garden in the immediate Farnham area for over 100 years and also produces Fuggles, used in TEA; English Cascade, used in Hogstar and a new variety this year, Pioneer.

Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson, said, “Hogs Back’s foundation preceded the explosion in microbreweries and indeed we would claim to be one of the ‘new wave’ of small regional brewers who broke the hold of the large national companies and aided the renaissance of cask ale, then in serious decline.

“We’re now a more significant player with a wider portfolio of beers and a broader geographical reach, but we remain committed to our Surrey roots – as demonstrated by our investment in the hop garden, and in expansion at the brewery to boost capacity and meet growing demand.

“These are exciting times for Hogs Back Brewery and, while we celebrate our first 25 years, we also have much to look forward to. Here’s to the next 25!”

Caption to attached image: at the White Hart in Tongham, (l-r) Miles Chesterman, Hogs Back head brewer; pub team member Gemma Elstob and Hogs Back MD Rupert Thompson

1992: First barrels of TEA produced at the Manor Farm site in Tongham, where the brewery remains today. One of the first pubs to stock it is the White Hart in Farnham, where it sells at £1.32 a pint.
2000: TEA named as runner up Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival, run by CAMRA.
2006: A over T (Aromas over Tongham) named Supreme Champion Winter Ale of Britain at the CAMRA Winter Beer Festival.
2012: Business bought by Rupert Thompson, who had worked in the brewing industry for many years on brands including Carling (Britain’s biggest beer brand), Old Speckled Hen and Hobgoblin.
2013: Launch of Hogstar English Craft Lager, a 4.5% ABV lager brewed with five different hops and selected herb extracts and matured for over a month.
2013: Launch of Hazy Hog, a cloudy cider
2014: Planting of hop garden adjacent to the brewery, making Hogs Back the largest brewer with a hop garden in the UK. The first full harvest follows in 2015.
2014: Launch of Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager, the world’s first authentic chocolate lager, a collaboration with Montezuma Chocolate, based in West Sussex.
2015: TEA named Best Bitter in the South East in CAMRA competition.
2015: Hogstar wins Gold Medal at the Society of Independent Brewers’ National Keg Beer Competition.
2016: Launch of London’s Outback golden pale ale in keg and cans.
2016: Launch of Farnham White, a golden single hop bottled beer made from the Farnham White Bine on Hogs Back’s hop garden, sold exclusively through Waitrose.
2016: Footage of the hop harvest and celebrations at the brewery are filmed by BBC’s Countryfile programme.
2017: At the World Beer Awards, TEA wins the Gold Medal in the 4%-5% ABV Bitter category and Hogstar a Gold Medal in the Czech-style Pale Lager category.

Buns on sweets: Pub company’s National Burger Day charity dish aims to hit the sweet spot

August 2017

Unique Hospitality Management is hoping to hit customers’ sweet spots this coming National Burger Day (Thursday, 24 August), with a dessert burger on offer as part of the annual celebration of the bunned beauty.

The dessert burger, which is made with a doughnut bun, chocolate brownie patty, set custard, raspberry “ketchup” and sweet polenta chips served with a vanilla and blueberry milkshake is on the menu at all six Unique pubs.

The dish was devised by Simone Scola, head chef at the company’s Knife & Cleaver in Houghton Conquest, Bedfordshire.

Ten percent of every dessert burger sold on Mr Hydes National Burger Day 2017 will go to cancer support charity Macmillan. The initiative will kick start the company’s fundraising for the charity’s annual ‘World’s Biggest Coffee Morning’ which takes place on Friday, 29 September.

Jonathan Taylor, group operations director at Unique Hospitality Management, which operates Epic Pubs and Heroic Pubs, says: “We always feature great burgers on our menu and so wanted to get involved with the Mr Hydes National Burger Day, but wanted to do something really different for it. Our dessert burger offers customers a burger thrill without the grill and looks and tastes amazing.”

