This years Level 2 and Level 3 WSET wine and spirits courses are now in full swing.
Here are our Level 2 candidates enjoying a tasting session from the back of a tractor at the Mill House - wine ever not!
Wine Scholarship Winners
Our brilliant Wine Scholarship Winners enjoyed a blissful treat of a day visiting Waddesdon Manor for a tour and tasting followed by dinner at Le Manoir. An absolutely sublime day!
Congratulations to all who earned their place.
The creation of Brunning and Price Traditional
For many years now all our pubs have served an ale, arduously developed many moons ago with Pheonix Brewery, up in Manchester, called 'Brunning and Price Original'.
It's a great ale and one we're still incredibly proud of; however, the size and scale of our pubs has grown significantly since its first inception and the logistics of supplying Brunning and Price Original in the South has proved tricky in recent years, often leaving us with short supply or an inconsistent beer.
So, this led us to believe we needed another string to our bow; a new beer that would not only appeal to our southern audience, but also give us the logistical support and assurances to deliver to the ever-growing Southern family.
Off we went down to Cornwall to visit the award-winning St Austell Brewery - it was a marriage made in heaven and Brunning and Price Traditional is our proud offspring of it!
Adnams Brewery Visit
Tamsyn's area visited the Adnams brewery in Southwold with Stuart and Lee their local Adnams Reps.
They stayed in their newly refurbished and very swanky Swan Hotel and held their GM meeting there, then were then taken around the brewery, treated to some beer tasting, which was received gratefully as you can imagine on such a hot day.
In the evening they were hosted for dinner at The Harbour Inn and went through some of their spirits and perfect serves. Fun day had by all and very kind of Adnams to educate us in their ways!
The Falcon's First Prosecco Festival
The Falcon's customers love a good festival and are very partial to a glass or two of fizz. So Peter and the team decided to throw them an evening to explore all things Prosecco.
Three marquees, a beautiful view, a fantastic band and a lot of face glitter later and they had themselves a wonderful Summers night to remember...(and if they don't, we have this lovely video to fill in the gaps!)
Annual Wine Tasting
Each year we hold a day for our managers and their teams, packed full of wine suggestions. This year we had 105 wines on offer for our teams to taste (what a truly terrible job!)
The idea is that the teams go away with loads of ideas of great wines to add to their lists over the coming months.
It’s always a great day for everyone to get together and mingle, as well as the most fun way of choosing a wine list that we can think of!
WSET Level 2 training
The latest round of our Wine, Spirit and Education Trust training started this week. This time the candidates are training for their Level 2 certificate.
We kick started the proceedings with a little 'Al Fresco tasting session', luckily all the wines we tasted needed to be served chilled!
Assistant Manager, Cellar Management Training Day
A huge thank you to Fullers for hosting a group our Assistant Managers who spent the day learning about all things 'Cellar Management'.
A really educational and fun day was had by all, as you can see from the smiles from Libby from the White Hart Chipstead and Jess from Fox Revived - another of those occasions where the line between work and play is blurred!
Camden Beer School
JAR, James and some of the Northern managers took a trip south to the Camden Beer School for a talk on the history of beer this month.
The Beer School were wonderful hosts, included a trip around the brewery in Kentish town and an inevitable tasting session.
The Armoury, Gin Festival
Nothing warms up an Autumn night more than a glass or two of gin to warm your cockles. The Armoury closed the road and created a beautiful waterside gin festival, no need to tell you any more, just watch this to spirit you away...
Grosvenor Arms. Beer, Gin and Fizz Festival
The Grosvenor Arms hosted its first Beer festival with Justin at the helm this month. They joined forces with the rest of the village of Aldford to create a real féte atmosphere complete with beer tent, live music, face painting and village tug of war competition (this time around, the rope was not stretched across from one side of the river to the other, for reasons obvious in this decade - the 90's really were different times).
An Educational Day...
...for Ian's patch who this week did the double and went to visit 'Half Hitch Gin Distillery' in Camden, where they enjoyed creating and bottling their own gin, before moving onto the Matthew Clark boutique beer show in the sunshine of Hyde Park, where they sampled their way through some delicious drinks that no doubt will be coming to a pub near you soon.
WSET Last Day
It was the last day of training for our current class undergoing the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, Level 2, certificate this week.
They met at the Pant-yr-Ochain Wrexham to enjoy a leisurely lunch together ahead of their test, sampling and learning all about Chablis La Motte and Rare Vineyards Marsanne Viognier to steady any nerves.
Such an enthusiastic and bright group of people, we have no doubts they will all have done very well.
Craft Beer Rising
After a London based area meeting, Ian's patch headed to Craft Bear Rising at the Old Truman brewery. It's now officially the biggest craft beer festival in the UK and was very impressive - well over 150 brewers in one place with music, food and a wide variety of beards and tattoos!
