Inapub Magazine Spring 2022 Issue 98

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Issue 98 Spring 2022 £4.95 magazine.inapub.co.uk

INDIES’ CHOICE

2022 What’s selling in the nation’s pubs p01 cover idea_converted.indd 1

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t’s back! After a pandemicinduced hiatus, the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey is back for 2022, thanks to all our readers who took the time to answer this year’s questions and tell us a bit about their business. Some things haven’t changed since our last survey in 2019 – your bestselling ale is still Doom Bar, and your bestselling lager remains Carling – but there have been some interesting changes in the post-pandemic world. Covid has speeded up some of the trends that were already emerging in 2019. It shows growth in areas such as no and low alcohol drinks and vegan and “free from” food. Most interestingly, licensees told us customers were upgrading to more premium products. Those buying standard lager are switching to premium world lager, wine drinkers are more discerning and diners are upping spend or treating themselves to a dessert or starter. The barren days of lockdown have underlined what a treat being able to socialise in a pub is, and customers want to enjoy every minute. This brings opportunities for pubs to really pull out the stops with the “pub experience”, with events from street food festivals to “competitive socialising” occasions such as escape rooms, board games or even axe throwing. Thirty per cent of pubs already have a function room perfect for this type of venture, and 57 per cent now have a covered outside area crying out for some creative new use. This is all great news for publicans. Not only do they benefit from the premium prices customers will pay for an upgrade, but they become a more valued part of their customers’ social repertoire – “going down the local” has once again become something to be valued and savoured, not taken for granted. The Inapub Team

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what’s new Highlights of the Indies’ Choice survey

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drink trends for 2022 • cider

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eat

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play Live sport at The Anlaby Park

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stay bedroom business is back

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ideas Elton Mouna checks out pubs with four-legged punters

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time at the bar Richard Molloy • Postcard from the Pub Frontline

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dining in the post-pandemic world • snacks

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Editor Caroline Nodder Contributors Claire Dodd, Andrew Ives, John Porter, Richard Molloy Production editor Ben Thrush

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Visit us online at magazine.inapub.co.uk

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Chief executive Barrie Poulter Sales manager Katy Robinson Subscriptions 0800 160 1986 • magazine@inapub.co.uk

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INDIES’ CHOICE 2022 the highlights

Thank you to all our readers who took the time to respond to our first post-pandemic Indies’ Choice survey, where we ask you about your favourite brands and products and what trends you’re seeing in your business. Here, we bring you the top performers and highlights from each category, plus some comments from licensees on their own experiences. We have also taken a closer look at the survey results in the Eat, Drink and Play sections of this issue. Drink

enjoy during lockdown. However, just under half the pubs in our survey (49 per cent) only have three or fewer handpulls on the bar, and more than one in four (27 per cent) have cut the number of handpulls since 2019 – a definite indication that cask remains under pressure, both in terms of throughput and a reluctance by licensees to overstock when so much cask had to be poured down the drain during lockdown. In contrast, only 11 per cent have cut keg taps. Meanwhile, no and low and soft drink sales are in significant growth, with 40 per cent of pubs selling more soft drinks now than in 2019 and a significant 51 per cent selling more no and low products. Anecdotally, licensees are telling us customers are premiumising since lockdown, treating themselves to more premium drinks and spending more on better quality, which is a consumer trend widely being reported post-pandemic. Elsewhere, perhaps unsurprisingly given the recent boom in new launches, gin remains the bestselling spirit, and the New World is firmly established now in pub popularity, with Australia (29 per cent) and Chile (22 per cent) beating France (16 per cent) to the top two spots as the licensees’ bestselling wine regions. ▼

A significant proportion of the pubs we surveyed, 44 per cent, said wet sales now make up more than three-quarters (76 per cent+) of their sales mix, and almost half of them (47 per cent) said wet sales had increased since 2019, before the pandemic. This could well be a sign of consumers returning to pubs seeking out draught products that they could not

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what’s new.

My pub Justine Lorriman

The Royal Dyche, Burnley, Lancashire

Best sellers Ale brand Doom Bar Lager brand Carling World Beer Birra Moretti Craft Beer Beavertown Neck Oil Draught cider brand Strongbow Bottled cider brand Old Mout Cocktail Pornstar Martini No/low beer Heineken 0.0 Brands reported as the number one seller by the most pubs in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

What is the most popular beer style at your pub, and did you see any change in this after lockdown ended? Since the lockdown I have seen a change. My biggest seller used to be our cheapest pint, which was Kaltenberg at £2.50, but now premium lager has taken over. San Miguel is now my best seller. Also, the percentage of bottled beer and spirits sold has increased by seven per cent. I think this is because we had a surge in 18 to 20-year-olds when we reopened, many of them had never been to a pub before because they were all closed.

What qualities do you think are most important when recruiting a new team member? Trust and reliability. My venue is wet-led so it’s pretty simple to train staff with very little or no experience. I need to be able to trust each individual with stock and money. It’s also so important that every individual turns up for their shift – every small business owner knows the knock-on effect of being short-staffed due to someone not turning up. I’m very lucky with the team I have, I know I can depend on every one of them and they’re such a hard-working bunch!

Does the The Royal Dyche support any local charities, and if so what sort of fundraising or events do you hold? Yes, I support many local charities. On the bar I have The Royal Dyche lager, and five pence from this goes towards Burnley FC in the Community. This has been in place since I changed the pub’s name and we have raised over £300 through this so far. Every year I host a music festival which raises money for Pendleside Hospice – this year is going to be a two-day event so I hope to easily beat last year’s amount of £1,000. We also select a different charity each year and host a themed night such as Mexican, French, 4th July BBQ. We have previously raised money for Mind, The Georgia Fourie Butterfly Fund and the Down’s Syndrome Association. When it comes down to selecting one I will always sit down with my team and see which charities are most important to them too.

What aspect of The Royal Dyche are you most proud of? I am most proud of how much the business has grown – and it’s still growing. This was supposed to be a temporary thing and it has now become my life’s work. The pub had very little trade when I took it on in 2013, and it has such a wonderful community feel about it now. Seeing people come together and be able to drink in a welcoming and safe environment is such a proud feeling.

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What is the best thing about your job? The people. I’m lucky to have such a great group of staff members, some have been with me since the very beginning. My customers are like family, it was very difficult not being able to see them all during the lockdown. I just love coming to work and seeing these faces on a daily basis, seeing how they are doing and being there for them whenever needed.

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Food

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For more than three-quarters of our surveyed pubs (77 per cent), food makes up less than half of overall sales, and for almost a third of them (31 per cent) it is less than 25 per cent of sales, but despite this, 31 per cent say this proportion has grown since 2019. When it comes to menus, variety is key, and our survey found 71 per cent of pubs are changing their menu at least quarterly, with only 12 per cent sticking with the traditional annual update. There is also variety in terms of changing diets, with 42 per cent of pubs now offering more than five vegetarian options and 53 per cent including more than five gluten-free dishes.

My pub Brendan Padfield The Unruly Pig, Bromswell, Suffolk Is there a dish you would never take off your menu? Our octopus dish with ‘Nduja, which is a spicy Calabrian sausage, chorizo, and there’s black olive on there too. It flies out the kitchen and people come from miles around to eat it. We can’t sell enough of it.

Best sellers Food dish Fish & chips Crisp brand Piper’s Nut brand KP Brands reported as the number one seller by the most pubs in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

Did you have any cheese and wine parties during lockdown? Jesus. I certainly did not have any cheese and wine parties, and to be vaguely political about this, I have a hospital doctor daughter, and I look at what she and her colleagues have had to sacrifice, if it doesn’t sound too corny, for the rest of us and the good of the country. I certainly had no cheese and wine parties and I think the prime minister and his gang are a disgrace.

Have you seen any difference in customers’ drinking habits pre- and post-lockdown? I have noticed a big difference, and it’s predictable in some ways because of the angst and agony of the last two years. People are upgrading and spending far more on premium brands and fine wines. We’ve noticed a huge and significant leap, the standard sales are still there of course, but there has been a significant shift upwards. Upgrade is the name of the game at the moment. Have you experienced the much-reported issues with finding staff post-lockdown? What on Earth the country voted for in Brexit, God only knows, because the self-inflicted pain has been huge. Quite a lot of customers now don’t realise that hospitality vacancies are up officially 100 per cent, they don’t understand there are 700,000 vacancies, and they say to me ‘why are you putting up your prices?’. The changes from Brexit and Covid have hit us hard. That said, we have a very faithful and loyal team, the majority of the kitchen team have been there for five years-plus, a reasonable number of front of house staff have been with us more than three years. I think we do better than some because we never sit on our laurels, we try to pay the best and deliver the best tips in the area. It’s also about running the business with the values of being straightforward, mutual respect, and continuous improvement.