He adds: “As well as hitting our diners’ sweet spot, the burger will also help raise money for Macmillan, a charity we have supported since the company was launched two years ago.”

Meaty offer

The company will also be offering 20% off all its main course burgers for Mr Hydes National Burger Day, now in its fifth year, which sees restaurants and pubs across the UK celebrating the menu favourite for the day.

Alongside the burgers the pubs will also be promotiing a great range of beers, bourbons and cocktails to compliment the dishes.

Build-your-own burger

Two of the company’s venues also run weekly burger nights. Mill Street Pub & Kitchen in Oakham, Rutland, hosts a successful ‘Build your own Burger’ Night every Monday where customers select from a range of burgers, sides, sauces and toppers.

At The Golden Ball in Pinkneys Green, near Maidenhead, a weekly changing burger menu is also on offer every Monday.

Gender Swap Hop causes confusion at Hogs Back Brewery

August 2017

A spontaneous sex change has caused eyebrows to be raised at the Hogs Back Brewery in Surrey. The culprit is a Farnham White Bine hop plant which has switched from female to male.

The Gender Swap Hop was discovered by hop garden manager Matthew King during one of his regular checks on the health of the previously all-female hop plants in the Hogs Back Hop Garden, adjacent to the brewery in Tongham, near Farnham.

Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson said: “We’re keeping a close watch on the hops as we prepare for the harvest in September. There is only one male hop plant to every 1000 females and, as brewers we only cultivate the females, since they bear the hop flowers we use to brew our beers.”

Hop experts have confirmed that the spontaneous sex change is not unheard of, but is unusual. Thompson added, “The sex change probably happened over a month or so, and may have been caused by the very hot weather earlier in the summer.

“We’ve been told that once one female plant changes sex, it becomes more likely that others in the garden will do the same. We fully respect the rights of our hop plants to make their own lifestyle choices, but we’re hoping that not too many follow the lead of our Gender Swap Hop this close to the harvest.

“In the meantime, we think Matthew is quite pleased to have a bit of male company in the normally all-female environment of the hop garden.

“He’s also found a wild male hop that has seeded itself between two of our female plants and is now entwining his tendrils around both of them. We’re still trying to establish what variety it is, but for now we can only hope that his intentions are honourable.”

Hogs Back Brewery grows four varieties of hop in the 3.5 acre garden. These are the traditional Farnham White Bine variety, which the brewery has bought back from the edge of extinction, along with English Cascade, Fuggles and a newer hop, Pioneer.

CAPTION: Rupert Thompson, managing director, inspects a male and female hop plant in the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden.

High Hopes for the Hogs Back Brewery Hop Harvest

July 2017

Hogs Back Brewery is on track for a bumper crop of hops as it enters the all-important final weeks before the 2017 harvest.

The Surrey-based brewer is hoping to exceed the 1,100kg of hops that it harvested in 2016 from the 3.5 acre hop garden adjacent to the brewery in Tongham. The four varieties grown are the traditional Farnham White Bine variety, which Hogs Back Brewery has bought back from the edge of extinction, along with English Cascade, Fuggles and a newer hop, Pioneer.

The hops are used to brew beers including the flagship Hogs Back ale TEA, as well as English craft lager Hogstar, and single hop beer “Farnham White”, available as a seasonal cask ale as well as a premium bottled ale exclusive to Waitrose. With Hogs Back Brewery celebrating its 25th anniversary this summer, a special Home Harvest Ale will also be brewed once the hops are safely gathered in.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “Growing our own hops is definitely making us better brewers as well as playing an important part in our commitment to sourcing ingredients locally.

“For example, with each harvest we’re discovering more about the part that ‘terroir’ plays in the flavour and aroma of hops, and we’re planning to share more of that with our friends and customers when we celebrate the harvest in September.”

Hop garden manager Matthew King is now carefully ticking off the same milestones which have been followed by hop growers in the area since the days when Farnham hops were prized around the world.

