Pubpaper 825 – Going Dry, Post Vine Cheer and Mergers.

Posted: 20th September 2015 by santobugtio in Pub Paper, Writing

I’d like the start this week thanking everybody who I have spoken to since my column regarding my diagnosis of cancer was published a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve had nothing by positive sentiments from those people in the trade I know and pub customers who know me by face and of course those online.   This week will be last one I will be drinking until at least Christmas as I start full time treatment on Monday (28th) and post treatment recovery is really not the time where drinking alcohol will help your physical state which is fragile at times.   You will be glad to know that my consultant at St James Cancer Centre has officially confirmed that even your taste buds being temporarily destroyed by radiotherapy will not make John Smiths, Fosters or Carling gain any flavour whatsoever.

I aim to do a number of pub profiles over the next few months with some of my favourite venues where possible with one lined up already.  If you do see me out and about I’ll be no doubt be on iced water (I’m a cheap date you know), but pub landlords don’t worry I’ll be back pouring my wages into your tills as soon as possible once it is worth me buying something with any taste.  The beer that a good number of our pubs in Calderdale serve will be something I’m probably going to miss most of all, there is a wealth of excellent well kept beer being served (and brewed) every day in our numerous hills and valleys and as drinkers should consider ourselves very lucky.

Referring back to last week’s article regarding Children and Pubs.  I ran out of space to mention the pub I went to post Vine after a cracking drive over the Huddersfield Moors (via A640) as far as New Hey and back over the A58 Rochdale Road over the tops back to Ripponden.  If you like a good drive I can well recommend it for an afternoons fun.

3406842147_952fb4295dWe stopped at the Wine Press at Hollingworth Lake for a couple of hours.  Located at the dam end of the lake, it is a contemporary pub with a mix of bar and restaurant dining, probably best labelled a Gastropub.  However the mix of people range from couples to families with children of all ages to a good number of bikers who seems to regularly visit.  Well behaved children are made welcome all day inside and out, there is a really friendly atmosphere.  The beer range is not going to excite beer tickers, but the real ale, European beer and ciders are part of a decent choice and are all well kept and served.    Frankly it put Vine to shame on the day, with not dissimilar drink offerings at both (real ales missing at Vine of course), but the superior attitude at what is still designed as an adult space ensures future business, whereas the West Vale venue has ensured exactly the opposite.

For a day out I’d recommend a pint of two there and a walk round the lake, not forgetting Fish and Chips or Ice Cream on the way round (if you have never visited Hollingworth Lake, it’s a bit like an inland seaside complete with arcade).  There is another pub in the area, The Beach, but that is definitely aimed at the “value meals” family audience and is operated as one of a large chain which typify the “Ping and Pop” style of cooking endemic in these places.

I’ll be doing more articles on the drinks industry going forward and on this point I’ll move on to the SAB Miller / AB InBev merger to wrap up this week (although in reality it is an AB InBev takeover of their smaller rival).  There was rumours earlier in the year, but now it is official, AB InBev have made an approach to merge the companies to form a brewing giant worth £175 billion and with a market share of over a third of the beer sold worldwide.  Even more importantly combined they will be taking over 60% of the profits made by all of the world’s breweries.  It looks like SAB Miller shareholders will accept the offer as it gives them a profit on their shares of over 250% if they have held them for at least 5 years.  But it will do the beer market no good at all, more consolidation of brands (although as the Independent newspaper states “if you have such malformed taste buds that you actually drink anything made by AB InBev or SABMiller out of choice, you get what you deserve”) and more power to keep gobbling up the small to medium independent brewers of the world.  But the bankers will get their fees for managing the merger, the money markets will make profits on the deal and at the end of the day that is all that matters with this deal in the financial world.