Party celebrates Hogs Back Brewery’s fourth hop harvest

September 2018

Hogs Back Brewery celebrated its fourth annual hop harvest with a party for more than 1000 residents, families, friends and members of the Tongham TEA Club. Despite rainfall on the day (Saturday 22nd), spirits were high among the guests enjoying live music, a Kids Zone, street food, and of course plenty of Hogs Back beers –  including Green TEA, made with freshly picked Fuggles hops –  guaranteed a fun and memorable day for guests of all ages.

This year’s party marked the final harvest from the current Hogs Back hop garden opposite the brewery, which is moving to a larger site back on Manor Farm, where the brewery was founded 26 years ago. The new plot behind the brewery is currently being prepared for hop planting and many guests viewed it by taking a short ride on a dray, pulled by Shire horses Cascade and Fuggles, named after hop varieties grown in the garden, who will help to bring in the hop harvest next year.

At the party, Hogs Back managing director Rupert Thompson also named local hospice care provider Phyllis Tuckwell as the company’s charity partner for 2018/19, presenting them with a cheque for £10,000. Hogs Back will aim to raise at least £10,000 more for the charity over the next 12 months. The second donation of £10,000 to Macmillan, the company’s charity of the year in 2017/18, was also presented.

Thompson said, “We would rather have had the rain falling on our hop plants over the dry summer, rather than on guests at our Hop Harvest Party, but everyone had a great time nonetheless.

“It has been wonderful to watch the party grow in popularity over the last four years and become an unmissable event for hundreds of people across Surrey and Hampshire.

“This year’s event was a farewell to the hop garden we planted in 2014 and a first chance for us to show our new, much larger garden to the many local friends and residents who have followed our hop farming journey with interest.”

He added, “The new hop garden embodies everything Hogs Back stands for as a ‘farm brewer’ and will make us an even more sustainable, environmentally-conscious business: we can measure the distance from hop garden to brewery in ‘food feet’ rather than ‘food miles’!”

The party was rooted in the local community with performances from local bands Don’t Fret – who headlined alongside modern pop and funk band Empire –  50s/60s band The Dolomites and Hampshire blues & roots player Grizzly Rhys Morgan. Indie rockers the Outcast Band completed the musical line up.

Younger visitors were able to make their own music thanks to the Rock & Pop Foundation within the expanded Kids Zone, which also offered a Bouncy Castle and face painting.  And party guests of all ages took part in the Hop Garland competition, won by Christina Audrain of Southsea.

Several local businesses and groups were involved in making the event a success.  Barbecue Chefs cooked hundreds of locally-made Alf Turner burgers and sausages, and Stromboli brought an Italian theme to the day with their mouth-watering made-to-order wood-fired pizza, alongside paella from StreetfoodSpain, new for this year.

The stage was kindly donated by Hi Speed Services, and Hedgehogs capably built and took down marquees.  Volunteers from SamFest welcomed everyone on the gate and the 4th Farnham (Tongham) Scouts directed cars and manned the Kids Zone.

Thompson said, “We are delighted to have brought in our hop harvest for a fourth year and celebrated it with local friends and residents. We look forward to welcoming them again to our party on 14 September next year after the harvest of the first crop from our new garden.”

Caption to attached image:

Charity cheque presentations by Rupert Thompson (centre) to Tony Carpenter Director of Marketing & Communications, Phyllis Tuckwell; and Emma Heley, Senior Fundraising Manager – Surrey, Sussex & Kent. Macmillan (Photo courtesy Farnham Herald)

Brakspear raises £42,000 for Marie Curie

September 2018

Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear has raised more than £42,000 for the terminal illness charity Marie Curie over the last 18 months, thanks to enthusiastic and determined fundraising by teams in their 130 pubs and at head office.

Marking the end of the charity partnership, which started in March 2017, Brakspear presented a final cheque to Marie Curie at the Chequers in Berrick Salome near Wallingford, Oxfordshire. Licensees Mark and Sandra Duggan and their team raised £3,290 for the charity, placing them at the top of the fundraising leader board.

Brakspear’s pub and head office teams raised money for Marie Curie in a variety of ways, ranging from the simple but effective collection tin on the bar to events lasting a weekend. In their support for the charity, Brakspear pubs hosted pub quizzes, beer festivals, golf days, live music nights, raffles and auctions, Easter Egg hunts, barbecues, family fun days and more!

As well as events, many pubs raised money regularly by suggesting customers donate money for a carafe of tap water, or adding an optional 50p to a popular menu item. There were also feats of endeavour as team members completed challenges including  the London Marathon and RideLondon100 bike ride in aid of Marie Curie.

