Hogs Back Brewery puts Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager in keg

January 2016

Chocolate on tap

Customers in Mitchells & Butlers pubs will be able to satisfy their cravings for chocolate and beer in one easy serve, as Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager from Hogs Back Brewery goes into keg format in time for the three key chocolate occasions of Valentine’s, Mothers’ Day and Easter.

Montezuma’s is the world’s first authentic chocolate lager, launched in 2014 by Hogs Back Brewery in collaboration with Montezuma’s Chocolate.  Mitchells & Butlers will be the first operator to take the beer in keg, putting in on the bar in around 110 of their ‘Castle’ concept pubs.

A 4.5% ABV light, refreshing beer with a well-balanced chocolate and hop flavour, Montezuma’s won a Gold award at the International Beer Challenge 2014. It was developed by Hogs Back Brewery with Montezuma’s Chocolate, based in Sussex, using a natural essence from their ‘Lordy Lord’ dark chocolate bar.  The lager itself is based on the recipe for Hogs Back’s Hogstar English Lager, which is brewed with five different hops and special botanicals, and is matured for over a month to allow flavours to deepen.

Rupert Thompson, Hogs Back Brewery managing director, says, “Montezuma’s appeals both to beer ‘geeks’ looking to try something genuinely different, and to more mainstream drinkers who are intrigued by the idea of ‘chocolate in a glass’. We’re pleased to be putting this new, kegged version into more than 100 pubs at the peak time of year for consumer interest in all things chocolate.”

CAPTION TO ATTACHED IMAGE: Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson with Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager

Bestway launches new ranges to help operators take advantage of wine trends

January 2016

Bestway Wholesale, the UK’s leading independent wholesaler, is expanding its wine offer with new lines designed to help on-trade operators capitalise on consumer trends.

Wine sales in the on-trade are valued at £3.9bn by the IWSR, with wine accounting for almost 20% of the value of drinks bought when consumers are out in pubs, bars and restaurants. Helping operators maximise the opportunity, Bestway’s new additions are Royal Prosecco, Villa Principal Rioja Tempranillo and two ranges:  the Toro Riendo own label ‘everyday’ Spanish wines and the Cellier D’Or range of French wines, which will be sold exclusively by Bestway in the UK.

Prosecco overtook Champagne as the UK’s favourite sparkling wine last year.  Roopinder Toor, Bestway licensed category controller, said “We have seen triple digit growth in Prosecco sales at Bestway over the last year, and are delighted to be bringing Royal Prosecco to market.

“It is a quality brand, produced in Treviso which has continually proven itself as the home of the best Prosecco, and offers bright and fresh fruit flavours that make it the perfect sparkler for a range of occasions, whether accompanying food in a restaurant or sharing with friends in the bar on a night out.”

He added, “Royal Prosecco is a worthy addition to Bestway’s sparkling wine offer. Both our Royal Cava and Lelac Champagne are multi-award winners.”

Spanish wine sales have grown across the board, with Rioja achieving a 10% increase last year. A third of all wines from the Rioja region are exported to the UK.

Villa Principal Rioja Tempranillo is produced for Bestway by winemakers with more than 100 years’ experience and is a rich, fruity wine of exceptional quality. Toor commented, “Sales of Rioja through Bestway are ahead of the market growth, which is already impressive.  Such is its popularity in the UK that it is becoming a ‘bar call’ and Villa Principal is a wonderful example of the style which will enable operators to make exceptional margins.”

With the growth of Rioja, consumers are exploring the wider Spanish wine offer – a trend which the Toro Riendo range of everyday wines caters for with its five variants:  dry, medium and sweet whites, a medium bodied red and a medium dry rosé.

Bill Creighton, Bestway wine category manager, said, “The Toro Riendo (Laughing Bull) range presents a playful, modern image.  Bar fridges are full of new world wines, but Europe still has a key role to play and Toro Riendo is the perfect opportunity for licensees to capitalise on the category.”

Finally, completing the new line up is an exclusive label from France, Cellier D’Or, which comprises red, white and rosé variants.

