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Paul falls in to the Masons Arms

Paul Fallows has spent the last four years telling other landlords how to run their pubs but now, after taking over as landlord at The Masons Arms at Meysey Hampton, the boot is firmly on the other foot....

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Head Brewer Alex Arkell welcomes Paul Fallows to The Masons Arms


However it’s not much of a risk for pub owners Arkell’s Brewery because Paul, 32, has been in the business for over ten years, running The Baker’s Arms at Somerford Keynes for five years before moving to his previous role of development manager for a large pubco.
Paul set his sights set on running The Masons Arms years ago. “Meysey Hampton is a brilliant village with fantastic villagers and deserves a pub to match,” he said. “I’ve got many friends here and I knew the opportunity to take the pub on would come up eventually, so when Arkell’s finally got in touch, I didn’t hesitate. Now all I’ve got to do is put the advice I gave the other pubs into practice here.”
It didn’t take long for news of the new pub landlord to filter across the surrounding area and on the first night there was a queue of people outside the pub waiting to get in and welcome Paul and his team, including his nephew Luke Fallows his deputy manager, to the pub.
The key to a successful village pub is good beer, the people and the welcome, according to Paul. “We’re in a lovely Gloucestershire village, so we expect wellies, paws and families and we’re happy to leave the gastro food offer to others. We’ll be offering well-sourced good food and a comfortable nights sleep for those wanting a bed for the night.”
Brewery director, George Arkell, said: “The Masons Arms couldn’t be in more capable and experienced hands, and we are delighted that the village has already taken the new team to their hearts. With support like that, Paul is off to a flying start.”


Arkell’s Bee’s Organic is a real honey

Wiltshire brewery Arkell’s has added another trophy to its growing collection after collecting the top award in the Honey Beer class from this year’s National Honey Show....

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Nick and Alex Arkell get up close and personal to Nick's honey bees!


Arkell’s Bee’s Organic Ale (4.5% ABV) was judged best in class. This is yet another award, and the second this year, for this premium ale, which has picked up accolades regularly since it was launched in 2001.

Bee’s Organic Ale uses organically-grown malted barley, hops and honey, all of which give this golden premium bottled ale a light, fresh taste, and its continued success has now encouraged two members of the Arkell family to get up close and personal to the producers of its key ingredient.

Nick Arkell, Arkell’s Brewery Sales Director, has been keeping bees since 2010 and head brewer Alex Arkell was so keen to learn more about the vital ingredient of his award-winning ale he went to visit Nick’s beehives.

According to the British Beekeepers Association, there are some commercial beekeepers, but beekeeping in Britain is still largely a hobby.

Nick said: “Our hives have produced lots of honey this year, thanks in part to the warmer summer weather and I would love to supply all the honey needed for our beer, but sadly it’s not organic and we couldn’t guarantee a consistent supply.”

Alex added: “To satisfy the thousands of people who buy Bee’s Organic regularly we’d need a consistent source of supply so at the moment we buy from a trusted commercial supplier, but I loved seeing Nick’s beehives and it’s definitely given me a taste for honey - I’m going to learn more about beekeeping.

“What I really love about honey is that, along with the other ingredients of our beers such as malt, hops, barley and yeast, it’s a completely natural ingredient and it’s been used in all sorts of ways for centuries.”

The ancient Greeks believed that consuming honey could help men and women live longer.

Alex added: “I’ll definitely drink to its health-giving benefits – and to the health of the judges at the National Honey Show.”


More than a ‘Brief Encounter’ for Kemble’s Tavern customers

With faceless ticket machines taking over from ticket officers at rural railway stations and platform waiting rooms closing down fast, rail commuters will often only have a ‘brief encounter’ with a human being as they race through to catch their trains....

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George Arkell with Ann and Phil Basford


But that no longer need be the case at Kemble station, near Cirencester, after new landlords at The Tavern next door, Phil and Ann Basford, dubbed their new pub ‘the best railway waiting room in the country’ after they moved in.

“We found that we started welcoming people from around 4pm in the afternoon, when they got off the train and fancied a quick pint before they went home, or while waiting for people or connections. We’re as close to the station as some station waiting rooms and commuters are very welcome, as they mix well with our regulars,” said Phil.

Arkell’s is also investing in a brand new £20,000 kitchen for the pub so Phil and Ann can boost their food offer to meet demand.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Phil and Ann to The Tavern. They’ve got 30 years of experience running pubs, and if the classic 1945 film Brief Encounter was made today, the infamous tryst between the lovers in the platform teashop might just have had a different, happier ending if it was filmed in The Tavern pub – over a pint of Arkell’s ale rather than a pot of tea.”


New faces all around at The George at Lambourn

It’s change in stereo for The George at Lambourn which not only has a new face behind the bar, but is also presenting a brand new face to the village following a £150,000 refurbishment inside and out by owners Arkell’s Brewery....

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Caroline & Oliver Taggart


And over 70 people crowded into the pub, including local owners and trainers, villagers, businesses (including Lee Power, owner of Swindon Town Football Club), to see brewery chairman James Arkell pull the first pint following completion of the work.

The refurbishment has included the installation of a new bar, relocation of the loos, a new kitchen, restaurant area and a fresh face of paint around the entire pub.

The new landlord is Oliver Taggart, well-known for owning and running The Maltshovel pub in Upper Lambourn for 13 years before selling up and moving into the centre of the village when the Arkell’s tenancy became available.

Oliver said: “Running a pub in a more rural location has its challenges these days with the rightly rigorous drink/driving regulations and we wanted to be back in the thick of things, where more people can walk to the pub. Since we took over, the pub has been buzzing, in fact we ran out of beer over our first weekend – but it won’t happen again, I’ve upped my order from the brewery.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: “We’ve owned The George at Lambourn since 1924 and it’s only had six landlords since then. Oliver is a big character, a perfect fit for The George. He’ll be the heart and soul of the pub, which is great for village life, especially for Lambourn, with its large population and lots of young people, many part of the racing community. This is a great social hub.”

Oliver’s wife Caroline agreed: “The pub is for everyone, but many young people who live in the village don’t necessarily come from here and they are already using the pub as their home from home. It all makes for a fantastic atmosphere.”


Arkell’s: Licensed to Fill

The next generation of Swindon’s landlords are now ‘licensed to fill’ your glass with beer after completing their British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) Personal Licence Holders course at the brewery....

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In the photograph: Jessica Webster and Mark Notman, The Lansdowne, Calne; Tara Whittam, The Woodpecker, Newbury; Keilly Avenall, New Inn, Stratton; Chas Dowry, Alex Rogers, Chris Husband; Tony Forknall and Georgia Mackey, Exmouth Arms. Cheltenham; Callum Kaye and Wesley Lima, The King’s Arms, Old Town, Swindon; Matthew Easy, The Jovial Monk, Angie Botting, The Duke of Edinburgh.


Arkell’s is now putting training at the core of our pub operations, running not only the BII Level 1, 2 and 3 Personal Licence course, but also cellar management courses to ensure high beer quality and responsible alcohol and premises supervisor courses. The courses are open to everyone, not just Arkell’s landlords and staff, as Arkell’s consider it a contribution to supporting the wider licensed trade and run every three months at Arkell’s Training Centre at the Brewery.

The brewery also runs Welcome Host customer care courses and is in discussion with Swindon College to support an apprenticeship scheme, where young people can follow a recognised and regulated route into the industry through studying for NVQs.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: “We’ve always run regular training courses, but now we’ve expanded the number we offer because we want our pub staff to have the opportunity to build their careers in the industry, and that can only be done properly by good quality training. We also want to ensure that young people coming into the industry have the best possible start.”

Angie Botting, 32, was one of the latest to go through the training course at Arkell’s. She works at The Duke of Edinburgh, on Cricklade Road, Swindon. “I haven’t had a day off sick for seven years,” she said. “My boss, Mark Thompson, is the landlord and he’s great. It was his idea that I do this course. I love working at the pub and it fits in well with my home life.

George added: “As an industry we have a responsibility to raise standards and aspirations.

For more information on the training courses available at Arkell’s Brewery, contact Lesley Davis, Tied Trade Secretary at Arkell’s on 01793 833961 or email Lesley@arkells.com


Arkell’s launches Remembrance Beer to celebrate WW1 centenary

As part of the WW1 100th anniversary this year, Arkell’s Brewery is brewing a brand new commemorative beer for the Royal British Legion....

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Old Contemptible


The beer will be called “Old Contemptible” and will use an old recipe using British ingredients. The brewery is donating £10 per cask sold to the poppy appeal.



The beer is being officially launched on Wednesday October 22 at 12pm at Arkells Brewery, Kingsdown with members of The Royal British Legion.

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: “To mark this important centenary we have brewed a Mild ale, a style of beer that would have been drunk by my grandfather and the soldiers in 1914, and is one of England’s most traditional beers.”

Head brewer Alex Arkell, said: “I have used only English ingredients with a black colour and warm roasted and sweet tones coming from the chocolate malt with a light hop aroma to compliment it. At 4.0% this is considered strong for a mild, however having looked through our records and done some research we noticed that before WWI our mild was stronger. Then the government wanted people to drink less because of their work in the munitions factories so they forced breweries to reduce the alcohol. Hence mild became known as a weaker pint. But we thought we would brew the original version.”

The name, ‘Old Contemptibles’ was self-adopted by British troops belonging to the regular army in 1914, it was supposedly derived from a comment made by the German Kaiser, Wilhelm II. The Kaiser, upon hearing that German forces were being held up in France while en route to the French capital, is said to have exclaimed his exasperation of "Sir John French's contemptible little army.” Whatever the actual origin the British regulars were delighted to be referred to as 'The Old Contemptibles' and named their post-war veterans' association accordingly.

Sir John Denton Pinkstone French (1852-1925) commanded the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in Europe in the opening days of the war, August 1914.

Alex added: “Both my great grandfather Noel Arkell and great Uncle Graham Arkell fought in WWI and survived, although Noel did return wounded having been shot in the shoulder.”


Life now assured for Duke, Hilmarton landlords

Thirty years of credit claims management at a Swindon insurance company is enough for anyone. It certain was for Lesley Williams. She and her husband John (a roofer and builder) have reinvented their careers. Now they are landlords at The Duke Hotel, Hilmarton near Calne and after a little paddling under the surface, they’ve taken to their new lives like ducks to water....

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“I’d also spent five years working part time at Swindon Town Football Club in their bar and at events, and loved it,” said Lesley. “All I needed to do was to persuade John.”

He didn’t need much of a push. “I’d done my time in the building trade and was ready for something new,” he said.

The couple took over the Arkell’s pub earlier this year and are bringing in new customers after revamping the menus and introducing monthly community events to support the village. “We love the social side, though running your own pub is very different to working for someone else,” says Lesley. “At the beginning we were working 18 hours a day, and then getting up and doing it all again the next day. Now we’re more settled and it’s brilliant.”

The Duke at Hilmarton was built in 1843, the same years at Arkell’s Brewery opened. It originally had its own brewery at the back. That building is now listed. Arkell’s bought the pub in 1923 and brewing moved to the main brewery in Swindon.

After getting the pub straight, including the hotel rooms above, and achieving national Cask Marque approval for the quality of John’s beer, Lesley and John are now turning their attention to the pub’s lovely, but previously overgrown enclosed gardens. “We cut down a number of huge shrubs and were stunned when a fabulous view across the Wiltshire countryside was revealed,” said John. “It’s transformed the whole pub and is the most wonderful place for customers to sit outside in the evenings. We’ve created secluded nooks for couples as well as a large family area, with a new summerhouse where their children can play safely.

“Running a pub has given us both a new lease of life and we love what we’re doing,” added Lesley.


Panto Launch At The Riverside

The Riverside at Lechlade proved the perfect location for the press launch of the Swindon Wyvern panto for 2014 - Dick Whittington.

This year's star, Nigel Havers, was joined by newcomer Lucy Kane, alongside her well known mum Linda Lusardi, and pantomime favourite David Ashley, who has performed in the Wyvern Theatre’s festive productions for the last three years.

Watch our Arkell's video of the event.

...

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Archbishop of Canterbury visits Arkells

As part of The Archbishop of Canterbury’s visit to the Diocese of Bristol from 12-14 September, James Arkell, Chairman of Arkell’s Brewery was delighted to welcome Archbishop Justin Welby to the Brewery today for lunch hosted by The Bishop of Swindon and attended by community and business leaders from across Swindon. The Archbishop spoke on ‘The Spirituality of Leadership’....

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The row of a lifetime for Chris

Late last year Chris Spencer, 48, had a second life-saving bone marrow transplant co-ordinated by the Anthony Nolan Trust. In September it was payback time as Chris set out on a grueling 150 mile, three and a half day row of the Thames in aid of the charity that helped save his life....