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said, “This was our second estate-wide charity partnership and we’re delighted that our pub and head office teams have again risen to the challenge and thrown themselves into fundraising for Marie Curie.

“Many of our licensees, staff and their customers have been touched by Marie Curie at times of need, and were keen to help this charity that, like our pubs, is at the heart of local communities. We’re very proud to have collected this sum, which will enable Marie Curie to do more of their great work helping people living with terminal illnesses, and their families.”

Marie Curie Senior Partnership Manager Helen Stock  said, “We’re grateful fo Brakspear for their fundraising.  Many of their pub teams put huge time and effort into organising events, on top of the demands of running their pub.

“The money they have raised will help us to care for more people affected by any terminal illness, providing emotional support and expert care to people when they need it most.”

Mark Duggan, licensee at the Chequers in Berrick Salome said, “Most of our fundraising was from a huge Garden Party which we put on last September in the pub grounds.  We had live music, a hog roast, garden games and children’s entertainment including horse rides, as well as a Silent Auction and  raffle with some very generous donated prizes.

“Customers were happy to buy tickets to the event, knowing that all proceeds were going to Marie Curie; it’s a charity with wide support and everyone knows the wonderful work they do locally.”

Caption to attached image (l-r): Tom Davies, Brakspear chief executive; Sandra Duggan, licensee at the Chequers in Berrick Salome; Hazel Bendon, Marie Curie local fundraiser, Mark Duggan and Emma Sweet, Brakspear marketing manager

Paddy Irish Whiskey signs on with London Irish

September 2018

Paddy Irish Whiskey has agreed on a high profile partnership with London Irish Rugby Club for the 2018/19 season. Distributor Hi-Spirits will also carry the sponsorship across into in-store activity with supermarkets, as well as on-trade promotions, linked to St Patrick’s Day.

The deal sees Paddy become the Official Whiskey of London Irish, with pouring rights in the Greene King IPA Championship side’s Madejski Stadium in Reading, as well as the bar at the club’s Hazelwood Centre in Sunbury.

Other selected Hi-Spirits brands will also be available on London Irish match days, including Southern Comfort and Buffalo Trace Bourbon. Match-day hospitality packages will be available for Hi-Spirits customers throughout the season to attend the games and see the brand and team in action.

The London Irish Man of the Match award will now be sponsored by Paddy, with the lucky recipient being awarded a bottle of Paddy in the Club Room after the match. 

All hospitality bars at the Madejski will showcase the brand, with hospitality customers and members able to enjoy Paddy in Irish Coffees in the Exiles, Guinness and Platinum lounges and in the Club Room post-match. Samples of the Irish whiskey will be on all tables in hospitality and at the bar in the Club Room after every match.

Paddy will be heavily involved in the club’s popular St Patrick’s Party fixture in the Supporters’ Village, and the weekly Craic E-Zine will be sent to fans in association with Paddy.

Hi-Spirits will be featuring London Irish branding on Paddy bottles in leading supermarket groups across the UK for selected promotional periods during the year, along with competitions and giveaways in the build up to St Patrick’s Day in March. The London Irish link will also be featured in high profile on-trade activation around St Patrick’s Day.

James Pattison, UK brand manager for Paddy with Hi-Spirits, said, “We’re very excited to be teaming up with the iconic London Irish Rugby Football Club. It’s a club with a great deal of history that means a great deal to the fans, and we’re proud to be working alongside them. We look forward to introducing ourselves to the fans, cheering on the boys in green at every game, and toasting to a successful season together on and off the pitch.”

London Irish chief executive, Brian Facer said, “Paddy is all about the Craic and our brands align perfectly.  The potential to be innovative with Paddy at different points during the season are endless, and we are really looking forward to working with Paddy Irish Whiskey and the team at Hi-Spirits this season.”

Paddy owes its name to legendary distillery salesman Paddy Flaherty. Famed throughout his native county Cork for buying rounds of his favourite tipple, he became so synonymous with the whiskey he sold, that in 1913 the distillery owners paid him the ultimate tribute by renaming the whiskey “Paddy” in his honour.

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

Corazón Tequila Launching in the UK

September 2018

Premium Single Estate Tequilas being introduced by Hi-Spirits

With premium tequila in strong growth in the UK, Corazón Tequila is being launched by distributor Hi-Spirits. A four-strong range will be available to the on-trade and off-trade from September.

Figures from Nielsen show that tequila sales grew by 3.9% in value in the UK in the year to June 2018, with premium brands performing even more strongly as consumers continue to seek out spirits with craft and artisan credentials.

