Airship to support Hospitality Action as its Track & Trace check-ins pass 500,000

August 2020

Hospitality technology specialist Airship is to donate 20% of revenue from its Track & Trace solution,, to industry charity Hospitality Action, just as it notches up 500,000 customer check-ins from 6,000 locations.

Airship kick started its support with a £5,000 donation to Hospitality Action, and will be giving the charity 20% of the ongoing license revenue it receives from hospitality operators through for a minimum of six months.

Airship was one of the first to respond to the Government’s guidance around collecting customer data to help prevent Covid-19 outbreaks, launching within six days of the announcement. It has since been rolling out in hundreds of outlets every day, including football clubs, theatres and churches as well as bars, pubs and restaurants, and refining the product to deliver a smooth journey for both customers and operators.

Airship CEO Dan Brookman said:  ‘With half a million customer check-ins on, we think we are now the largest provider of a Track & Trace solution to the hospitality industry – and we’re still getting many new enquiries every week, as more businesses reopen.

“If customers see an operator is taking its commitment to Track & Trace seriously, they feel they’re in safe hands. It starts to rebuild consumer confidence, which, combined with the VAT reduction and Eat Out to Help Out, will help the hospitality industry to recover.”

He added: “Hospitality Action have been doing fantastic work, helping hospitality teams through lockdown and their return to work. This year alone, they have distributed over £900,000 of grants and we are delighted to be doing our bit to ensure they can carry on their invaluable support for our industry.”

A key benefit of is that when customers check in, they’re encouraged to opt in to receive the operator’s marketing emails. On average, operators are seeing a 25% opt in rate, with some as high as 50%, giving businesses a much-needed boost as they reopen.

Operators already signed up to include: Costa Coffee, Pret a Manger, Leon, Caffe Nero, Mildreds, Mission Mars, Camden Town Brewery and Roadchef.  David Stone, MD at By The River Brew Co in Gateshead, said: “ is simple for customers to use, and gives them confidence that we are following the guidelines. For us as operators, it makes our lives easy in terms of data management and GDPR compliance, and the text back mechanism gives us confidence our customers are providing the correct information should we ever need to contact them.” is charged on an initial £30-50 per location depending on estate size, with a small monthly fee – up to £5 per location – charged after 30 days.

For further information, visit

How Visitor Registration & Check-in works

  • On their first visit to a venue, customers can quickly register their details.
  • If customers revisit within 21 days, they simply scan the QR code displayed in venue and are logged in with a fresh date and timestamp.
  • If customers revisit more than 21 days later, they will need to register their details again.




Budweiser Budvar Supporting Pub Reopenings

August 2020

The Forge Benefits From A Free Keg Delivery

Leicestershire pub the Forge is one of the first on-trade businesses to benefit from a support package launched by Budweiser Budvar UK designed to help operators as they reopen into the ‘new normal’ of post-lockdown trading.

As staff at the pub, located in Glenfield, near Leicester, prepared to reopen, they were paid a visit by the Budvan, Budvar’s new highly visible promotional vehicle. Bringing ‘Greetings From the Republic of Beer’, the Budvan delivered free kegs of premium lager Budweiser Budvar Original to help the Forge entice its customers to return.

The Forge is part of the three-strong Beautiful Pubs Collective, which operates independent pubs with the emphasis on high quality food, drink and customer service. Sam Hagger, director of Beautiful Pubs, said: “Forecasting customer demand, based on factors such as seasonal trading, the weather and sporting events has always been a tough art for operators to perfect, but post-lockdown we’re reopening into the complete unknown.

“In our first few days of trading we’ve already seen a strong demand for premium, authentic products such as Budweiser Budvar. Drinks wholesalers are still cautious about filling their warehouses with beer, so some products have been in limited supply, which makes our direct relationship with Budvar even more helpful.”

Beautiful Pubs has stocked Budweiser Budvar Original on draught as its ‘house pour’ premium lager for three years. “I was blown away by the quality when I first tried draught Budvar,” says Sam. “Learning more about the authentic brewing convinced me, and I delisted our previous premium lager. Fortunately, guests shared my love for the beer; it’s a fantastic product served in quality glassware with a great ‘talkabout’ story, and we’ve seen volumes go from strength to strength.

“The Budvar UK team are great ambassadors for the British pub, always ready to support operators when needed, and coming out of lockdown has been no exception. From site quality control visits to team training and much appreciated stock support to help us begin to rebuild our volumes and sales, they’ve been right there for us.”