Royal Prosecco and Villa Principal Rioja Tempranillo will be promoted in Bestway and Batleys depots throughout February with a discounted case price of £29.99 and £24.99 respectively, and will also be available for free delivery.

Bestway offers its customers a range of added value services to help them grow their wine business, including: wine list advice and printing, and guidance on selecting wines to match food menus.

Fireball Friday

December 2015

Fireball has launched a campaign to get the weekend off to a scorching start with the chance for consumers to win prizes every Fireball Friday.

The fast-growing cinnamon liqueur is inviting consumers to post Instagram pictures showing how they enjoy Fireball on a Friday. By following FireballUK on Instagram and using the hashtag #FireballFriday, consumers are entered into a digital raffle.

Weekly prizes will include iPods, festival tickets, headphones, speakers, and other giveaways, with a winner selected every Friday until April 2016.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Fireball distributor Hi-Spirits, said: “Fireball is part of ‘the weekend starts here’ ritual for many consumers, enjoyed as a chilled shot and in mixed drinks. We’re celebrating that with our Fireball Friday giveaways by inviting our consumers to show us how they kick off the weekend with Fireball.”

Fireball will also have a presence at a series of party nights at venues around the UK. Starring on Friday 13 November, the custom-built Fireball Dive Bar will be on tour, with the Fireball team on hand to offer sampling, raffles and giveaways.  Details of dates on the tour are online at

  • Figures for global spirit sales collated by IWSR show that Fireball is the world’s fastest growing liqueur brand, and it is now ranked at number 10 in IWSR World Class Brands listings, based on international sales volumes.  The ranking reflects global growth for Fireball from just over 2m cases in 2013, to more than 4.2m cases in 2014.

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


Enterprise Inns serves up first White Bine beer in a century

December 2015

Hogs Back Brewery Farnham White bitter offers unique ale for January

Hogs Back Brewery has marked the start of the first harvest from its Hop Garden with a special event for customers, the local media, and beer writers. The Surrey brewer’s guests had the opportunity to see the entire process from picking fresh hops right through to enjoying a ‘green hopped’ pint of ale over a picnic lunch in the garden.
The harvest includes the Farnham White Bine variety, a near-extinct hop once highly-prized by brewers for its aroma. Hogs Back Brewery is bringing the White Bine back to its home in the 250th anniversary year of its development by local hop farmer Mr Peckham Williams of nearby Badshot Lea.
As well as picking some of the first hops from the 3.5 acre hop garden adjacent to the brewery, the group spent time at the nearby Hampton Estate, which will be drying the Hogs Back Brewery crop for use in its beers, including flagship ale TEA.
After seeing some of Hampton Estate’s crop of Fuggles hops cut, picked and dried, it was back to the brewery where head brewer Miles Chesterman added whole hops from the Hogs Back garden to a specially-brewed ale. This ‘green hopping’ was a traditional way to celebrate the harvest in hop-growing communities.
Hogs Back Brewery managing director Rupert Thompson also demonstrated a selection of traditional hop-picking equipment, including antique stilts used to reach the highest hop flowers, on loan from the Farnham Museum. Thompson said: “We’re very proud to be reviving the local hop-growing tradition, so it was wonderful to welcome our guests and celebrate traditions such as raising a glass of green hopped ale.
“There has been great interest locally in the hop garden, and we’re collecting many of our friends and neighbours’ memories of Farnham’s hop picking heritage. As we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the arrival of the Farnham White Bine, we’re also very much looking forward. We’re drawing on Britain’s rich brewing heritage to create innovative styles such as our Hogstar English Lager and Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager, as well as continuing with our traditional ales such as TEA, and the hop garden is central to our approach.”
Tim Hampson, award-winning beer writer and chairman of the Guild of British Beer Writers, said: “It was an excellent event, and I learnt a lot about the process of growing, picking and preparing hops for brewing. There is huge consumer interest in local food and drink, so it’s great to see a British brewer investing in growing British hops for their own beers.”
As well as the Farnham White Bine, Hogs Back Brewery is also harvesting Fuggles, used in TEA, and Cascade, used in Hogstar English Lager. The brewery is expecting a crop of around 30 zentners or 1,500 kilos – enough for 25% of their annual beer production.
Captions to attached images:
Rupert Thompson with vintage hop stilts
Head brewer Miles Chesterton (far right) leads hop picking
Hogs Back Brewery
• Hogs Back Brewery was founded in 1992 in Tongham, Surrey, in the heart of the traditional Surrey hop growing area, and bought by current owner Rupert Thompson in 2011.
• Its flagship brand TEA, or Traditional English Ale, is the leading independent ale in Surrey and increasing in popularity throughout London and the South East, as well as being sold in leading supermarkets. TEA was recently awarded the Gold medal in the Best Bitter Category for the London and South East Area by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.
• The Hogs Back Brewery range includes a number of award-winning draught and bottled ales. Recent launches include Hogstar English Lager and Montezuma’s Chocolate Lager, both demonstrating Hogs Back Brewery’s ability to combine brewing expertise and tradition with product innovation to create distinctive, memorable beers. Hogstar won a Gold award at the Society of Independent Brewers’ National Keg Beer Competition 2015. Last year, Hogs Back also launched a traditional cloudy cider, Hazy Hog.
• In 2014 Hogs Back Brewery planted its own hop field on land adjacent to the brewery, bringing the traditional but near-extinct Farnham White Bine hop variety back to its Surrey home.
• Hogs Back Brewery is growing its presence in both the on and off trade. Customers include Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Majestic Wine, JD Wetherspoon, Mitchells & Butlers, Greene King and Spirit Pub Company

