OTLEY PUB CLUB
JANUARY NEWSLETTER 2018
Remember – if you’re only interested in what’s on in the pubs, go straight to the end!
Only the first newsletter of the new year [but what a whopper!], and already there are rumblings afoot concerning some of the pubs in Otley. Dryanuary and Tryanuary are insignificant and meaningless if your livelihood as a landlord is at stake. To be fair, we don’t know any of the facts yet, but we do know that Heineken are taking over the running of 1,900 Punch pubs nationwide, and we believe that some of those are in Otley. So while Otley Pub Club is looking forward to a number of major projects in 2018, some landlords might be much more concerned about their own longer term future. But if you really are looking for beers/pubs/breweries to try in January, check out the list of events at https://www.tryanuary.com/events/ Scroll right to the bottom of the list for what’s on in West Yorkshire. [North Yorkshire is just above it, and Sheffield’s in the list somewhere.]
By the way – apologies for not getting this newsletter out at the weekend, as I always intend to do, but I’ve been away for the weekend and had a little local difficulty [losing my phone] that I’ve been trying to sort out. Eejit that I am!
HEINEKEN BECOMES A MAJOR PUB OWNER
The takeover might or might not be disadvantageous to existing landlords – we’ll have to wait and see. We do know however that the purchase was delayed for 6 months last year because of concern about a potential reduction in competition, as Heineken’s Star Pubs & Bars division becomes the third-largest pub owner in the UK, behind EI Group (formerly Enterprise Inns) and Greene King. After that 6 months consideration, the Competition and Markets Authority asked Heineken to sell a mere 30 of their 1,100 existing pubs, and then allowed the takeover to go ahead!
The CAMRA Chief Executive, Tim Page, said their concern in this whole process was about maintaining choice for drinkers. When a large brewer owns pubs, the worry is that they will restrict their tenants to selling only the beers that they produce, or purchase through large deals with other breweries. It seems that whatever legislation is put in place, the major players in the pub business will always find a way round it. Back in the 1980s, legislation [‘beer orders’] came into force that prevented any brewer owning more than 2,000 pubs – for precisely the concerns mentioned above. We all know the result of that – the setting up of ‘pubcos’, purely property-owning companies that still exerted complete control of the ‘tied’ beers that their tenants were allowed to sell.
Because the old 6 major brewers no longer owned the vast majority of the UK pub estate after that, the ‘Beer Orders’ were deemed no longer necessary, and were revoked in 2004. Now that new legislation has come into force to allow tenants to ‘break the tie’ and have a market rent only agreement with the pubcos, we see a major brewer jumping back into the market and changing the playing field again. There can only be one reason for that, and it’s surely no coincidence that Greene King is also in the top 3 pub-owning companies. [The pubco EI is the other, so watch out for a major takeover bid for them, by Carlsberg, or another of the top 4 international brewing companies who already control 50% of the global market]. The other 2 along with Heineken are Anheuser-Busch InBev and SABMiller, whose Molson Coors HQ is already at Burton on Trent.]
DO THESE TAKEOVERS REALLY MATTER?
Lots of people do like Heineken products – Red Stripe, Birra Moretti, Desperados lagers; or Strongbow, Bulmers and Old Mout ciders. But what about beer? Wetherspoons have shown that a major pub company CAN still sell a wide range of real and craft ales, but the price they are willing to pay means that small brewers are maybe accepting the deal for its advertising value rather than instant profit on the sale itself! And if Wetherspoons main business was brewing, do you really think the range they offer would remain as wide?
You might think that with the number of small breweries still continuing to increase, the range of quality beers on offer to the public would be bigger than ever, and that even if each one is only available within 10 miles of the brewery – what’s wrong with that? All I can say is you must not have been reading everything we’ve said about traditional pubs over the past 3 years. Yes, there is an extremely wide choice of beers nowadays – if you’re happy to visit the brewery tap and sit on a straw bale outside the brewery itself; or sit in a converted butcher’s shop or station waiting room; or even visit a beer festival.
But what if you still want a different pint at the traditional alehouse down the road? Heineken might well [and I’m speculating of course, and could be completely wrong] flood their own pubs with lager and cider and bottled products, along with a couple of middle-of-the-road bitters that are the same in every single pub. And what happens when they buy several pubs in the same town – like Otley? With 3 or 4 pubs selling exactly the same range of products, is there going to be a market demand for all of them? Of course not – which means landlords fighting each other to cut costs and reduce margins, meaning the quality of the pubs goes down and eventually Heineken just sell off the non-profitable ones. As Otley Pub Club was set up specifically to save all the traditional pubs in Otley, we see this as a (potential) major challenge.