Simon George, managing director of Budweiser Budvar UK said: “We were delighted to help the team at the Forge with their reopening, as one of a number of customers whose loyalty we’re repaying with post-lockdown support.

“There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for nursing the on-trade back to health, but whether it’s staff training, technical support to ensure that consumers are served a perfect pint, or just some free stock to get the tills ringing again, we’re helping where we can.

“It was also great to get our brand-new Budvan out on the road. It can operate as mobile bar, a delivery vehicle, a training centre for bar staff and as a way to tell the story of our unique beer, brewed only in the town of České Budějovice.”

Greetings From The Republic of Beer! Budweiser Budvar Brand Refresh Spotlights Czech Heritage

July 2020

Budweiser Budvar is launching a striking new design across all its packaging; as part of a brand refresh that puts the focus on the classic Czech lager’s authenticity and heritage, and proclaims its status as the flagship of ‘the Republic of Beer’.

The new identity, appearing on cans and bottles in the UK from July, takes its stylistic cues from the brewery’s archive, dating back to its founding in 1895, and features a classic colour palette inspired by the Czech flag.

On pack, the classic Budweiser Budvar branding is now framed above by an historic roundel for České Budějovice (or ‘Budweis’ in German), the South Bohemian city that traces its brewing origins back over 800 years, and where all Budweiser Budvar is brewed today.

Also given a strong focus are Budvar’s locally sourced, premium ingredients. These include whole-cone Saaz hops from Žatec, the Czech Republic’s renowned hop region; the finest Moravian malts, and 10,000-year-old natural soft water from an Ice Age aquifer 300m beneath the brewery.

On bottles, the ingredients are highlighted on a new paper neck label, which replaces the previous aluminium foil wrap, making the bottles easier to recycle.

The statement OWNED BY THE CZECH REPUBLIC frames the logo at the bottom of the bottles and cans, and celebrates Budvar’s continuing independence as a brewery.

Supporting the new design is the positioning ‘Greetings from the Republic of Beer’, which will appear on everything from vibrant new POS to a programme of live sampling and experiential activity planned for the second half of 2020.

Simon George, managing director of Budweiser Budvar UK, said: “Consumers are increasingly focused on authenticity in the food and drink they consume, and this first major brand refresh in a decade tells our unique story in a powerful new way to the growing number of UK consumers enjoying authentic beer.

“We’re the only Czech state-owned brewer, a beer from a nation not a corporation. Both the rebrand and the new Republic of Beer positioning celebrate the Czech Republic as a unique and thriving beer lover’s paradise, and show how the art of brewing remains the proud heart of the Czech nation’s history and culture today.”

• Budvar is available in bottles and cans in both 500ml and 330ml packs. It is also available on draught in the on-trade, as well as brewery-fresh from the tank in selected outlets.
• RRP is £2.00 for a 500ml bottle of Original lager.
• More beer is consumed in the Czech Republic per head of population per annum than anywhere else in the world, making it the true Republic of Beer.
• Brewing is woven into the fabric of Czech history and culture, with the brewery and the pub still the focal points of communities today.
• As well as using locally grown ingredients and helping local growers and farmers, Budweiser Budvar proudly continues this tradition by supporting the emerging craft and microbrewery scene across the Czech Republic, sharing its expertise, brewery space and ingredients.

Visible ‘Track & Trace’ vital for customer reassurance

June 2020

Solution from Airship meets Government guidance

Meeting the new responsibility to store customer contact details for NHS Track & Trace, while still protecting customer data privacy, is one of the biggest challenges facing operators as the hospitality industry prepares for reopening next week, warns sector technology specialist Airship.

The government’s guidance asks businesses to assist with NHS Track & Trace by keeping a temporary record of customers for 21 days. While many hospitality businesses already capture customer data through wifi, table reservations and other platforms, this does not reach every customer who visits. Additionally, current privacy policies don’t cover the need to delete customer data after 21 days.

In response, Airship is launching a new Visitor Registration & Check-in solution for operators to make sure they are able to meet government advice, provide reassurance to customers and seize the opportunity to capture new customer data.  It automatically cleans data after 21 days, while also giving customers several opportunities to sign up to the outlet’s database when they first register.

According to recent UKHospitality/CGA research, 68% of customers want to feel safe when they return to pubs and restaurants, and Airship CEO Dan Brookman believes Visitor Registration & Check-in can help create a reassuring environment.

