Henley-based Brakspear is through to the finals of the Publican Awards 2016, a national competition to find the best operators in the United Kingdom pub industry. The company is one of just three shortlisted for the title of Best Brewing Pub Company of the Year, which will be announced in March.
The Publican Awards are open to pub operators across the UK and are run by The Publican’s Morning Advertiser magazine. Brakspear’s finalist placing is based on the success of its Bell Street Brewery, which opened in 2013 and now brews beers including Brakspear Special.
The next stages in the judging process include a visit by judges to the Brakspear head office and to pubs selling Bell Street Brewery beers, as well as a number of professional mystery pub visits. Finally, the Brakspear team including chief executive Tom Davies and head brewer Malcolm Mayo will be interviewed in London by a panel of industry experts.
“We’re delighted to have reached the finals of these awards, which are highly regarded in our industry,” said Tom Davies. “We’re enormously proud of what we have achieved with the Bell Street Brewery in a short space of time so it’s great to receive this external validation.
“We built the brewery because we wanted to bring brewing back to Henley and it has given us a new route to support our local community, by brewing beers for local causes and events such as the Club to Pub Swim and Henley in Boom. It’s very different to how most pub-owning brewers operate, and we’re hoping this swings the judges’ decision our way in March,” he continued.
Malcolm Mayo, who has been head brewer at the Bell Street Brewery since it opened, added, “Henley’s drinkers have welcomed the restoration of brewing and the old Brakspear beers, particularly Brakspear Special, which we now brew year round, and Brakspear Old, which we are brewing again during January after its sell out last year. We’re brewing at full capacity now and have taken on a brewery assistant to make sure we can meet demand.”
Brakspear took one of the top titles at the Publican Awards in 2014 when it was judged Best Pub Tenanted & Leased Pub Co., based on its support for tenants in its 130 pubs.
Some of the criteria on which the Best Brewing Pub Company award is judged are: effectiveness of the brewery and pubs in supporting each other; innovation to drive both the brewery and pub estate forward and passion for the brewery’s beers among licensees. The other two finalists are Scottish brewer BrewDog and Nottingham-based Castle Rock and the winner will be announced on 15 March in London.