As you would expect there was a lot of keg beers on show (the trend has been heading this way for some years now) but still absolutely loads of excellent cask ales to get excited about. Highlights included a wonderful Saison from brew by numbers and some cracking stuff from the Bedlam Brewery stand.
CAMRA's Great British Beer Festival in August is the next big beer event in the calendar. It takes some beating as it's great place to sample every beer under the sun - but Craft Beer Rising offered something different and gave us all a great chance to speak to the people who actually make the beer, build up loads of useful contacts and get a feel for where the wonderful world of beer is heading in 2017.
Annual Wine Tasting
What better way to celebrate the first day out of 'Dry January' than with the annual wine tasting?
We brought together a selection of 115 wines (and 1 beer that was so good we had to squeeze it in somewhere) and invited all of managers, deputy managers and any budding wine connoisseur crew members to come along to taste. We try to present wines that reflect current palates and so this year included many organic and biometric varieties all with great background stories as well as great flavours.
After hours of sipping and note taking, we feel sure that they all left the building (in a zag zag fashion) with ideas to pepper their wine lists over the coming year.
We love a good garden party
When the sun is shining, there is no better way to celebrate the summer than a bit of a garden party, complete with beer tent, ciders and Pimms. Through the course of the Summer, some of our Brunning and Price pubs link up with local residents to bring their gardens alive with such occasions, and we think this little video from Little Manor gives you a flavour of what we feel the summer is all about.
Wine Scholarship Trip to Bordeaux 2016
Each year, Kevin our 'Wine Guru' runs a wine course for any budding 'Jilly Goolden's. At the end of the course there is a little test to make sure that everyone has been learning as well as 'quaffing' and the 5 winners get a very special treat. This year's Wine Scholarship winners; Becky Simmons Assistant Manager - The Red Fox, Chris Allardes, Deputy Manager - The Sparrowhawk, Ben Walton, Manager - The Mill House, James Murdoch, Deputy Manager -The Hare, Chloe Lawless - Old Hall, were whisked off on a 3 day tasting trip to Bordeaux at the beginning on June along with Mary, Kevin and Tom who felt they needed to accompany them for 'safety reasons'.
They managed to visit places that until now Kevin has only been able to look at pressed against locked gates; Vineyards, wineries, tastings, restaurants ...it really was a grueling trip, tough but somebody had to do it, but it was thoroughly deserved by all 5 winners.
Southern Cider Tasting
As the sun is beginning to shine we thought it best to make sure that we had the very best in the world of Cider on hand to offer throughout these barmy hours / days / weeks even. So Ally from the Black Jug and Ben from the Mill House organised for a whole array of Southern Cider makers to showcase their wares to the team in a big 'Cider -Off' down at the Mill House.
A selection of around 25 different hand pull ciders and around 25 different bottled ciders were assembled, with a couple of cider makers on hand to talk about their products. We are still unsure if this was work or pleasure, but a good afternoon was had by all and everyone left a little bit wiser on the subject with a few new favorites to add to our bars.
B&P Annual Wine Tasting
Each year our managers and their esteemed nominated tasters get together in order to painstakingly taste, sniff and 'quaff' a myriad of wines in the quest to create the perfect wine list. What makes this special is that what is deemed to be perfect for one pub, may not be quite right for another. So instead of being prescriptive, we all taste over 100 wines in order to select the chosen few that will make it onto their own spring season wine list.
The firm favourites will of course remain, but the list is changed regularly in order to introduce some different flavours that suit the changing seasons and to ensure we always keep things interesting and, occasionally, surprising.
This year's brief; 'the inexpensive Chilean Merlot challenge', 'what could knock Prosecco off its podium?', 'the best dry Rose to sip in the summer' and possibly the most interesting of categories was 'the wildcard - open your mind stunners'.
...it's a tough day at work!
Sipsmith Distillery Tasting
A fantastic tour of Sipsmiths Distillery was had by our managers in the South East. Stunning gin and fabulous hosts, we are delighted to see them featured on our back bars and will be visiting again as soon as possible.
B&P wine trip June 2015
As a reward for scoring the highest points in the Wine and Spirits Trust exam, Aimee Lewis (Assistant Manager at the Architect) and Griff Bracey (Assistant Manager at the Mute Swan) were very generously sponsored by wine supplier Boutinot on a wine trip to the Rhone Valley.
They visited the vineyards and tasted the wines of Domaine Boutinot, in Cairanne; Chante Cigale in Chateau Neuf du Pape; and Chateau L'Ermitage near Nimes, ably accompanied by our trainer Suzy Turner, Graham Price, and wine guru Kevin Sambrook. Everyone said it was an amazing trip and it was a massive learning curve...