The Corazón brand is owned by Sazerac, whose portfolio also spans brands including Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace, Fireball and Paddy Whiskey.

Corazón is produced for Sazerac by the award-winning Casa San Matias Distillery, one of the few family-owned agave estates & distilleries in Los Altos de Jalisco, Mexico. Corazón Tequila is single estate-cultivated, distilled and hand-bottled. The entire Corazón Tequila process comes straight from the heart of its producers. It is made from 100% blue Weber agave sourced from the Highlands of Jalisco with only the highest quality plants selected and used in the traditional production process including cooking in stone ovens. During its unique distillation process, oxygen is infused into the tequila after the second distillation to produce a spirit that is softer and more approachable with enhanced aromas and distinct flavours.

For more than 130 years, Casa San Matias has been committed to producing the best quality tequila in Mexico, making it one of the oldest tequila distilleries in the country. Casa San Matias is an environmentally and socially responsible company. It is one of only four tequila distilleries equipped with a biodigester and has one of the smallest carbon footprints in the tequila industry. It was the first tequila company to be certified as a “Great Place to Work,” was recognised as part of “TOP Companies” in Mexico, and has been certified and recognised for gender equality in the workplace.

The four-strong line-up of Corazón Single Estate Tequilas coming to the UK, all at 40% ABV in a bespoke bottle with a distinctive cork cap, includes Corazón Blanco RSP £32, Corazón Reposado RSP £35, Corazón Añejo RSP £40, and Corazón Extra Añejo RSP £50.

The Casa San Matias Distillery and the Corazon line are both very highly decorated. At the 2018 Los Angeles International Spirits Competition, the Añejo and Extra Añejo were awarded Gold, with Blanco and Reposado winning Silver. The competition saw Casa San Matias win 11 medals in total, including nine for Corazón Tequilas. Corazón de Agave Extra Añejo also won a Double Gold Medal at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.

At the 2017 International Sprits Challenge, Casa San Matias was named Producer of the Year. At the 2016 World Tequila Awards, Corazón was awarded World’s Best Tequila. Corazón Reposado was also awarded 95 points and Extraordinary, Double Recommendation status at the Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2017.

Hi-Spirits is targeting a core demographic of 25-35-year-old cocktail drinkers and spirits explorers with the Corazón range. Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “Quite simply, Casa San Matias is currently distilling the finest tequilas in the world, and we’re delighted to be adding Corazón to our portfolio of brands.

“Tequila is a huge opportunity for the UK spirits market, and with serves generally weighted towards shots in the on-trade in particular, we see a strong opportunity with the launch of the Corazón range to shift that perception.

“We want to engage the growing number of knowledgeable consumers who enjoy cocktails both when they’re out to eat and drink, and at home, and who appreciate spirits with authenticity and provenance, as we’ve seen with the craft gin boom.

“Along with premium cocktail serve ideas, we’re offering information about the heritage of premium tequila and the terroir of agave, tapping into that artisan spirits trend. While consumers appreciate classic cocktails such as the Paloma and Margarita, there is so much more to enjoy. We’re making the Verdita our signature serve for Corazón, positioning it as the ‘unknown classic’ cocktail that consumers will come to love!”

The Verdita (to accompany a 50ml measure of Corazón)
Half bunch of mint
1 bunch of fresh coriander
3 green Jalapenos (can be scaled back if too spicy)
1.3 litres of pure pasteurised pineapple juice
Quarter cucumber with skin
8-10 inch cubes of fresh watermelon
Pinch black pepper
Method: Blend the mix, strain it and chill before serving

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

Cocktail Culture in the spotlight as Hi-Spirits celebrates London Cocktail Week

September 2018

Hi-Spirits will be celebrating the capital’s booming cocktail culture by bringing some of its biggest brands together during London Cocktail Week (LCW) 2018.

Southern Comfort, Buffalo Trace Bourbon and Scapegrace Gin will be headlining a specially created area in the in the Brick Lane Courtyard area of the Old Truman Brewery, branded as the Cocktail Culture Experience presented by Hi-Spirits.

With a ‘secret garden’ feel, the area will feature several bars under a canopy tent, along with snug seating areas where visitors to the LCW Village can enjoy a wide selection of great cocktails served by Hi-Spirits’ expert bar teams. Alongside the three sponsor brands, the bars will also serve a wide selection of drinks made with brands from across the Hi-Spirits portfolio, including Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Italian classic Fernet-Branca and the recently launched Southern Comfort Black with its robust whiskey-forward profile.

