Saturday, 21 July 2012


Travel chaos; shambolic security; water-sodden venues and possibly stadium capacities reduced.

Just over a week before the London 2012 Olympics start, and the usual doom-merchant tabloids are giving us headlines that include – the G4S security fiasco, London's creaking transport network, a recent poll indicating that only 3/10 Britons are enthused about the forthcoming event – I could go on...

It is quite the catalogue of woe, and nicely summarises a thoroughly downbeat lead-in to the Olympics - save for neglecting to mention the dismal weather, which threatens to disrupt the action. Oh - and the potential strike by dairy farmers! 

But should we really be downbeat about the London 2012 Olympics? Negative stories dominate the headlines, but is that because the positive stories are not so sensationalist? Don't make good reading? A good-feeling story seldom sells - so it appears...

Monday was all about a 32mile tailback on the M4 (not actually Olympics-related), and athletes ‘buses going on four-hour magical mystery tours around London en route to the Olympic village. The more significant story was that London Heathrow (LHR) had its busiest day ever, and came through it almost entirely unscathed. More significant but less interesting. Therefore largely ignored...

And the withdrawal of football tickets is an issue based less on low demand than an excessively ambitious schedule - 50,000 on offer at Hampden Park for Colombia's women against North Korea. Hmm – yes, a bit ambitious that!

This is London and you're talking about tennis at Wimbledon, football at Wembley, Lords Cricket Ground (archery), an impressive Olympic Park, a marathon passing by some of the world's most iconic buildings and beach volleyball in Horse Guards Parade, no less!

London - what better backdrop could there be for an Olympics? What more do you want?

The rest of the world will decide on the success or otherwise of the London 2012 Olympics in a few weeks time. All the ingredients are there for an amazing event though, and I'll be very surprised if it doesn't turn out to be exactly that... Go Team GB! - shows video footage of the route from Nottingham Castle to The Round House

The Round House
Royal Standard Place
Tel: 0115 924 0120

Friday, 20 July 2012


Beer - a universal language of sorts. Beer lovers from all over the world can gather in a British pub, and though they may not speak the same language, they can bond over a decent pint, brewed in the British way – because nowhere is beer a more important part of society than in Britain. Beer is the national drink.
Not least of the things for everyone to celebrate at this year's London Olympiad is the very best of British food and drink. So it follows that some of us find it a little insensitive that a Dutch lager-producing giant has been chosen as the official beer of the 2012 Summer Olympics which starts next week.

Dutch firm Heineken® – they produce lager by the way and plenty of it - was chosen by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) as the official beer of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. What no Fuller's London Pride or Young's London Gold? It certainly knocks the furore surrounding the US team and their uniforms from the People’s Republic of China into a cocked hat! It's a shame that global corporate sponsorship has been allowed to hijack the Games.

As part of the deal, the company's flagship premium beer lager*, Heineken® will be the branded product served at the Games and Heineken UK will have exclusive pouring rights for its limited portfolio of brands (which includes John Smith's Smoothflow and Strongbow cider) at all London 2012 venues where alcohol is served.

Major Rook - Equestrian Olympian
from Nottingham

Greg Mulholland, a Lib Dem Party Member and the chair of the “All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group” recently vehemently criticized the IOC for its thoughtlessness in opting for Heineken®over a British brew.

"Beer is the UK's national drink,” Mulholland said. “and the country has a strong and ancient tradition of brewing; by choosing a mass produced bland foreign lager (you said it, pal!), the Committee has ignored all the wonderful, traditional beers that the UK has to offer and instead gone for the company with the biggest [cheque] book.” Admittedly Heineken® does have plants based in the UK and produces some of its products here, but has closed a lot of breweries in the process.

MP Mulholland went on to say, "The Olympic Games is a prime opportunity for Britain to showcase the best of British, including the opportunity to promote its traditional beers and its thriving brewing industry. By opting for Heineken as the official beer (it’s a lager by the way – admittedly a type of beer), the opportunity has been lost. The decision is completely at odds with the strong positive British identity of the bid and the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics."

In the end, the British public and those from abroad attending the Olympics who want to drink a beer as they enjoy the spectacle will have little choice. Most will merely fork out over £4.50 for their lager and put up with it.

The traditions and heritage of the country seems to matter little to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the body that chooses which sponsors' products will become the “official” items of the Games.

*lager is a type of beer – in the interests of pedantry – and is a term used in the UK to describe the very different product largely brewed outside of these shores using cold temperatures, usually without hops and a bottom fermentation process which all contribute to an insipid, unpalatable offering.