“People are desperate to get back to pubs & restaurants, but at the same time many are worried about the risk of Covid-19 transmission and keen to ‘do the right thing’ to prevent further outbreaks.

“Having a visible Visitor Registration & Check-in system in place can help to reassure customers that they are in safe hands, in the same way that screens and hand sanitiser are also now expected. These measures may seem alien now, but they are going to be part and parcel of ‘normal life’ for many months or longer, and getting the right Visitor Registration & Check-in system in place from the outset is important.”

The need to capture customer data also presents hospitality businesses with an opportunity to expand their database – a function that is handled seamlessly through Airship’s solution.

Brookman added: “The hospitality industry has been decimated by four months of lockdown, and now faces reopening in extremely challenging conditions. The need to collect customer details to help NHS Track & Trace is a rare silver lining in the Covid-19 cloud and all operators should be embracing it as they look to reboot their business over the coming months.”

Airship’s Visitor Registration & Check-in solution is charged on a ‘one off’ basis at between £30 and £50 per location depending on estate size. The SMS confirmation codes cost 5p each and can be purchased in blocks of 1,000.  Airship has also committed not to send any invoices during July, to give businesses a chance to reopen before needing to make payment.

For further information, visit

How Visitor Registration & Check-in works

  • On their first visit to a venue, customers can quickly register their details, which are authenticated through a reply SMS and unique code.
  • If customers revisit within 21 days, they simply scan the QR code displayed in venue and are logged in with a fresh date and timestamp.
  • If customers revisit more than 21 days later, they will need to register their details again.

Hogs Back Brewery launches East Coast IPA

Juen 2020

New beer spearheads summer craft range

Hog Back Brewery is expanding its craft beer range with the launch of East Coast IPA, available in keg and 330ml cans. The new beer will spearhead Hogs Back’s offer for reopening pubs this summer, which also includes its popular Hog IPA, now in cans, and Hogstar lager.

East Coast IPA is a balanced, naturally hazy and unfiltered 5.8% beer. While its intense mouthfeel and hop aroma give it an authentic US craft beer character, like all Hogs Back beers it also stands out from the herd.

Rupert Thompson, owner of Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham, Surrey, said, “The US style of IPA is hugely popular, making East Coast IPA a strong addition to our craft line-up, with a very different taste profile to our Hog IPA.

“As an unfiltered beer, East Coast IPA is packed with flavour and character, but is also an accessible beer that will be enjoyed by craft aficionados and mainstream beer lovers alike.”
He added, “As pubs look to win back customers post-lockdown, a distinctive and memorable range of keg beers from a local brewer will have strong appeal. We’re confident that drinkers in pub gardens across the south-east will be enjoying these great summer beers over the coming months.”

Seven hops

East Coast IPA, created by Hogs Back’s head brewer Miles Chesterman, is brewed with seven hop varieties. Along with Cascade grown in the Hogs Back hop garden, it uses Fuggles, Ekuanot, Calypso, Mosaic, Idaho 7 and Mount Hood. The four malts in the recipe are Pale, Munich, Wheat and Golden Oats.

The result is a perfectly balanced IPA with a smooth creamy backbone from the oats, complemented by tropical notes and the slightly piney finish that characterises a great IPA. Flavours of stone fruits, berries, lemons, and papaya are all in the mix.

New design for craft range

Memorable branding on the East Coast IPA can and font badge features the familiar Hogs Back hog in a graphic which suggests the US flag as well as rolling coastal waves. The same clean, eye-catching design for Hog IPA and Hogstar creates a distinctive identity for the Hogs Back craft portfolio, and encourages consumers to drink across the range.

East Coast IPA is available in keg and cans. For further information:

Hogs Back launches 'Pub at Home' and extends home delivery in time for Father's Day

June 2020

Just add the family on Zoom! Hogs Back helps dads celebrate special day with pint at home

Ahead of Father’s Day, Surrey based Hogs Back Brewery is offering a new ‘Pub at Home’ pack available for home delivery, drive through or click and collect from the brewery. At the same time, the brewer is expanding its home delivery service to include 12 new postcodes in north Surrey, and adding a selection of guest beers from UK craft brewers.

