Double Award Win for Hogs Back Brewery’s Outback

October 2018

Hogs Back Brewery in Tongham is celebrating a double win at the World Beer Awards 2018. Its Outback Pale Ale picked up both a Gold Design Award and a Silver medal in the Golden Pale Ales category.

The World Beer Awards judge thousands of beers from all over the world to find the best in the internationally recognised beer styles. A panel of over 100 international beer experts tasted the beers in London earlier this year, while a separate team of design specialists assessed bottles and cans for their visual appeal. Outback was the only UK brand to win a Gold Design Award, and one of three Golden Pale Ales to win a Silver medal.

Rupert Thompson, managing director of Hogs Back Brewery, said: “We’re delighted that Outback Pale Ale has been recognised at this renowned international beer competition, especially as it is one of our newer beers, only launched in 2016.

“It’s great to receive accolades for both the beer’s taste and the can design – both are vital to a beer’s commercial success, as customers choose a brand first on its ‘shelf appeal’, then if they like the taste, they’ll buy it again. It’s good to know we have managed to get both aspects right with Outback Pale Ale.”

The Outback cans show the iconic Hogs Back hog against a London skyline, in reference to the brewery’s location, as Thompson explains: “Although Surrey is hardly remote, on a clear day we can see as far as London from the brewery, so we feel we are brewing on the wilder side of the capital, in ‘London’s Outback’.”

Outback Pale Ale is available in cans from supermarkets and specialist drinks stores, and on draught in pubs and bars. It is a 4.5% ABV golden ale with a light body and well-balanced, hoppy and citrus flavours, brewed from fine English malts and hops including Centennial, Cascade and, grown on Hogs Back’s own hop garden, Fuggles.

Caption to attached image: Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson with the awards for Outback Pale Ale

Drinkaware partners with Walking Football Scotland

October 2018

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware has become the research partner of walking football in Scotland, supported by the Scottish Football Association (SFA) and Walking Football Scotland.
The partnership, announced recently at Lesser Hampden in Glasgow, extends Drinkaware’s involvement in walking football north of the border and builds on its existing walking football partnership with Derby County FC.

Walking football is a slower-paced version of the beautiful game for the over-50s, and used as a way of improving their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

Through the partnership, Drinkaware will be gathering vital information from walking football participants on their health and alcohol consumption, allowing them to monitor participants’ drinking habits and subsequently try to improve them.

Drinkaware will also be distributing information on drinking and its effects on health to Walking Football participants in order to educate them on the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption and the benefits of regular exercise.

At the launch, Drinkaware Chief Executive Elaine Hindal said, “Drinkaware is delighted to be partnering with the Scottish Football Association.

“Walking football is an increasingly popular way for older people to improve their health and wellbeing. Their physical fitness and mental health improve, they gain a new group of friends to counter social isolation and, on the way, they will generally cut back on their drinking.”

“Building on our previous successes with walking football in England, this partnership is a fantastic new opportunity which allows us to work directly with communities across Scotland to help people make better choices about their drinking.”

Scottish FA Chief Executive Ian Maxwell said, “The health benefits of both responsible, informed drinking and increasing participation in sport are obvious. We are extremely pleased to welcome Drinkaware on board to both help to grow walking football in Scotland and improve knowledge and awareness of responsible drinking.”

Former Scotland Team Manager and walking football ambassador Craig Brown added, “Walking Football is a fantastic way for people of my generation, who are perhaps no longer able to play at a quick pace, to participate in this wonderful sport and remain active.”

Captions to attached image:

(l-r): Andy Gould, Head of Football Development, Scottish FA; Gary McLaughlin, Chairman of Walking Football Scotland; Ian Maxwell, CEO of Scottish FA; Elaine Hindal and Craig Brown, former Scotland team Manager and Walking Football ambassador

Time to ‘Brexit-proof’ your business, warns Lynx Purchasing

October 2018

Hospitality and catering operators should take steps now to ‘Brexit-proof’ their businesses in advance of the UK’s exit from the EU, advises buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.

With uncertainty still surrounding the details of Brexit, including both the supply chain implications and the availability of labour, the newly-published Autumn 2018 edition of the Lynx Purchasing Market Forecast urges businesses to implement measures to protect their profits as best they can.

“The big picture may seem daunting, but there are still steps that every operator can take to ‘Brexit-proof’ their business, to an extent at least,” says Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing. “While we can’t change the big picture on Brexit, there are plenty of small measures operators can implement that can add up to a big difference on the bottom line.

“We’re already working with many of our customers to help put the measures in place needed to help them to trade through what will clearly be a challenging market for some time to come.”
Advice to operators included on the new Market Forecast includes:

• Protect the supply chain and product availability, by wherever possible using suppliers who source from either within the UK, or from outside the EU. Where it’s not possible to source British products, explore non-European substitutes;

• Develop recipes that don’t rely on specific products from a named supplier or a particular destination or country, and design menus that can be changed quickly and cost-effectively;
• Build flexibility into the system, so that chefs and managers can quickly respond to changes in supply, availability and prices;

• Stay informed about what’s happening. Look behind the ‘doom and gloom’ headlines to the updates from supply chain specialists and trade associations, and ask suppliers to provide up-to-date regular market information. Good intelligence will help to maintain margins in the face of all the uncertainty, and to keep the business competitive and profitable.