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Entertainment

With the growth in consumer interest in ‘experiences’ over simply enjoying food and drink when they go out, exaggerated even more by the post-lockdown need for entertainment and socialising, it is no wonder that so many pubs now put on a range of different events and cater for a whole host of different occasions. More than

a third (35 per cent) of our surveyed pubs now offer weddings, for example, and over two-thirds (67 per cent) offer some form of live music. This is coupled with the expansion of outside areas, no doubt speeded up by the pandemic, with 64 per cent of pubs increasing outside space since 2019 and 57 per cent now offering a covered outside space.

My pub Richard Wood

The Flying Childers Inn Stanton in Peak, Derbyshire

What is your favourite event you hold at the pub? The main one is Stantonbury, which is our mini music festival. The other big one is Octoberfest, where we get the long tables out and turn the car park into a bit of a beer house. We have a horsebox converted into a vegan bar, our veg-stable, which serves vegan hotdogs. We wanted to build something for our events that we could also take to events away from the pub. How did you sustain the business throughout lockdown? I redesigned the website so we could accept online orders, takeaways, deliveries. During the second lockdown we built the veg-stable trailer, so it would be ready for after Covid as a bit of a new revenue stream. When you re-opened after lockdown, who was the first regular to come through the door? That was Brian. He lives in a neighbouring village, long retired, in his mid-eighties, he’s a lovely guy. His wife suffers from dementia, so he’s kind of on his own now. He comes in every day for a chat over the bar and a bowl of soup. He always says: “The soup saved me. I’ve been to the doctors, and he told me I am diabetic and need to eat more healthily.” So he comes in every day for his bowl of home-made soup, and now he says the doctor tells him he is doing exceedingly well. He puts it down to the soup, bless him.

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this month. Accommodation

Of our surveyed pubs that do offer accommodation, a quarter (25 per cent) have a modest one to three letting rooms and more than half (51 per cent) said accommodation accounted for less than a fifth of their turnover, so these are very much additions to the food and drink business. However, this is a growing part of their business, with more than a third (37 per cent) saying sales through the accommodation side of their business have grown since 2019. This is likely to reflect the staycation boom caused by the pandemic but also growing consumer interest in supporting independent businesses over the larger hotel chains. It is heartening to see over a quarter of pubs (26 per cent) now promoting their rooms through their own website, giving them higher margins on any income through direct sales. This also reflects the investment many pubs have made in their websites as a result of having to switch to online sales during lockdown.

How many independent pubs offer... A function room

Karaoke

30%

22%

Live music

Weddings

67%

Pub quizzes

Comedy nights

55%

13%

TV Sport

35%

Fo 4

55%

Rug 50%

Based on responses to the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

My pub Tom Hannon The Rising Sun, Truro, Cornwall During lockdown did you start a takeaway service? Yes, massively. We did takeaway Sunday lunches, which we were selling 160 or 170 a week. We did takeaway fish and chips. I’d never done Southern fried chicken before, but there is no KFC in this town so I did Southern fried chicken with an Asian feel. We did takeaway beer and wine too, Valentine’s day, Mother’s Day special events. I think over lockdown the pub took around £60,000. I wouldn’t say we got through unscathed, but if we hadn’t done these things we’d be in a very different financial situation now.

If there was one thing you could change about your pub, what would it be? I think there’s always more than one thing. Our pub has been a constant evolution, we’ve tried to look at everything we do with unbiased eyes and improve it all. I think if at any point you stand still, you are actually going backwards, if that makes sense. It’s very easy to believe your own hype, but the key for me is to keep looking at what you are doing and try to improve.

What dish would you never remove from your menu? There’s no dish we wouldn’t remove, what you find is there are dishes that stay on, but they evolve with the seasons. So I’ve got a loin of beef that sits on a bed of spinach, with wild mushrooms, caramelised onion purée, beer-pickled onions, and what you find is the wild mushrooms might change on that dish, the vegetables might change with the seasons. We have a couple of dishes which we see as signature dishes, but they just evolve and tweak as the seasons go by.

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REACTING TO RAPIDLY CHANGING TIMES

With a range of flavours and formats available to the licensed channel, Britvic’s Tango brand is worth over £52m RSV, after growing 13.1% last year.

Just when things were looking up, 2022 has started to deliver its own bombshells. Sombre news from across the world and a squeeze on finances are bringing frazzled nerves, curiously intersecting with the full return of longed-for freedoms as all Covid restrictions are lifted. Why do politics, finances, and public health matter here, where we’re talking about drinks? Because all contribute to, and dictate, public mood. And that in turn has a great impact on how much, how often, and on what, your customers are willing to spend. A summer of celebrations and extra bank holidays is beginning to look a little muted. Inflation and rising utility prices are a formidable obstacle. Only weeks ago, City Pub Company’s chair Clive Watson made headlines with his warnings of 40-50p per pint beer price rises, after suppliers confirmed seven per cent increases, heralding in London at least, the era of the £7 pint. As prices rise and disposable incomes decrease, what choices will consumers then make? Will the trend of drinking less but better continue? Or will more customers seek value offers, as they try to maintain their lifestyles? Our Indies’ Choice survey – our annual look into your business – is a snapshot

of what trade looks like now, after two years of incredibly tough trading. It reveals an industry in transition, as licensees adapt to this new world we all find ourselves in. Things are changing. While 28 per cent of you told us you’re selling less drink as a percentage of your total sales, a quarter of you are selling more. Changing drinking habits are taking hold too; a substantial 51 per cent say they’re now selling more lowalcohol options. However, brand owners are hoping that customers are feeling both jubilant and playful, at least when they go to the pub. Summer 2022 is set the be the summer of flavour. From flavoured Scotch, to flavoured soda, flavoured rum and beyond, no drinks category is safe from the addition of fruit it seems, as drinkers seek frivolity and refreshment. In these most troubled of times then, it’s time for pubs to do what they’ve always done best; to provide both community and escapism when people need it most. We’ll raise a glass to that.

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The growth of alcohol consumption in the home has been a big challenge for the on trade over the last couple of years. Suppliers need to work harder than ever to get guests up from the sofa and back into the local. Cask Ale represents a fantastic opportunity to drive footfall back into pubs. The nature of the product itself as the freshest beer on the bar simply can’t be replicated in the home, and seasonal cask ales have the added benefit of being exclusive to the on-trade. At Greene King we are no strangers to cask ale. With over 200 years of brewing history we have several of the nation’s favourite cask brands in our portfolio. Brands like Greene King IPA which has the highest rate of sale within the free trade* and the ever popular Abbot Ale, also a top performer in the free trade as the number one Premium cask ale* along with brands such as Old Speckled Hen and Yardbird Pale Ale. Throughout the year we offer a selection of seasonal cask ales which have several benefits for the trade and consumers alike. They consistently bring something new to the market. New tastes, new flavour and new styles of beer. We are proud to brew the number one and number two fastest selling cask ales in the country, but we also produce some of the most popular seasonal ales; Rocking Rudolph remains the best-selling Christmas ale in the On Trade. *Source: CGA OPM Free Trade Rate of sale MAT Data to 29/01/2022

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Our history and expertise in cask ales leaves us ideally placed to drive demand back into the pub, as customers look for new tastes, flavours, styles and brewing collaborations. At Greene King we continually challenge ourselves to identify new and different seasonal ales to create interest with drinkers and drive people into the pub. As well as bringing out seasonal ales like the aforementioned Rocking Rudolph ahead of Christmas, we also launch beers around specific key calendar events. The ever-popular Scrum Down drives cask ale sales during key Rugby events such as the Six Nations, Autumn Internationals and Rugby World Cups. Scrum Down is so popular it returns year on year.

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Rocking Rudolph will appear on the bar again in 2022 as a returning favourite, and in total Greene King will be launching 11 seasonal ales and 4 collaboration ales. These include collaborations with Salt Brewery and Nethergate Brewery. We are delighted to be working with local brewers, Nethergate Brewery, here’s what they had to say about the collaboration: “When we were asked to collaborate with our neighbours at Greene King on a beer for their pubs, I have to say we wondered what a small craft family business might have in common with the largest brewer in the UK. But when we met the team at Greene King it became clear. We all love beer. “So, the rest of the afternoon was easy, we researched the archives, explored flavour profiles, and shared historical recipes. It was tricky, particularly because there were plenty of taste tests (well… somebody had to!) but by the early evening we think we agreed on a winner. This is a story in which David put down the slingshot and went to the pub with Goliath. We hope you like it too. Cheers!” This pale ale will be deliciously refreshing with zesty and citrus characters, perfectly balanced with slightly spiced notes. With low bitterness and high refreshment, this beer will have you coming back for more! Available between May and June. Our collaboration in June and July will be with Salt Brewery. Here’s what Nadir Zairi, Managing Director at Salt Beer Factory had to say: “We are fans of all styles and forms of beer but as a team cask holds a special place in our hearts. We are probably best known for hopforward keg beers but we are keen to lace more of an emphasis on cask so the collaboration with Greene King was a no-brainer. The collaboration process has been great, starting with a blank slate with plenty of dialogue between the teams. We are leaning on the expertise and heritage of Greene King with our collaboration whilst incorporating classic SALT character, utilising innovative hop products to produce a hop-forward pale ale with a slight haze.”