Issued on behalf of: Hogs Back Brewery
Further information: Ros Shiel: / 07841 694137
John Porter: / 07734 054389

Beer Sommelier 100th Accreditation

November 2015

The number of Beer Sommeliers has reached the 100 milestone following a handful of recent accreditations by global beer education body the Beer Academy.

Linda Sheehan of Barry Group in Ireland became the 100th Beer Sommelier after passing the final stage of the assessment at the Beer Academy offices in London earlier this month.  Two other candidates, from the UK and Lithuania, successfully completed their Beer Academy accreditation on the same day.

The Beer Sommelier accreditation is the ultimate qualification in beer knowledge. To succeed, candidates must first submit a written application including a portfolio demonstrating their work in promoting beer.

If successful at this stage, they attend an assessment with Beer Academy director of training Alex Barlow, where they are questioned on their portfolio, before being asked to identify a number of beer styles and off flavours, and to recommend beer matches for a range of dishes.

Jerry Avis, chief executive officer of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, which operates the Beer Academy, said: ‘We are delighted to have reached the 100 mark on Beer Sommelier accreditations. Since launching the qualification in 2011, we have seen demand for it grow in tandem with the interest in beer and brewing both in the UK and abroad.

“For beer professionals across the industry, securing this endorsement of their beer knowledge has been of enormous value, opening new opportunities for them to host beer tastings, design beer lists or deliver beer training. Beer Sommelier accreditation is fast becoming a quality marque, used by brewers, operators, educators, publishers and others seeking professionals with beer knowledge.”

Sheehan is currently International Trade Specialist & Exclusive Label Brand Ambassador for Alcohol with Barry Group, a leading independent retail and wholesale company with franchises including Carry Out specialist off-licences. She has worked in the food and drink industry internationally for 14 years.

Sheehan said, “My love of beer guided me to the Beer Academy and I completed four of its training programmes before applying for Beer Sommelier accreditation.

“The world of beer is becoming ever more diverse and dynamic and offers exciting opportunities. I’m keen to engage more people across retail, wholesale, on and off trade channels with beer and this highly-regarded qualification will add huge value to my endeavours.  Becoming the 100th Beer Sommelier makes it an even greater celebration.”

Beer Sommelier accreditation has been achieved by beer professionals in 16 countries, among them brewers, licensees, restaurateurs, writers and marketeers, On passing the accreditation, Beer Sommeliers are presented with a certificate and listed with a biography on the Beer Academy website