The Pub at Home pack contains everything needed to celebrate dad’s special day at home. As well as 16 bottles or cans of Hogs Back’s beers including TEA (Traditional English Ale), Hog IPA – now in cans – and Hogstar lager, the kit contains a Hogs Back pint glass, two packs of pork scratchings from local butcher Alf Turner and beer mats. All that’s needed is the family on Zoom!

The Pub at Home pack is available from the brewery, either as click and collect or drive through, or on home delivery, which is now adding a number of addresses in north Surrey, including Epsom, Esher, Chertsey and Weybridge.  Hogs Back’s Home Delivery service brings their brewery-fresh beer as well as bottles, cans, and a selection of locally-sourced fresh meat and bread into customers’ homes.

At the same time, Hogs Back has also added a handful of guest beers to the range available for home delivery.  The first additions are Siren’s Soundwave IPA, Padstow Brewing Co’s IPA, a selection pack of four styles from Gypsy Hill Brewing Co, as well as Thatchers Gold and new Cloudy Lemon cider. Hogs Back plans to add more brewers to the list in coming weeks, to supplement the extensive range of British and international beers available from its drive through service at the brewery.

Hogs Back Brewery owner Rupert Thompson said: “For many of our loyal customers, Father’s Day means a pint of TEA in their local pub, often followed by a lunch with the family.

“Although we can’t quite recreate that unique pub experience, we hope our Pub at Home pack will come close to it and ensure that dads are able to enjoy their special day with a pint or two of their favourite beer.

He added, “Our Home Delivery service has been a huge success, with our brewery-fresh beer in particular getting a big thumbs up from beer lovers who are missing a pint in the pub during lockdown. So we’re delighted to be extending the service into new areas where we’re sure there will be strong demand.”

Since lockdown, Hogs Back’s Home Delivery service has made around 4,000 deliveries of beer to homes within approximately 15 miles of the brewery.  Total sales via the website for delivery or click and collect from the brewery from lockdown (23 March) to now are around 60 times higher than for the same period in 2019.

The new postcodes added to the Home Delivery service are: KT8, KT10, KT11, KT12, KT13, KT15, KT16, KT17, KT18, KT19, KT20 or KT22. The postcodes already qualifying for Home Delivery are: GU1 to GU24, or starting with GU34, GU35, GU46, GU47, GU51, GU52, GU95 or RG27, RG29

Hogs Back’s Home Delivery service

In addition to a range of draught, bottled and canned beers, the Home Delivery service includes the following food and wines.

  • Fresh meat pack from Alf Turner, the award-winning butcher based in Aldershot, containing four steak burgers, traditional pork sausages, back bacon, diced chicken breast, diced steak and steak mince.
  • Fresh bread basket from Good Taste bakery in Tongham, containing loaves of white and multi-seed bread, wholemeal and white rolls and a sweet tray bake.
  • A range of wines sourced through Nectar Imports, including two whites, two reds, a blush and a sparkling white.


Hand sanitiser where it’s needed with high capacity portable unit from Brewfitt

June 2020

Protection for customers and staff with the Hand Sanitisation Station

Operators preparing to reopen post-lockdown can provide effective protection from Covid-19 for customers and staff exactly where it’s needed, with the new fully mobile Hand Sanitisation Station from dispense specialists Brewfitt.

The stainless steel unit, developed in partnership with Holchem and KeyKeg, requires no power and so can be positioned in multiple locations within a site. The dispense station delivers up to 7,500 doses of Covid-19 killing, alcohol-free antibacterial hand solution between keg changes.

With hospitality, retail and leisure operators working flat-out to comply with stricter hygiene regulations as the lockdown eases, the unit offers essential reassurance to customers and staff, as well as to the licensing and public health authorities.

A new survey into public expectations, carried out by Budweiser Brewing Group, found that 93% of the public are keen to return to pubs and bars, with two thirds (66%) much more likely to visit if hand sanitiser is readily available throughout venues.

Curtis Paxman, managing director of Brewfitt said: “As soon as the Covid-19 lockdown began, we realised entirely fresh thinking would be required to meet the need for effective hand sanitisation, often at multiple locations within the same site, and simple to move around according to the occasion and changing footfall.

“In partnership with Holchem and KeyKeg, we’ve come up with the Hand Sanitisation Station. It’s a solution for the broadest range of operators, including hospitality, retail and leisure sites, and well as commercial premises and public buildings where employees and visitors will now expect effective and reliable hygiene arrangements to be in place.”