“Cask ale is a drink that should be championed in the trade as it is one of Britain’s unique products with hundreds of years of history. We are all incredibly passionate about cask ale at Greene King and our dedicated seasonal ale calendar shows our continued commitment to providing outstanding cask ales. “Having the chance to collaborate with other brewers also gives our brewing team the opportunity to share expertise and ideas as we continue to champion cask ale moving forward. The aim of our range of seasonal ales is to provide something different for everyone and we believe all of our season ales are worth looking out for and tasting as they launch throughout 2022.” There are several seasonal ales to keep an eye out for, including Jubilee Celebration Ale which will launch in June to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and 70 years on the throne. This Amber Celebration Ale has an ABV of 4.0% and will mark a historic occasion. Land of Hopportunity will also launch in June and be available for the summer until the end of August. This American Pale Ale features five hops and an ABV of 4.3% and will have a refreshing taste to mark the warmer months. Greene King’s seasonal ale calendar really does have something for every taste and for further information on our array of beers to come in 2022, please contact a Greene King sales representative on 0345 600 1799. For further information on Nethergate Brewery please head to their website www.nethergate.co.uk. To find out more about Salt Beer Factory, please visit their website www.saltbeerfactory.co.uk.

Greene King have also partnered with the National Brewing Apprenticeship Programme and developed Spring Break, a hoppy golden ale, with a 4.4% ABV that has just launched on bar and will be available for March and April. Greene King Head Brewer, Ross O’Hara, plays an integral role in the seasonal ale calendar and commented: “The seasonal ale calendar allows Greene King the opportunity to experiment with new brews and give consumers a range of different tastes and styles throughout the year.

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Post-pandemic

drinking by numbers

by CLAIRE DODD

We asked, and you answered. In our survey of the forces affecting your business, drinks make up a substantial part. At the core of your business, they are the very reason customers return again and again. Getting your range right is crucial. Xxxx Alongside the results from our Indies’ Choice Xxxx survey, we’ve garnered expert opinion on the trends to watch out for, and gathered news on the latest product launches, to give you a guide to the major trends to look out for. Spirits

• Gin is the top-selling single-serve spirit for 53 per cent of pubs, while 37 per cent of pubs have vodka as their top seller.

Gin Limited-edition gins and summer flavours keep adding interest for consumers curious about trying the “next” new thing, with lemon and orange particular favourites. Though it has to be said, the category is facing increased competition from vodka, bitter aperitifs and beyond. If you’re looking for a point of difference, savoury gins are an interesting new direction a number of brands are exploring. They’re particularly good if you’re strong on food and looking for new pairings to add interest. Limitededition launch Hendrick’s Neptunia is made with coastal botanicals

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sourced close to the Ayrshire distillery, with a bright citrus finish. Adnams Jardín Mexicano gin is inspired by Mexican food and cookery, with avocado leaves (which have flavour notes of anise and liquorice, in case you were wondering), lime peel, oregano, and coriander. And if you want to skip across to vodka, try Mermaid’s Salt Vodka, which contains Isle of Wight sea salt.

Vodka Speaking of vodka, the category is finally enjoying a bit of attention, having been a bridesmaid to its botanical counterpart for far too long. Its use as a base for a vast number of canned RTD cocktails in recent years has brought it renewed attention from younger drinkers looking for something fruity that pairs with a low-calorie mixer, like soda. It’s a trend that has seen Pernod Ricard

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drink. recently relaunch its flavoured Absolut range, lowering the ABV from 40 per cent to 37 per cent for Raspberri, Vanilia, Passionfruit, Watermelon, Mango and Pear, to help deliver that sweeter taste profile. Citron, Lime and Mandarin remain at 40 per cent ABV, to keep the flavours “tangy, zesty and bold”. Diageo also launched Mango & Passionfruit Twist into the on-trade from March.

Low & no •3 9 per cent of pubs serve zero-alcohol spirits. •1 0 per cent of pubs have five or more low/no beers on the menu. •2 5 per cent of pubs carry two low/no beers, yet 20 per cent have none at all. In a sign of how much tastes have changed during the pandemic, 51 per cent have added more in the past year.

How has the way we drink changed? Drinking habits have changed since the onset of the pandemic. Inapub caught up with Ally Martin, global brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin, to find out how. Sharing serves People who feel they’ve missed out on socialising over the past couple of years are going to want to make the most of the summer, says Ally. “Sharing serves like punches help make any get together feel special and like more of an occasion, and are going to be big across the pub trade,” he adds. Fun sharing vessels, like Hendrick’s branded punchbowls and teapots can help boost sales, and take the pressure off the bar at busy moments, by combining multiple serves in one. “It’s a great trade-up for the whole party,” adds Ally. “Once one goes out the door, prepare for a few more to get ordered.” Return of post work drinks “Cocktails are a great way to enjoy a sunny day and provide an upsell opportunity for publicans,” Ally says, as catering for the after-work crowd once again becomes a key sales moment. “Our Hendrick’s Cucumber Lemonade – Hendrick’s Gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda – makes for a super-simple yet impressively refreshing summer serve.” What’s more, people may be going out less frequently, but when they do, it’s a real big night out. “We’re seeing lots of evidence of trading up, treating themselves to spirits they may not usually order and spending more on each outing,” he says.

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low & no beers

1. Heineken 0.0 2. San Miguel 0.0 3. Peroni Libera 0.0 4. Erdinger Alkoholfrei 5. Ghost Ship 0.5 Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

A new mid-tier of low and no spirits is emerging. And they’re not currently represented on many pubs’ drinks lists. Used in the same way – though sometimes in smaller quantities – as a full-strength product, they’re an easy swap. New launch Perthyn Low Alcohol Spirit is just 10 per cent ABV. It contains citrus, cardamom and thyme, and a simple serve is with Mediterranean Tonic. Quarter G/N – inspired by full-strength gin – has a hint of grapefruit and orange, but is only 12 per cent ABV. Portobello Road Distillery’s Temperance is bottled at a much lower 4.2 per cent ABV. And brand new from Adnams is Smidgin. Bottled at 50 per cent ABV, it’s designed to be used in 2.5ml measures, for a serve that clocks in at 0.6 per cent ABV when mixed with 200ml tonic. New research suggests the biggest market for low and no products is drinkers looking to moderate, rather than abstain completely. Expect mid-strength spirits to become a booming new category, with many more launches to come.

Soft drinks

Forty per cent of pubs are selling more soft drinks than they were before the pandemic. “Pre-Covid, 69 per cent of soft drinks sales in hospitality were in colas, lemonade and mixers,” says Amy Burgess, senior trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Europacific

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Beer

•4 6 per cent of pubs have between six and 10 taps on the bar. • 21 per cent say they have added more taps in the last year. •2 7 per cent of pubs have five or more real ale hand pulls However, 27 per cent of licensees say they’ve reduced the number of real ale handpulls on the bar in the past two years. •A massive 49 per cent of you don’t stock any independent craft beers. Of those that do, 33 per cent said they’d reduced the number they stock in the past year. Beer will always be the backbone of pubs. But styles wax and wane in popularity. Jez Manterfield, category controller at Asahi UK, says: “Cask ale declined nearly 50 per cent in 2021 vs 2019. However, in the latest quarter prior to Christmas, this reduced to only -17 per cent, showing consumer demand for cask is on the up.” Edward Fryer, drinks marketing manager for Fuller’s, adds: “Post-Covid, we saw that lots of sites didn’t

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ales

1. Doom Bar 2. Greene King IPA 3. Greene King Abbot Ale 4.Timothy Taylor Landlord 5. Marston’s Wainwright Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

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lagers

1. Carling 2. Foster’s 3. Birra Moretti 4. Amstel 5. Tennent’s Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022 have necessarily the throughput. But we’re seeing it bounce back really well. Licensees tightening their belts, or trying to keep costs down, have just been having those safe bets on the bar. Now is the time to be expanding again.” One brewer fully embracing experimental beers in 2022 is Thornbridge. As part of its “Year of Beer” it’s launching a new draught beer every month, with the line-up set to include a Pina Colada pale and a moleinspired Chili Chocolate Mexican Stout. While cask has suffered, lager is performing well. According to Asahi UK, superpremium lager (for example Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Asahi Super Dry) has grown its share of lager to 28 per cent, up seven per cent from two years ago. t

Partners (CCEP). “With this in mind, our advice to operators is to focus on getting their core range right, and serving it well.” That said, there is now more choice than ever before when it comes to mixers. What’s right for you depends on your customer base. But it’s worth noting that soda in particular is “having a moment”. Low in calories, it’s becoming the mixer of choice for more serves. Amy suggests Schweppes Russchian Pink Soda, for a twist on the wine spritzer. There’s now also a much wider choice of mixers for dark spirits. The London Essence Company’s Roasted Pineapple Soda pairs with rum. Berry and summer fruit tonic are also trending. Britvic has just released a Pink Raspberry Tonic as an on-trade exclusive.