King says, “It’s traditionally said that if the hop bines are touching the top of the strings that hold up the plants on the first of June, the hop harvest in September will be very good. I’m pleased to say that we hit that milestone, and we are now carefully monitoring the three stages of the hop flower, called the pin, burr and hop by growers. The old hop growers’ wisdom is that you need 21 days in pin, 21 days in burr and 21 days in hop for a good harvest. We’re currently moving from pins to burrs.”

King adds, ”As we approach our third harvest we’re also getting better all the time at understanding the science that underlies these hop growing traditions. The right mix of rain, and sun is very important, and although we can’t do much to control the weather, we’ve further refined the structure of strings and wires the hop plants grow on, as well as ensuring we give the plants and the soil the right nutrients, and control pests and disease.

“Hops are a fragile crop – although not as fragile as grape vines – and so proper preparation and good husbandry is vital. We’re also learning more about the micro climate of the hop garden. We’re in the lee of the Hogs Back ridge, warm and protected from the wind and hops have been grown here for centuries, so there definitely seems to be something in the combination of climate and soil here in which hops thrive.”

With high global demand for hops from craft brewers, having its own supply of hops is increasingly important to Hogs Back as it continues to develop innovative new beers alongside its established brands. The brewery is working towards growing 25% of the hops it uses in its own garden, and sourcing 70% within walking distance of Tongham. This year will also see the hops dried in a brand new oast house just three miles from the brewery, the first to be built in Surrey for over 50 years.

Brakspear Honey Bee raises £2,890 for Friends of the Earth Bee Campaign

July 2017

Brewer and pub company Brakspear has donated £2,890 to Friends of the Earth generated from sales of its Honey Bee, a seasonal honey ale sold in its pubs during April and May.

The money raised will support Friends of the Earth’s ‘Bee Cause’ campaign to help Britain’s under-threat bees. For every pint of Honey Bee sold, Brakspear donated 10 pence to Bee Cause. They also donated five firkins to ‘Basecamp’ Friends of the Earth’s annual environmental festival in June, so that proceeds from sales on the day could go to the charity.

Honey Bee was originally brewed by Brakspear in 2015 and brought back in response to popular demand. This year, it was initially brewed at Brakspear’s Bell Street Brewery in Henley and then at the larger Wychwood brewery in Witney, enabling more Brakspear pubs to sell it.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said: “We’re delighted that Honey Bee sold so well across our estate and raised such a good sum for Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause. This donation is more than double the amount raised two years ago so will go even further in helping protect our precious bees.

“Honey Bee is a perfect summer beer, ideal for supping in a sunny pub garden, so the recent hot weather certainly helped, along with our customers’ desire to support a worthy cause.

“Brewing a honey beer and supporting the Bee Cause are naturals for Brakspear. Not only do we have a bee in our logo, but many of our pubs have gardens or outdoor floral displays that only thrive thanks to bees.”

Friends of the Earth Chief Executive Craig Bennett said: “Bees are currently facing many threats such as habitat loss, pesticide use and climate change. The Bee Cause is about encouraging the public to be part of the generation that saves these precious pollinators.

“We’re extremely grateful to Brakspear, their licensees and customers, for their support. Not only have they raised a significant sum of money to help our work, they have also raised awareness of the plight of the humble bee.”

Created by Brakspear head brewer Malcolm Mayo, Honey Bee uses Maris Otter and Crystal malts as well as malted oats, First Gold and Willamette hops. Honey Bee has delicate, subtle honey notes, with a bracing delivery of hops on the follow through.

Caption to attached image: Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies (centre) with Friends of the Earth’s Caitlin Nisos (left) and Adam Scott (right), enjoying Honey Bee. Photo courtesy of Henley Herald.

