Brews in brief …

The British Guild of Beer Writers has shortlisted 28 writers, journalists, and bloggers in its annual awards. The winners in 11 categories, as well as the overall beer writer of the year and brewer of the year, will be unveiled at the guild’s awards presentation and dinner on December 3. Read the full shortlist on the guild website.

Small Beer Brew Co, which specialises in producing classic beer styles below 2.8% ABV, has launched its full range with online retailer Ocado.

Brewer and pub owner Thwaites has reported like-for-like sales up 2% in the six months to September 30. Turnover rose by 7% to £53.4m, and operating profit was up 9% to £8.7m.

Camden Town Brewery’s Christmas beer — Beer 2019 — is available now. Aged for eight months in the classic Champagne combo of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay barrels, the 11% ABV beer has a dry flavour profile with biscuit malt and grape aromas from Hallertau Blanc and Enigma hops. It comes in a gold screenprinted 500ml bottle designed by our collaborator Bodil Jane.

Ora Bjorn Ironside

Ora Brewing’s collaboration with Brew York — Bjorn Ironside — is available to order now, with deliveries from November 20. The beer is an IPA, brewed with extra pale malt, wheat and naked oats, fermented in the New England style, and double dry-hopped with lots of Citra, Simcoe and El Dorado.

Lightweight Containers, which produces KeyKeg and UniKeg brands, has changed its name to OneCircle. The aim is that the high-quality raw materials used in its kegs are recycled and re-used, with the goal of creating 100% circular kegs.

Adam Keary has been named as the new managing director of Camden Town Brewery, being promoted from sales director. Breweery founder, Jasper Cuppaidge, said: “[Adam’s] been at the centre of our incredible growth, his team have secured core listings and built hugely important relationships with some of the UK’s biggest and best on- and off-trade outlets. Adam has done all this while keeping us true to our core values and mission to become the UK’s favourite lager brewery.”

Shepherd Neame Christmas Ale

Shepherd Neame has unveiled a new limited edition presentation box for this year’s vintage of Christmas Ale (7% ABV). Featuring a warming combination of fruits and spices, it combines pale and crystal malts with Target and Challenger hops for bitterness, and Goldings for aroma. Head brewer, Mike Unsworth, said: “Christmas Ale is one of our favourite traditions, a full-bodied, complex beer, with hints of spice and mulled fruits. We are very proud of this glowing amber winter beer, with a heady, fruity nose.”

Gloucester Brewery, owned by Jared Brown, has taken on three new investors, who will have a combined stake of 35% in the business. The new investors are: Martin St Quinton, owner and chairman of Gloucester Rugby; Simon Thomas, founder and former owner of Thomas Legal Group; and Dave Lewins, who is the brewery’s sales and marketing director.

Bath Ales‘ seasonal Festivity is back, the 5% ABV winter porter available throughout November and December. Head brewer, Georgina Young, said: “Festivity is a wonderful old-style porter. Specially crafted with a variety of roasted and caramelised malts, it’s a rich, heady, and complex beer, ideally suited for the winter months. Perfect for the run-up to Christmas, it’s best enjoyed in a cosy pub, next to a roaring fire.”

Black Sheep Brewery Advent calendar

Black Sheep Brewery has announced a raft of Christmas gift ideas, including a beer Advent calendar, hampers, and other non-beer items. They can be browsed in the brewery’s online shop.

Turnover at Camerons Brewery rose 14% to £84.1m in the year to May 5, the company has reported. Turnover from pubs and brewing both rose, although operating profit fell from £2.1m to £1.6m as investment continued.

XT Brewing — which is due to announce personnel changes in the new year — has revealed a quartet of new brews for the festive season. These comprise XT-25 Xmas Ale (4.7% ABV), two Animal branded beers — Rook stout (4.6%) and Dove (4.6%), a triple-hopped blonde — and seasonal bottled beer Snow Kitty (4.6%), a stronger winter version of Hop Kitty.

The Great British Beer Festival (GBBF) Winter, which is coming to Birmingham for the first time in February, will partner with local charity LoveBrum to support ‘hidden gem’ charitable projects across the local area. Visitors to the festival will be able to donate unused beer tokens to the charity and speak to organisers directly about their latest projects in the local area.

Thornbridge Hawksmoor

Thornbridge Brewery has collaborated with the Hawksmoor restaurants to create a session IPA designed to match with food. The 4.5% ABV brew uses all British ingredients for a distinctive stone fruit aroma with defined bitterness on the palate and an off dry finish. It will particularly pair with Hawksmoor’s signature steaks.