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But beer is not immune to the trends impacting drinks at large. Beavertown’s latest launch, Space-Born Pale Ale, targets two of them; a rise in hazy or cloudy liquids and low-calorie brews. Said to balance grapefruit, tangerine and tropical fruit, at four per cent ABV, it has 98 calories per 330ml can.

Cocktails

With ever more high-quality RTD and premade options available, there’s no excuse not to offer cocktails. And the most popular reveal customers are looking for fun and frivolity, an exotic escape, or a bitter aperitif. “Rum punch isn’t just for drinking on holiday,” says Sandra Brunet, marketing director at Campari Group UK. “Many of us have missed out on exotic trips abroad during the last couple of years, so there is an opportunity for pubs and bars to serve up some tropical spice right here in the UK this summer.” Sandra suggests a simple rum punch with pineapple juice, pomegranate juice, and Wray & Nephew white rum. The spritz serve too, shows minimal signs of slowing down. However, there are a number of brands wanting to challenge Aperol for its crown, from newcomers such as Hotel Starlino to classic Italian aperitivo Select. Simple to prepare, a menu of several different spritz-style cocktails can help you make the most of the warmer weather when it finally comes. Go for it, with garnishes and great glassware.

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5

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5

world beers

1. Birra Moretti 2. San Miguel 3. Peroni 4. Staropramen 5. Estrella Damm Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

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5

craft beers

1. Beavertown Neck Oil 2. Camden Pale Ale 3. Lagunitas IPA 4. Meantime IPA 5. East Coast IPA Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

cocktails

1. Pornstar Martini 2. Espresso Martini 3. Aperol Spritz 4. Bloody Mary 5. Sex on the Beach Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

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Our iconic flavours are dressed in a new limited edition label this summer.

Available April - July

From the UK’s bestselling fruit cider brand. Source: CGA On Premise Data, Packaged Cider, MAT to 01/01/2022.

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drink.

Always by your by CLAIRE DODD

cider

Cider is a stalwart. It’s that solid pal in the friendship group; the one that never causes drama and is always there when you need them. It’s important. But is it ever the centre of attention? If Thatchers has anything to do with it, yes. Its new Fusion Font (see below) not only puts it front and centre of the bar, but – serving three flavours from one tap – veritably tap dances upon it. As half of all fruit cider sold in the on-trade is on draught according

What’s new Thatchers Fusion Font Designed to stand out and save space, this three-in-one font dispenses three different flavoured ciders, from one keg, and through one line. It’s intended to uses less cellar and bar space, and be lowermaintenance than three separate fonts. The flavour – either Cloudy Lemon, Dark Berry, or Blood Orange – is added to the apple cider base at the point of pour. Thatcher’s Cloudy Lemon had previously only been available in the off-trade, while Blood Orange is new. “This brings with it a significant reduction in the need for glass bottles, resulting in less packaging waste, meaning when your customers choose a cider from Thatchers Fusion Font, they are making a sustainable choice,” says Rob Sandall, Thatchers’ on-trade director.

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to Thatchers, why not? Another brand currently demanding attention is Brothers. With a greatest hits repertoire that includes Rhubarb & Custard, Parma Violet, and Marshmallow cider, it has just announced new flavour, Cherry Bakewell, will launch at the end of March. Alongside apple and cherry notes, of course, it will have a touch of frangipane. Brothers says the launch aims to cash in on a desire among Millennials and Gen Z for more flavours. But are these innovations really anything new? Are they pushing the scope and reach of cider? And if so, is it in the right direction? Who – in a market of changing customer needs, strained wallets, and fierce competition for bartop and backbar space – are they really targeting? In short, what now is the role of cider?

An upset apple cart

The truth is, cider has had a challenging time of late. According to the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) by 2020 the cider industry had seen sales fall by 28 per cent over the span of a decade. Leading brands have also seen significant volume declines over the past 12 months; factoring in on-trade closures, that’s perhaps not surprising. For pubs though, it still delivers. “Cider’s importance to the financial success of an outlet should not be underplayed,” says John Gemmel, Heineken’s commercial category director. “With one-sixth of

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Top

5

draught ciders

1. Strongbow 2. Aspall Cyder 3. Westons 4. Thatchers 5. Cornish Orchards Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

liquids, cider makers are adapting to keep up with the biggest trends, especially those that appeal to younger pub-goers. One of its brightest hopes is flavours. “Around half of all cider drinkers switch between apple and flavoured depending on the occasion,” adds John, “with mainstream flavoured cider delivering around £8,000 on average per outlet.”

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Flavours come of age

In the past, flavours have had a bad name for being faddy; remember the industry panic in the late 2000s, early 2010s when some producers claimed a proliferation of flavours risked sinking the category? Now permeating everything from Scotch, to rum, tonic and now soda water, and need we say it, gin, are they really so bad? Flavours might be key to helping brands compete with the increasing challenge from low-strength, refreshment-focused options; we’re looking at you, hard seltzers. “We have noticed a shift towards more refreshing flavours,” says Mark Bentley, on-trade category controller at Molson Coors Beverage Company. “Last year we launched Rekorderlig Pink Lemon, which is ideally placed to cater to this trend with a light, crisp citrus flavour with a hint of raspberry, reminiscent of pink lemonade.” ▼

We have noticed a shift towards more refreshing flavours

on-trade consumers drinking in the category, it generates an average of £16,000 of revenue per pub annually – more than white (£5,000), red (£3,000) and rosé (£1,000) wine combined.” According to CGA, total cider volume sales rose by 12.3 per cent in the year ending December 4, with draught accounting for 73.6 per cent of all sales. How are squeezed consumer finances going to add to the mix? Drinkers feeling the pinch are going to make different choices, perhaps drinking less, trading up if so, or trading down in a bid to get more bang for their buck. How cider will fare, in many ways depends on who it is now trying to appeal to. As much as the bulk of sales depends on mainstream sales – mainstream apple cider accounts for 51 per cent of draught cider sales – the future of the category depends on bringing new drinkers in. From low-alcohol to eco-friendly

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Cider hasn’t premiumised in the same way as lager or gin

David Sheppy, managing director at Sheppy’s Cider, agrees, saying demand for flavours among Millennials and Gen Z has soared in recent years. “Cider drinkers interested in this trend tend to lean towards lighter and sweeter ciders as these can be more refreshing and have a lower ABV,” he says. However, drinkers – especially younger ones – are increasingly health-conscious, and look for natural ingredients. “Sheppy’s fruit cider differentiates itself by complementing the apple with the real fruit additions such as raspberry or blackcurrant and elderflower, as opposed to overpowering the flavour with an excessively sweet taste,” he adds. Thatchers reports its sweet, cloudy cider Haze is selling well among younger drinkers too. “It has also been the cider success story since lockdown – the number one growing cider brand in the on-trade,” says Rob Sandall, Thatchers’ on-trade sales director. Katie Walker, brand manager at Aston Manor Cider, adds: “This year, transparency and education are key. Consumers are seeking out more information about the products they’re buying; they want to know where the ingredients come from, the sustainability surrounding them and how they’re affecting their health in terms of sugar levels and calories.”

Dietary requirements

Interest and awareness of vegan-friendly options is also growing, adds David Sheppy. Many popular ciders still use gelatine as a fining agent and are unsuitable for vegans. “Cider brands need to cater for the increased number of consumers needing veganfriendly options or risk losing the ever-growing plant-based market,” he says. The Sheppy’s range is vegan-friendly and gluten-free. Low and no alcohol ciders,

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Top

5

bottled ciders

1. Old Mout 2. Rekorderlig 3. Kopparberg 4. Bulmers 5. Magners Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

of course, are ever more important. And as figures show most non-alc buyers are drinkers looking to reduce their alcohol intake rather than give up completely, the potential market is huge. Katie at Aston Manor says: “Recent research found 27 per cent of 18 to 35-yearolds say they are actively cutting down on alcohol consumption and 56 per cent are consuming more low or no alcohol products.” The company launched Kingstone Press Low Alcohol Cider in December 2020. What about premium products? Across all drinks, for years now, brand owners have given a lot of weight to the argument that consumers are drinking less, but are willing to spend more. Is that still true? “Operators should bear in mind that cider hasn’t premiumised in the same way as other categories, such as lager or gin,” says John at Heineken. “Only in the most premium venues should operators start their range with more premium brands such as Old Mout and Orchard Thieves.” Mark at Molson Coors agrees: “In recent months, mainstream apple accounted for 52 per cent of all apple cider taps on the bar, which is down from 60 per cent just four years ago, indicating that outlets are removing mainstream choices in favour of more premium options. However, this does not necessarily translate into like-for-like volume sales and such a switch can alienate some customers.”