. . and TALKING OF TAKEOVERS
That there Molson Coors that I mentioned earlier has only gone and taken over Aspalls cider [and vinegar] business! The full story can be found on thedrinksbusiness.com but here’s just an excerpt – “Aspall, which was founded in 1728 by Clement Chevallier and continues to be run by the eighth generation of his family, produces cider as well as a range of vinegars. Based in the parish of Aspall in Suffolk, it has been stated that “members of the family will remain part of the business and will play a key role in shaping the strategic direction of Aspall”. Molson Coors has said that it wants to make Aspall the UK’s best-selling premium cider and build on the “huge potential of its vinegars”. Let’s hope they don’t get the two mixed up!
THE MOON UNDER WATER
Essentially, we’re still fighting the same battle against money-making corporations who really care nothing about what the customer actually wants, but only about how they can maximise profits. The names are different, and ostensibly the ‘business’ is different [property vs drinks] but the outcome is likely to be the same. As the companies make more money, the landlords make less; as landlords are forced out of business the number of unique pubs closing will increase; as unique pubs close we’ll be left with bleak, characterless branded ‘leisure outlets’. It’s just possible that the craft beer, local brewing, and community pub-buying successes will save some traditional pubs – but will they be ‘the last of England’?
Earlier this month I told you about Hilaire Belloc’s chapter ‘On Inns’ in a book from 1912, which praised the old inns of England. Well, you might also know about an essay written by George Orwell in 1946, called ‘The Moon Under Water’.
In it, he described his ideal [fictional] public house. He stipulates ten key points his perfect [London!] pub should have, which you might find picky, snobbish, arch, or just a personal preference, but I bet it’s still pretty close to perfection for a lot of people who love traditional old pubs. One paragraph for instance says “If you are asked why you favour a particular public-house, it would seem natural to put the beer first, but the thing that most appeals to me about the Moon Under Water is what people call its ‘atmosphere’.” [Which is sort of what I go for as well.] Now whatever you think of Wetherspoons, their founder Tim Martin obviously knows what people want. I wouldn’t personally compare any Wetherspoons pub I’ve been in, to Orwell’s ideal though, so maybe Tim was being ironic or even ‘arch’ himself [now I know what that means!] when he called 15 of his pubs ‘The Moon Under Water’! You can see the whole text of the Orwell essay at – https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/the-moon-under-water/
REMEMBER THAT ‘REAL OTLEY RUN’ IDEA?
I think I might have mentioned in the past that instead of walking alongside some of the most polluted roads in Leeds while doing the Otley Run, students might prefer the fresh air and lung-busting climbs of visiting all the pubs in Otley. Well in a couple of weeks’ time, on Saturday the 3rd of February, people will get a chance to try a bit of that [without the climbs though – and therefore not quite so much of the really fresh air!!]
There’ll be a charity pub walk organised by The Bay Horse and starting there at 11am, then visiting 13 pubs in town! Participants are encouraged to wear fancy dress, and some will be carrying buckets to collect cash for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Route is expected to be:
Bay Horse, Horse & Farrier, Tap House, White Swan, Manor, Junction, Old Cock, Tavern , North Bar Social, Whitakers, Red Lion, Black Horse, Black Bull and back to the Bay Horse.
Please note – this is not an Otley Pub Club event, and is being organised entirely by The Bay Horse. So if you’re on the route and don’t want to be, or you’re not on the route and think you should be, you’d better get in touch with The Bay Horse and let them know pretty darned quick!
‘BUILDERS’ FRIDAY TROUBLE
The last full working Friday before Christmas has been known for years as the day when everyone goes out partying with their workmates. Often this starts in the middle of the day and goes on late into the night – with the obvious results! It used to be called ‘black Friday’ until the American habit of storming the shops after Thanksgiving started to become popular over here as well. Then it changed its name to mad Friday, or black eye Friday or even builders’ Friday – which is a bit unfair to builders, when everyone is at it!
Anyway, lots of people and lots of booze over many hours can lead to trouble, and so it proved for one pub in Otley before Christmas. We weren’t there, so we only have second-hand reports of what happened, but it seems that there was an argument inside the pub, and then a serious injury occurred following a fall outside. I’m well aware that Otley Pub Club tries to encourage everyone to visit their locals regularly, to keep them open and trading, but I hope we also get the message through to everyone that we definitely DON’T encourage you to go out and get plastered! And we certainly don’t want you to get ‘fighting drunk’! Alcohol is a drug. A drug that affects and alters behaviour. And as with most drugs, when it is abused it can lead to disastrous consequences.
Otley has an active Pub Watch organisation that monitors potential trouble-makers, and landlords themselves try to keep control over the behaviour of drinkers in their pub. But they can’t be everywhere or watch everyone, and it really is up to all of us to not provoke any trouble and to keep calm if faced by such provocation by someone else. I hope the person who was injured has recovered or is recovering, and that this sort of injury – accidental or otherwise – doesn’t happen again in Otley any time soon.