View from outside the Strat

Stratford Haven
2 Stratford Road
West Bridgford
Tel: 0115 982 5981

Friday, 6 July 2012


The beer duty (beer tax) escalator was introduced by the last Labour Government in 2008, and is currently in place until 2014/15. It means that beer duty is automatically increased by 2% above the inflation rate every single year. As a result, tax on beer has gone up by over 40% since 2008. You now pay over a third of your pint on beer duty. Any more increases in beer duty will increase the pressure on public houses, already struggling to survive, and damage the long term ability of the beer and pub sector to continue contributing over £6b a year in duty and VAT, and over £21b to the UK’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

The consumer campaign Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) is calling for the Chancellor to abandon the unfair beer duty escalator in the annual Budget.
It’s time to recognise the economic and social value of the Great British beer and pub industry. A pint in a pub should not be an unaffordable luxury.

So much has changed since it was introduced. Inflation has risen, VAT has increased, brewing costs have risen and incomes have fallen. Some public sector workers have had their pay frozen for two years. The rationale behind the policy no longer applies.

Shifting the balance now would not only be fairer, it may also encourage people to drink lower strength, British made drinks in pubs.
Britain’s pubs face an impossible situation with a stagnant economy and a crippling level of duty being placed on every pint.

With around £1 of every pint sold in a pub as duty and VAT, Licensees must raise their prices to levels where they can’t compete with heavily discounting supermarkets which compels people to drink at home and other unregulated environments.

Every year, the beer tax escalator is set to increase the tax on beer by 2% above the inflation rate, thus adding considerably more pressure on the British pub, the cornerstone of many of our communities. Removing the beer duty escalator at the next budget will help keep beer more affordable and go a long way to supporting the institution that is – the great British pub.

Going to the pub is a core British tradition and so is enjoying great beer. If you want to continue enjoying your fresh pint in your local pub then it’s crucial that you support the campaign to grind the beer duty tax escalator to a halt.
If we don’t show our support for the great British pub, we risk losing more pubs and more jobs within our local communities.

Support great beer in the great British pub and sign the e-petition –


Lincolnshire Poacher
161-163 Mansfield Road,
Tel: 0115 941 1584

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Wasn’t all that long ago was it when your afternoon pub visit consisted of friendly bar chat over a pint or three with a fug redolent of Woodbines never too far away? All that has changed though now and if the other day is anything to go by – not necessarily for the better.

You’re just as likely to come across your “silver surfer” in the pub these days with their toplaps and web surfing as where they should be – that is at home or in a library. Over 40m Britons use the internet regularly and people over 50yrs old now make up more than a quarter of those users.

 The UK internet audience increased from 36.9m in May 2009 to 38.8m in May 2010. 

Experts say the rise is thought to be because older people are becoming increasingly more comfortable with the internet. In addition, companies are beginning to set up specialist sites targeted at users over 50 in areas such as health, fashion, travel and cooking.

Elderly internet surfers accounted for 53% of the overall increase in UK users and men over 50 were responsible for 38% of this growth numbering 722,000. According to the latest figures more than 12 million people over 50 now regularly use the internet.

Well that’s all well and good – but is the pub really the proper place to do your interweb surfing?

“Can I join you, mate?” 

“Well yes – but don’t put your paper there on top of my modem!”

A silver surfer taking up room...

Of course, I blame it all on this free Wi-Fi malarkey and the increasing number of public access hotspots available in pubs.

“Where’s that noise coming from?”

“Oh, I’ve got email! Yes... look - it’s from my new friend Jasper – he’s coming to see me with Quentin tomorrow. Hmmmm – will need to go to Tesco’s later and get something nice for their tea! I can do it online though!”

“Jasper? Who’s he? How long have you known him?”

“Errrrrmm – 32 minutes – do you want to see his profile on Facebook?”

“What book?”

“Haven’t you ever googled yourself?” 

“Don’t be so disgusting! I wouldn’t tell you if I have!”
It appears though there was nothing more sinister intended than the practice of ego-surfing – that is searching for one's own given name, surname, full name, pseudonym, or screen name on a popular search engine, to see what results appear. I’ve never bothered – I can well imagine what the results would be!

“I’m also trending on Twitter – might get some ideas for tomorrow’s tea!”

“There’s that sound again – it’s your machine, isn’t it?”

“Another email from Jasper – wants to know where to meet up beforehand?”

[Thought to self – wherever it is – be somewhere else!].

“Well I won’t keep you, I can see you’re busy... hope your modem recovers!” 

Just Beer Micropub
Swan & Salmon Yard
32A Castlegate
NG24 1BG
Tel: 07983 993747