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Before being diagnosed with blood cancer leukaemia, Chris represented England and Great Britain and at the age of 18 was GB Junior Sculling Champion.

Chris, rowing at Stroke, was joined on the row by Robbie Coleman (Bow Man), Daniel Bartlett (No2) and Roger Spencer (No3 – and Chris’s brother), a Swan Upper for the Worshipful Company of Vintners (as is Chris) and Cox was Paul Prentice, Royal Waterman to the Queen Bargemaster to the Worshipful Company of Vintners.

Nick Arkell’s, Sales Director at Arkells and also a member of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, welcomed the men to The Riverside Inn, at Lechlade, owned by Arkell’s Brewery and the closest pub to the source of the Thames at nearby Kemble, Gloucestershire.

Chris said: "When I was younger, Anthony Nolan was a real boy who tragically didn't survive leukaemia. Today there is a greater understanding of the disease and a far better survival rate, provided people can find a suitable donor. I'm hoping that my Great Thames Row effort will be noticed. Even if it only encourages one donor to sign up and one life be saved, the effort will be worth it. But I sincerely hope a lot more donors will step forward and many more lives will be saved as we support Anthony Nolan in its work."


The Golden Cross is Red/White/Blue too

Cirencester has a new social meeting space – The Stable Bar at The Golden Cross and while most publicans would call in local painters and decorators for a refurb, Golden Cross landlord Mark Lindesay instead turned to one of his regular customers, top designer - Gary Birks....

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The Golden Cross Skittle Alley, transformed


Over the past few months the pub’s old skittle alley has been revamped, turning the once under-used space into a multi-function hub – The Stable Bar.

The venue has been transformed with the help of two local designers – Gary Birks of GaryBirks.com and Bethany Rose Interiors, both offered their advice and consultancy to create an inspiring space which is brighter, lighter and more inviting than the skittle alley of old.

“Gary’s advice was inspirational and I am very pleased with the outcome,” says Mark Lindesay. “He worked closely with a new, local interior design firm, Bethany Rose Interiors."

The new-look Stable Bar can host events ranging from weddings, private parties, birthdays, corporate events and more. With its sporting theme, featuring prints and pictures of countryside pursuits adorning the walls, the Stable Bar also boasts three large-screen TVs, which will be showing live sporting events via Sky Sports and BT Sport.


Arkell’s Brewery goes green

148 solar panels costing a total of around £50,000 are now catching the last rays of summer sun on the roof at Arkell’s Brewery...

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Alex Arkells celebrates the brewery's new solar panels


The Wiltshire brewery has just completed installation of the solar panels to cut energy consumption and reduce costs.
“We have three massive cooling systems to keep our beer and lager cold, all using significant amounts of energy,” said Head Brewer Alex Arkell. “In fact powering our cooling systems is the biggest energy cost for the brewery.
““Our Beer is an all-natural product and looking after the environment that gives us the ingredients is critical. Over the last few years we have been working to reduce our carbon footprint, first through buying ingredients more locally where we can and now harnessing the sunshine to reduce our energy costs.”
The brewery’s energy consumption has risen this year as sales of its 1843 lager have taken off. 1843 lager requires a month of cooling whereas Arkell’s real ale needs just five days of cooling before it’s ready to drink.
The Capacity of the new system is 37 KWpk, which is estimated to be able to produce 35,261 kWh of electricity per year, depending on the sunshine, all of which will be used in the brewery. Even on a late summer afternoon, the panels generate 18 kWh.
“Apart from it being extremely rewarding to be using a green energy source, we estimate that we should receive payback on the solar panels within five or six years,” added Alex.


Arkell’s signs three year deal with Swindon Town Football Club

Arkell’s Brewery has once again renewed its sponsorship of Swindon Town Football Club, signing a six-figure commitment for the next three years...

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Nick Arkell, Mark Cooper, Raphael Rossi Blanco and Alex Arkell look like they're 'heading' for trouble!


The deal includes continued sponsorship of the Arkell’s stand, now a multi-million pound structure but for which Thomas Arkell of Arkell's Brewery loaned £300 in the 1896 to finance the construction of a stand on what was then known as the 'Wiltshire County Ground', this investment was enough to begin development of a purpose built football ground seen today. The loan was written off in 1901!
Brewery Sales Director, Nick Arkell, said: “Swindon Town Football Club and Arkell’s Brewery go back a very, very long way, but our relationship is as strong as ever. We’ve supported the club through the good times and the bad because both businesses are Swindon Town institutions.”
Swindon Town Football Club General Manager, Steve Anson, said: “It’s fantastic that Arkell’s commitment to the club remains strong as ever and everyone here appreciates their continued support. This is Swindon’s oldest business supporting the town’s biggest spectator sport.”
To celebrate the deal Swindon Town Football Club manager, Mark Cooper, visited the brewery with centre back defender Raphael Rossi Branco, the 20-year old Brazilian player, now in his second season with the club to meet Nick Arkell and head brewer Alex Arkell.
“Beer and football are inextricably linked,” added Nick. “We are very proud of our town team and are looking forward to a fantastic season.”


It's the V Festival for Dan

.. and the winner is...... Dan Hopwood, 18, of Calne who entered our 1843 Lager competition while working at The Lansdowne Strand Hotel and wins a trip to this weekend's V Festival....

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Congratulations Dan and enjoy the weekend (and the weather's looking better too!). and WHAT a lineup: Lily Allen, Justin Timberlake, Ed Sheeran, Kaiser Chiefs, even The Stranglers...... http://www.vfestival.com/lineup/


Chef returns home to head up Cotswold hotel kitchen

He shares the same first name as his boyhood chef hero and is just as determined to be a success in the kitchen as Jamie Woods takes charge of the kitchen of The Bull Hotel in Fairford....

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The new head chef, just 24, has come back to his home town after stints in kitchens of The Swan at Bibury and The Four Pillars Hotel situated at the Cerney lakes, where he enjoyed various roles, working his way up the ranks under the likes of Chris Hutchings amongst others.

Jamie has been a keen cook since the age of 15 when he would sit and watch the TV programmes of Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsey and ‘Enfant Terrible’ - Marco Pierre White. It is people like this that inspired him to get into the kitchen as well as his cooking style and philosophy. “It may sound cliché but having things fresh and in season is very important to me,” Jamie explained. “The Bull Hotel has so many great food sources around it, would be a shame not to use them.

“We have Fairford beef on our doorstep from Andrew Butler Butchers, lamb from nearby Coln St Aldwyns, trout from Bibury and eggs from a great farm in Welford, what more could a chef want?”

Jamie is also keen to use the produce of Arkells, the brewery that own the hotel. “I want to use everything around me and using the beer for our batter and the ciders for things like mussels is also something I like to do, making the kitchen all encompassing.”

Jamie is recently married and you can guess where he had the wedding breakfast - The Bull Hotel. Asked what dish he Jamie would cook for his new wife he said it “would have to be duck, served with fondant potato, wilted spinach and a cherry sauce.”

The Bull hotel has undergone various changes since being taken over last year by current managers Ian and Liz Summers and getting the chef they want is important. “Jamie loves food and has a natural synergy with us understanding what we are trying to do,” said Ian.

“We want to get the menu up to the level it should be and his idea of having four to five kitchen classics, such as shepherd’s pie, beer battered fish and chips and of course a good pie on there as well as seasonal dishes like spiced pork belly, and Carpaccio of Fairford beef is fantastic and shows that we are moving in the right direction.

“Jamie’s home cured corned beef hash served with a fried duck egg and homemade brown sauce will go down a storm with regulars and hotel visitors showing what a diverse customer base we have here.” Ian added.

For more information or to book a table please call The Bull Hotel on 01285 712535 or email info@thebullhotelfairford.co.uk.


Punching above their weight in Woodstock

They’ve run airport hotels at Gatwick, and flagship pubs and restaurants across the UK, even a Holiday Inn in South Africa. Now Robert and Maureen Maund have taken on the tenancy of Arkell’s Brewery pub The Punchbowl at Woodstock, a stones throw away from Blenheim Palace....

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Robert and Maureen Maund outside The Punchbowl


This isn’t their first pub in Oxfordshire, however. The couple ran The Bear and Ragged Staff at Cumnor a few years’ ago and other pubs in the North Cotswolds before that.
While The Punchbowl is a smaller pub than Robert and Maureen have been used to, with just ten letting rooms and a large bar and lounge, it’s perfectly formed for the couple who are hoping to take things a little easier after 40 years in the licensed trade, but don’t yet feel ready to retire.
“Small can be just as challenging as large, but this is a lovely pub in a pretty town and we’ve got a great partnership with Arkell’s Brewery,” said Robert.
Under Robert and Maureen’s watch, The Punchbowl has also returned to being a traditional pub without Skysports and a Jukebox. “We love proper pubs, with no pretentions but good food and a congenial atmosphere,” explained Robert, and the response from customer has been very positive.
“We’ve already welcomed lots of the local town traders in, as well as residents who haven’t been in the pub for years,” he added.
Brewery director George Arkell, said; “Robert and Maureen are absolute professionals. The Punchbowl looks gorgeous and it might not be as big as the airport hotels they’ve run in the past, but it’s definitely top flight and first class for service and location.”


Stephen and Hannah fall into the King’s Arms, Malmesbury

The King’s Arms at Malmesbury has brand new landlords. Stephen Newton, 28, and Hannah Soden, 21, have taken on their first full managerial role for hotel owner, Wiltshire brewery Arkell’s, after Stephen moved from The Angel Hotel, Wootton Bassett where he had been head chef for two years....

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Stephen and Hannah outside The King's Arms


Since they took over, turnover has tripled at the 12-bedroom hotel, and that’s before the planned refurbishment due to take place later this year.
“There’s a lot of competition in Malmesbury so we needed to up the hotel’s game,” said Stephen. “But it seems that people like what we’re doing and we’ve been very busy since we took over.”
Or it could be his cooking. Stephen was inspired to cook by his mum, who retired from a career as a chef in Bath. “I’ve learned from her that if you do good food, cooked to order using local suppliers and ingredients, it draws people back time and again,” he said. But he admits he hasn’t quite yet got her knack for the perfect apple and blackberry pie. “She gave me her recipe, but I think she left something out because it just doesn’t taste quite the same,” he says, but admits to wondering whether she is so protective of her recipe that she accidently on purpose left a vital ingredient out.
Stephen’s had some other great mentors though including Mike Randal, head chef at the Sally Pussey’s Inn, Wootton Bassett, Yoann Clement, head chef at Stanton House, Highworth and Adam Conduit, sous chef at the Pear Tree, Purton.
Stephen is also qualified in butchery, trained by Max Macinally, and cuts all his own steaks for the hotel at nearby Maplesale Farm at Brinkworth. “I prepare steaks of all sizes so that people can choose what size they have,” he said. “One size doesn’t fit all and we want everyone to be able to have exactly what they want.”
By his side at The King’s Head is Stephen’s girlfriend Hannah, who recently graduated from Plymouth University with a degree in Theatre and Performance Studies.
Brewery Director, George Arkell, said: “Stephen and Hannah make a great team. We’ve known Stephen for years – he’s worked his way up in a number of our pubs so we were really delighted when he said he felt ready to take over one at The Kings’ Arms which we only bought three years’ ago.”
Arkell’s is currently undertaking a rolling programme of improvements at the hotel. A new beer garden has recently been completed, which is proving very popular with customers during the recent hot weather and work will begin on upgrading the bedrooms and pretty atrium restaurant later this year.”


Arkell’s is Hopping Mad again

After the huge success of Arkell’s 2013 English Hop Ale collection, the Wiltshire brewery is doing it again this year, launching four beers each using an individual hop from around the world. And the first beer of the Arkell’s International Hop Collection uses the New Zealand hop Waimea....

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From August and over the following four months, Arkell’s brewing team will be producing four 3.6% ABV beers using hops from New Zealand, Slovenia, the US and Poland.
Head Brewer Alex Arkell explained: “These countries are four of the best hop-growing countries in the world. They have much of the right soil and environment for the hops to grow better. In fact, there are only around a dozen countries in the world that grow hops at all. Much like grapes, hops from different regions grow with different characteristics.”
Hops were introduced to beer brewing in the 1300s, mainly because of their preservative properties. By boiling this particular plant with the sugary wort, the beer lasted longer in the cask and larger production and distribution became possible for the small brewers. Each hop variety adds a totally unique character to a beer.

Before brewers used hops they would add in a variation of different spices, called gruit, to compliment the malty sweetness of the brew
Alex added: “We want to demonstrate how much hops vary in flavour internationally – each country produces hops with a distinct flavour. The New Zealand Weimea should have a hint of tangerine sweetness there.”
Arkell’s International Hop Collection beers will be available in all Arkell’s pubs from August.


