Ed Sheeran Hits The Brakspear Henley Ale Trail

June 2019

Rock star Ed Sheeran has added another prestigious award to his collection of gold discs, Grammys and BRITs, after completing the Brakspear Henley Ale Trail.

The acclaimed songwriter and a group of friends stopped off for a pint at the Saracen’s Head pub on Greys Road as part of the trail, which involves a visit to 10 Brakspear pubs in the town.

Co-licensee Mel Roberson, who run the Saracen’s Head with husband Colin, said: “Collin came to me and said “I think Ed Sheeran’s in the bar”. We Googled a picture of him to make sure it was, and he was so friendly. He stayed for a game of pool and said what a great idea he thinks the Ale Trail is – apparently he only has one local pub where he lives.”

By getting their card stamped in each pub, Ale Trailers qualify for rewards including exclusive Ale Trail t-shirts.

Marketing manager for Brakspear, Emma Sweet, said: “We’re delighted that Ed has completed the Ale Trail and had a chance to enjoy our pubs, which are so much a part of the social life of the town.

“We hope to see him sporting his Henley Ale Trail t-shirt on stage, and also hope that he’ll join us at our annual Ale Trail party in January. We always book a live music act for the party, so if Ed would like the gig, we’d be very happy to consider him!”

Details of the Brakspear Henley Ale Trail are at Participants have a full year from starting the trail to visit all 10 pubs and claim their rewards.

Time for a pre-Brexit Buying Check, says Lynx Purchasing

June 2019

The arrival of summer is the ideal time for hospitality and catering operators to give their business a thorough pre-Brexit buying check, urges buying specialist Lynx Purchasing.

With so much still uncertain, including who will be leading both the country and the ongoing Brexit negotiations, Lynx Purchasing is advising the industry that the abundance of good value British produce now available makes it a good time to make sure robust product sourcing practices are in place.

The advice comes as Lynx Purchasing publishes the Summer 2019 edition of its regular Market Forecast, which offers operators an in-depth look at pricing and product trends over the coming months, using exclusive data gathered from the range of suppliers who work with Lynx Purchasing.

Rachel Dobson, managing director of Lynx Purchasing, says: “The Brexit uncertainty rumbles on, but overall, the next few months are looking positive in produce terms. Weather conditions have been kind, with no repeat of last years’ ‘beast from the east’ or similar challenges, and most crops are expected to be good quality across the summer.

“While every operator is dealing with similar challenges in terms of rising costs and lower consumer confidence, it’s important to remember that there are also costs that can be controlled.
“With a wide choice of British produce at its best across the summer in terms of quality, value and availability, a pre-Brexit buying check looking at menus, ordering procedures, suppliers used and other factors could make all the difference to being ready for whatever challenges are to come,” she added.

Product areas highlighted in the Market Forecast include:

Meat: There have been expected seasonal increases in the price of home produced beef, lamb and poultry, with higher demand for cuts popular for barbecue and grill menus. UK lamb is in demand for export to France in particular, while imported beef is in shorter supply, both of which have a pricing impact. Suppliers can advise on alternative cuts, which can be better value and boost sustainability by making use of the whole animal.

Fish and seafood: There is a strong export market for UK wild caught fish, as well as increasing domestic demand as it becomes increasingly recognised as an environmentally friendly source of protein. Farmed seafood can often better value, and although there have been concerns raised in the media about some practices, it can be a more sustainable option provided it is properly certified. Farmed bass, bream, turbot and halibut will be in good supply.

Berries: The British berries season has started well, with strawberries to be followed by raspberries, blueberries and blackberries as crops ripen. With berries expected to be high quality thanks to good growing conditions, operators should make the most of the opportunity. As well as desserts, try using use fresh berries to flavour and garnish cocktails and spritz-style drinks

Vegetables: Jersey Royal potatoes have been very good quality and value this year, which is a good indicator of a better overall potato crop than last year, when supplies were affected by the weather. Home-grown carrots, broccoli and courgettes are also expected to be high quality. Use ‘served with fresh, seasonal vegetables’ as a menu description to make the most of changing supplies.

Dobson adds: “By making simple improvements to their purchasing, and working with suppliers who understand their needs, operators can generate substantial savings that can mean the difference between staying profitable or going under.

“As ever, there will be some product areas that are a challenge, but overall summer is a great time to put good buying principles into practice, with appealing menus focusing on British produce.”

The Summer 2019 Market Forecast is available to download free from the Lynx Purchasing website.

Lynx Purchasing works with more than 2,200 accounts in the hospitality and catering sector, on a no-membership and no-contract basis that offers like-for-like products at lower prices and often better quality than operators could obtain by negotiating alone.

As purchasing professionals, Lynx works with leading suppliers in the hospitality and catering industry. These include specialist fresh food suppliers, wines & spirits, catering equipment providers, utilities, and specialist service providers such as telecom, business rates consultancy and waste management.

For more information on Lynx Purchasing, visit call 01325 710143 or email

A jewel of a beer! Brakspear brews Rhuby for EAT Food Fest

June 2019

Henley brewer and pub operator Brakspear has launched Rhuby, a rhubarb ale, brewed specially for the town’s new EAT Food Fest event that runs until 29 June.