One of the first operators to install the Hand Sanitisation Station is Manchester’s ‘Bohemian Pleasure Palace’ Albert’s Schloss, which has ordered units as part of its reopening programme. Roy Ellis, chief executive of venue owner Mission Mars, said: “Like all operators, we’re keen to reopen our doors as soon as we’re allowed to, but we’ll need to reassure our customers that we’ll keep them safe while they’re with us, and effective hand sanitisation is going to be an important part of our hygiene regime.

“For a busy, multi-faceted venue such as Albert’s Schloss, the portable Hand Sanitisation Stations are ideal, as we can resite them over the course of the day and week, depending on where they’re needed to meet the needs of our guests and team members.“

Brewfitt technology automatically dispenses the recommended 4ml dose of Holchem’s Handsan solution, which is alcohol-free and therefore kinder on skin, as well being proven to kill Covid-19. Each unit holds a 20 or 30 litre KeyKeg of Handsan, which can easily be replaced when empty.

The Hand Sanitisation Station is manufactured in Great Britain from high quality commercial grade stainless steel, is fully mobile and requires no power to function. It can be branded with the operator’s logo if required.

The unit has a guide price of £673.99 plus VAT including delivery. Handsan 20 litres with Co2 Canister costs £131.22 plus VAT, and 30 litres with Co2 Canister cost £172.65 plus+ VAT.
For more details see Hand Sanitisation Station or email

‘Virtual vicar’ leads annual ceremony for Hogs Back hop garden

May 2020

Hop Blessing continues in lockdown

Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is celebrating its annual hop blessing despite lockdown, with a ‘virtual vicar’ conducting a socially distanced ceremony shared via the brewery’s website and social media channels.

Rev. Claire Holt, of St Paul’s Church in Tongham, where Hogs Back is based, officiated from the hop garden next to the brewery, accompanied – at a safe distance – by owner Rupert Thompson and a handful of team members who recorded the ceremony.

The hop blessing is being broadcast today, Ascension Day (21 May), which was traditionally a day when crop blessings were held. Last year, around 200 people gathered at the brewery for the celebration, enjoying an evening among the growing hop bines with a pint of Hogs Back TEA (Traditional English Ale). This year, the virtual version is being shared with 25,000 people, including Hogs Back social media followers and members of the brewer’s Tongham TEA Club of loyal local drinkers.

Thompson said: “The hop blessing was so popular last year that we were determined it should go ahead despite lockdown. We’re grateful for the support of Rev. Holt, who also conducted last year’s blessing, and the blessing of our original, smaller hop garden in 2014.

“We are delighted to be involving our local community with the event via social media.  It’s not quite the same as standing in a sun-filled hop field with friends, but we’re pleased we were able to continue this annual tradition.

“Happily, our hops have not gone into lockdown, in fact the recent warm weather has encouraged healthy growth and we’re hopeful of a bumper harvest in September.  We’re also hopeful that we may be able to hold a real Hop Harvest Party rather than a virtual one – even if it has to be smaller scale and socially distanced.”

Rev. Holt said: “Like everyone else, St Paul’s Church has adapted to lockdown, and I’ve become a ‘virtual vicar’ to my congregation. I was pleased that Hogs Back were able to adapt their hop blessing, and happy to lead prayers for the hop garden, the brewery, and all who work in them.

“Ascension Day was traditionally chosen for crop blessings as by this time in the year, new growth would be shooting up – as we can see in the hop garden today. Traditionally, a group of young and old people, usually led by the priest, would walk round the boundaries of the parish, stopping at each boundary post to pray for the protection of the crops.”

With the hops now blessed, the Hogs Back team led by estate manager Matthew King, will now be tending the bines carefully to encourage a healthy harvest in September. Three varieties are being grown in the new garden: Fuggles – used in the brewer’s flagship TEA ale; Cascade – used in its Hogstar Lager; and Farnham White Bine – a local variety that they have revived from near-extinction.

Image above shows: Rev. Claire Holt of St Paul’s Church, Tongham, conducting this year’s Hop Blessing in the Hogs Back Brewery hop garden




Pubs continue to serve communities as closure set to extend til July

May 2020

Despite the uncertainty ahead, pubs doing sterling work to help their local communities through the Covid-19 pandemic

With July confirmed as the earliest date for their reopening, the UK’s pubs are facing a minimum of six further weeks of closure, followed by the challenge of reopening with social distancing measures. Despite the uncertainty ahead, licensees and their teams across the country are continuing to do sterling work to help their local communities through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Des O’Flanagan, PubAid co-founder, said: “It came as no surprise that pubs are likely to be one of the last to leave lockdown, but it is undoubtedly going to be tough for many pubs. The fact that so many community pub heroes are putting others first at this difficult time is genuinely humbling and a demonstration of how pubs are a force for good, in their local communities and wider society.