He’s The Master!

Chairman of Wiltshire family brewery Arkell’s, James Arkell, was inaugurated in London today as the Master of the Worshipful Company of Brewers, one of the oldest City Guilds which dates back to the 12th Century....

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In celebration, Arkell’s has brewed another exceptional beer. Called The Master, it is a dark delicious stout with wheat, oats and roasted barley blended together with American hops. The beer will be available in casks all this month and in bottles throughout the year.
Livery companies, or Guilds as they are often known, have been part of the social and commercial fabric of Europe since medieval times. Originally founded to protect the interests of various trades, Livery companies now flourish as charitable patrons, promoters of industry and guardians of heritage and tradition. The Brewers’ Company remains close to its trade, actively supporting the brewing industry and education in brewing. It has a major philanthropic role as trustee to substantial charitable trust funds supporting two schools, multiple other educational initiatives and a number of almshouses.
The Company was granted a charter by Henry VI in 1438.

James is the first of the Arkell family to become Master of the Brewers’ Company, and joins an illustrious roll call of previous Masters representing the very best of the industry. He said: “I am honoured to become the next Master of the Brewers’ Company. It is a role with a lot of responsibility and I am looking forward to representing this glorious industry at the highest levels.”
James takes on the role from the previous incumbent, Stephen Goodyear, CEO of Youngs Brewery, based in Wandsworth, London.


Cheer up - pub serves drinks at 1966 prices

A great story from the Swindon Advertiser today. http://m.swindonadvertiser.co.uk/news/11295600.Cheer_up___pub_serves_drinks_at_1966_prices/?ref=mr...

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Angie & John Honeyman at The Swiss Chalet, Gorse Hill. Photograph taken by The Swindon Advertiser


IN an effort to ease the pain of England’s dead rubber with Costa Rica, The Swiss Chalet’s John Honeyman is offering punters pints for 10p if they pay it in cash from 1966.

If you turn up at the Chapel Street boozer with 10 pence in old money you will get a pint of your favourite ale or lager in return during the 90 minutes.

John, an experienced publican, is well aware England’s premature exit from the World Cup will no doubt affect footfall through his door this afternoon.

He is hoping this bizarre offer will have people digging in the back of wardrobes and rooting around in their attics for the old currency which hasn’t been used since 1971.


“We were on our way to a wedding in Liverpool at the weekend and we were brainstorming in the car on ideas to pick up custom for the England match,” he said.

“It just totally falls flat when England go out. We all spend a lot of money on staff t-shirts, bunting and stuff like that, hoping for a return.

“The biggest threat for us in our trade is from the supermarkets, who can offer huge crates of beer for £25, with pints working out at 49p.

“In today’s climate as well, it doesn’t help when the national team goes out.

“I was just trying to think of something from 1966, the last time we smiled about football. We have been listening to those stories for so long now, we just need some excitement back.”

Kick-off for this afternoon’s match is 5pm, when many punters will still be at work or just about to clock-off, providing another reason why pubs around the town might struggle to get bums on seats.

It may well be a challenge for those who do have the time to actually take advantage of the offer, with old money not so easy to come by nowadays.

“I should imagine somebody’s got a load of tat lying around,” said John. “I am sure people have got plenty of boxes in their attics waiting to be searched through.

“If we have anything worthwhile brought in, worth thousands for example, we will donate it to charity.”

The Swiss Chalet is not the only pub holding its breath ahead of the kick-off this afternoon.

The Steam Railway, in Newport Street, is hoping to capitalise on the interest in the other match in England’s group.

Uruguay and Italy will kick off at exactly the same time, with the winner qualifying from the group along with Costa Rica.

Howard Taylor, owner at the Steam Railway, said: “Obviously it’s disappointing to be in the situation we are in, but there are still a couple of reasons to come out and watch.

“There will be as much interest, if not more, in the other match in the group. And with the way we have got screens people will be able to watch both matches at the same time, side-by-side.

“The other thing, is that if we beat Costa Rica, we are likely to be beating the group winners, which brings a bit of pride.”


Stratton St Margaret Brownies serve tea at Arkell’s 30 years later

The Brownie Guide movement is 100 years’ old this year and the 3rd Stratton St Margaret Brownies celebrated by ‘serving brownies tea in an usual place’, thirty years after they first took up the challenge at Arkell’s Brewery in Swindon in 1984...

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It's all a bit different from serving pints!


Fourteen Brownies brought home baked cakes and buns and, with Brown Owl Angela Houssein and Snowy Owl Chris Fisher, served tea to brewery staff including Finance Director Barry Russell, Helen Ryan, retired head brewer Don Bracher, Lesley Davis, Chris Dicks and Margaret Leech.
The 1984 visit was recorded in the Swindon Evening Advertiser on April 19 of that year.
Chris Fisher, as Stratton St Margaret Pack Brown Owl brought the brownies the first time around in 1984. “Nothing’s changed very much,” she said. “And it was wonderful to be invited back. This is a truly historic part of Swindon and it was wonderful for the brownies, all of whom live in Upper Stratton, to see inside the brewery that most of them pass daily when they are out and about in Swindon.”
Don Bracher said: “We were delighted to welcome the brownies to the brewery. The cakes and scones they baked for us were simply delicious. On this one occasion the beer was firmly out of sight and mind as we all tucked into tea and brownies (of the chocolate kind) instead.”


Business as usual at The Talbot, Eynsham, even for parrots

Well-known Oxfordshire landlord, Tony Viney, has taken over the tenancy of The Talbot, Eynsham. He will run the Arkell’s Brewery-owned pub with his business partner Ross Brazel....

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No parrot, but definitely Tony and Ross


“It’s a fantastic village pub with a lot of local goodwill as well as passing trade,” he said. “Such pubs don’t come up very often and I am delighted to be an Arkell’s landlord, having worked in more than one of the brewery’s pubs in the past. They are a wonderful family business who hold traditional business principles, supporting the landlord in making the pub his own.”
This is the first time in ten years that the pub has changed landlords and Tony and Ross have had some robust teasing from the locals. “Rumours are that we’ve banned dogs and our prices have gone up,” said Ross. “Our prices remain the same, and we even had a parrot in here the other day. We probably won’t welcome another parrot, but we do welcome well-behaved dogs, especially as we’re next to the Thames towpath and would lose trade if we didn’t.”
Tony takes such teasing in very good part, because he’s spent his career running village pubs and knows that local community support and ribbing go hand in hand. “At one stage I had six village pubs around the area with a previous business partner,” he said. “It was wonderful, but in the end we were running the business not the pubs. I didn’t want to sit in a leather chair with a polished desk and a profit and loss schedule in front of me. I prefer a good clean bar with a row of beer pumps, so we relinquished all six pubs and now I’m back to what I love doing most, rolling up my sleeves and getting to know the locals.”
Brewery director George Arkell was delighted to welcome Tony and Ross as tenants. “The Talbot is a gem of a pub and it’s not surprising that it’s been snapped up by Tony and Ross who are pub professionals.”
Tony added: “We’ve got no plans to make changes here. Our locals needn’t worry. Why change what works?”


Friday is D-Day for The Clifton Pub, Swindon in more ways than one

Friday is D-Day – and also for The Clifton Pub, Clifton Street, Swindon which reopens that day with new landlords Darren and Vicky Turner, who also run 20 at The Kings and The Plough Inn, both in Old Town, Swindon....


It’s all a big co-incidence because according to amateur military historian Rodge J Dowson, who hails from Swindon but is now based in Yorkshire, The Clifton was one of the most popular hotels with the GIs of Easy Company (stationed at Aldbourne before D-Day and later immortalised in the American TV series, Band of Brothers). He said: “Bob Lundy D/506 remembers visiting this pub. Walt McCauley smashed his hand through the front door glass when he couldn’t wait for opening hour; he wanted the pub to be instantly open! The local Arkell\'s Brewery’s Mild & Bitter beer and darts were a part of the attraction.

Among the many military stationed in Swindon during the run-up to D-Day, 3Bs was generally understood to mean “Beer, Bicycles and Blackouts.”

Clifton Landlord, Darren Turner, said: “We had no idea about the D-Day connection and our opening on Friday is a total coincidence, but it will provide a special atmosphere to the occasion and we’d love to hear from any veterans who might have visited here during the war.”


It’s Cask Marque for The Freke!

David and Anita Lee, landlords at The Freke, Swanborough, Hannington near Swindon, are the latest landlords to achieve the coveted Cask Marque status.

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David Lee celebrates his Cask Marque status with head brewer Alex Arkell


The Cask Marque scheme is operated by the Cask Marque Trust, a non-profit making organisation. Pubs that join the scheme are visited unannounced by an independent assessor twice a year. In the first year they are visited twice in the first three months and in subsequent years they are visited once in the summer and once in the winter.
The assessor checks all cask ales on sale for - temperature, appearance, aroma and taste. If all beers reach the required standard then the pub passes and it receives a plaque, framed certificate and merchandising material to inform its customers of the award and their rights.
Head brewer Alex Arkell, said: 'The Freke is just the latest Arkell's pub to become Cask Marqued. Around three quarters of our brewery's 100 or so pubs have now achieved the coveted status, a very public endorsement of the already locally-recognised quality of our beers and I congratulate for David and Anita, and all our landlords for their on-going attention to excellent cellar management.”


The Angel welcomes Wootton Bassett Theatre Company

After five successful years running at a venue on Royal Wootton Bassett High Street Wootton Bassett Theatre have been welcomed to a new home at the town’s The Angel Hote

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Members of the Wootton Bassett Theatre Company outside The Angel


The Grand Opening took place on Saturday 24th May with live music, theatre shows, a specially created 'Break A Leg' cocktail and pre-theatre meals were all on offer to a specially invited 50-strong audience.
Despite moving premises, the theatre promises to maintain its resident professional companies Too Close For Comfort, and Whoopee Doo Productions, the Young Actors Company and the successful Youth Theatre teaching programme
The theatre will also continue to welcome other professional artists and touring productions.
The Ballroom at The Angel Hotel can cater for up to around 80 seated so it's the perfect venue for intimate theatre productions such as this one.
For more information visit www.woottonbassetttheatre.co.uk.


Not just the beer flowing at The Runner

We've completed a stunning makeover of the garden at it’s pub The Runner, by clearing out a formerly overgrown river flowing past the pub to reveal The River Ray which runs through Swindon: transforming the garden into a mini paradise on the Wootton Bassett Road between Old Town and West Swindon.

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Paradise in the centre of Swindon!


This is the final investment in Arkell's latest refurbishment of the pub, formerly known as The Running Horse. Earlier this year the pub's interior was completely refurbished when new landlords, Roger and Sally Waite, took over in February.

As a result of the investment, turnover at the pub has risen substantially and the new pub garden is already pulling in visitors, according to brewery director George Arkell.

'The River Ray is a tributary of the River Thames. It begins at Wroughton Reservoir and flows through Swindon into the Thames at Cricklade,” he said. 'When we were refurbishing the pub we realised how beautiful the pub could be if we revealed the river properly, clearing out decades of silt and rubbish to turn the pub into a summer oasis in the middle of Swindon. I'm really pleased with the results and our
customers seem to like it too.”

Arkell's is the latest in a number of organisations to help restore and maintain the River Ray. In 2007 Wiltshire Wildlife Trust built a tunnel near the Great Western Way at Rivermead to allow the nine species of fish to travel the length of the river without obstruction.

The River Ray Parkway is an off-road ‘greenway' between Mouldon Hill and Coate Water Country Park following the line of a dismantled railway line. It is a key habitat and supports protected species including otters as well as providing a vital habitat for riverine species of plant and animals.


Ginger beer with a difference …. But not as you’d know it!

Arkell’s landlords will spice things up a bit this bank holiday weekend when they make the shocking suggestion (for English beers anyway) of adding ice to one of the new Experience Beers currently available in their pubs.

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Delicious served cold - just for once!


Ginger IPA, 3.8% ABV and flavoured with a hint of ginger is one of four brand new ‘Experience' craft beers are being made available in Arkell's pubs this summer, offering drinkers a very different taste than Arkell's regular stable of beers.

And one original way to serve it during what everyone hopes will be another warm bank holiday is over ice – lots of it.

It's certainly not the way that most English beers should be enjoyed, but Arkell's brewery head brewer, Alex Arkell, is – on this occasion anyway - chilled about it.

'Drinking a beer at room temperature allows the real flavours to come out. Drinking cold beers can mask that flavour, but the ginger in this beer is full and flavoursome so if it's hot outside, why not? Variety is the spice of life, and this is a wonderful, spicy beer.”


Arkell’s Brewery hopes to harness sun’s rays to cool down

Arkell’s Brewery is seeking outline planning permission to put solar panels on the roof of the brewery’s bottling hall.