Brewed at Brakspear’s Bell Street microbrewery, Rhuby is a 4.2% ABV golden ale brewed with locally grown rhubarb. The result is a refreshing, pale gold beer with a subtle fruitiness and warmth that make it a perfect summer drink.

Rhuby is available on draught in a number of Brakspear pubs in and around Henley including the Angel on the Bridge, Catherine Wheel in Goring, the Bull on Bell Street and the White Hart at Nettlebed.

Landord at the White Hart, Ted Docherty, said: “Our pub is just outside Henley but we think of ourselves as part of the town so were keen to get involved in EAT Food Fest as a celebration of local food and drink.

“Rhuby, brewed in Henley with locally grown rhubarb, fits perfectly with that ethos and we’re delighted to be one of the first pubs to put it on the bar: we know customers are going to love drinking it in our pub garden – whatever the weather!”

Bell Street Brewery head brewer Malcolm Mayo said: “It’s always fun to brew with new ingredients. When we were asked to brew a beer for EAT Fest, we wanted something that would reflect the event’s theme of celebrating local food and drink, so we chose to add locally-grown, fresh rhubarb.

“We started with a blend of pale, special roasted malt and malted oats, which gave the beer a gold colour with a red tinge. For hops, we used Bramling Cross for bitterness, then added late hop Cascade and Amarillo for aroma. Finally, we added the fresh rhubarb after the boil, which gave it a subtle flavour. We’re delighted with the final beer – it really is summer in a glass.”

EAT Food Fest is a new event for Henley designed to champion and celebrate all things food and drink locally. It kicked off with The Big Feast on Saturday 15 June, when food and drink stalls filled Market Square. Screenings of foodie films, chef demos and food and drink tastings are taking place over the next 10 days, with the final celebration a Riverside Fiesta at Mill Meadows on Saturday 29 June.

Caption to attached image: Bella Redrup, team member at the Angel on the Bridge, pours a pint of Rhuby

Fresh Food Hub offers one stop shop for chefs

June 2019

Chefs and caterers can now order the very best fresh produce from specialist suppliers around the UK, matched to their exact menu specifications, using the newly launched Fresh Food Hub.

Offering fresh produce, fish, meat and dairy from established regional suppliers, and backed by the national resources of Bidfresh, the one-stop service can be accessed using computer, tablet, or mobile phone via the free-to-use freshfoodhub app.

Fresh Food Hub brings together trusted suppliers already used by more than 15,000 chefs in restaurants, hotels, pubs, contract caterers and professional kitchens across the UK hospitality sector.

Chefs can access the hub at or by searching for ‘freshfoodhub’ on the App Store or Google Play. Once signed up using their customer account number for any of the businesses on the system; they receive their own login. Additional logins are also available for use by other team members, such as accounts – enabling them to access past invoices etc. as required.

The businesses brought together on Fresh Food Hub are Direct Seafoods, Kingfisher Brixham, Kingfisher Midlands, Daily Fish Supplies, Neve Fleetwood, Southbank Fresh Fish, Henson, Campbell Brothers, Taylor Foods, Rustic Cheese and Oliver Kay.

Stephen Oswald, CEO of Bidfresh, said: “The specialist knowledge and customer relationships of our individual businesses are what we were built on and are vital to our business. With the addition of the online ordering system, time is freed up for our account managers to better service the needs of our customers, whilst day-to-day order entry can be easily processed at the press of a button by using the freshfoodhub app.

“Most customers can benefit from this convenient and easy-to-use online facility. For example, many chefs are unable to order during office hours – having to wait until after service to place orders – so the app offers a quick way to repeat order or manage stock whilst in the kitchen, rather than relying on voicemails which can often be unclear or missing detail.

“Fresh Food Hub offers chefs a new, convenient way to access and order our full product range, without affecting their established relationships with the specialists in our individual businesses.”

Benefits of Fresh Food Hub include:

• Specialist ‘anywhere, anytime’ ordering system tailored to chefs and caterers
• Order to satisfy all fresh ingredient requirements – produce, fish, meat and dairy
• Order anytime, anywhere via mobile phone, tablet or computer
• Pricing and full product information including nutritional and allergen information
• Immediate proof of order, easy repeat orders, and access to order and invoice history
• Access to special offers and the latest market information
• View order cut off times and avoid voicemail order errors
• Add exact product specification at check-out

Visitors to the Universal Cookery and Food Festival 2019 on June 25 will have the opportunity to see Fresh Food Hub in action. Run in association with the Craft Guild of Chefs, this year’s UCFF takes place at Farrington Oils in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire.

Drinkaware boosts senior team with new appointments

June 2019

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware has welcomed two new senior team members to deliver its ambitious strategy to tackle alcohol harm.

Adam Jones joins as Director, Business Development, Partnerships & Public Affairs, responsible for managing the relationship between Drinkaware and its 131 funders as well as partners in the private and public sector and Government at all levels.