OTLEY TOWN COUNCIL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Otley Town Mayor Cllr Nigel Francis has invited nominations for the young persons (aged 18 or under) AND adult achievement awards for the calendar year 2017. This award is for someone who has achieved something outstanding, overcome some form of adversity, helped others or contributed to the community in the last year. Nominations must be made by an Otley resident. Any persons nominated need not live in Otley but must have given significant service to Otley. All nominations must be received by Friday 2nd March.
All you have to do to nominate someone is to pick up the relevant form from the OTC office at Orchard Gate, or download it from their website, then complete it by telling the Council who you are nominating, and why. Full Council will determine who will receive the award. The successful individuals will receive their awards (a certificate and cash award) at the Annual Parish Meeting to be held in May 2018. It’s not quite an MBE, but it’s a great recognition of the work that the individual has put in during 2017 to benefit the town of Otley or individuals/organisations within the town. I’m sure we could all name someone who we think deserves to be recognised. [And by the way congratulations to the director of Lunds of Otley, and of Otley Town Partnership – Peter Heald – who DID receive an MBE in the New Year Honours List!]
GREAT BRITISH BEER FESTIVAL – WINTER
This year CAMRA’s winter beer festival is in Norwich, over 5 days from the 20th to the 24th of February. A massive range of beers from popular light ales to ruby and dark ales, foreign beers and ciders, will all be served in the magnificent medieval friary halls in the heart of Norwich. Pubs in the city will also host The Fringe, with special events from the 1st to the 24th of February. Enjoy the music nights and sample the winners of the winter ales competition! There’s lots more information on the GBBF Winter website, including ticket availability and how to volunteer as a helper.
Thought you knew everything about microbrewing? Did that include roasting your own barley? You’ll remember that I wrote about Viking ‘brewing stones’ in the December newsletter, and an archaeological dig near Trondheim in Norway. What I didn’t know at the time is that in Stjørdal just North of Trondheim airport, brewers maintain the tradition of building their own malthouse to get traditional malt for their farmhouse ale. There are no fewer than 50 of these traditional individual roasthouses/brewers within a radius of just 20Km.
This article from BrewingNordic.com describes the process, the local culture and traditions, and even a possible historic link to the Vikings again! According to the locals, malting and brewing is a long-standing tradition in Stjørdal because the area has been good for growing barley and the people have had surplus grain for brewing. Apparently the local home-made alderwood smoked malt is so characterful that a genuine Stjørdalsøl cannot be made without it. What’s more it can apparently be identified “from a meter away, just from the scent”! As far as the finished ale is concerned, “although alderwood produces much softer smoke than say oak or birch, stjørdalsøl is immensely smoky . . . but has a fair amount of sweetness to counterbalance intense smokiness.” So you know what to look out for, the next time you’re up Trondheim way!
THERE’S [NO LONGER] A BEER FOR THAT!
No doubt you will remember the TABFT campaign that started in 2014 and preached the virtues of pairing different styles of beer with different food. But it did more than that, as appreciated by Adrian Tierney-Jones, the current British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of The Year. “I like that TABFT covered beer-and-food matching, publicised beer styles, shone a spotlight on women in beer and just generally focused on the sybaritic pleasures of beer, which is something we can all relate to. It’ll be very interesting to see how the new campaign works” he says.
Although TABFT will continue online until at least April, it is to be replaced by an initiative designed to combat ‘the devastating impact of high beer duty’ on beer and pubs. TABFT director David Cunningham, who will be in charge of the new campaign, said. “The beer category is more vibrant and in better health; now we will turn our attention to addressing new threats.” Cunningham says the decision to change focus has been spurred by the government’s decision to raise alcohol duty rates in line with RPI inflation. The new campaign will focus on two key messages: ‘the positive story of beer and pubs’ and ‘to raise awareness of the threat facing the great British tradition of having a beer with family and friends in the local pub’. As that’s pretty much our message as well, we wish them luck. The full story is at imbibe.com.
AND FINALLY – A ‘NATIONAL TREASURE’ TO VISIT OTLEY?
Just a quick update on the teaser I included in the invitation to our January meeting. The response I had received to my invitation to take part in our Yorkshire Day pub re-naming event was from no other than Dame Judi Dench CH herself. The response was so wonderful, and so genuine, that it obviously says a lot about the sort of person Dame Judi is, and why she is so popular and really is one of our ‘national treasures’! Here’s the full text of the email I received before Christmas. Best Christmas present ever!
“Dear Bob Brook –
How absolutely wonderful to have a Yorkshire pub named after me! I could not be more pleased.
I will put the date in my diary and keep my fingers crossed that I will be able to get to Otley on August 1, or some time during that month.