'We have three massive cooling systems to keep our beer and lager cold, all using significant amounts of energy,” said Head Brewer Alex Arkell.
'Over the last few years we have been working to reduce our carbon footprint, first through buying ingredients more locally where we can and now we're hoping to harness the sunshine to help in the production of our beer and lager.”
The brewery's energy consumption has risen over the last six months as sales of its 1843 lager have taken off. Lager requires a month of cooling whereas real ale needs just five days of cooling before it's ready to drink.
Arkell's is seeking outline planning permission from Swindon Borough Council for up to 100 all-black panels on the bottling hall, none of which will be easily visible from the road as the hall lies in the middle of the brewery's site, and the all-black panels blend in more naturally. The annual output of such solar panels would be 25,000 Kilowatt hours a year.
'We all have a responsibility to work sustainably,” said Alex. 'Our beer and lager are full of natural ingredients, that's why they taste so good, and if we can then brew and bottle more by using the heat of the sun, then that's what we want to do. And with weather forecasters predicting a hot summer ahead (well, we live in hope), then I can't think of a better way to put all those lovely sun's rays to the best possible use.”


Pinsent asked to Duck! At the Riverside Inn, Lechlade.

Hundreds welcomed Matthew Pinsent to Lechlade after he agreed to launch the 2014 Lechlade Duck Race from The Riverside Inn on the River Thames.

Matthew Pinsent & Summer Lancaster with the Arkell


With a children's fair ground in the car park and lots of entertainment laid on by the Royal Air Force Association and the Riverside Inn, the day looked like being a huge success for the town.


Gold, Silver & Bronze for Arkell’s in 2014 Taste of The West Awards

Arkell’s Brewery has won Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards in the 2014 Taste of the West Awards for three of its most popular bottled beers.

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Alex with his award-winning bottles beers.


Arkell's Bee's Organic Ale won a fourth Gold, Wiltshire Gold won its first Silver and Arkell's Kingsdown Special Ale won Bronze.

Taste of the West is the largest independent regional food group in the country. Established in 1991 it is the leading supply chain co-operative for food and drink producers from the West Country and helps producers find routes to market and buyers (foodservice and retail) to source quality products. Its patron is H.R.H. Prince Charles, Prince of Wales.

Bee's Organic Ale, 4.5% ABV, was first brewed in 2001 in response to a growing call for premium organic ale with a secret ingredient of honey, this is a delicious honey-coloured ale with a hint of sweetness. Kingsdown, at 4.8% ABV, has been brewed regularly from 1976 and is the strongest of Arkell's regular beers with a rich chestnut brown colour, a full bodied malty nose and bold traditional flavour. The 4.0% ABV Wiltshire Gold only became a regular Arkell's beer in 2012. A light golden coloured Ale brewed using English Maris Otter malt and traditional hops gives it a mellow, floral aroma with a distinctive hoppy taste.
Head Brewer Alex Arkell said: 'We're thrilled to be in the medals again this year. It feels like a big pat on the back from The Taste of the West team, and we'll be raising a big beery toast to them tonight.”


Experience the difference with new craft beers

Four brand new ‘Experience’ craft beers are being made available in Arkell’s pubs this summer, offering drinkers a very different taste than Arkell’s regular stable of beers.

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The first of the craft beers is ESB ‘Extra Special Bitter', available in the pubs now. At 6% ABV it's a higher gravity than Arkell's beers. The higher malt quality gives a strong malty flavour to the beer and it contains English hop varieties Golding and Northdown.

About to launch in May is Ginger IPA, 3.8% ABV. This beer is flavoured with a hint of ginger rather than being a ginger-flavoured beer. Styrian hops are blended and balanced with the sweeter East Kent Golding hops and a hint of ginger is added to the brew.

In June, and in time for the football World Cup, Brazilian will be on tap behind the bar. At 3.6% ABV this has golden oats and Maris Otter malt which give this beer a golden pale colour and some blackcurrant aromas come through from the later hop additions.

Finally, in July Arkell's is expecting Wheat Beer. At 4.2% this is a classic German style wheat beer. A distinctive crisp, fruity/spicy flavour, with a refreshing hoppy finish. As is typical of a wheat beer, this has a gentle haze formed from the wheat grains.

Variety is the spice of life, according to Arkell's who want to continue to offer different beers to tickle the taste buds of pub customers.


More than the ‘Bear’ essentials at Marlborough pub

The Bear at Marlborough has new faces behind the bar following retirement of the previous landlord after eight years. This is Iain and Liz Watson’s first pub tenancy, but Liz has had plenty of experience, assistant-managing pubs in the Reading area before coming home to Wiltshire where she grew up.

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Iain and Liz Watson


The Bear is owned by Wiltshire brewery, Arkell's, and the brewery has been working with Iain and Liz refurbishing the pub, including the lounge area and opening up a brand new games room at the back of the pub.
'We're not just putting in the ‘Bear' essentials,” said Liz. 'We wanted to freshen up the pub completely, and we've not finished yet. We've got more new carpet to go in, the function room to redecorate and over the next few months we will be working our way through the nine letting rooms.”
Iain is also delighted to be able to indulge himself in one of his passions – serving top quality real ale. 'I love my beer and I'm really enjoying learning how to serve the best quality and taste from this side of the bar.”
This is a second career for both Iain and Liz. For many years Iain ran a successful advertising company, and a computer sale and repair business. Liz, who was born and brought up in Swindon, worked for Honda for fifteen years, taking redundancy in 2009 when the car manufacturer cut its workforce. Since then she has been building her experience in the pub trade.
'For those worried about the recent announcement of a reduction in the workforce, I'm proof that there is life after Honda,” says Liz. 'In fact this is my dream job. Before working at Honda, I'd worked in other Arkell's pubs around the area so being able to run one of their pubs myself is like joining a big family. I know a lot of the landlords and they're great.”
Marlborough has welcomed Liz and Iain with open arms. 'We've had a lovely welcome to the town,” said Liz. 'Other town landlords have also been in to wish us luck and the regulars are all great.”


Warming up for an Italian summer at The White Horse, Woolstone

The White Horse at Woolstone, near Swindon, has installed a brand new, Italian pizza oven in its newly landscaped gardens.

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Sou Chef Peter Jambor at the new Pizza Oven


Now Landlord Keith Adams is looking forward to a busy summer at the pub, which is within walking distance of the famous White Horse Hill on the Ridgeway near Uffington.
'I've been thinking about doing it for a couple of years,” said Keith. 'We do all the usual pub food and more, but it keeps the pub fresh if we are able to offer our customers something new, especially as the pub is a magnet for walkers visiting Waylands Smithy and walking along the Ridgeway.”
The pub garden also has a brand new canopy and heaters to keep customers warm and dry in the later evening chill.
Keith took over the White Horse at Woolstone three years' ago and, despite winter snow and rain for this rural pub, it is not only thriving but a firm favourite with the local horse racing fraternity.

The Pizza Oven will be lit at weekends and bank holidays and can be specially booked for parties. Visit the website www.whitehorsewoolstone.co.uk for lighting up times.


Swindon Pubs by Tube

Swindon now has its own ‘tube style’ map of its pubs and drinking holes. Maths teacher John Coats and JJM Designs have recently published their ‘Pub Stops of Swindon’ design.

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Swindon Pubs by Tube


The design displays over 120 pubs set out in the distinctive style of the London underground map, each pub being marked on as a stop or interchange. The tube lines follow roads, so each ‘line' really could be motivation for a pub crawl. The design covers Swindon itself and goes out to include Highworth, Wootton Bassett and surrounding villages. The poster has been produced in association with Arkells's Brewery. Their regular beers feature around the border of the design.
John has produced a number of Pub Stops designs for other cities and regions of the UK. The first design was for John's home city of Sheffield around 8 years ago-‘I have to admit to being a bit taken aback at its success. These are obviously a great gift item, but I think there is something about the local pub and the way that pubs are such important landmarks in our cities that appeals to people.' Several other Pub Stops designs followed and there are now around forty designs in the series.
John runs www.pubstops.co.uk as a hobby when he isn't teaching Maths in a Sheffield high school. The Pub Stops of Swindon poster will be available from the website above, the Swindon branch of Waterstones, and Chromatic Arts picture framers on the Rodbourne Road.
Arkell's Brewery Director, George Arkell, said: 'We thought this was a really good idea – it certainly gets people talking.”


Arkell’s Brewery apprentice Sarah Bromley heads for the final of Dulux Decorator Centres Apprentice of the year

After weeks of careful preparation and stiff competition from other apprentices Sarah Bromley, who works as our apprentice sign writer at Arkell's Brewery and studies at Swindon College has been named the winner of the Somerset heat of the 2014 Dulux Decorator Centres Apprentice of the Year.
Sarah from Swindon is now heading for the grand final

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Sarah from Swindon is now heading for the grand final which takes place at Durham College on 10th and 11th June and brings together nine other regional finalists, all aiming to win the prestigious 2014 title. Not daunted by the mounting pressure, Sarah rose to the challenge and successfully completed a practical work piece, which saw her use a range of skill sets, including: wallpapering, stencilling, waterborne glossing and various other special effects.
Speaking at the event Sarah said: 'I'm absolutely delighted to have come first and, although it was challenging, I really enjoyed the opportunity to take part. I'm now focused on the final and even though I know it will be tough, it's just great to take part.”
College lecturer Angela Woolford added: 'We're really proud of Sarah and it's great that she's representing the college and heading for the final. The standard was really high and her skills were put fully to the test. This is a great opportunity for our students to showcase their talent and take part in a well-organised and professional competition and I'm looking forward to the final.”
At the final Sarah will have to complete a further practical piece, which will see her push her abilities to the maximum in a bid to be named Apprentice of the Year 2014. The final will then be followed up by a presentation evening at Lumley Castle in Durham, where the winner and runners up will be announced and awarded a range of prizes, including £1000 for the overall winner.
Beverley Whitehead, marketing communications manager at Dulux Decorator Centres – the UK's leading painting and decorating specialist said: 'The competition is now in its seventh year and once again we've been highly impressed by the standard and skills of the apprentices. Everyone who has competed in the regionals should be extremely proud and Sarah in particular did an amazing job and is to be congratulated.”
For winning the heat, Sarah collected £100 worth of Dulux Decorator Centres vouchers, received a certificate and a goody bag full of decorating materials donated by the company's suppliers, including the official sponsors: Shield, Purdy, 3M, Barrettine, Shield and Zarges.


Investment isn’t about to stop at The Quaich

After just finishing a £50,000 refurbishment of The Quaich pub on Ambrose Street, Cheltenham (formerly The St James’ Hotel), landlord Kevin Grieve and pub owners Arkell’s Brewery are embarking on a similar investment to refurbish its 12 hotel bedrooms to the same high standard.

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Kevin Grieve will soon have a proper bed to sleep in at The Quaich!


The Quaich (pronounced Quake), is a Scottish word for a two-handled sharing cup and has a particular meaning for Kevin as this is his second Cheltenham pub, after taking over another Arkell's pub, The Adam and Eve on Townsend Street, where turnover has trebled in the last eight months.

Kevin said: 'I really enjoy working on old established pub and moving it up a gear. I'm thrilled that the Adam and Eve has taken off again, and now we're doing the same with The Quaich – but here we've got the opportunity to do something even more special. There's not only the refurbishment of the bedrooms, but the old skittle alley is also a great venue for small gatherings, especially during the Cheltenham Festivals.”

Kevin's team have got to work fast, though, he's already taken his first accommodation booking for the 30th April.

The Quaich has also introduced a full bar menu, including specials throughout the week, from 12-9pm.

'Wednesdays is ‘pie and a pint' night. Steak night on Saturday with two steaks and a bottle of wine for £20 and we're also doing Sunday lunches.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Kevin knows what he's doing. He's already done a fabulous job at the Adam and Eve and now he's making his mark at The Quaich.”


AA Inspectors turn up on Arkell’s Brewery Door

Two AA Inspectors arrived at Arkell’s Brewery recently, but they weren’t there to check on the facilities, but to provide top-notch customer service training to Arkell’s pub staff.

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AA Inspector Garry Baldwin, Grant Anthony of The Sun at Coate Water, Mel Greenway from The Tawny Owl & AA Inspector Stephen Wilkinson


boost the levels of customer service offered across is estate of pubs. Run by the Run by AA Hotel Services in conjunction with People 1st Training Company, the WorldHost customer service training programme was used to train thousands of staff and volunteers for the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympics. Now, Arkell's is offering the training programme to all its managed houses and tenants pubs.

The AA Inspectors, Garry Baldwin and Stephen Wilkinson, spent time with the first Arkell's group going through key customer service skills. Garry said: 'You can't teach hospitality, either you've got it or you haven't. What we are doing is fine tuning skills and giving everyone practical advice, tips and hints to make sure that customers are treated well and considerately at all times.”

