Pubs (and bars) in brief …

Derby Brewing Co is re-opening a former Nat West bank in Mickleover as a micropub. The Hole in the Wall will be the brewery’s sixth venue, but its first micropub.

Experienced hospitality operators Phil and Jan Hills, who formerly operated The Boathouse at Instow and The Seagate at Appledore, have bought the Blue Ball at Countisbury, near Lynmouth, following a deal brokered by Colliers International. On the market at £1,295,000, the stunning Exmoor coaching inn has occupied a prominent location on the old route from Porlock to Lynmouth since the 18th century.

The impact of partnerships was highlighted at the Licensed Trade Charity’s AGM, with operators and other organisations helping to ensure more people than ever know about the charity’s range of services. Executives from major pubcos were present as the charity revealed it had broken the £1m barrier in grants for the first time in 2018, thanks to their help in raising awareness among employees.

The Rock House pub, on the River Irwell in Eccles, near Manchester, has re-opened following a £480,000 investment by Punch, with new publicans Lee Godfrey and Ben Seed at the helm.

Crown Rochester

Shepherd Neame has acquired The Crown, in Rochester, Kent. Dating back to the late 1700s, the pub is a striking building situated at the top of the High Street. It is also just five minutes’ walk from Rochester’s new railway station. The venue has been run by father and son team Steve and Peter Kray for the past decade. Steve is retiring, but Peter will continue to manage the pub for Shepherd Neame.

BrewDog is rolling out a Hybrid burger across its UK bars, comprising 50% meat and 50% plat-based Beyond Meat. The idea is to appeal to those on flexitarian diets.

Alcohol education charity Drinkaware is encouraging pub and bar operators to create an environment where customers can enjoy themselves safely ahead of the Christmas festivities. Among its tips are: offering an interesting selection of low- and no-alcohol drinks; making food available, where possible; making customers aware that drunk people will not be served; looking after designated drivers; and training staff.

The Sunday Times says Marston’s is instructing agent Christie + Co in the sale of 150 of its lower end pubs. The paper says the company has £1.4bn of debt.

Bollington Brewing Co has entered into a partnership with the students’ union at Manchester Metropolitan University to re-open the union’s Salutation pub. The brewery operates three other pubs, in Cheshire.

Mitchells & Butlers saw like-for-like sales grown by 3.6% in the 51 weeks to September 21, 2019. Chief executive, Phil Urban, said: “Sales growth has remained consistently ahead of the market, and we carry this momentum forward into the new financial year.”

Portobello Pub Company has acquired a second pub in seven weeks, after taking on the King & Co in Clapham. It now has the keys to the Hack & Hop, in the City of London, promising to enhance the craft beer line-up.

Admiral Taverns is to acquire more than 150 pubs from Heineken’s Star Pubs & Bars group. This will bring Admiral’s estate to around 950 wet-led pubs.

Iain Rippon has been appointed to the role of head of operations (teanted) with Fuller’s. Iain has more than 15 years’ experience running tenanted and leased pubs with his former employer, Punch Taverns, where he was most recently operations director for the South East division.

The Rose and Crown, in Newport Pagnell, has become the first pub to be run under a new tenancy agreement Wells & Co has introduced. There is no payable rent and a ‘low’ security deposit, with utilities being paid for by the pub company. A spokesperson for Wells & Co told the industry publication, Propel: “By removing barriers to entry, we aim to attract talented entrepreneurial individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity.”

The Four Tops, from the Cleveland Bay Hotel, Eaglescliff, Stockton-on-Tees, have won Punch’s Great British Pub Quiz final. After a quiz hosted by The Chase’s Beast, Mark Labatt, they took home the trophy and £1,000 in cash.

The Seven Stars in Stourbridge has been added to the Black Country Ales portfolio of pubs. It hopes to have the pub open by Christmas and is currently seeking some to operate it.

Berkshire’s Wild Weather Ales has acquired its first pub. The Eldon Arms, in Reading, will re-open as the Weather Station on September 20.

Geronimo Inns pub, the Builders Arms, has been acquired by its original owner, Rupert Clevely, of Hippo Inns. The Chelsea pub on Britten Street has undergone a substantial refurbishment, taking the Hippo Inns estate to 13 pubs across London.

Abbeydale Brewery, in Sheffield, has submitted a planning application to add a taproom to its brewery site.

Scotland-based Innis & Gunn is looking to expand its pub estate, possibly south of the border. Founder, Dougal Gunn Sharp, said: “We’ll certainly seek to expand our offer in Edinburgh and Glasgow, but clearly there are other sites in Scotland we would consider, as well as potentially sites in England in due course.”

Fuller’s has introduced Good Food Talks in its managed pubs, offering a talking menu service to make it easier for visually impaired, blind ,or dyslexic diners to independently browse and order from the food menu. Good Food Talks provides accessible menus, both online and in its app, using text-to-speech software, large text format, background colour inversion, and the OpenDyslexic font.

Goachers Ales has purchased The Little Gem, in Aylesford. The pub has been closed since 2010 and was earmarked for redevelopment, but was saved by an individual, John Griffiths, who obtained permission to turn the building back into a pub.

Red Oak Taverns has completed the purchase of a portfolio of 18 leased and tenanted pubs from Wadworth, for an undisclosed sum. The pubs are all located in the South and South West and strengthen the strong regional bias of Red Oak’s estate, which now comprises 179 pubs.

Camerons has acquired the former Lloyds Bank in Park Row, Leeds, to open its third Head of Steam bar in the city.

Entries have opened for CAMRA’s Pub Design Awards, organised in conjunction with Historic England. The awards recognise the highest standards of pub design, in categories ranging from the refurbishment and conservation of existing pubs, to the construction of new ones. Find out more on the CAMRA website

Brewer Seven Bro7hers is to open its second beer house, this time in the new Middlewood Locks development in Manchester. It will join the company’s existing venue, the Ancoats Beerhouse.

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