News in Brief

Essex venture: New Breed Bottle Shop has opened in Loughton, Essex. The premises retails craft beer, packaged and draught, as well as small-batch spirits and wine.

New year, new session: Galaxy (4.5% ABV), a Vermont-style session IPA showcasing the Galaxy hop, is Salt Beer Factory’s first new release of 2021. There are “big hits of citrus, passion fruit, and peach, with a subtle grassy finish”, says the brewer.

Sour start to 2021: Berry Sour is UnBarred Brewery’s first sour of 2021. Cherry, raspberry, blackberry, and blueberry feature.

Pub tenants’ lockdown rights: The Pubs Code adjudicator has written an open letter to tied tenants of regulated pubcos setting out tenants’ rights during lockdown. Read the text of the letter here.

Old favourite: Verdant is releasing a new batch of its Putty DIPA, which makes an annual appearance these days. Loaded with Galaxy, Mosaic, and Azacca hops, expect masses of mango, citrus fruits, and pine alongside peach, passion fruit, and mixed tropical fruits from this 8% ABV beer.

Cask brewing suspended: Yorkshire brewer Timothy Taylor has stopped production of cask beer while the lockdown continues, but is still brewing for bottles.

More support for publicans: Greene King has confirmed that its tied tenants will continue to receive 90% rent concessions until the end of lockdown.

Low-ABV options for January: Beavertown is embracing the perceived trend towards low-alcohol beer this January. Lazer Crush is a fruity 0.3% ABV IPA, and Nanobot, also an IPA, comes in at 2.8% ABV. Lazer Crush is created with a new type of yeast, providing more fruit flavour with only 0.3% alcohol by volume created during fermentation.

Have a beer, mate: Alcohol-free beer brand Freestar has launched its Beer a Mate campaign to ease Dry January in lockdown. Throughout the month of January, if you buy a 12 pack (or more) of Freestar, they’ll send a four-pack free of charge to any address of your choosing in the UK. They’ll even add a personalised note so you can let your mate know that you’re thinking of them.

Café culture: Dhillons Brewery is to open a continental café bar in Coventry as the city becomes the UK City of Culture. The venue will be family friendly, serving food and hot drinks, but will also be an outlet for the brewery’s beer.

More help with rent: Star Pubs & Bars is extending its 90% rent reduction for leased and tenanted pubs throughout January. The company says it has invested more than £44m in rent support since last March.

Vaccination offer: Oakman Inns chief executive, Dermot King, says the company will forego the chancellor’s latest lockdown grant — worth about £250,000 to the group — if the company’s venues can be used as vacciation centres.

Happy brew year: Vocation Brewery is kicking off 2021 witha double beer launch. No.666 is a 10.9% ABV Imperial Russian stout collaboration with Kirkstall Brewery, featuring No.666 coffee from Antonia & Panesar. Mesmerism is a 10% ABV triple IPA hopped with Galaxy, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Enigma.

Extend rates holiday: Marston’s chief executive, Ralph Findley, has added his voice to those seeking an extension to the business rates holiday and the VAT cut when pubs finally re-open. He told Today, on BBC Radio 4: “There will be a lot of uncertainty around so those two reliefs are essential for the rest of this year.”

Villages Brewery is canning the fourth iteration of its Isolation IPA on 15th January, but is taking orders now. So far, these IPAs have raised £4,524 for the National Emergencies Trust (NET), in partnership with the British Red Cross, to support communities made most vulnerable by the coronavirus outbreak. The beer is a 6% ABV IPA brewed with a medley of American hops. Azacca is the main event, backed up by Citra, Idaho 7, and Simcoe for tropical, stone fruit, and citrus flavours.

New Year’s Resolution?: Judging by the ‘sod Dry January’ tweets doing the rounds after the announcement of the latest lockdown, a 0.5% ABV IPA may prove a tough sell this month, but that han’t stopped Thornbridge promoting Fresh Start. The beer is packed with Citra and Mosaic hops from the US. “Expect a rounded citrus character with tropical stone fruit present on the nose. The body is crisp with a balanced bitterness to finish,” says the brewer.

New Year’s honour: National Pubwatch chair, Steve Baker (pictured), has been made an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List, for services to reducing crime and improving safety in licensed premises. He has played an influential role in National Pubwatch, the voluntary organisation that now supports more than 800 local pubwatches across the UK, since its creation over 23 years ago, sitting on its committee since 1997. A retired police inspector, he took over as chair of the group in 2007.

Rent relief: Pub company Heavitree Brewery is to cancel rent payments in January to help its publicans further. Reants have not been charged since the period between August and October, and even then they were reduced, at times by up to 75%.

Conference Zoom: The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has cancelled its 2021 members’ weekend as the planned venue, in Sheffield, will not be available, due to ongoing covid restrictions. The event, from 16th to 18th April, will now take place online.

Ready for Veganuary: Don’t Milk It (5.7% ABV) is a new, limited edition, vegan milkshake IPA, from Seven Bro7hers, part of their Lockdown 2.0 series. Chief executive, Keith McAvoy, said: “Following the popularity of our sweeter beers, such as the Marshmallow Stout, we are often asked for a vegan equivalent — something that offers a milky flavour without dairy. For anyone looking to take on Veganuary at the start of 2021, this could be the perfect pint.”

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