“Let’s hope that pubs are able to reopen safely as soon as possible, so that they can benefit from at least a portion of the trade over the summer months.”

Community Pub Heroes

At The Garden House in Norwich, operators Tanya & Jonathon Childs have given £2,000 to the NHS. The couple won BT’s Sports Manager of the Month and the winnings – which were initially £1,000, doubled by BT when they heard of the pub’s community support – are being used to provide televisions for NHS staff to use during down-time and mobile tablets for patients to stay in touch with loved ones.

The Queen Victoria, Brighton has launched ‘Portable Pub Lunches’, delivering hot lunches to local people in self-isolation or on low income. The not-for-profit service is run by the pub team, helped by a band of delivery volunteers. Sales of its Sunday Roasts – which are so popular with local customers that they sell out most weekends! – are helping to keep the pub afloat and ensure they are able to continue the free lunch delivery service.

The White Swan in Pickering (pictured) has been doing all it can to help local NHS workers. The furloughed staff team have volunteered to cook and deliver lunches to replace the ‘soggy vending machine sandwiches’ at the local hospital, and to look after NHS staff staying in the pub’s bedrooms, free of charge. What’s more, the pub team are planning to offer ‘Holidays for Heroes’ once lockdown is lifted, giving 200 free overnight stays to frontline NHS workers, and have received £250 in donations from the local community to help fund the food and drink on these stays.

The Brook Inn in Plympton, Plymouth, has been selling Sunday Roasts to local residents. For every meal sold – at cost price of £10 – £2 has been going into a pot to provide free or reduced-cost meals for local vulnerable people.  So far, the pub has raised £2,750, and has helped to set up a new food bank for the area, working in partnership with Plympton Team Ministry.

Matt Todd, licensee at The Wonston Arms in Hampshire, delivered the beer sitting in his cellar at lockdown to local people to stop it going to waste. The move was so popular that he has continued the service, taking fresh cask and keg beers and ciders delivered from brewers to residents within a short drive of the pub. Matt even takes a barstool from the pub with him so he can sit down and speak to some of his locals, who are missing the social interaction of their local – at a socially responsible distance of course.

The Farmhouse at Redcoats, part of Anglian Country Inns, has been keeping its local community engaged with a series of recipes for some of the pub’s most popular dishes, including lockdown favourite sourdough bread. Gardening tips are also being shared on social media. The pub garden, and its beehives, are being tended by the team, although some members have joined the national effort to pick fruit

The Elephant in Finchley held a charity beer sale earlier this month and raised £933 for the North London Hospice. Zoe Beresford, assistant manager at the Fuller’s pub, had the idea when she realised that much of the pub’s pre-lockdown stock of bottled beers was on a short shelf life – so rather than waste good beer, they sold it for charity. Customers were asked to donate at least £5 for a pack of four bottles, for collection same day from the pub, with full social distancing.

Malmesbury pub The Red Bull stepped in to keep a ‘meals on wheels’ service going with local charity Heals of Malmesbury. The pub team, led by licensees Dave & Nicola Moody, are preparing 40 meals, three times a week, which are delivered to local vulnerable individuals and families by a team of volunteers.  The service started on VE75 Day, with a very British meal of fish & chips!

Richard Curtis, landlord at The Portsmouth Arms in Hatch Warren, Basingstoke, has been hosting a daily quiz through lockdown, which has become hugely popular, with 300,000 people having taken part.  Over the Bank Holiday Weekend earlier this month, Richard smashed the Guinness World Record for the longest pub quiz, which ran for more than 34 hours, with 75,000 participants answering questions on Facebook Live.  As well as putting the Hall & Woodhouse pub in the record books, the quiz also raised £21,000 for local cancer charity The Pink Place.

Country pub sells £25,000 of gift cards in lockdown

May 2020

The Devonshire Arms in Derbyshire has sold £25,000 of e-gift cards to regulars, using free platform Toggle

Regulars at village pub the Devonshire Arms have spent £25,000 on gift cards to support their local during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The pub in Middle Handley, Derbyshire, has worked with gift card platform Toggle to encourage loyal customers to buy cards which can be used to buy food and drink from the Devonshire Arms once the happy day arrives and the pub can reopen.