The Market Forecast draws on exclusive data from a range of suppliers working with Lynx Purchasing to look at hospitality buying trends. As caterers plan Christmas menus, there are a number of product areas spotlighted in the Autumn Market Forecast. These include:

• Poultry: Turkey prices are expected to be volatile this year, reflecting the wider poultry market. Problems in Brazil, a major supplier to the global poultry trade, expected increases in feed costs and trade arrangements, and high demand in Europe, will all have an impact on poultry prices in the run-up to the festive period.

• Beef: Also popular on festive menus, beef prices have moved steadily upwards this year after the cold winter followed by the hot, dry summer hit feed prices. Lower demand for forequarter cuts should make them better value than topsides and silversides, while steak prices will remain firm.

• Potatoes: Potato planting was delayed by the spring freeze, and hopes that the crop would recover were given another knock as the long, hot dry summer continued. Both potatoes and potato products are expected to see higher prices this autumn and winter.

• Fish: Salmon is another festive staple, and while North Sea salmon prices are down from their highest point this year, they are still well above 2017 levels. Forecasts for Norwegian salmon this year are relatively low due to very cold water temperatures limiting growth.

• Dairy: Dairy inflation saw UK butter prices increase by 50% in the first half of the year, and while prices have stabilised to an extent, they are still higher than many operators will have budgeted for. Cream and full fat milk have also seen prices increase due to the higher fat content. Eggs are also expected to continue to increase in price as producers pass on higher feed costs.

Dobson adds, “The Market Forecast includes plenty of ideas for operators to overcome pricing challenges; for example by substituting alternatives to butter in recipes, using menu descriptions such as ‘served with seasonal veg’ to maintain flexibility, and being ready to switch supplier contracts to get the best prices on commodities such as cooking oil.”

The Autumn 2018 Market Forecast is available to download free from the Lynx Purchasing website at Lynx-Purchasing-Market-Forecast-Autumn-2018.

Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 hospitality and catering operators to match them with the best suppliers and get the best possible prices on food and drink, as well as a whole range of essential products and services. Lynx’s buying experts help operators buy better and save time and money, year after year.

For more information on Lynx Purchasing, visit email or call 01274 852 171.

The heat is on! Fireball UK recruiting new Brand Ambassadors

October 2018

Fast-growing spirit Fireball is in the market for new, aptly named, Chief Fireball Officers (CFO) to help spread the word. In a very different brief to the standard brand ambassador role, a “typical” day at the office will see the CFOs engage with Fireball fans in key bars, nightclubs and music venues, as well as providing support at festivals and events around the UK.

The new recruits will join current brand ambassador Matt Reynolds on the Fireball circuit. Matt currently combines the role with playing in several live rock bands, and with the role typically requiring a three day a week commitment, the new CFOs will also have time to indulge other pursuits.

The spicy cinnamon flavour of Fireball makes it a popular bar call as part of a big night out, with the brand over-indexing amongst 18 to 25-year-olds, and growing its share of the shot market in the UK on-trade. Fireball has been in double digit growth for the past five years in the UK, and is one of the world’s fastest growing spirit brands.

The brand has a strong affinity with live music, with December 2018 seeing the third annual Fuelling The Fire Tour of O2 music venues around the UK, with bands in this year’s live line-up including Flogging Molly, The Bronx, Face to Face and Fireball’s Hottest Band for 2018, Lost in Stereo.

James Pattison, Fireball UK brand manager with UK distributor Hi-Spirits, said: “Most spirit brands will look for ambassadors who can deliver tastings and masterclasses as part of their daily routine, but our new Chief Fireball Officers are far more likely to be out front ensuring that customers are having a big night out and creating long-lasting and meaningful relationships with venue bar staff, than making drinks behind the bar.

“In fact, a CFO might be a musician like Matt, or in another walk of life such as a tattooist, barber or skater. It’s a hands-on, all-in, get involved role, and needs a larger-than-life character to take on the challenge. As we continue to expand Fireball’s presence in bars, gigs and events across the board, this is a unique, and well-paid, opportunity for the right person.”

To help with the recruitment drive, Matt Reynolds will be appearing in a series of short films on social media spotlighting the CFOs’ duties. He said: “When I approached Fireball UK to work as their first brand ambassador, I was genuinely a fan of the brand, with one foot in the bar industry and the other planted firmly in the UK’s underground DIY music scene.

“What has followed over the past year is a ride that I absolutely couldn’t have predicted. I’ve travelled up and down the country meeting people passionate for the brand. I’ve partied at tailgate frat parties after college football games in the States and at one point I even took a cab ride around London with one of my favourite bands, asking them daft questions and finally holding up traffic outside of Abbey Road Studio to get ‘that’ photo on the zebra crossing.