With this year’s event running from October 2 – 8, a highlight of the Hi-Spirits area will be the Signature Classic Cocktail bar, a modular mixology experience allowing visitors to personalise their drink. By selecting from classics such as an Old Fashioned, Sour, Negroni or Mule, visitors will be able to choose a base spirit from brands including Southern Comfort, Southern Comfort Black, Buffalo Trace bourbon and others. By then choosing from a range of sweeteners, bitters and garnishes, every drink served will be personalised to each LCW visitor’s taste.

Masterclasses focusing on the heritage, provenance and quality of the Hi-Spirits portfolio will also be at the heart of LCW activity. These will include Buffalo Trace masterclasses exploring some of the range of bourbons from the world’s most awarded distillery, the Buffalo Trace Distillery. The distinctive Scapegrace Van will host masterclasses including a Negroni workshop, a focus on gins from around the world and sessions on premium New Zealand gin Scapegrace itself. To sign up to masterclasses, please visit

Other activity within the Cocktail Culture Experience includes:
• The Main Bar serving spirits and mixers, classic cocktails with a twist and straight up drinks featuring brands from across the Hi-Spirits portfolio;
• The Southern Quarter, serving up the Spirit of New Orleans with Southern Comfort cocktails paired with delicious fried chicken from Mother Clucker, and a chance to try each of the Southern Comfort expressions – Original, Black and 100 Proof.
• The specialist Gin Bar serving a selection of G&Ts and cocktails made from a variety of gins from around the world including Scapegrace, Langley’s Old Tom, The King of Soho and Brooklyn.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, said: “London Cocktail Week is now renowned as a showcase for one of the world’s great cocktail cities, and we’re delighted that our high-profile area in the LCW Village courtyard puts some of the iconic brands from our portfolio at the heart of the celebrations.”

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

Toast of the town: Brakspear brews beer from surplus bread

September 2018

Henley brewer and pub operator Brakspear is collaborating with Toast Ale to brew an ale from surplus bread. Henley on Toast will be sold in pubs during Cask Ale Week (20–30 September), with 30p per pint sold donated to Toast and Feedback, the charity campaigning to end food waste.

Henley on Toast is a 4.1% ale, brewed at Brakspear’s Bell Street Brewery in Henley by head brewer Malcolm Mayo. The recipe, created in collaboration with Toast, uses surplus bread from Lawlor’s bakery in Henley, together with pale, Cara and crystal malts, and a portion of oats. As well as Bramling Cross and Amarillo hops, Cascade is added as a late hop, alongside sliced oranges. The result is a rich auburn ale with tart bitterness and a hint of citrussy zest.

The spent grain from the brewing process is being given to Pete Holmes, a farmer near Maidenhead, to feed to his pigs, ducks and chickens. Most of the malt and hops used in Henley on Toast are British and, with distribution limited to the Brakspear estate, its carbon footprint is minimal.

Mayo said, “Brewing with a new ingredient is always a challenge, but we’re very pleased with Henley on Toast. It’s an easy drinking ale, well balanced with a bit of a zesty kick from the oranges.”

Brakspear chief executive Tom Davies said, “This is the first collaboration brew for the Bell Street Brewery and we’re delighted with the result – a deliciously tasty ale brewed from bread that would otherwise have been thrown away, with a donation towards ending food waste.

“We’re confident our customers will be more than happy to order a pint or two of Henley on Toast in their local, knowing that it supports a worthy cause. Our Honey Bee beer raising funds for Friends of the Earth’s Bee Cause was popular earlier this year, and we had an excellent response to our campaign to get rid of plastic straws, so we know our customers are concerned with environmental issues and expect them to support an end to food waste.”

Toast’s head of partnerships Chris Head said, “We’re delighted to work with Brakspear on this collab beer and really excited about Cask Ale Week. Drinkers will be able to support our environmental mission simply by enjoying a delicious beer. Food production is the biggest impact we have on the planet, yet one-third is never eaten.

“The biggest culprit is bread, so drinking a beer made with surplus loaves is a great way of doing your bit. We can’t wait to raise a glass of Henley on Toast with punters.”

The bread in Henley on Toast has been provided by Lawlor’s, who have been baking in Henley since 1948. Twenty-eight kilos of their brown and white bread went into the brew, producing 12 firkins (864 pints).

Henley on Toast will be available in Brakspear pubs in and around Henley, to find out who will be serving it contact

Caption to attached image (l-r) Richard Ashplant, Brakspear assistant brewer; Emma Sweet, marketing manager and Malcolm Mayo, head brewer, at the Bell Street Brewery