Garry and Stephen have both experienced poor customer service in their jobs. Garry explained: 'I remember two members of a hotel reception complaining that their boss had told them not to ignore guests. Sadly they were completely ignoring me as I waiting to be served. They obviously hadn't been on our customer service course!”

Stephen added: 'Every guest is different so staff must be always alert to different needs and requirements.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Good customer service is an important element for pubs. A hearty welcome will keep customers coming back and that's what we are trying to encourage across our estate of pubs.”

Sharon Glancy, managing director of the People 1st Training Company, added: 'Customer service is a big challenge for UK businesses. Almost two-thirds of hospitality businesses say that their staff's customer handling skills need improving and that's why we brought WorldHost training to the UK. It's great to see Arkell's going the extra mile to invest in their staff's service skills – customers will be sure to notice the warm welcome they receive!”


Arkell’s wins top Award in national beer competition

Arkell’s has taken a Gold award in the National Beer Competition run by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA). Its triumph was announced at SIBA’s BeerX celebration of British beer, held in Sheffield last week.

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Top left: Bob Mercer
Top right: Kevin McDonald
Second row left: Dougie Petrie
Second row right: Brian Curtis
Third row left: Jack Bridgman
Third row middle: Chris Dicks
Third row right: Graham Bridgman
Bottom: Alex & George Arkell


The brewery's 1843 lager was judged Champion Beer in the pale and golden lagers category and it was one of just a handful of beers to win a Gold award, from around 2,000 that entered the initial regional heats of the competition. The 300 finalist beers were judged by a panel of industry experts and beer enthusiasts in Sheffield.

Arkell's Head Brewer, Alex Arkell, said: 'To receive a top Award in this competition, judged against some of the finest brewers in the country, is the ultimate endorsement of the quality of our beer. We are delighted to be leaving Sheffield with a trophy.”

SIBA chief executive Julian Grocock, said, 'The number of smaller brewers has grown rapidly over recent years, meaning there are ever more brewers competing for the top prizes. To progress to the national finals is impressive in itself, and to then come through to win one a Gold award is a real achievement. Our hearty congratulations go to Arkell's.”


The People’s Pension hits the five-hundred thousand mark thanks to Arkell's

The People’s Pension, a workplace pension scheme, has auto-enrolled over 500,000 workers since it opened for business in November 2011 – and the lucky 500,000th worker to enrol was Louise Cater, an employee at Arkell’s Brewery pub The Saracen’s Head Hotel in Highworth, Wiltshire.

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Barry Russell & Louise Cater, Arkell's, Michael Steyn The People’s Pension


Patrick Heath-Lay, Chief Executive of B&CE, provider of The People's Pension, said:

'We launched The People's Pension in 2011 because we wanted to use our experience to help employers with automatic enrolment and provide a good quality pension scheme for their staff. Our clear and simple design, coupled with our focus on supporting employers and helping our members, is proving attractive to employers of all shapes and sizes.”

'Although we have now auto-enrolled over 500,000 people, our job is not done, far from it. We will continue to focus on providing the best possible service to employers and their employees, and remain committed to serving any employer no matter how small. Our independent governance and not-for-profit status means that we can really put members at the heart of everything we do.”

Heath-Lay, added: 'We are delighted Arkell's Brewery chose The People's Pension as their automatic enrolment scheme and are committed to helping people like Louise save for their retirement.”

Barry Russell, Finance Director at Arkell's Brewery, said: 'We chose The People's Pension on recommendation from other Family Brewers. Long before Auto Enrolment was introduced, they were providing good quality pensions on a basis similar to that required by Auto Enrolment. As a not-for-profit organisation, they have the pensions of their members at heart and accordingly apply a low charging structure to their members' funds. While a pension is probably one of the last things on Louise's priority list, as a responsible employer it is definitely at the top of ours.”


Comedy on the menu at The Bull Hotel

Laughter makes a return to Fairford’s The Bull Hotel on Friday February the 28th for a night of comedy.

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Manager Ian Summers has scoured the country to find the best stand ups around and is pleased to announce a lineup of five stellar acts.

The event that begins at 9pm, with tickets only £10 per person will be headlined by Kevin Shepherd. His friendly face and manic energy are proving successful with all types of audience. Clubs that he has played at include The Banana Cabaret, The Frog and Bucket, The Comedy Club Ltd, The Comedy Café, Jongleurs and Highlight.

Kevin will be supported by two new acts and the established Ean Luckhurst, who has been performing since 2010, and playing at some of the best comedy clubs in the UK like Up the Creek, 'One to Watch Competition'- 2011 and the world famous Comedy Store in Leicester Square.

The evening will be compered by Paul McMullan, another heavy weight of the UK comedy scene.

Tickets can be purchased by phone or from the Bull Hotel Reception prior to the event and on the night. For more information, please contact The Bull Hotel on 01285 712535.


Duke of Edinburgh at the pointy end of Swindon’s Darts craze

With 22 darts teams playing there regularly, The Duke of Edinburgh on Cricklade Road in Swindon is claiming to be the darts hub of Swindon with more pub teams playing there than at any other pub in town, and landlord Mark Thomson is aiming for another 8 teams.

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Mark Thomson, Landlord at The Duke of Edinburgh


Mark is a former professional darts player, ranked inside the world's top 32 players, and The Duke of Edinburgh has now got so many teams that it's got its own league: The Gorse Hill Premier League, which plays for a pot of over £1000. And the pub doesn't just support the game of darts, it sponsors a 7 a side football team which plays for the Swindon Youth League and hosts crib matches too.

Mark and his wife Allyson have been landlords at the Arkell's-owned pub for two years, and have put The Duke of Edinburgh back firmly on the town map. 'The pub is big and bright inside, and there's plenty of space for darts players and families too,” said Mark.

'We're a real community here. It's one of Swindon's last traditional pubs and I'm still not satisfied. We want 30 darts teams here – though that will be a mighty big food bill because we feed our teams too, anything from bread, cheese and pickles to stews and curries. And we pay all league fees as well.”

His job isn't a job, it's more a way of life, says Mark. 'I really love running the pub, and it's great that so many people share my love of darts. Over the last few years thanks to the Professional Darts Corporation, the game has moved up a notch to become highly professional and I love watching their games and offering advice on how to become even better.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Mark's got a band of passionate pub regulars he can set his watch by when they come into the pub every week. The Duke of Edinburgh is a proper Swindon pub and at the heart of the town's community.”


The Boundary House keeps it in the family

The Boundary House pub at between Rodbourne and Mordon, Swindon has a new face behind the bar, but it’s one the locals will recognise because she was born and brought up just round the corner.

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Carley Wilson, 38, has taken over the tenancy of the pub and is being supported by her partner Paul, son Aston and her mum and dad too.

'It's fantastic to finally be in a position to run the pub I visited regularly with my mum and dad when I was younger,” she says. 'It's my first pub tenancy but I've worked behind bars before and ran a working men's club for four years, so I've got plenty of experience.”

The best, thing, says Carley, is that she knows lots of the customers. 'I was surprised at how many people I knew on my first weekend of working here – it's lovely to fit right back into the local community. It's my dream job.”

Arkell's has owned The Boundary House for an incredible 137 years. Bought in 1877 when it was called The Red Lion, the brewery changed its name over 20 years' ago as Swindon grew and it became known as the boundary pub between traditional Swindon and its new Western extension.


A new generation at the Lord Lyon, Stockcross

New landlords have taken over at The Lord Lyon, Stockcross. Jack Clarke, 28 and Amanda Topham, 27, have worked in the pub industry for over ten years. Now they are picking up the reins of The Lord Lyon, owned by Wiltshire brewery Arkells, and named after a famous racehorse which won the Triple Crown in 1866.

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'This is a brilliant pub with some fantastic regulars,” said Amanda, who's running front of house. 'And we don't just want customers, we want families, their kids – and even their dogs. We've got plenty of space in the pub – and bar stools too, which can be quite a rarity in this area. This is a local community pub serving fantastic pub food cooked by Jack.”

The young couple have just returned from a gap year working in Australia, but running a big pub is all in a day's work for Jack, who used to manage another Arkell's hotel in South Wiltshire. 'We had a great time in Australia and what was really nice was to see their more relaxed attitude to life. That's what we want to encourage here, because a great pub is all about its customers and what they want, not about the landlords and what they want to offer.”

The Lord Lyon, which also offers smart bed and breakfast accommodation, is holding an official opening for regulars and villagers on Saturday 22 February. 'We'll be laying on a big cheese board for everyone to sample and we'll have our new menus on display too,” added Amanda, who learned the life of a licensee at two of Arkell's biggest pubs in Swindon.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'It's great to have a new generation of experienced landlords taking the industry forward. Jack and Amanda are definitely the faces of the future for this industry and they've already got bags of pub experience to make a big success of The Lord Lyon.”


Major Brewery pub investment boosts turnover

Turnover has risen substantially at The Runner (formerly known as The Running Horse), on Wootton Bassett Road, Swindon, close to Rushey Platt, following substantial investment and refurbishment of this popular pub by owners Arkell’s, which has also adapted its name to match what locals have called it for years.

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Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'We have undertaken a major refurbishment investment at The Runner, inside and out, the first it's had for around fifteen years and the result is fabulous. We'll be starting work on the garden soon, to give our customers the opportunity to spend time in a lovely green oasis between Old Town and West Swindon.”

Long-standing Arkell's landlords Roger and Sally Waite have taken over as landlords at The Runner following five successful years running one of Arkell's biggest pubs The Riverside, Lechlade. To their delight, the new pub has also got a river at the bottom of the garden.

'The River Ray might not be quite as impressive as the Thames as it flowed past the pub in Lechlade, but it certainly gives The Runner a lot of character and will be a wonderful addition to the pub in the summer when we've finished restoring the gardens this Spring,” said Roger.

The River Ray begins at Wroughton Reservoir and flows through Swindon and into the Thames at Cricklade.

'We're delighted that the pub is now in the safe hands of Roger and Sally – they've been Arkell's landlords for over a decade and this is the forth pub they've run on our behalf,” added George.

Roger and Sally have brought a number of their team with them from Lechlade, including two of the three regular chefs (the third chef being Sally herself).

'What makes a good pub is good quality ale, and we're independently Cask Marqued for quality, and consistently good quality food. All three of our chefs have worked together for years, which makes for a good atmosphere in the kitchen and a relaxed atmosphere in the pub,” said Roger. 'It's great to be running the Runner. It's a new challenge and a lovely pub with a great atmosphere.”


Countdown begins to Long’s Bar reopening

Long’s Bar, on Victoria Hill, Swindon will reopen at 11.30am Friday 31 January after a short refurbishment.


Together with Long's Bar owners Arkell's Brewery, new Landlords Shaun Montague and Danny Mason are currently hard at work putting the finishing touches to the new-look bar, which has been the gateway venue to Swindon's Old Town for decades.

Brewery director George Arkell, said: 'It's great to see a smart new Long's Bar emerge and we're looking forward to a brand new era for one of the town's most popular venues.

'Long's Bar is a Swindon institution,” added George. 'Bars change with the time, but Long's Bar has always been at the centre of Old Town's night life culture and following the refurbishment and under the experienced management of Shaun and Danny we know that will continue.”

The bar will also introduce a few new ‘firsts' to the town's bar and restaurant culture. It will be the first to offer dinner on a dustbin lid (a sharing platter for two on a smart metal lid).


Be my Swinging Valentine

Valentine’s Day. When lovers old and young get all misty eyed, florists sell out of red roses and heart-shaped chocolates are in high demand.

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But here at Arkell's, it's Valentine's Day every time beer is brewed because of our rare ‘Swinging Valentine', which continues to be an essential part of its traditional brewing process.

The Arkell's ‘Swinging Valentine' controls the flow of wort (liquid extracted from the mashing process during the brewing of beer) from the mash tun to avoid sucking the grain bed down on to the slotted bottom, which all sounds very exciting, and according to English Heritage, there are only two breweries in the country which still operate original Swinging Valentines, the other being Marston's Park Brewery in Wolverhampton.

Arkell's Head Brewer, Alex Arkell, said: 'I have no idea how the Swinging Valentine got it's name, but it's just another charming, traditional name for an essential piece of equipment here at Arkell's, and we're very proud of it.”

Arkell's is celebrating its Swinging Valentine by joining with Perelada Cava to run a competition to win a bottle of fizz for all couples booking and eating at a participating Arkell's pub on February 14th.. Entries will also be entered into a big draw to receive a cheque to cover their bill for the night.