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Cask Marque Become one of the best 10,000 cask ale pubs in Britain

‘Cask Marque’ is an independent scheme that assesses the beer quality in pubs to ensure standards are driven and maintained. Qualified assessors visit pubs to test the beers temperature, appearance, aroma and taste. pubs have increased sales since 88% ofgaining the accreditation accredited outlets said they would 98% ofrecommend the scheme to other licensees Benefits include: n Featured on the CaskFinder app - used 60,000 times a month to find Cask Marque pubs n A Cask Marque plaque – recognised by 77% of beer drinkers as a badge of quality n Point of Sale material – to help promote this achievement to customers n Random inspections – helping pubs to consistently serve quality beer n Access to cellar management training n Regular newsletters Sign Up today by visiting cask-marque.co.uk or calling 01206 752212

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eat.

eat THE CHALLENGE AHEAD

There are plenty of opportunities over the next few months to entice customers who might be thinking twice about spending on a meal at the pub

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Food was a lifeline for many pubs during the Covid restrictions, enabling them to keep the business ticking over with takeaway and delivery during full lockdown, as well as to open again as long as they served a “substantial meal” – the precise definition of which prompted a national debate which still remains fully unresolved. Still recovering from lost trade, pubs now face the year ahead – and possibly longer – knowing that cash-strapped consumers will be cautious when it comes to spending on eating out, as the cost of living outpaces wage growth. Equally, operators face sharp rises in costs, particularly from food and drink inflation, as well as labour costs. Inflation figures from the ONS showed that the price of restaurant meals, which includes pubs in the calculation, were up 6.5 per cent year on year in the 12 months to January. Operators have little choice when it comes to passing on at least some of their increased costs to customers, but this also runs the risk of meaning people eat out less often. However, the outlook is far from all gloomy, as the findings of the Inapub Indies’ Choice 2022 survey show. The picture is one of pubs which are at the very least holding their own in terms of food sales, as well as continuing to innovate in areas such as meat-free menu options, making the most of seasonality, and capitalising on the hardy British public’s enjoyment of al fresco eating. There are plenty of opportunities over the next few months to entice customers who might be thinking

twice about spending on a meal at the pub, including Easter, the May Bank Holidays and the four-day celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. However, pubs will probably have to dig deep into their promotional toolbox to drive food trade. Food theme nights, beer and food matching events, family barbecues and similar promotional occasions can all play a part, and discounts and voucher deals, especially at quieter times of the week, may also need to be used tactically. Pubs currently need all of the goodwill they can get, and will have to earn it on every customer visit with a warm welcome, great service and of course, great food.

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What’s on the by JOHN PORTER

Enough of your sauce? Offering a choice of sauces with a steak or burger can go a long way in stretching a small menu (Pic: Presslab / Shutterstock)

table?

In the context of a challenging period ahead for pubs as costs rise and customers’ disposable income shrinks, the Indies’ Choice survey offers plenty of grounds for cautious optimism when it comes to pub food. We take a look at some of the trends driving the pub food scene in 2022. Food sales are holding their own in the mix, with 42 per cent of pubs saying their dry/ wet split is steady, and 31 per cent reporting that food sales have increased as a proportion of total income. That increase may well reflect new sales channels that opened up while Covid restrictions were in place, such as takeaway and delivery, which are now part of the core offer for many operators. With 55 per cent of pubs surveyed having somewhere between 10 and 60 covers, independents tend to have less capacity than the branded sector, but in the current

Top

5

sellers

1. Fish & Chips 2. Meat Pie 3. Burger 4. Steak 5. Roast Dinner

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My menu Chris Mapp, The Tickled Trout, Barlow, Derbyshire The balancing act of offering high-quality food while keeping a pub firmly as a pub is one chef Chris Mapp, who bought The Tickled Trout in his home village of Barlow in 2014, understands. Chris made the move from fine dining, having worked in some of the country’s top restaurants. Under him The Tickled Trout has built a following as a destination food pub, spotlighting local food from a range of Derbyshire suppliers, while keeping its essential local character. “We’re a small village, and as well as serving great food, you have to understand what people want,” says Chris. The offer at the Tickled Trout includes everything from a great range of cask beers and a traditional Sunday roast to charity raffles, sponsorship of the annual village carnival, and a popular Wednesday evening pub quiz. “We’re communityfocused, and very inclusive.” During the Covid lockdown, the pub stepped up by producing 3,800 meals for local NHS and community workers, made with food donated by suppliers that would otherwise have been wasted. Locals could also order hampers of everyday essentials such as meat, veg and bread, to be delivered from the pub, and a takeaway meal service was launched. One added benefit of this community approach is that it keeps the pub busy right through the week. “We definitely didn’t want to be the kind of gastro-pub that’s busy at weekends, but empty in the week,” says Chris. “We have great local support, but we also have customers who come to us from quite a distance to eat.” The food offer also reflects this all-important balance.

The Indies’ Choice survey shows burgers are one of the five most popular dishes , and Chris says: “We’ve been developing our burger over the last few years to make sure this is one of those you will remember. My background as a chef means that I’d never compromise on quality, but at the same time we have dishes on the menu that are more accessible to local customers, and although we have a separate restaurant area, we work hard to make sure it doesn’t feel too formal.”

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Some customers may question the quality of a menu that seems too broad

Outside chance: The garden at The Leather Bottle in London’s Earlsfield. Covid restrictions sparked a boom in outdoor service and 65 per cent of pubs now serve food outside

market having fewer seats to keep busy, especially at quieter times of the week, may be an advantage when it comes to managing costs. While pub food evolves along with customers’ palates, change is steady rather than sudden, and the survey’s list of the top five most popular pub dishes features pub food classics that have been best sellers for many years.

Smaller menus

Beyond the best sellers, as food costs increase, the view may be that bigger isn’t always better. Packed pub menus offering a bewildering choice of menu options are a trademark of managed pub brands at the value end of the market. The reality for independent pubs is that they are unlikely to be able to compete with the branded players on price, and some customers may well also question the quality of a menu that seems too broad. More than half of pubs, 52 per cent, told the Indies’ Choice survey that they’ve reduced the number of items on their menu. To an extent, this is likely to have been prompted by the continued spike in food prices, making pubs even more conscious about food waste. One way to approach a smaller menu is to offer customers more choice in having the available dishes “their way”. Analyst Lumina Intelligence, in its UK Restaurant Market Report 2021/22, noted that alongside a reduction in total dish numbers, there’s an increase in customisable options – a choice of

Gravy train: Pubs such as the Larwood & Voce in Nottingham have made the Sunday roast a major plank of their business

sauces with a steak or toppings on a burger goes a long way. The frequency with which menus change is another way for operators to offer choice while still managing food costs. The survey shows that 40 per cent of pubs are changing their menu quarterly, which is an opportunity to feature seasonal produce, and another 16 per cent change the menu monthly.

Sunday roast

While the survey shows the roast dinner is only the fifth-most popular dish on the menu, it’s worth remembering that in most pubs it only has one day a week to fight for its share of the market. The survey found that 59 per cent of pubs said they serve a roast dinner, and research into 2022 eatingout trends carried out for supplier Bidfood by CGA shows that family occasions are a top-four reason for eating out. As well as Sundays, 2022 has more bank holiday weekends than ever, when family trade will be important. The Sunday roast is also an opportunity to spotlight the best of seasonal British produce, with the same CGA research showing that 56 per cent of UK adults say they make decisions on where to eat out based on the venue’s policy of sourcing British products.

Al fresco eating

If lockdown taught us nothing else, it taught us that pub customers are a hardy breed. When pubs were allowed to reopen for

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Even a few pots growing herbs and spices sends the right message

Grow tunnels on the allotments at The Queen’s Head near Helston in Cornwall. A quarter of our respondents said they grow some of the ingredients they use

outdoor-only service in the spring of 2021, it coincided with a cold snap that saw many customers enjoying that first pie and a pint in near-blizzard conditions. While the Government said it would extend relaxed restrictions on pavement dining at least into summer 2022 to support hospitality, not all local authorities have fully embraced the spirit of the concession. Undeterred, 65 per cent of pubs told the Indies’ Choice survey that they now serve food outside. The four-day Jubilee weekend in June provides a great opportunity for pubs to host community events such as barbecues to promote the al fresco eating experience.