Located between Chesterfield and Sheffield, the Devonshire Arms has built up an impressive following thanks to a combination of fresh, seasonal food, great drinks including cask ales, cocktails and wine, and a warm welcome from the team led by father and daughter owners John Tompkins and Alex Tunney, and manager Hugh Wragg.

The business took full advantage of Toggle’s decision to makes its service free once the coronavirus lockdown began in March. “The priority was to ensure that there was a pub to return to for staff, friends and valued customers,” said Hugh. “We signed up on the Monday, and were live selling a huge number of cards from our website by the Wednesday. Set-up was quick and easy.”

The pub had previously sold paper gift vouchers and offers through Groupon, but working with Toggle has enabled it to bring all its offers in-house and sell online. Cards are available in £10, £20 and £50 values, and can be redeemed by customers across the bar when the pub reopens.

Hugh added: “The response has been fantastic, with £25,000 of sales so far, showing just how much our customers value the pub and its place in the community. Promoting the gift cards through our social media, and our 3,000-strong database, has also given us a reason to keep in touch with our regulars and keep the Devonshire Arms ‘family’ together.”

Hospitality businesses can now access Toggle at to quickly set up a bespoke, branded gift card webshop free of charge. Some 700 pubs, bars and restaurants are live on Toggle, 300 of them coming on board since lockdown was announced.

Users can be up and running in around 30 minutes, making gift cards available for customers to buy online and send to recipients by email. The specialist team at Airship, which operates the system, will also provide any technical support needed free of charge.

Dan Brookman CEO of Airship said: “Businesses such as the Devonshire Arms are the life-blood of their communities. By making Toggle free for the duration of the shutdown, we’re helping operators and their customers ensure that there’s a thriving hospitality sector when we come out the other side.”

Operators using Toggle include: 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.

Communities and vulnerable supported through pandemic by ‘pub heroes’

April 2020

Since the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown last month, hundreds of pubs have stepped up to help their customers, elderly and other vulnerable people, NHS and key workers and local charities.

Despite the uncertain future faced by many pubs about when they might reopen, and how social distancing regulations may impact their business, licensees are ‘pivoting’ to offer a range of food and drink for local people, preparing and delivering hot meals to vulnerable people and providing social and emotional support with online quizzes, chats and music gigs.

Des O’Flanagan, co-founder of PubAid, the organisation that highlights pubs as a force for good in their communities, said: “The pandemic has been the biggest challenge our industry has faced, but licensees have shown huge resourcefulness in transforming their businesses overnight to serve the needs of their community in the ‘new normal’.

“Pubs have been at the heart of their communities for centuries, and the last few weeks have demonstrated just what a vital role they play: the support they are offering to local people, particularly those who can’t leave home, is invaluable, and is frequently done for no gain, just a desire to help.

“When lockdown is lifted, let’s hope that these wonderful licensees are rewarded by the ongoing thanks, and custom, from the local residents they have supported.”

Community Pub Heroes

McMullen Brewery has been helping local NHS workers with a drive through, contactless service for fresh goods and groceries at its Hertford brewery. The service has been so popular that it has been rolled out to seven McMullen’s pubs across Hertfordshire, complementing the support that licensees have been offering their local communities. At The Hare in Harlow, the team cooked up 60 hot meals for staff at Princess Alexandra Hospital next to the pub, the Long Arm Short Arm in Welwyn is home delivering to elderly people, and the Dogs Head in Bishops Stortford collected fabric to make scrubs, donated to the local hospital.  One NHS customer said: “Amazing quality and service, I will be ordering more stunning fruit and veg next week. Thank you.”

The Strand in Exmouth, part of the Craft Union group, has created a foodbank at the pub to support the Friends in Need charity. Operators Doug, Kathleen & George have put a supermarket trolley in the pub garden so that people can leave food donations while complying with social distancing rules. Friends in Need looks after local families that have suffered abusive relationships.

The Crown in Costessey, near Norwich, has raised £1,000 for fresh fruit and veg boxes for local NHS staff.  The money will enable licensees Bradley Richards and Trina Lake to make up 100 boxes for Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, and complements their regular food deliveries to NHS staff,  made either close to hospitals or to their homes.  Additionally, a plea to regulars brought in enough toiletries to make up boxes for several local hospitals and care homes, providing daily necessities to vulnerable people.