Ball and Chain still on after a year of marital bliss

Alex Arkell, head brewer at Wiltshire brewery Arkell’s, is celebrating a year of married bliss by brewing a further batch of his wedding ale, Ball & Chain, first brewed in January 2013 for his wedding to long-term sweetheart Alice Braithwaite.

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'The beer went down really well with customers and family last year so I decided to celebrate our first wedding anniversary by brewing it again, this time as part of our ‘Family Tree' season of beers which started last November,” said Alex. 'I know that the gift for a first wedding anniversary is supposed to be paper (just as the 25th is supposed to be silver), but to be honest Beer sounds a lot more interesting to me.”

Ball and Chain uses four varieties of malt to produce a distinct grist (milled malt) as its foundation with Celeia, Willamette and Columbus hop varieties added at different points through the brewing process to give a rounded, well balanced floral finish to the beer which has a hearty ABV of 5%.

The Arkell's Family Tree collection of beers kicked off in November with Peter's Porter. In December Noel Ale made a welcome comeback and in February, the popular JRA will reappear. In March a brand new beer will launch, to be called ‘Mr George' after director George Arkell, Alex's brother.

Alex added: 'We're a 170-year old family brewery and proud of it so this family of beers celebrates each generation up to the present day.”

Peter's Porter was named after the Peter Arkell, brewery chairman for 39 years until he passed away in 2010. This 4.8% ABV beer was first brewed in 2004. Noel Ale was named after Sir Noel Arkell, chairman of Arkell's in the 1960s who was born on Christmas Day. The 5% ABV beer was first launched in 1987. In February, the popular JRA (James' Real Ale) will reappear celebrating Chairman, James Arkell. Brewed for his 50th birthday, it's been brewed almost continuously as a special since then. 
The new beer will be launched in March and named Mr George, after brewery director George Arkell who joined the brewery in 1999.


2014 kicks off with double retirement

Two of Arkell’s long-serving staff members have retired. Ron Harper, Arkell’s signwriter for the last 14 years and Trevor Blackford, who has been an Arkell’s drayman for the last 44 years.

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Trevor has driven hundreds and thousands of mile delivering beer across the South of England and Ron has been painting Swindon red, blue, green and every colour of the rainbow since March 1999, lovingly hand painting the pub signs that hang inside and outside all the brewery's pubs.

'The traditional art of pub signwriting is in danger of dying out; few breweries have retained their signwriters, but it's still going strong at Arkell's.

'We've seen the writing on the wall for a while now,” said brewery chairman James Arkell. 'So last year we took on Sara Bromley, an apprentice signwriter, so that Ron can retire but our signwriting skills are retained. A painted pub sign is a good indication of quality within.

Ron learned his craft way back in the 1960s when he became a signwriter for the Great Western Railway.

'I joined the Railways as an office boy, then in the rivet-hotting department before being offered an apprenticeship as signwriter,” he said. 'I really wanted to be a tin-smith but there weren't any openings for that.”

Ron's apprenticeship training consisted of being given a palette, a stick and dipper, 5 brushes and told to practice.

'I saw how the other fellows did it and learned as I went along.”

Semi-skilled signwriters worked on the wagons, with the skilled signwriters being allowed on the coaches.

'You had to learn fast because we were paid piece-work,” explains Ron. 'In the beginning the apprentices were supported by the skilled signwriters, and as we got better we supported the younger ones.”

In 1985, a year before the Great Western works finally hit the buffers, Ron left to set up his own signwriting business.

'When the railway works finally closed in 1986, men left in tears,” he said. 'For many it was the only life they'd ever known and for the older ones, job prospects looked pretty grim.”

Luckily for Ron, his signwriting business prospered for some years, until the mid 1990s and the advent of cheap vinyl lettering – when his business dried up almost overnight.

'As new printing methods took off, the phone stopped ringing and I faced looking for a new job,” he said.

His luck turned when Arkell's signwriter Graham Compton dropped by to ask if he'd be interested in working for Arkell's . The rest is history for Ron.

'I was offered the job on 31 December 1999. I started the following March and I've never enjoyed myself so much,” he said.

'I may not have painted the town red over the last few years, but I've painted thousands of pub signs in Arkell's colours.”


New rooms at the Inn this Christmas

There would have been a bit more room for Mary and Joseph at The Old Bear, Cricklade near Swindon this Christmas after Arkell’s Brewery added two more bedrooms onto one of its pubs.

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Landlords Steve and Teresa Cleverly who have run the pub for nine years, persuaded the brewery to add the extra rooms onto the pub to meet local demand for good quality overnight accommodation.

Steve said: 'We've got three bedrooms on the ground floor, which were the old stables as the pub is almost 300 years' old, but there was a lot of empty space upstairs which we've now put to a better use. If Mary and Joseph had visited this Christmas they'd certainly be a lot more snug at the Old Bear than last year, and we would have had room for the three kings, the shepherds and their sheep in our courtyard too.”

Brewery director George Arkell, said: 'The Old Bear at Cricklade is a traditional local pub. Steve and Teresa don't offer a fancy menu (though Teresa does make her own pasties and pork pies), and it doesn't open at lunchtimes during the week – but it's got a very loyal following, probably including a few shepherds and more than three wise men (especially after a few pints of Arkell's Wiltshire Gold) in the bar most nights.

'More seriously, Steve and Teresa are great landlords and giving them the opportunity to let more bedrooms is good for their business.”


Stottie challenge at the Liden Arms

The Liden Arms, Swindon is the only pub outside Newcastle selling stotties, according to its new landlord Trevor Smith, but only the brave or foolhardy will take on the challenge of eating a whole one singlehandedly, and only one man has actually done that …. so far.

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Stotties are flat, round loaves, around 12 inches (30cm) in diameter, which originated in the North East. Seldom found in the ‘soft' south of England, according to Trevor, but now firmly on the menu at The Liden Arms.

Trevor, 36, grew up in the North East and has been running pubs, in between qualifying and then working as a teacher, since he was 19 years' old. 'I knew when I took over The Liden Arms it was probably one of the only Swindon pubs where the customers were ‘man' enough to take on the challenge of eating a stottie, and I haven't been disappointed, however when it arrives on their table, they take one look and then usually decide to share it around. Only one customer has actually managed to eat a whole on at one sitting. Now we're waiting for a challenger.”

Despite having only lived in Swindon for a few years, Trevor will be well known to many people as the former presenter of Swindon 105.5 radio breakfast show, which he gave up to run The Liden Arms. However, he is also chairman of both the Old Town Festival and the charity Swindon Children's Scrapstore which aims to help reduce waste while providing creative opportunities for children and young people.

Trevor and his wife, Louise moved into The Liden Arms in September and business has doubled since they took over. 'Louise was brought up in Liden and knows the area well. Our customers are down to earth and there is a massive community spirit here that I absolutely love. The Liden used to be a drinker's pub only but we've taken on an apprentice chef though Swindon College, and now we're doing up to 40 Sunday roasts every weekend. It's great because it's offering trainee chefs the opportunity to build their skills and our customers have voted with their feet by supporting us.”

The Liden Arms is owned by Arkell's Brewery and director, George Arkell, said: 'Trevor and Louise are doing a fantastic job at The Liden Arms, However it's not all down to the stotties but to their own hard work in getting involved and working to make the pub the centre of the community. Since they took over they've attracted two pool teams, four darts teams and a football team as well as other regular entertainment.”


Christmas Greetings for Noel Ale

Christmas started in November in the Arkell’s brewhouse so that enough of its Christmas Noel Ale can be brewed to satisfy the thousands of Arkell’s drinkers now expecting the annual brew.


The beer has been brewed by Alex Arkell, great grandson of the beer's namesake, Sir Noel Arkell, who was born on Christmas day in 1893 and ran the brewery from the 1920s until 1971.

For head brewer Alex, it's also a reminder of his age, because at 28 the beer has been brewed for every year of his life.

'I've drunk Noel Ale at Christmas for my entire life,” he said. 'As far as I am concerned, it's the best Christmas beer in the world.”

Noel Ale is, at 5% ABV, a full-bodied beer which is cleverly disguised by its distinctive light colour and slides down very easily, leaving drinkers with a warm, tingling feeling – ideal for celebrations and cold winters.


It’s the Bee’s Knees for War Veteran’s Christmas Dinner

28 veterans from the Egyptian campaigns of the 1940s and 50s came together for their Christmas and tenth anniversary celebration at The Bee’s Knee’s at Cirencester

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Bruce Sherwood and Patricia Jezzard celebrate with the Gloucester Branch of the Canal Zoners at the Bee's Knee's in Cirencester


Known as the Canal Zoners, this is a national association formed for those, who have been called the ‘forgotten soldiers' who served in the Suez Canal Zone, Egypt up to the British withdrawal in 1954. The Gloucester branch meets monthly and is run by Bruce Sherwood who served with the RAF in Egypt from 1952-54. Bruce said: 'So many ex-service organisations seemed to be drowned in red tape, but the Canal Zoners is about former service people with a shared history being able to get together socially. We're open to retired army, air or navy servicemen and women who just want to get out and socialise.”

The Canal Zoners is run by Patricia Jezzard, whose father Godfrey, started the organisation in 1995. Patricia said: 'The Canal Zoners now has 3000 members. I took on the administration when my father died because so many ex service people enjoy their regular get togethers.”

Bee's Knee's landlord, Ty Benjamin, said: 'The Gloucester Canal Zoners meet here every month and it's a pleasure to see them and hear them swap their wartime memories. Few of us realise that 80,000 did their National Service in Egypt, it's another piece of history which is easy to overlook.”

After their three-course lunch at The Bee's Knee's, every serviceman and woman went home with a bottle of Wiltshire Gold, courtesy of pub owners Arkell's Brewery.”


Swindon Old Town’s cider house earns its stripes

The Plough Inn on Devizes Road, Old Town, Swindon, which was completely refurbished by owners Arkell’s Brewery earlier this year into the town’s first cider and alehouse has quickly achieved Cask Marque status thanks to the high standards of landlords Darren and Vicky Turner.

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Cask Marque is a highly prized accreditation among the UK's real ale pubs and bars. A Cask Marque plaque on the outside of the building means that the beer has been independently checked for quality and the pub itself has been checked for hygiene and cellar management.

And in fact, every customer who visits can check the standard of the cellar for themselves as the bar has a window looking right down into the cellar so drinkers can where their ale is coming from.

Darren said: 'We're really enjoying running The Plough and the response from the locals has been fantastic, which makes it all worthwhile. Achieving Cask Marque status so quickly was one of our priorities. As Swindon's first Cider and Ale House, we wanted not only to be the first, but the very best too.”


Top quality confirmed at 20 At The Kings

One of Swindon’s best known venues, hotel and bar 20 At the Kings, on Wood Street, Old Town has not only retained its Cask Marque status but has also gained a ‘Gold’ status Les Routier Award.

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Darren & Vicky Turner


Cask Marque is a highly prized accreditation among the UK's real ale pubs and bars as it means that the beer has been independently checked for quality and the pub itself has been checked for hygiene and cellar management.

The ‘Gold' status Les Routier Award is given to the best independent restaurants and places to stay across Britain. The guide champions quirky, individual hotels, pubs and restaurants and ‘gold' status venues are inspected annually to meet the guide's tough standards.

20 At the Kings has been run by husband and wife team Darren and Vicky Turner since July 2012.

Darren said: 'We're absolutely delighted with our awards, which are all about the quality of what we deliver which is what matters most to our customers. We've had an incredibly busy year running both 20 At The Kings and now we're planning for a busy Christmas too as we've just started taking bookings for 70's style Christmas Disco parties.


The Sun comes out at Coate Water

After six months of construction, the new 10-bedroom hotel accommodation at The Sun Inn, Coate Water, Swindon has opened for business, and landlord Andy Moss thinks it’s got the best hotel view in town.

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'We're right next to Coate Water Park and the new hotel rooms look right over the park entrance. It's also away from the road so our guests should hear birdsong not car engines as they drop off to sleep.”
Swindon-based Edmont Joinery was the main contractor on site, and they have framed the spade that turned over the first sod which will be mounted on the side of the building. Edmont managing director Craig Morton. 'It's been great to work on such a substantial local project which will provide a useful new amenity to the local community.”

Arkell's Brewery, which owns the pub, has invested around £half a million in the development. Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'There is a growing demand for good accommodation in this part of Swindon which is almost next door to the Great Western Hospital, the Richard Jefferies museum as well as Coate Water Country Park.”

Arkell's Brewery now has around 500 bedrooms across its estate of 100 pubs and hotels across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and seriously considers adding rooms to its pubs where there is the space and potential demand.

George added: 'The more income-generating opportunities a pub has the better. If we consider that good quality accommodation would be of benefit to a pub and would serve the local community then it's sensible to make the investment. The Sun Inn is a busy and thriving pub on the edge of Swindon with plenty going on around it and a very strong local community. It also sits in a large plot with plenty of parking and a new children's playground. It's a perfect place for people and we've enjoyed watching the new building rise from the ground over the summer months. Perhaps we should call it The Rising Sun.”