Growing your own

The 25 per cent of pubs that told the survey they grow at least some of the ingredients used in their kitchen are at the cusp of a trend. One in five UK adults told the CGA menu trends survey that they would choose a specific eating-out venue if it had a focus on sustainability. Not every pub has the luxury of space for a kitchen garden, of course, but even a few pots growing herbs and spices sends the right message. It’s also worth spreading the net out into the community by speaking to local gardeners groups or the allotment society. While they may not be able to supply the pub’s full needs, pubs can highlight menu specials using locally grown veg. Many suburban gardens also have mature fruit trees which produce more than the owner can eat, and

regulars may be willing to donate their surplus for a “local crumble” dessert special.

Vegetarian and vegan

Four out of the top five pub dishes – meat pie, burger, steak, and roast diner – are essentially meaty in content, at least traditionally, although plant-based alternatives are increasingly offered as options. The Indies’ Choice survey found that 42 per cent of pub have five or more vegetarian dishes on the menu, and 14 per cent have five or more vegan dishes. At the other end of the spectrum, the opportunity for the 23 per cent of pubs who say they offer no vegetarian dish may be the 38 per cent of the population who told a recent Mintel survey they are actively limiting their meat intake. Offering menu options that allow for such “flexitarian” customers increases the appeal of the menu. Special dietary requirements are also increasingly being factored into pub menus, with 53 per cent saying they have five or more gluten-free dishes. With research suggesting that around one person in 10 is cutting back on gluten, the 24 per cent of pubs not offering gluten-free dishes are potentially missing an opportunity.

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Graze expectations by JOHN PORTER

The bar snack, and particularly a bag of crisps, nuts, or whatever it is they make those scampi things from, is so much a part of pub culture, it’s hard to imagine life without them. Even with more pubs than ever serving food, the pub snack typically serves a different function and is probably best regarded as adding value to a drinks sale, rather than the loss of a more substantial food opportunity.

So, the fact that 92 per cent of pubs told the Indies’ Choice survey that they serve bar snacks sounds impressive, until you realise that the eight per cent who don’t is the equivalent of hundreds of pubs where you potentially can’t even get a bag of Salt & Vinegar to go with your pint. We should probably give that eight per cent the benefit of the doubt, and say that they’ve decided the quality Somewhere between the humble of their marinated bagged snack and the “would you almonds or artisan care to see the wine list?” proper menu home-made is the hybrid snack typified by pork pies, vegetable crisps is which four per cent of pubs told the Indies’ so high, it has to be Choice survey they stock. Sausage rolls and counted as “proper” scotch eggs also fit the bill here. pub food rather than Given that a typical pork pie weighs in at a mere bar snack. about 400g, and research by Statista shows The three per cent of that average out-of-home consumption per pubs which told the head for pork pies and sausage rolls is survey that they serve just 9g per head, it’s clear pub olives as a bar snack customers are more than doing also shows that pubs have their bit. Bravo! come a long way in the 60 years since Golden Wonder

Hybrid hits

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5

BEHIND

BAR – THE

crisps

1. Pipers

2. Walkers 3. Tyrells

STOCK YO PERFECT RAUR NGE

4. Burts 5. McCoy’s

shook up the market by adding cheese & onion flavouring to its crisps. The survey also suggests that bagged snacks have taken a premium turn in pubs. Respondents said that Pipers Crisps was their most popular brand, winning out over the UK’s overall market leader Walkers. It’s worth noting that both Pipers and Walkers are owned by Pepsico, which acquired the Pipers brand in 2019. In that context, Pipers’ growth in popularity is driven by a strategy to differentiate between the on-trade and off-trade, an approach which benefits pubs if customers can be persuaded to trade up to a crisp brand with premium positioning.

*Kantar OOH Pubs & Bars Spend 52 w/e 13.06.21

Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

Nutty professors

The nuts market is led in popularity by the KP brand, with Nobbys – also part of Pesico’s Walkers Snack Foods stable – at number two. Matt Collins, trading director at KP Snacks, which owns the Tyrells and McCoys crisp brands as well as its namesake nuts, says: “Bagged snacks represent a critical opportunity for pubs and bars to drive their sales, increasing spend and tempting cus-

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Top 1. KP

5

nuts

2. Nobby’s 3. Sun Valley 4. Dormen 5. Salty Dog Ranked by popularity reported in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey 2022

HOW TO SELL SNACKS OFFER THE BIG NAMES Stock a range of bestselling snacks and new products to give your customers the confidence to buy customers on drinks-only visits to trade up. “With social calendars filling up and several major sporting events coming up this year, there will be plenty of opportunities for pubs and bars to capitalise on snack sales.” Matt’s point about sporting occasions is one of the keys to driving snack sales. With a summer of sport to be followed by the unusually timed World Cup in Qatar in November and December, pubs can capitalise on drinksled occasions by making snacks visible. CGA figures show that just over half, 52 per cent, of pub customers say they purchase snacks on impulse. One reason often given for not buying bagged snacks is simply that the customer didn’t think about it, so visibility and brand recognition are important.“Pubs and bars can turn these impulse opportunities into incremental sales by stocking a range of best-selling snacks that are recognisable and trusted. Ensuring a core range is available and, importantly, visible to consumers is key to making the most of this opportunity,” says Matt.

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CATER TO A RANGE OF OCCASIONS Customers will be looking for snacks to sate their hunger, to give themselves a treat, or for healthier options. Offer a selection to meet all these needs STAY STOCKED UP[ Make sure your snacks are always available. If customers know the nut card is likely to be empty they’ll eat before they come, or worse, go straight home for a snack! CATCH THE EYE Put your snacks where they’ll be seen, CGA figures show 37 per cent% of customers purchase snacks because they noticed them while at the bar Tips from KP 19/03/2022 23:25


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EYES ON THE BALL Relaxing lunches, after-work drinks, lazy afternoons in the beer garden… whatever the mood calls for, music can help to make it. Discover the power of music and the benefit it can bring with TheMusicLicence

Now that the nation’s brief-yet-intense obsession with curling at the Winter Olympics is over, pub-going sport fans can turn their attention once again to more traditional viewing. According to the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey results, and perhaps unsurprisingly, this year a lot of beer will be sipped by customers watching football and rugby. These remain far and away the most popular sports screened in pubs, coming top for 50 per cent and 49 per cent respectively of pubs in our survey. Horse racing claims the final one per cent. While spring and early summer will be occupied with Six

What broadcasters do you use?

What is the most popular sport you show?

Horse racing 1% 1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0

Football 49%

Rugby 50%

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Nations rugby action, the Premier and Champions Leagues, and the FA Cup, it could be Formula One’s chance to take over pubs’ big screens on Sundays later in the year. The 2021 Grand Prix season was by all accounts the most exciting in years, and a controversial end to the final race, which saw Max Verstappen crowned champion over Lewis Hamilton after the race was re-started on the final lap, has set this year’s season up perfectly. Both England’s men’s and women’s cricket teams have packed home schedules this summer, and the men’s T20 World Cup begins in October, Down Under. In short, the 2022 sporting calendar is packed, and with the worst of the pandemic seemingly behind us and things back to normal in the stadiums, this could be a bumper year for sport-focused pubs.

What is the most popular sports competition you show?

Football Champions Rugby League 6% World Cup 7%

Football Euros 8%

1.0 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0.0

Football FA Cup 4%

Rugby 6 Nations 38%

Football World Cup 12% Football Premier League 22%

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Back in the game by ANDREW IVES

Craig and Claire took over the pub in 2019 and refurbed it at a cost of £100,000. Then the pandemic hit…

One licensee hoping that 2022 will indeed be a blockbuster year for sport is Craig Garner, who runs the Anlaby Park in Hull, a finalist in the ‘Best Pub To Watch Sport’ category of last year’s Great British Pub Awards. Craig took over the venue with partner Claire Jackman in 2019, dropped a cool £100,000 to refurbish it, then witnessed the world come to a standstill with Covid a few months later. “We did the refurb in October 2019, then re-opened in the November, as a sport and gin pub, and really pushed the sport side by installing 17 screens, including a big 100inch screen. We were one of the first to get one of those I think,” he explains. This was, as Craig says in understated fashion, “not the best timing”, and even when lockdown ended, changes to

consumer habits remained a concern. With pubs having been closed for so long, I asked Craig if he thought more people than usual had bought home subscriptions, to Sky Sports and BT Sport, and if so, had his business felt the effect. “I feel that definitely did have an impact. People built their own little bars at home or in the garden, and everyone was unsure if pubs were ever going to open again. And part of that was buying apps or streaming sticks. But we are turning the corner now though,” says Craig. “People are starting to get back into coming to pubs to watch the football and rugby. We sponsor seven local football and charity teams, and the influx of them after the games, but also for other sporting events, helps a lot.” Not all of the behavioural changes caused by lockdown are negative. There has been a welcome move to drinking more premium beers among some sections of The Anlaby Park’s customer base.. “We did find a generational shift from your entry lager to your premium lager,” says Craig. “Before lockdown I’d say 18 to 20-yearolds were mostly on entry lager, and after lockdown they are drinking premium lager. Our pricing isn’t massively different anyway, but when they were drinking at home they were buying premium lagers, and they’ve got used to it and don’t want to go back.” With pubs trying to recoup lockdown

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The Anlaby Park Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Style: Sport and gin pub Screens: 17, including a 100-inch one Bars: Three – main bar, snug and sports bar Other events: Live music, palm reading, video gaming, pool matches

We are turning the corner now. People are starting to get back into coming into pubs to watch the football and rugby

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losses in 2022, attracting as wide a range of customers as possible is more important than ever. I asked Craig whether being a sports pub restricted his trade to supporters of the local team. “We do have a big Hull City crowd because we are only eight minutes from the stadium,” he says. “They jump on the bus from here, and then jump on the bus back here, sometimes singing, sometimes crying, depending on the result. And we have a big rugby following, because Hull is a big rugby league city. But we get a big range of fans, weirdly. We have Leeds, Man United, and Liverpool supporters.”