The Crown and Anchor, Chesterfield has been holding daily online raffles to raise cash for the NHS. Currently they have raised £330, and are also running regular quizzes via Facebook. Elaine, who runs the Craft Union pub with Paul, has channelled her inner Mary Berry by giving baking lessons on Facebook, with her cake becoming a raffle prize that was luckily won by a regular a few days before her 50th birthday.

The Chequers in Aylesford is delivering 150 free meals a week to vulnerable, disabled and isolated OAPs in the local community. The service, funded by generous donations and a band of volunteers to deliver the meals, gives elderly people a hot meal and a friendly face checking on them – from a distance.  One message of thanks read: “The Chequers are stars! I’ve been so worried about my father since my mother was hospitalised, but they provide him with a fresh, hot meal, free and delivered to his door.”

The Post Office Inn in Plympton, Plymouth, organises a weekly online concert to raise funds for charities NHS Charities Together and local St Luke’s Hospice. Every Sunday evening, the pub’s operator Danny Jones is performing and streaming live gigs which can be viewed via the pub’s Facebook page – providing the local community with musical entertainment.

The Swan in Croydon has supported local street artist, Chris Shea – also known as State of the Art – to raise money for the NHS.  Chris has painted a series of art pieces across the city of his son watering a rainbow, in honour of the rainbow campaign of support and thanks to the NHS. The pub has continually promoted the campaign via its social channels, helping it to raise over £9,000 to date. Chris honoured The Swan by painting his 100th piece of work, known as rainbow boy, on the wall of the pub.

The Witton Chimes, a Craft Union pub in Northwich, Cheshire, is on a mission to raise funds for local charity Tiny Steps who provide sensory, soft play and a social café to support families. Last week, operator Adam Prestage and his team of regular customers raised £500 for the charity from the pub’s weekly online ‘Kinky Pinky’ virtual disco.




Hogs Back Brewery offers ‘Barbecue to You’ service

April 2020

Expanded home delivery to bring beer, burgers and bread to locals in lockdown

With the barbecue season upon us, Surrey-based Hogs Back Brewery is expanding its home delivery service to offer fresh bread and meat alongside its beers to the many people making the most of their gardens and outdoor spaces during lockdown.

Customers ordering beer from Hogs Back can now order a fresh meat pack – including barbecue staples burgers and sausages– from award-winning butcher Alf Turner, based in Aldershot, and a fresh bread basket from the family-run Good Taste bakery in Tongham. Hogs Back has also partnered with wine supplier Nectar Imports, enabling customers to order wines by the case as part of their delivery.

Alongside the expanded home delivery range, Hogs Back is also launching a 10% ‘refer a friend’ offer, which gives 10% off an order from new customers and £5 to the existing customer who signs them up. The discount is available to customers ordering from the online shop and via click and collect at the brewery.

Hogs Back Brewery owner Rupert Thompson said: “With the sun out and temperatures set to soar, everyone lucky enough to have a garden, terrace or balcony during lockdown will be dining al fresco. Our Barbecue to You service is a great way to source the barbecue essentials of beer, burgers and bread, delivered to your door in one click.

“In these challenging times, it makes sense for us to help other local businesses where we can, and we’re delighted to be expanding our service to deliver products from Good Taste and Alf Turner, who are both very much a part of our community.

“By choosing to buy fresh goods from local companies, customers can not only enjoy the best locally-produced food and drink, but also help these local businesses to weather the Covid-19 storm.  We’ll definitely raise a glass of brewery-fresh TEA to that!”

The Good Taste bread basket contains loaves of white and multi-seed bread, wholemeal and white rolls and a sweet tray bake, while the Alf Turner meat pack includes four steak burgers, traditional pork sausages, back bacon, diced chicken breast, diced steak and steak mince. The Nectar wines include two whites, two reds, a blush and a sparkling white.

Bread, meat and wine are available to customers also ordering beer from the Hogs Back range, which includes brewery-fresh TEA (Traditional English Ale) and Surrey Nirvana Session IPA, fresh for three days, as well as other draught, bottled and canned beers. Wine sales are by-the-case of six bottles, with no mixed cases available.

Hogs Back will home-deliver bread, meat and wine to customers living in selected postcodes roughly within a 15-mile radius of the brewery. Beer delivery charges are dependent on order value and distance, customers wanting to find out more, or place an order, should visit