“Hi-Spirits and Fireball remain more supportive and encouraging than any other employer I’ve been lucky enough to have. Heading for that interview was one of the best career and life decisions I’ve ever made!”

Anyone who thinks they have what it takes to be the next Chief Fireball Officer should head over to and follow the steps to apply.

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

Minimise alcohol harms over festive period, urges Drinkaware

October 2018

As pubs and bars prepare for the festive season, alcohol education charity Drinkaware is urging operators to create an environment where customers can have a great time, while minimising the risk of alcohol related harms.

Drinkaware Director of Business Development & Partnerships Rommel Moseley said, “Raising a glass of seasonal ale or festive fizz is part of the Christmas and New Year celebrations for many people and most of them will enjoy alcohol responsibly.

“However, the sheer number of people coming into pubs, clubs and bars over the festive season inevitably means a heightened risk of alcohol harms. Responsible operators will tackle this by both helping their customers to drink in moderation, and being alert and ready to support those who may be vulnerable after drinking too much.

“It’s also important to look after designated drivers and make sure they enjoy their visit as much as the rest of their group. With the huge choice of interesting soft drinks and great tasting no-alcohol beers now available, catering for drivers, and others who choose not to drink, has never been easier.”

He added, “Drinkaware is able to support operators with a range of tools, including our Drinkaware Crew training, an e-learning programme for staff, and downloadable posters.
“Our e-learning programme helps staff to recognise and support customers who may be vulnerable after drinking too much, and it supports other schemes around customer safety, such as Ask Angela. Operators should ensure staff are trained on any new initiatives ahead of the busy festive season.”

Drinkaware tips for reducing festive alcohol harms
• Stock a good selection of soft drinks for customers who choose not to drink alcohol, including designated drivers. If customers have a choice of soft drinks, they are more likely to substitute them for an alcoholic drink at intervals during the evening, which will help to limit their overall alcohol consumption.
• Include no or low alcohol options on your drinks list. Drinks that are low in alcohol don’t have to be low on taste and many brewers, for example, have focused on the lower alcohol sector lately, producing flavourful beers with lower ABVs.
• Review your wine offer. Choosing house wines that sit at the lower end of the ABV scale will help many customers to reduce their alcohol intake. Similarly, offer wine in a 125ml serve and make customers aware this size is available.
• Serve food for the same hours as you serve drink, or as close as possible. Food slows the absorption of alcohol, so customers are less likely to become vulnerable as a result of drinking too much, too quickly.
• Make it very clear that you will not serve alcohol to customers who are drunk, or who are attempting to buy for a drunken friend, both of which are against the law. Drinkaware and the British Beer & Pub Association have produced a ‘Can’t Get Served’ poster to communicate this to customers, downloadable free from the Drinkaware website.

Training for staff

Drinkaware’s Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course gives customer-facing staff the skills and knowledge to identify alcohol-related vulnerability and support customers at risk from harm.

The course helps staff to understand what vulnerability means, how to spot customers who are vulnerable to harm after drinking, and gives practical advice on how to support them. It includes scenarios with different types of vulnerable customers, including victims of drunken sexual harassment, to illustrate the appropriate responses to each, and asks questions after each of the three modules. Staff have to score 70% to pass the course.

The Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness course was created following the success of Drinkaware Crew training which has now been delivered in 21 areas across the country. While Drinkaware Crew is ideal for larger, 500+ capacity venues, the e-learning programme can be used to train staff in smaller pubs and bars.

Moseley added, “We are grateful to the many licensees who already support our goals, whether they’re displaying posters, training staff, or taking part in responsible drinks retailing schemes such as Best Bar None. The best pubs and bars are helping us all to change drinking habits for the better.”


Unique Hospitality Management to open 11th pub and first in Hertfordshire

October 2018

Unique Hospitality Management has acquired the site of the former Loch Fyne restaurant in Hertford to open its next pub.

The 120-cover venue, which opens in November, will form part of the company’s Aspley Pubs business, which also includes Hart House in Fleet, Hampshire which opened earlier this year, and The Three Locks in Stoke Hammond, near Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire.

Currently undergoing refurbishment, The Hummingbird will have a similar feel to the company’s award-winning 185 Watling St Pub & Kitchen in Towcester, Northamptonshire, which is a converted Georgian town house in the town’s high street.

Unique Hospitality Management managing director Andrew Coath said: “The Hummingbird is a quirky site in terms of the style of the building for a pub. We will be offering a very casual menu, while the drinks offer will include a big focus on cocktails. It will offer something for everyone on any occasion.”

The company is planning to open another site in early 2019. The Hummingbird is its third launch this year, following on from the opening of Star Pubs & Bars lease the Imperial Arms in London’s Chelsea Design Quarter in February and Hart House.

The Hummingbird is the company’s first opening in Hertfordshire. It also operates pubs in Bedfordshire, where its head office is based, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Hampshire, Berkshire and London.

Picture caption: Ready to take flight: Andrew Coath’s Unique Hospitality Management open The Hummingbird in Hertford in November