Notes to editors
Bee Cause is Friends of the Earth’s campaign to protect the bee. Bees have lost 97% of their natural habitat over the last 60 years, 20 species of bees have become extinct, and 25% of those left are on the endangered species list. Worldwide, bees pollinate 75% of our main food crops and scientists estimate it would cost £1.8 billion per year to pollinate UK crops by hand. More at

The bee on the Brakspear logo has its roots in a centuries-old connection to Nicholas Breakspear, the only English Pope and a distant relative of the Brakspear family. Elected as Pope Adrian IV in 1154, his papal seal included a bee, apparently as a reminder of the ‘B’ at the beginning of his name.

Where the Buffalo Roam: Buffalo Trace pop-up bar goes on tour

July 2017

Buffalo Trace Bourbon is taking its acclaimed pop-up bar on a summer tour of four UK cities, starting at the Edinburgh Festival and ending in London Cocktail Week. The move is part of a strong package of support by UK distributor Hi-Spirits for the Buffalo Trace brand as sales of American whiskey continue to grow.

Along with Edinburgh and London, the Buffalo Bourbon Empire will set up shop in Manchester and Nottingham, offering whiskey dinners, bourbon and cocktail masterclasses, exclusive drink menus and the opportunity to sample the widest range of whiskeys from the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery available anywhere outside Kentucky itself.

In a quest to find Britain’s best bourbon bar, each city will also host a Buffalo Bourbon Battle contest. This will see two local bartenders work side-by-side to show off their skills with contenders given many different tasks to prove they are the best bourbon bar in the area, including a bourbon quiz, making a variety of bourbon cocktails, blind tastings, and much more.

Up for grabs will be a prize of a trip to the award-winning Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, along with a selection of limited-edition whiskeys from the acclaimed Buffalo Trace Antique Collection for the winners’ bars.

Alongside the flagship Buffalo Trace Bourbon, guests at the Bourbon Empire will be able to choose from a selection of more than 50 whiskeys. High demand is expected in each city on the tour for two showpiece tastings, one offering a chance to try whiskeys from recent annual releases of the five-strong Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, and the other featuring the award-winning Pappy Van Winkle range.

Tim Giles, Buffalo Trace brand manager with Hi-Spirits, said: “The Buffalo Bourbon Empire has been a great success wherever we’ve set up, and we’re delighted to be roaming to even more locations this summer.

“Interest in Bourbon and American whiskey has never been stronger in the UK, with sales forecast to grow by another 26% over the next five years*. Whether they’re a bourbon geek, a whiskey novice or just a lover of great cocktails, there’ll be something for everyone at the Buffalo Bourbon Empire.”

Locations and dates for the Buffalo Bourbon Empire are:
• Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Riverboat Casino @The Last Word Saloon, 6-10 August
• Nottingham: Last Chance Saloon, 14-19 August
• Manchester: Whiskey Jar, 21-26 August
• London: London Cocktail Week, 2-8 October

Hi-Spirits will be inviting bars to take part in the Buffalo Bourbon Battle; bars interested in competing should speak to their local Buffalo Trace representative or email Information on the Battle will be available online at and details of events the Buffalo Bourbon Empire will be online at

*Vinexpo/ IWSR Report March 2017

For more information on the Buffalo Trace range, contact Hi-Spirits on 01932 252 100, email, or visit



About Buffalo Trace Distillery:
Buffalo Trace Distillery is an American family-owned company based in Frankfort, Franklin County, Kentucky. The Distillery’s rich tradition dates back to 1773 and includes such legends as Col. E.H. Taylor, Jr., George T. Stagg, Albert B. Blanton, Orville Schupp, and Elmer T. Lee. Buffalo Trace Distillery is a fully operational Distillery producing bourbon, rye and vodka on site and is a National Historic Landmark as well as is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Distillery has won 17 distillery titles since 2000 from such notable publications as Whisky Magazine, Whisky Advocate Magazine and Wine Enthusiast Magazine. It was named “Brand Innovator of the Year” by Whisky Magazine at its Icons of Whisky America Awards 2015. Buffalo Trace Distillery has also garnered more than 300 awards for its wide range of premium whiskies. To learn more about Buffalo Trace Distillery visit To download images from Buffalo Trace Distillery visit