Screens for all occasions

Craig is also making use of the audio-visual equipment that comes with Anlaby Park being a sports pub for other, non-sport events. He explains: “We have an advert coming out next week for a new video gaming night. We’ve got a brilliant mixed crowd, from 18 up to 80, and because we’ve got three rooms the younger generation can put a game night on and not affect the sporting calendar. So we are holding a FIFA football gaming night, where they can come and have a bit of fun on the big screens. We’ve actually planned it on a day when there’s no major sporting events on, nothing like a big Champions League game, but because

we have so many screens we can have four things on at a time without any issues.” Cricket is conspicuously absent as a viewing priority in the Inapub Indies’ Choice survey results, despite the England and Wales Cricket Board aggressively promoting the sport in the form of the recently launched Hundred white-ball tournament. Craig says the turnout of viewers for cricket matches is unchanged following the pandemic. “We are quite lucky because we have an afternoon trade of older gentlemen who really enjoy the cricket, and there is a younger crowd who will basically watch whatever sport you put on. But I would say it’s about the same as it was, because we had that crowd already. The Hundred hasn’t impacted turnout that much.” Launching a new pub business on the cusp of a pandemic, and then taking that business to the finals of the Great British Pub Awards two lockdown-ravaged years later is quite an achievement. Does Craig have any advice to offer someone opening a new sport-focused pub? “Go completely over the top with the TVs,” he says.“There’s not one place in our pub where you can’t see a TV. That’s a really good selling point, because people can sit in the snug, in the front room, in the sports bar itself, and there’s always something they can see, and it’s always sport.”

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Boom time for Eviivo Helping pubs and inns manage guests, bookings and travel agencies and promote their rooms online.

Paul and Donna have scooped multiple awards for their pub

bedrooms

With trips away back on after a stuttering couple of years, renting out rooms can help maximise an outlet’s potential. When done well it can make the difference between profit and loss. The Indies’ Choice 2022 survey throws up some interesting data for these pubs. We pick the bones out of it with the help of Paul Berry of The Swan Inn. Paul and his wife Donna have run the multiaward-winning AA Four Star Gold country inn for the past 11 years, and it’s fair to say they know a thing or two about hospitality. They picked up the national AA Inn of the Year accolade for 2019/20. With just three letting rooms, The Swan is an accommodation pub of a type well-represented in our survey, with a quarter of those having one

to three letting rooms and over half having six or fewer. This points to accommodation being mostly ancillary to the operation as a whole, but Paul sees the rooms as a vital part of the business. “Although the income from the rooms amounts to only about 10 per cent of our total income, the knock-on effects are valuable,” he tells me. “Most people have an evening meal, and nobody has to drive home, so they drink more.” It also helps with the winter trade, as people from as nearby as Tiverton – six miles away – are regular overnighters. “Some people just want a change of scenery, an evening away from the kids or just to relax,” says Paul. The 10 per cent figure he mentions is also in the most common bracket. A third of our respondents say that the rooms contribute 10 per cent or less to their bottom line, but this isn’t surprising considering the aforementioned number of pubs with only a few rooms. Those with more beds can see the letting side of their business be a major driving force for profit, with 14 per cent telling us that it’s

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The Swan Inn Bampton, Devon Rooms: 3 Rates: £115-£130 Added extras: Rooms are all renovated by local craftsmen. Guests can book surfing, fishing and clay pigeon shooting through The Swan Awards: Two AA Rosettes for Culinary Excellence; Best Dining Pub Trencherman Awards; Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropub 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; AA Inn of the Year 2019-20 Gold Tourism Pub of the Year 2018 – South West Tourism Excellence Awards

40 per cent or more of their turnover. Paul tells me the last year has been “phenomenal” for business and, with strong bookings for the near future, he sees 2022 as being even busier. “It’s difficult to gauge in terms of money as prices have changed so much from two years ago,” he says. “But in terms of occupancy, 2021 was up on 2019, despite everything.”

Bookings bouncing back

“You can’t skimp on photos” when it comes to your website, advises Paul

This was not the case for everyone, although the torrid nature of trading and circumstantial difficulties could explain why a third of licensees claim to have had fewer residents than their pre-pandemic figures. But the really surprising chunk of data is that a larger number claim to have been busier than in 2019. Whilst summer trade was strong due to a much-reduced exodus to the usual foreign holiday destinations, it’s well worth bearing in mind when considering these figures just how severely hamstrung the hospitality trade was last year. The Swan, like all good inns, benefits from a good chunk of repeat trade, but the bulk of first-time visitors come from their own website or through internet booking

sites. The Swan’s own site just about outperforms the booking.com behemoths, which may be down to the professional look of it and easy interface.This bucks the trend a little, as our survey points to the internet comparison sites to be the main port of call for most punters. Booking.com takes the biggest slice of pie, with a third of all reservations being brokered by them. Social media scores high, with 13 per cent of trade flowing through its easy reach. This is interesting as it’s free, it has a similar pull to Expedia and outperforms Airbnb in our study. I asked Paul whether he considered the quality of The Swan’s website to be important in attracting visitors: “Oh yes! And quality photography – you can’t skimp on photos.” He also added bookings through their own site save considerably on commission. “I had two rooms book via booking.com today for two nights. The total was £420, of which the booking website takes £70.” Not everyone can win accolades for theirpub rooms, but there is definitely potential to increase turnover by doing things the right way and learning from those who excel in this particular niche of the licensed trade.

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ideas.

NOW THERE'S

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AN IDEA

Elton Mouna checks out a few businesses with pooches for punters LSG is a well-respected independent buying group that uses its buying power to tailor deals and supplier partnerships exclusively for you. lsgpurchasing.co.uk

Scan here to see how brilliantly Coffi Lab use imagery on their website, which shouts out ‘DOGS ARE WELCOME!’

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I’m sure I don’t have to tell you it was Albert Einstein who discovered through his Theory of Wagitivity “More Tails = More Sales”. With the great man’s wisdom in mind, in this first edition of “Now There’s An Idea” we are looking at dogs and how making those fourlegged little blighters really welcome in your pub could enhance your bottom line. Let’s start by understanding how big the potential is. The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association says: “There are now 34 million pets in the UK including 12 million dogs.” Twelve million dogs. Blimey, that’s 12 million tails (give or take a boxer or two). And get this, they also say: “More than half of new owners are aged under 34” – a.k.a Millennials, with money to burn on eating and drinking out. Now, here is an absolute cracker of an

idea. Wine trainer Pippa Penny knows more about wine than you can shake a stick at, and she loves dogs. She’s combined these two passions and runs an event called Wine and Canine. Pippa tells me: “I taste a selection of six different wines with the humans and four or five different doggy treats for the pooches courtesy of Tails.com, which makes for a fun and engaging tasting for all.”