Please thank everyone for voting for me. I shall boast about it for ever!
With very best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, and I hope to see you in August.
- There’ll be a special menu for Valentine’s day only – keep checking Facebook page for details.
- Don’t forget if you’re on the Chevin with kids and dogs during half term, they’re all welcome in our newly refurbished bar!
- Open mic starts again on Thursday, Feb 1st
- New Menu on its way.
- Wednesday now sees Otley Folk Club in its new post-Korks home, upstairs 8.30pm.
- 45 (count em ) gins, 6 handpulls. Keep an eye out on the Facebook page for a gin tasting evening.
- Quiz nights Wednesday.
- Advance notice!! Mothers day last year booked up a month early. You may want to make sure of a reservation.
NORTH BAR SOCIAL
- January 19th to 21st weekend ‘Black & Brews’ tap takeover by Black Iris and Brew York beers.
- Food here is (literally) going down really well. There are specials every day, so call in and see what’s on offer.
STEW & OYSTER
- Dry January : Non-alcoholic Gin, wines and beers to try.
- Sunday 25th Feb Burns night special. Haggis Neeps and Tatties with a Glenfiddich 18yo in souvenir copper dram.
- Tuesdays 10-12 Baby social upstairs
- Quiz night Thursdays from 20:00 win a bar tab to subsidise the night out.
- 4th Feb Yorkshire pudding day. All stews served in a giant Yorkshire. Tasty!!
- Feb 13th Pancake day!!!
- Special charity event at 11am on Saturday, February 3rd. Fancy dress [with collecting buckets] pub walk round 13 pubs in Otley, starting and finishing here, all in aid of Yorkshire Air Ambulance.
- There is now ‘Molly’s Gin Bar’ in the Bay Horse, so if that’s become your favourite tipple, why not try it out?
- See photo and Facebook [click on link below] for all live music details.
- Coming at end of Jan – Thursday Quiz Night.
- Also on its way soon – Otley’s Got Talent.
OTLEY TAP HOUSE
- Quiz night in hiatus, check with pub for details of its return!
- Steve Chapman Smith 27/1 at 8:00 pm
- Julian Socha 3/2 at 8:00 pm
- Six Days (Folk/Americana) 11/2 at 8:00:30 pm
- Every Tuesday from 9:00 pm on, there is a folk play along upstairs.
- Currently there is a special treat for lovers of strong beer. A series of beers from Wilde Child brewing; Righteous Indignation (7.4%), Hedonistic Existence (6.3%) and Dystopian Society (6.1%).
HORSE & FARRIER
- For Jan the kitchens are closed on Mon/Tue but open the rest of the week. Normal service in Feb.
- Open Mic nights Thursdays from 20:30
- New cocktail list due imminently!!
- Instead of Dryuary MTT are doing Tryuary. http://www.markettowntaverns.co.uk/events-and-offers/tryanuary/
- Friday 26th another Comedy night with Shoe Cake Comedy Club, only £5/ticket. Book early – December’s was packed!
- Ace of Spades Jackpot game every Wednesday at 7:00 pm
- Quiz Night every Tuesday at 8:00 pm
- Fizz Friday’s £10.95 a bottle for Prosecco
- Charity Night Live Music in aid of Mayor’s Charities, defibrillators and Little Sisters of the Poor Saturday 20/1/2018 from 8:00 pm
- New Pool table.
- Quiz nights Tuesday and Sunday 20:45
- Karaoke on Saturday Jan 27th. Get your singing head on!
- Senior citizens meal deal on Thursdays. £4-95 for a main course and drink, Puddings £1 extra. Cheaper than cooking it yourself!
- Open Mic Night every Friday from 8:30 pm
- Manor Sessions every Thursday
- Hot Rhythm and Dynamite, and Peculiar Blue 18/1 from 8:00 pm
- Dr. Brown and Groove Cats 20/1 from 8:00 pm
- James Thompson, and Andy McDermott and Ricky Silvers 25/1 from 8:00 pm
- Joe and Anne Gallagher 27/1 from 8:00 pm
- Selected beers only £1:80 a pint any time from midday Monday to 11pm Thursday
- Carling, Coors and Strongbow Dark Fruits on Wednesday and Thursday – buy 2 pints & get 1 free!
- Wednesday is Prosecco night – £10 a bottle.
- Details of live sport on TV, livce music in the pub, and much more on our Facebook page.
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Finally, my usual apologies for errors and/or omissions as we head into a New Year. If you are receiving these newsletters and any other correspondence from Otley Pub Club by email, but you no longer want them, just email the return address and let me know. On the other hand, if you stop receiving our newsletters in future but you still want to be a member, something’s gone wrong! Remember this email address for the future – firstname.lastname@example.org , or get in touch via the website and I’ll put you back on the mailing list right away. Thanks!