Anarchy Brew Co Imenso, an 11% ABV imperial stout, created in collaboration with Rubens Angelotti from Blend Bryggeri in Brazil. The beer has been exposed to Amburana wood, from South America.

The latest British Beer and Pub Association podcast has been released, focusing on low- and no-alcohol beer. It features guests Laura Willoughby, of Club Soda, the mindful drinking movement, and Tristan O’Hana, of trade publication Pub & Bar Magazine.

Verdant Other Half

Verdant has collaborated with Brooklyn’s Other Half Brewing on a double IPA called There Is No Why. The beer has been hopped and dry hopped with Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, Idaho 7 and Sabro.

Revenue at AB InBev grew 2.7% in the third quarter of its financial year, but total beer volumes were down by 0.5% on the same period last year. Growth from markets such as Mexico, South Africa, and Colombia was more than offset by declines in China and the US, said the brewer.

Heineken saw beer volumes grow 2.3% in the third quarter of its financial year. Growth of Heineken itself was at 7.4%. Steve Miley, a senior market analyst at www.asktraders.com, noted: “Growth was in line with expectations; however, it is concentrated in lower-margin emerging markets. The results have done little to address concerns of increased competition and falling alcohol consumption across the developed world. Heineken’s strategy of heavy investment in emerging markets amid declining consumption in European and US has proved sound; however, it could be starting to lose its fizz.”

Wadworth Henry 6X

Wadworth has re-introduced the name of its founder, Henry Wadworth, as part of its IPA cask ale rebrand, and created a fresh new look for its iconic 6X beer. Chief executive, Chris Welham, said: “6X and Henry’s IPA have been a firm favourite with drinkers of Wadworth beers for nearly 100 years and we wanted to celebrate their history and heritage as an award-winning original ale and IPA… By bringing back our founder’s name, Henry Wadworth, on all of the IPA branding, we’ve re-emphasised the association his name has historically had with this great beer.”

Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I is calling on UK enterprises to help tackle some of the world’s biggest environmental and societal concerns by participating in its 100+ Accelerator programme. Through the global programme, the brewer calls on start-ups for innovative ideas to help solve a range of global issues connected to AB InBev’s Sustainability and Smart Drinking Goals. The 100+ Accelerator programme, now in its second year, seeks start-up businesses with innovative solutions that can be quickly scaled to make a significant impact on a specific challenge area. Successful applicants will receive up to $100,000 investment as well as active mentorship training, programming, and pilot opportunities within the AB InBev network. 

Magic Rock Brewing has used its High Wire grapefruit pale ale to inspire a gin, created with Adnams at its Copper House Distillery. Magic Rock chief executive, Richard Burhouse, said: “We’re so pleased with how well the grapefruit flavours work to deliver a refreshingly ‘magic’ taste on a classic G and T.”

A second wave of brewers has been announced for Arundel Brewfest (January 24-26), which is offering beers selected by bloggers. The breweries include UK giants Verdant and Deya, along with guest beers from Three Hills, Track, Cloak & Dagger, Black Flag, Glasshouse, BRZN, Unity, Fierce and UnBarred. Read our festival preview here

Brewer and pub owner Hall & Woodhouse saw turnover increase 4.3% £114,808,000 in the year ending January 26. However, pre-tax profit fell 35.2% to £6,020,000. The company said it was continuing to invest heavily in its pubs, brands, and teams, and borrowing increased slightly to £56.5m.

Greene King has rejoined the British Beer and Pub Association after a break of ten years. Chief executive, Nick Mackenzie, said: “As a leading British pub company and brewer, we are keen to play an active role championing the industry, promoting its unique role in communities across the country. We are looking forward to working with the BBPA and its members to support its important work on the many challenges facing the sector, and to ensure it has a bright future.”

Carlsberg paper bottle

Carlsberg has updated on its journey to create the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle, made from sustainably-sourced wood fibres, that is both 100% bio-based and fully recyclable. The brewer has unveiled two new research prototypes of its Green Fibre Bottle, which are the first ‘paper bottles’ to contain beer. Carlsberg also announced it has been joined by other leading global companies who are united in their vision of developing sustainable packaging.

Owner C&C is investing £14.23m in its Tennent’s brand, specifically targeting sustainability. Among the measures to be undertaken are: local sourcing and waste management; an end to single-use plastics by 2021; an anaerobic digestion plant; and becoming carbon neutral by 2025.

Shareholders on both sides have agreed to Hong Kong developer CK Asset Holdings’ takeover of Greene King. The deal values Greene King at £4.2bn, including debt.