Brunch for Bones

So what are hospitality business owners doing to capitalise on getting paws through the doors? The M Hotel in London has a neat idea called the Six Legged Brunch. For two-legged guests, they serve dishes such as steak & eggs or a pancake stack, while four-legged guests get to choose

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We will gladly give a free Sunday roast treat of meat and gravy to the doggie of dogowning diners

from chicken jerky three ways, biltong risotto and peanut butter cookies (all dog-friendly of course). At The Rock Londge in Whitstable, they run a promotion that keeps both dog and dog owner happy. General manager Amy tells me: “We will gladly give a free Sunday roast treat of meat and gravy to the doggie of dog-owning diners. The owners love the gesture, the dogs of course absolutely wolf it down and both owner and dog keep coming back Sunday after Sunday.” Nice work, Amy. At Livelyhood Bars, a six-strong independently owned pub company, they take it one step further and have a whole menu dedicated to dogs, washed down with Bottom Sniffer, a non-alcoholic, noncarbonated “beer” for dogs. I’m so intrigued by the idea of Bottom Sniffer beer for dogs, that I ring owner Stephen Bennett for a chat. He tells me: “Bottom Sniffer is a very popular brand in our ‘drinks for dogs’ range. Dogs happily lap it up, whilst their owners love that their dogs are happy.” I discuss dogs and pubs further with Steve and we conclude a healthier bottom line is not to be sniffed at. To eavesdrop our conversation, scan here:

Dog-friendly directory

Nadia Leguel is a bit of superstar in the dog world. There is nothing she likes more than taking her dog Lola out with her when she is off to the pub or a restaurant. However, back in the day, she found it difficult to know which places were dog-friendly and which weren’t. She decided to change this and set up Wagit, a website dedicated to making it easy for humans to access the best dogfriendly experiences. To find out more about Wagit, go to Wagit.uk and whatever you do, make sure your dog-friendly plans get listed. Scan here to hear Nadia and I talk dogs and pubs.

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And finally to Liverpool to meet founder of Mowgli restaurants Nisha Katona (she’s a judge on Great British Menu too). She adores dogs. “What I’ve always wanted for Mowgli is this home from home, good food and that soft dog’s tail patting on the kitchen floor,” she says. “If we can bring all of that together – family, food, four-legged friends – then that’s what it is to enrich the lives of people.” She loves dogs so much she runs an annual dog show. Now here’s an idea – a dog show in your beer garden? It could work, you know. Photo courtesy of the dog-loving Megan’s, a privately owned collection of neighbourhood restaurants. Megan’s offers dog treats from Pooch and Mutt, water bowls and dog beds in all their venues

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time at the bar

I don’t know about you, but I can’t go into another pub without checking out its operation: layout, service, pricing, décor, toilets, music, TVs, upcoming entertainment, menu, crisp selection, gin selection, under-table chewing gum collection… it’s exhausting. When I was younger and full of the kind of arrogant landlord-bravado normally associated with a keen, young publican plucked from the comfort blanket of the familiar faces of their own bar, I used to pick faults in other places; focus on what they did wrong rather than what they did right. I was convinced that my boozer had it all and blind to the fact that we could improve. Fast-forward 20 years and I’ve flipped. I now see the things people do that we don’t. I read magazine articles about pubs that do the best burgers or pizzas, pubs with the best beer gardens or rooftop terraces, pubs that serve the best meals for dogs. The list of things that we don’t do well seems endless and adds to an ever-inflating inferiority complex. I look at some publicans and think, how do you have time to do all that? How can you simultaneously be providing food for the homeless, brewing your own beer, running training courses for your staff, organising music festivals, compering quiz nights, hosting weddings and learning the bagpipes in time for New Year’s Eve? And how the actual fuck can you do this when I know that you’ve spent the last three weeks strapped to a bus driver as part of a three-legged race to Land’s End in aid of neglected ferrets? Yes it’s easy to choke on the green fog of envy, especially when you compare your frayed and slightly worn boozer with the flat-pack perfection of the chain gangs that pop up every time you whack-a-mole in your pub. Refurb the seats, and the bar top looks shabby. Re-sand the bar, and the tables need doing. Sort the tables, and the toilets need fixing. It’s a constant journey of Band-Aid investment and only rarely do most of us have that holy trinity of time,

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Here’s to the shitholes. Here’s to the dives, to the spit-andsawdust pub and the grot holes, to the proper boozers and the locals’ pubs

Richard Molloy is director of four-strong pubco White Rose Taverns and the microbrewery Platform Five

Jagodka/ Shutterstock.com

RICHARD MOLLOY

money and energy to completely refurb our establishments. And when you get behind on your upkeep, you’re all of a sudden a shithole to the snobs. Well you know what? Here’s to the shitholes. Here’s to the dives and the rough pubs; to the spit-and-sawdust pubs and the grot holes; to the proper boozers and the locals’ pubs. And here’s to us publicans who should be applauded for our survival alone. Here’s our award from me. We know our place in society and we know our value to our customers. Check out the reviews for any of the aforementioned pissholes and you’ll see how much we mean to those who really know us. And let’s not pretend for a single minute that pubs are the squeaky-clean bastions of purity that many industry leaders purvey us as. We know that the rules get bent. We know that weed gets smoked in the beer garden and coke gets snorted in the toilets. We know that knocked-off gear and duty-free baccy gets passed under tables. We know because we see some of it and act on it. We know because society isn’t straight and, at the end of the day, a pub is a room containing a scoop of humanity and it is not our place to judge. Although the bogs in that pub up the road are minging.

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PLATE OR SLATE? Where the nation’s publicans stand on the really big questions Manu Bhatt

The Queen’s Head Dorking, Surrey Manu Bhatt runs tenanted Fuller’s pub The Queen’s Head in Dorking, Surrey. The pub was recently presented with the coveted Griffin Trophy, Fuller’s Pub of the Year award. Manu only took on the site in February 2020, just before the pandemic hit, but has transformed it by investing £70,000 in a spectacular outside dining space which includes a giant teepee. The new space has tripled the number of covers at the pub and meant that despite the challenges of the last two years Manu has come through the pandemic in a very strong position and made a real success of the Queen’s Head. As well as winning the overall Griffin Trophy, the pub was also named the winner in Fuller’s Best Town/Local category at the annual awards.

Plate or slate? It’s got to be a plate of course, because with a slate when you serve food it drips all the time and you can’t get a good grip on it either. It’s just not practical.

Cocktails or cask ale? In a pub, I would always choose cask ale. British pubs are all about celebrating cask ale, and over the years people have forgotten how great it is, but I think cask ale is finally now back in trend again because so many people are doing so many amazing things with it at the moment.

Starter or pudding? If I could, I would choose both! But if I had to choose one it would be a starter, because you don’t go straight for a pudding in a restaurant. A starter sets the scene and lets you know a bit more about the style and what you can expect from the main course.

Karaoke or pub quiz? Pub quizzes are more interesting and more pubby. Karaoke should be in a karaoke bar, not a pub, so pub quiz all the way!

Big night out or a meal with friends? Back in the day I would have preferred a big night out but now I prefer to go and have a nice meal with my friends. It’s more sociable, it gives you more of a chance to explore what you’re eating, not just drinking. When you go on a big night out you probably forget the next day what you had.

Country inn or city pub? I like both, but I think a country pub has a different, unique feel to it. It depends what mood you’re in and what you’re looking for, but I would go for a country pub because I think that’s what a pub should be. You can have a city pub and still have the feel of a

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country pub as well – pub fire, cask ale, the smell of wood, the smell of the fire.

Wear what you like or uniforms for the staff? I think certain parts of the uniform should be standardised. I want staff to feel comfortable and wear their own clothing, not ask them to wear a bow tie or anything. But there need to be certain elements of it that mean customers can recognise who is working there, and distinguish between the manager, staff and customers.

Shabby chic or design shrine? I feel like shabby chic should be more for a café than a pub. A pub should be more design-led, but then that design has to be around what a pub should feel like, the essence of what a pub is.

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PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

POSTCARD from the pub frontline

Is it a gang of Smurfs trying to find their way to a fancy dress party? Is it your regulars, viewed from the wrong side of a few pints of Old Brain Blaster scrumpy with an absinthe chaser? No, it’s the Hook Eagle Morris Men pulling out all the stops to make sure that whatever else 2022 brings, it at least comes with a decent cider apple harvest. The annual wassail returned to the village of Hartley Wintney in Hampshire this year, after taking 2021 off along with the rest of the world. Around 100 people assembled outside The Waggon & Horses, from where the morris team led a torchlit procession up to the Vaughan Millennium Apple Orchard. The wassailers blessed the apple trees, sprinkling cider on their roots and impaling slices of cider-soaked toast on the twigs, before joining in a wassail song. After that it was all back to the pub to enjoy music, stick dancing and, of course, plenty of cider. The event was organised by the local council along with

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by BEN THRUSH

the morris dancers, and Waggon & Horses landlord Kasey Steele was only too happy to help lubricate the festivities. “It does bring a different type of clientele to the pub for the night,” he told Inapub. “The business is a real regulars type of business, but the wassail brings people out who might only come downNOVEMBER a couple of times/aDECEMBER year, and lots of kids with 2017 their folks. I did some mulled cider out front at the request of 5 the council. “People have been a bit reserved about coming out again after the lockdown but after all that time inside, people did come out in droves for this, to do something different.” The wassail drew a bigger crowd than the Hook Eagle Morris Men’s first post-pandemic event, for May Day dawn last year. Then, the dancers maintained social distancing by using “the longest sticks we could get our hands on”, veteran morris man John Ellis told Sky News. The performance was witnessed by three people, which John reckoned was “pretty good” considering the 5am start.

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