Jones has held senior roles in both the not-for-profit and commercial sectors, including Commercial & Business Development Director at the National Housing Federation, and marketing and commercial roles at gas safety scheme CORGI. Most recently, he was MD at the award-winning Lallapolosa Baking Company.

He said: “I’m delighted to be joining Drinkaware and can see many exciting opportunities to work with our funders and partners to take the important messages about responsible drinking out to a wider audience.”

Jennifer Walters has joined Drinkaware as Director of Communications
Jennifer Walters has joined Drinkaware as Director of Communications

Jennifer Walters has joined Drinkaware as Director of Communications. Jennifer has a wealth of experience in communications, mainly in the charity/not for profit sector, having worked for Unicef UK, The Children’s Society, Leonard Cheshire, Creative Skillset and Action for Children.

Walters will be heading up all Drinkaware communications to its wide-ranging media audiences as well as funders and other stakeholders. She says: “I am thrilled to be joining the team at Drinkaware and have ambitious plans for communications to play an even stronger role in tackling alcohol misuse and harm.”

Drinkaware chief executive Elaine Hindal said: “Drinkaware is on a journey; as UK drinking trends change, we need to find new ways to change consumer behaviour around alcohol, particularly among ‘hard to reach’ drinkers.

“As we evolve, we need to bring new skills into the organisation, to ensure that we, along with our funders and partners, are able to maximise every opportunity to reduce alcohol related harms. Adam and Jennifer join Drinkaware with impressive experience and skillsets that make them an asset to us, and to the funders and partners with whom they will be working to deliver our alcohol harm reduction agenda.”


The Southern Showdown winners headed for New Orleans

June 2019

Two triumphant bartenders are headed on a VIP trip to New Orleans, birthplace of Southern Comfort and home of the soon-to-be-launched Sazerac House immersive cocktail experience. The prize is reward for their new signature serves for Southern Comfort, which have won the Southern Showdown 2019 cocktail competition.

Adam Day of Wilderness in Manchester and Scott Addison of Beast, London will be guests of Southern Comfort UK distributor Hi-Spirits in New Orleans in July for the Tales of the Cocktail festival, enjoying the party spirit of the city where bartender M.W. Heron first blended Southern Comfort in 1874.

The grand final of the Southern Showdown, held on board the Dixie Queen riverboat on the Thames, saw Adam, Scott and two other finalists prepare and serve their cocktails for the judges and around 300 invited industry guests. Each bartender had their own satellite bar on the boat, giving them the space to demonstrate their skill, flair and product knowledge.

The winning cocktails were:

• Showdown Winner, selected by the on-board judges: Adam Day with the Lagniappe (pronounced Lan-yap). A rosé twist on a classic kir cocktail combining Southern Comfort Original with stone fruit flavours including blackberry.
• People’s Champion, voted for by the guests on board: Scott Addison with Black Banana, a fresh take on the banana daiquiri, made with Southern Comfort Black and a smoky, grilled banana syrup.

Entrants were asked to put Southern Comfort at the heart of their recipe, devising a cocktail that tastes great, is easily replicable and above all tells a great story. Cocktails included the bartender’s choice of either Southern Comfort Original, Southern Comfort Black or Southern Comfort 100 Proof.

Toni Law, Southern Comfort brand manager with Hi-Spirits, said: “This year’s Southern Showdown was the most challenging yet. There were mystery judges on board the Dixie Queen, so none of the finalists knew when they were being marked as they made and served their signature cocktails.

“The satellite bars added an additional element not seen in other competitions, with 300 guests eager to try each of the cocktails queuing up to be served. All four finalists did a fantastic job and should be very proud. The new serves created for the competition demonstrate the versatility of the Southern Comfort range in cocktails that capture the true spirit of New Orleans.”

Showdown winner Adam Day said: “Every drink was delicious and it must have been extremely difficult for the judges to choose a winner. I think my drink won because it was a different interpretation, not what you expect from a Southern Comfort cocktail.

“I called it Lagniappe, which is Creole slang for ‘baker’s dozen’ or a little something extra. The beauty of batching a drink is that you’re giving guests the luxury of time, they’re not waiting at the bar, they can get a tasty drink straight away and spend that time with friends.”

The other finalists were:
• Dan Crowther of Hedonist, Leeds with McCauley’s Ice Tea. Bringing together two cultures and their different styles of tea, made with Southern Comfort 100 Proof and a homemade Yorkshire Iced Tea.
• Gareth Rees of the Fat Bear, London, with the Count of Orleans. A British cream tea take on a classic milk punch, infusing Southern Comfort Black with a blend of teas.

The four were selected after a Bartenders’ Challenge designed to test all aspects of bartending, held at Hi-Spirits’ new cocktail bar at the company’s offices in Surrey. Twelve entrants – two from each of the six regions – were picked from more than 200 initial entries received.

The finalists were put through their paces by a judging panel which included bar and cocktail consultant Jake Burger, renowned bartender and operator Tristan Stephenson, last year’s Southern Showdown Global Winner Lee Jones and international drinks consultant Julian De Feral.

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

Caption to attached image (l-r): People’s Champion Scott Addison; Southern Showdown 2019 winner Adam Day; and Global Southern Showdown 2018 Winner Lee Jones