Brewer and pub owner Joseph Holt has reported turnover up 5% to £68.7m for the year ending December 31, 2018. Pre-tax profit rose 40% to £4.2m.

UnBarred Brewery has released a new iteration of its West Coast IPA, West Side Story. Hopped with Chinook, Cascade and Mosaic, it has a bold bitterness and notes of pine.

Sharp’s Brewery owner Molson Coors saw its beer volumes rise slightly in the year to December 31, 2018. Turnover rose 1.8% to £145bn, although operating profit fell to £16.3m.

McCains brand Brew City has developed a range of hot bite foods designed to accompany craft beer. The range includes onion straws, to jalepeño bottle caps and halloumi fries.

The number of trade visitors to the London Craft Beer Festival, in August, rose 200% this year, organisers have revealed. The festival had a dedicated trade session attended by more than 500 professionals.

A self-serve craft beer wall, run by retailer Beer Hawk, has been added to the street food area at the Trinity Leeds shopping centre.

Nirvana Brewery, dedicated to alcohol-free beer, has launched Bavarian Helles Lager. Pouring golden in colour, the 0.3% ABV beer offers pleasant biscuit notes from its malts, balanced with subtle Hallertauer hops giving a gentle nectar finish. Nirvana co-founder, Becky Kean, said: “The benefit of having our own brewery is that we’re always testing new things, improving our recipes, and coming up with new ideas, so watch this space because we really have scope to do some innovative things!”

St Peter’s Brewery has won four medals in the Global Beer Master competition. There was gold for its Cream Stout, silver for newly-launched Stateside Pale Ale and Old Style Porter, and bronze for new White Raven. The brewery’s managing director, John Hadingham, said: “Our Cream Stout is a multi-award-winning brew that always goes down well with the judges, but it’s also very exciting to receive medals for two of our brand new launches, which is testament to our ongoing commitment to quality and our top brewing team, who continue to produce award-winning beers.”

Turnover at Cobra Beer fell 4.3% to 54,628,000 for the year ending December 31, 2018, but gross profit rose 6.6% to £16,220,000. The company attributes this to reduced costs in raw materials and marketing expenditure.

Independent pub company and brewery Wells & Co has announced that chief executive Justin Phillimore will be standing down at the end of the year. Peter Wells will take a new role as group managing director.

Old School Brewery, in Warton, North Lancashire, has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Taste Lancashire producer of the year category in the annual Lancashire Tourism Awards. Catherine Walsh, from Old School Brewery, said: “We are only a small craft brewery creating beers using only the finest ingredients from across the UK. We take a great deal of pride in the provenance of what we create and how we go about making our beers.”

Chiltern Wheeling

Chiltern Brewery is using its Rugby World Cup beer, Chiltern Wheeling, to support local charity Wheelpower. Each year, WheelPower supports more than 62,000 disabled people to participate in sport and activity across the country. Chiltern Brewery’s James Bradshaw said: “We’ve always been big
supporters of the work that WheelPower do, and have been privileged to attend a number of their recent events. We are delighted that we are able to help increase awareness for their amazing work.”

Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland has announced a multi-million pound investment in new technology, allowing it to eliminate plastic rings from can packaging across its entire UK-produced beer range by the end of 2020. The £6.3m investment will enable the group to eliminate a total of 850 tonnes of plastic each year.

Retailer Majestic says its has seen sales of sub-2% ABV beers rocket. In 2019 there has been an increase of more than 77% year on year.

Online retailer Beer Hawk has added Beer Hawk FRESH to its offering. This is a chilled supply chain operated from a refrigerated warehouse in London. It aims to offer customers beers in brewery-fresh condition. Andrew Morgan, head of Beer Hawk FRESH, said: “Breweries working with Beer Hawk FRESH will also gain access to the sales support and distribution network of the UK’s largest online beer retailer at beerhawk.co.uk, while still maintaining their independence. With Beer Hawk FRESH part of ZX Ventures, the global growth incubator of AB InBev, breweries will benefit from the significant scale this provides in the UK craft scene.”

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has appointed Barry Watts as its new head of public affairs and policy. Barry joins SIBA from the Royal Economic Society and brings to the role significant public affairs and communications experience, having worked in Parliament and financial regulation. He also ran his own brewing company.

The latest addition to Camden Town Brewery’s seasonal Hells range is Harvest Hells, a full-bodied, malty red lager. For each can sold, 20p will be donated to the Felix Project, helping to tackle food poverty across London.

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