Room rates at The Sun start from £60 per night, bed and breakfast including VAT.


Arkell’s keeps it in the family

Arkell’s Brewery is keeping it in the family with its latest collection of real ales, which includes four firm favourites and a brand new brew.

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Alex Arkell' looked to his Grandfather, Peter Arkell, for his inspiration when recreating Peter's Porter, first brewed in 2004.


The Family Tree collection of beers kicked off with Peter's Porter. In December Noel Ale will make a welcome comeback. January will reprise Ball & Chain ale first brewed earlier this year and in February, the popular JRA will reappear. In March a brand new beer will launch. ‘Mr George' is still in the planning stages and more will be revealed soon.

Head brewer Alex Arkell, said: 'We're a 170-year old family brewery and proud of it, however we wouldn't be still here if we hadn't changed with the times and this family of beers celebrates each generation from when beer was the regular pub drink of choice to now, when beers must taste fresh and individual to excite both regular and new customers. What's different now from then is that while our traditional brewing techniques haven't changed, what has changed is that we are able to brew our beers with much more consistency than ever before.

Peter's Porter is named after the Peter Arkell, brewery chairman for 39 years until he passed away in 2010. This 4.8% ABV beer was first brewed in 2004 and current head brewer Alex Arkell (Peter's grandson), has used the original recipe, giving it a modern twist with Willamette hops and pinhead oats for a smoother flavour.

In December Noel Ale will make a welcome comeback. Named after Sir Noel Arkell, chairman of Arkell's in the 1960s who was born on Christmas Day. The 5% ABV beer was first launched in 1987 and is a full-bodied beer cleverly disguised by its distinctive light colour.

The New Year, 2014, will kick off with Ball & Chain beer, brewed for the first time just last year in celebration of head brewer Alex Arkell's marriage to Alice. The recipe for this brew is the same as last year, though Alex says that perhaps the chain looks a bit shorter on the pump clip. At 5%, it's a well-balanced, deep amber beer.

February is the turn of current chairman James Arkell and his popular JRA (James' Real Ale). Brewed for his 50th birthday, it's been brewed almost continuously as a special since then. At 3.6% ABV it's a golden beer.

The new beer will be launched in March and named Mr George, after brewery director George Arkell who joined the brewery in 1999. This beer is planned as a light session ale with plenty of hop character.


Cirencester chef in the running for accolade

Golden Cross head chef Justin Ashley has been nominated for a prestigious 2013 Taste of Gloucestershire Food and Farming Award – the Best Chef of the Year.

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The 43 year old chef has been working at the Black Jack Street venue since 2009 and alongside landlord Mark Lindesay has transformed the venue into one of the towns dining hotspots.

Justin's cooking style is to take pub classics and turn them into a modern culinary experience, try his moules frites for example that have been given the twist of a ‘a la Black Jacques', a sauce made from fresh tarragon, white wine and cream. His signature dish is simple but a taste sensation of bubble and squeak cakes served with black pudding, and hollandaise, while he regularly puts out over 100 Sunday lunches, arguably the best in the region let alone Cirencester.

The Golden Cross is not Justin's first kitchen in the town as he was the original chef at the now gone Harry Hare's and went on to work at his father's venue The Twelve Bells where he became a gastronomic hit for reinventing pub fodder and introducing ingredients like ‘bath chaps' to dishes. Bath chaps are made from pigs' cheeks with part of the tongue, cooked and pressed into a mould.

He was then approached by the then new Golden Cross landlord Mark Lindesay who had heard about his reputation and wanted him to run his kitchen. 'As soon as I heard Justin was available I knew, from what I had heard around the town, this is the man to run my kitchen,” he said. 'We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved in what is a relatively short space of time and this has been our best year yet and if we scoop this award things can only get better.”

The Golden Cross Inn is open for lunch Monday to Sunday 12-3pm and dinner is served Monday to Saturday 6-9:30pm. For more information or to book a table please visit www.goldencrossinn.com or call 01285 652137.


New landlord to put heart and soul into Punchbowl

New landlord Antony Easton is determined to make his first job as landlord a big success and has vowed to put his heart and soul into the role.

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Antony, 29, has just taken over as landlord of The Punchbowl Inn at Woodstock after working as assistant manager at The Riverside, Lechlade, for four years.

'The Punchbowl is fantastic pub in probably the best location in the town as it's practically opposite the main gates of Blenheim Palace,” he said.

'The good thing is that while there are a number of pubs in the town, most of them are upmarket pubs with a menu to match. The Punchbowl is a local pub, and we'll be serving pub food at pub prices.”

Family business Arkell's Brewery bought the Punchbowl in 2006. The brewery also owns The Rusty Bicycle and The Rickety Press in Oxford City Centre, and The Kings Arms at Chipping Norton.

Brewery director George Arkell said: 'We bought The Punchbowl because with its letting rooms, we could see its potential. Antony was a great assistant manager at The Riverside in Lechlade, and this is the ideal opportunity for him to really build up business at the Punchbowl and for us to offer Woodstock a lovely local family brewery pub.”

Antony added: 'I'm going to give it everything I've got.”


Rickety Press, Jericho, Oxford gets top Michelin award

The Rickety Press pub, based on Cranham Street Jericho, Oxford is celebrating being one of just 27 new establishments in Great Britain and Ireland to have been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand award.

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A Bib Gourmand award recognises places where you can eat three courses for £28 or less. Places with Bib Gourmands are those that Michelin inspectors feel deliver the most value to customers and which are an ideal resource for consumers looking for the perfect meal at a reasonable price.
Landlord Chris Manners, 27, is absolutely thrilled, especially as the pub is coming to the end of a two-month renovation, (a bigger and more attractive restaurant area will be unveiled at the end of October, along with total renovation of the existing kitchen).
The Rickety Press has been on the up since Arkell's Brewery bought it in 2011. At the time it was a backstreet pub called the Radcliffe Arms owned by Scottish and Newcastle Brewery, which had closed the previous July due to a lack of trade.

Family brewery Arkell's, however, saw it's potential and refused to be put off by its down-at-heel appearance.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'The pub was in a good location, just off the main shopping area of Jericho, but it needed a total refurbishment and a great landlord, so we put in both. And in fact our landlord Chris Manners has been so successful that we're having to invest more money to make the pub bigger less than two year's later.”

Chris Manners is one of the country's most successful young landlords. Having successfully launched and run another Arkell's Oxford pub, The Rusty Bicycle on Magdalen Road (formerly The Eagle which Arkell's bought and refurbished in 2009 and which is now one of Oxford's busiest pubs), he had the challenge of living up to his reputation as a fixer by turning around a pub which had been closed for 9 months.

'It was a big job, but we could all see its potential,” said Chris. 'If a pub is in the right location, everything is possible and so it's proved here.”

George Arkell added: 'Chris makes it sound easy but it's not. He's put in long days, long nights and all his energy into making this a fabulous place to eat and drink. For him, the payback is seeing customers come back again and again – and the Michelin Bib Gourmant is an even more public acknowledgement of his success.”


We've bagged The Old Kent Road!

Swindon Monopoly is now out and we've bagged The Old Kent Road for the Arkell's Brewery Square!

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1500 pack into Arkell’s Brewery to celebrate 170 years!

Over 1500 people packed into Arkell’s Brewery in September to enjoy a day’s celebration of beer, brewing and British heritage.

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Arkell's is celebrating 170 years of brewing this year.

Numbers far exceeded the brewery's expectations, being more than double the numbers who visited the brewery during the last Beer Festival three years' ago, and visitors were able to taste over 40 beers from across the UK, tour inside and outside the brewery, see British motoring and steam heritage in the form of steam engines, vintage cars and motorcycles and listen to live music.

In anticipation of predicted rain, the brewery had brought in extra tents for cover, but they ended up being used as shelter for the late summer suns rays as the rain held off.

Brewery sales director Nick Arkell, said: 'We were absolutely delighted to welcome so many people, young and old and the atmosphere was wonderful. Proceeds of the event will go to Prospect Hospice and Swindon Cares and we will announce the final amount raised soon.”

Arkell's was started by John Arkell at his Wiltshire farm near Stratton, Swindon in 1843 when the town was experiencing its first economic boom with Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Railway workshops opening the same year. The brewery outlived the first age of the train, but it is still run daily by the Arkell family.

No one knows the exact date that ‘Farmer John' who grew his own barley added ‘Brewer John' to his list of professional achievements, but he recognised that men working in the sweltering GWR sheds would welcome beyond practically anything else, a glass of refreshing ale at the end of their shift.

Then, a price of pint of beer was around 2d (cheaper than a loaf of bread at 3d but more expensive than 1d pint of milk).

The Beerhouse Act of 1830 had enabled anyone to brew and sell beer from a public house or their own homes for a £2 licence without bothering the local Justice of the Peace. As a result public houses opened up everywhere, but Arkell's proved a firm favourite and in 1861 it built a new brewery at Kingsdown (it's present site), extended it again after just six years.

John Arkell died peacefully in 1881 and was succeeded by his sons Thomas and James.

The current chairman, James Arkell, is the founder's great, great grandson, his sons George (director), Alex (head brewer),John and cousin Nick Arkell work alongside him running the business today.


It’s always Summer at The Riverside, Lechlade

The Riverside pub, Lechlade, which hosted comedian David Walliams’ first dive into his epic Comic Relief Thames swim two years’ ago, and is one of local Arkell’s Brewery’s biggest pubs, has new landlords at the helm: Nick Beavan and his partner Summer Lancaster.

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The couple are thrilled to take over such a landmark pub, but have had to hit the ground running as since they took over, the warm autumn weather has meant a pub and garden full of customers making the most of the last rays of summer sunshine. 'This is an amazing pub,” said Nick. 'But it's a monster. In five minutes it can go from a few drinkers to a pub and garden full of people enjoying themselves.”

Nick in particular is no stranger to pressure. A trained chef, he worked in London for years, at The Ivy (which he says could be like a factory, churning out hundreds of covers a day), The Caprice, for celebrated British chef Angela Hartnett and at The Yew Tree for the infamous Marco Pierre White, so a Sunday lunchtime of more than 100 covers should be a walk in the park.

He admits that a top London restaurant is very different to The Riverside, 'The view is a great deal more beautiful here,” he says. 'When it all gets a bit hot in the kitchen, all I have to do is look out of the window and I know why we're here.”

Summer agrees with him. 'My dad was in the Navy so I grew up all over the place, though a lot of my education was in Somerset. Coming to Lechlade, and to such a fantastic pub, is amazing. Our friends can't believe we've bagged such a beautiful place. We've had lots of good wishes from the locals and we want to make sure they are looked after as well as the hundreds of tourists who come here to eat, drink or stay in one of the bed and breakfast rooms, throughout the year.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Nick and Summer are the perfect couple for The Riverside. Young, energetic and they're very well qualified, practically and technically, to run one of our biggest and busiest pubs. And with a name like ‘Summer', how could we refuse. It's always going to be Summer in Lechlade.”


Hoppy days for Arkell’s Brewery and Townend Farm

With the 2013 hop harvest well underway; Head Brewer of Swindon-based Arkell’s Brewery, Alex Arkell visited Herefordshire-based hop growers Mark and Lesley Andrews of Townend Farm, Ledbury.

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Alex Arkell and Andrew Whalley of Charles Faram Hop Merchants check out the Cascade hops


Along with Andrew Whalley of hop merchants Charles Faram, Alex was keen to discuss this year's hop harvest with the Andrews as he's been using their Cascade hop, grown last year, in his latest brew which is part of a five month brewing experiment by Arkell's.
'It's Arkell's 170th anniversary this year so we are producing five 4.2% ABV beers using the same malt recipe with English Maris Otter for each, but using 5 carefully selected hop varieties, one in each brew,” explained Alex. 'We are doing this to give drinkers the chance to learn how much hops influence beer flavour and so far the response has been fantastic.”
Cascade is the fourth hop of five Alex has selected, the first three being Admiral, Pilot and Bramling. The final hop ale, being brewed in October, will use Challenger. Arkell's are producing 30 barrels of each hop beer.

'It's important to us that we know where our ingredients come from so I asked our hop merchants to arrange a visit to the Andrews at Townend Farm during hop harvest.” The Andrews have been growing hops at their farm since the 1930s and currently have around 50 acres of hops. Across Britain, there is a total of 2,500 acres put down to hop growing, mainly in Herefordshire and Kent, although Arkell's also buy from a hop farm near Abingdon.
The Cascade hop is particularly interesting to UK beer lovers because it's only been brewed in the UK for around three years, having been developed and grown in the US since 1971 and widely used in their craft beers. The UK equivalent is a more subtle taste, according to Charles Faram hop merchant, Andrew Whalley. 'In fact, English and European hops are said to have a more subtle taste than American hops which tend to be stronger in taste,” he said. Charles Faram sells over 100 varieties of hop to around 1800 customers.
Alex Arkell explains the importance of hops in beer: 'Hops are the spice of beer. Before brewers used hops they would add in a variation of different spices called gruit to compliment the malty sweetness of the brew. The introduction of hops from Holland in the 1300s was mainly due to the discovery of their preservative qualities. By boiling this particular plant with the sugary wort, the beer lasted longer in the cask and larger production and distribution became possible for the small brewers.”

Modern hops have been bred to enhance flavour much more than bitterness and preservation qualities.

He adds: 'Whatever the hop description says, we never really know what the beer will taste like until it's brewed. Our regular beers have a mixture of hop varieties in them, so by using one variety in each of these specials we hope to demonstrate the significance of their individual flavour.”


Craig and Julie step up at Arkell’s

Arkell’s Brewery has appointed Craig Titchener to the new role of Tenanted Director, as it takes a more ‘hands-on’ approach in support of its licensees. Craig was previously managed house director. Julie Moss will take responsibility for the brewery’s managed estate as managed house controller.

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Julie Moss


Craig first began working for Arkell's as a landlord, before moving to the brewery eight years' ago to take over the managed houses. Julie has also been an Arkell's Landlord for over ten years, most recently at The Sun Inn at Coate Water and previously at The White Hart at Whitchurch, Hampshire. Her husband Andy will continue to run The Sun.
Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'In the current economic climate, we need to be more ‘hands-on' support than ever before in support of our landlords. With their years of running our pubs, Craig and Julie have both the respect of our tenants, the credibility and the knowledge to support them better than anyone else.
Craig said: 'I am delighted to take over responsibility for our tenanted pubs. Family breweries are unique in being able to wipe away the managerial layers of so many of the bigger pub companies and support our landlords directly.”
Julie said: 'From my own experience, a strong and regular communication with the brewery really helps landlords to offer the best pub environment and service possible. I am looking forward to using my own experience to support all our pub managers.


REVEALING: THE OLD KENT ROAD OF SWINDON

The Swindon MONOPOLY Big Reveal is now just a roll of the dice away:

Monopoly Board Arkell


And the very first Swindon MONOPOLY landmark to appear on the board – literally – is revealed.

It's old – very old – so being on Old Kent Road is the perfect fit, the board's makers said today. And it's there by huge popular demand !

Arkell's Brewery has grabbed the most talked about location on the new official MONOPOLY board for the town, it will be announced tomorrow (Thursday 22nd August 2013).

Old Kent Road is the very first location on the MONOPOLY board.

The MONOPOLY: Swindon Edition makers Winning Moves UK say they will be keeping the vast majority of the other 21 Swindon MONOPOLY properties close to their Community Chests until the board is launched in October. An exact date will be announced in two to three weeks time.

Old Kent Road is on a brown site and costs sixty MONOPOLY notes. It is sometimes dubbed one of the more challenging locations on the board because it is on the lowest ranking location. It is also arguably the most talked about site – alongside Mayfair, the board's swishiest, swankiest and most expensive property. But many players like the brown set (the other location in the set on the original MONOPOLY board is Whitechapel Road) as it is modest to buy and provides reasonable returns.

Dan Taylor, Head of Custom Games at Winning Moves UK - who are producing the board under official license from MONOPOLY owners Hasbro - says he believes the Brewery has landed a 'massive coup” by appearing on Old Kent Road.

'The Old Kent Road position is one of the most talked about and high profile locations on the MONOPOLY board,” he reveals.

'It's a plum and prestigious spot”.

'We will be keeping the vast majority of the board close to our ‘Community Chests' until we launch the game, but we have decided to announce this site first as it's the very first location on the board.

'More than 2,000 landmarks, streets or roads could potentially have appeared on the board. Realistically around 220 were in the running so many congratulations to the 22 who made the final cut.”

Arkell's Brewery Director George Arkell says: 'The Old Kent Road is a great spot!. We're delighted to be included on the Swindon MONOPOLY Board in our 170th anniversary year.”

Earlier this year when news of the board was announced, the Swindon public were invited to vote as to which town property landmarks should be selected to swap places with the famous London sites and sights.

Mr Taylor adds:

'We would like to formally thank the great Swindon public for all their votes. Without the public's support this unique and official board could not have been produced.”


After voting had closed the makers revealed they had been oversubscribed for all the locations although they did reveal there were less nominations for Old Kent Road than some of the other higher profile locations like Mayfair and Park Lane.

And they asked at the time:

'Is Swindon too POSH for an Old Kent Road equivalent on the new board?” After this votes 'poured” in for the Brewery, added Dan.

Winning Moves UK report that inquiries to buy the new board have come from all the world.


Topping out at The Sun Inn

A topping out ceremony to celebrate completion of the main construction for the new 10-bedroom hotel accommodation at The Sun Inn, Coate Water, Swindon took place today.

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George and Alex Arkell and Andy Moss cemented a keystone (barrel cork), lucky £1 coin and the top of a bottle of Wiltshire Ale under the roofing tiles at the new building.

Arkell's Brewery, which owns the pub, is investing around half a million pounds in the development, which is scheduled to be complete and open for business in October this year.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Construction is going well and The Sun is already receiving enquiries for accommodation bookings. There is certainly a demand for good accommodation in this part of Swindon which is almost next door to the Great Western Hospital, a cherished local museum and Coate Water Country Park.”

Arkell's is using local builders Edmont Joinery on the project. 'Using local developers and suppliers makes sense because we keep more money in the local economy,” added George.

Arkell's Brewery now has around 500 bedrooms across its estate of 100 pubs and hotels across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and seriously considers adding rooms to its pubs where there is the space and potential demand.

George added: 'The more income-generating opportunities a pub has the better. If we consider that good quality accommodation would benefit a pub and would serve the local community then it's sensible to make the investment. The Sun Inn is a busy and thriving pub on the edge of Swindon with plenty going on around it and a very strong local community.”

The Sun landlord, Andy Moss, added: 'When we are open it will give guests the opportunity to stay in the most picturesque part of Swindon.”


History: 
The practice of "topping out" a new building can be traced to the ancient Scandinavian religious practice of placing a tree on the top of a new building to appease the tree-dwelling spirits of their ancestors that had been displaced. The practice migrated to England with Scandinavian invaders and took root there.
The topping out ceremony is similar to ship naming and launching ceremonies and probably of similar antiquity, and was perhaps done to placate the gods and to shield the building from harm. In the case of Arkell's Brewery, a bottle top and cork have been buried in every one of its new build pubs across Swindon, the last being the Tawny Owl at Taw Ridge.


170th lucky number for one Arkell’s visitor

Tickets for the Arkell’s 170th Anniversary Open Day and Beer Festival go on sale today and whoever is lucky enough to land the 170th ticket will also receive a cask of Arkell’s real ale.

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Head Brewer Alex Arkell


'170 years in business has certainly been lucky for us, so we thought we'd make it lucky for one of our visitors too,” said director Nick Arkell, who is masterminding the event.

Tickets are £5 and available by calling into the Kingsdown Brewery, Swindon or calling the brewery direct on 01793 823026. Proceeds go to Arkell's two nominated charities” Prospect Hospice and Swindon Cares.

During the Beer Festival, the brewery has invited 40 fellow family breweries to send their beer, and most of them are as old, or even older Arkell's. In fact, added together the breweries add up to the ripe old age of 5239 years old. From the oldest brewery in Britain, 315-year old Shepherd Neame based in Faversham, Kent to two-year old XT Brewery, at Thame.

'It's incredible to consider just how much brewing expertise we have in this country that has been handed down through the generations,” said Head Brewer Alex Arkell, who was only appointed to take over the role from his predecessor Don Bracher in 2012. 'The thing about family breweries is that we are determined and long-lasting. There have probably been less than a dozen head brewers here since Arkell's began brewing in 1843.”

During the Open Day and Beer Festival, at Kingsdown Brewery, Swindon, visitors can tour one of the very few remaining working Victorian breweries in the world, taste beers from across the UK and be entertained with music and various attractions throughout the day. Tickets are also available to go into the heart of the brewerg itself, on the brewhouse tour. These are £5 but visitors are advised to book in advance as places are limited.”


New labels for Brewery beers

Arkell’s Brewery has commissioned a brand new set of beer labels to make an Arkell’s bottled beer more recognisable to customers.

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Arkell's Brewery has commissioned a brand new set of beer labels to make an Arkell's bottled beer more recognisable to customers.

Previously each beer had a very different label, so Head Brewer Alex Arkell decided that while he wanted to keep each beer's individuality, it would be great to bring them under the Arkell's family of beers umbrella.

'We use the highest possible quality ingredients for our beers, but they all have their individual flavours and characteristics,” he said. 'We hope that the new labels will help customers understand our passion for quality while still recognising that, like a close-knit family, each beer has its own personality and will appeal to different people.”


Bowled over by Ashes Brunch

The Ashes, where England meets Australia over a five-test series, is one of the most prestigious cricket meetings on the sporting calendar, and to commemorate this event this year The Golden Cross Inn at Cirencester will be serving up a special Aussie v Brit breakfast and brunch menu.

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The award-winning Black Jack Street pub is offering breakfast dishes including a traditional 'Full English” against an antipodean meat feast of steak, eggs and beans to accompany its live coverage of the five series event which runs throughout July and August.

Landlord Mark Lindesay expects the English dishes to come out on top. 'We taught the Aussies everything there is to know about cooking and cricket so I am expecting a whitewash on both fronts,” he said.

'We have just enjoyed a great rugby series down under with the British and Irish Lions battling it out with the Australian side and now it is our turn to show what we can do here in England.

'Our chef Justin is renowned for his breakfasts and we'll be open from 10am throughout the Ashes, so come along and show us who's side your on through your food order.”

For more information on events at The Golden Cross Inn please contact 01285 652137 or check out their twitter feed @goldencrossinn or facebook/TheGoldenCrossInn


Golden Award for Golden Cross

Cirencester’s Golden Cross Inn is celebrating after picking up a prestigious regional award for their menu.

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The Golden Cross team led by Chef Justin Ashley and Landlord Mark Lindesay saw off competition from Tetbury's Priory Inn and the Star Bistro in Ullenwood, Cheltenham, to gain the title of 'Best Cotswold Menu” at the Cotswold Life Food and Drink Awards held at Cheltenham Race Course on Monday, July 1st.

'The awards celebrate all that's best in the region and to come out on top in this category means a lot to the whole team,” Chef Justin said after picking up the top foodie gong from Princess Anne at the glittering bash.

'The award is recognition of the hard work we have all put in over the last three years and we should really thank all those who voted for our nomination and, of course, the judges who then deemed us the best of the final three.”

The Golden Cross can be found on Black Jack Street in Cirencester with lunch served every day, while the evening menu is available Monday to Saturday from 6pm to 9:00pm. To try the pub's award-winning menu and book a table at The Golden Cross please call 01285 652137.


Arkell’s Kings of the Road keep the beer flowing this summer

The hot weather has been making thirsty work for Arkells Brewery’s nine draymen who have been working hard to keep the brewery’s pubs and hotels stocked up with real ale and cool drinks.

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The hot weather has been making thirsty work for Arkells Brewery’s nine draymen who have been working hard to keep the brewery’s pubs and hotels stocked up with real ale and cool drinks.


They certainly have enough experience of getting the job done, with an incredible 249 years of brewery service between them.

Longest serving is Trevor Blackford, who's worked as an Arkell's drayman for an incredible 43 years – beating his brother Steve Blackford who's clocked up a mere 33 years behind the wheel. Jim Burdock comes second, having driven the highways and byways of the South and West of England delivering Arkell's ales for 42 years. Joe Brown's done 37 years and Jon Dance 34. Dave Telling and Ron Fisher have done 29 and 25 years respectively, and then there are the very new boys: Simon Paginton and Pete Smith who have only done three years' apiece. However, Simon in particular knows what might be ahead of him, being the third generation to work at the brewery. His dad is Dave Paginton, who is Arkell's Transport Manager – and his grandfather worked on the bottling line.
Arkell's Brewery draymen clock up thousands of miles' driving every year, delivering beer, wine & spirits and soft drinks to the brewery's estate of 100 pubs, as well as to many more free trade customers, and when the weather's as good as it has been recently, demand is higher.

Their day begins at around 6am when they load up their engines and head off. It's a tough job too – the full barrels of beer are heavy, each weighing over 100 lbs, depending on the barrel size.

In the olden days, where a horse and cart delivered beer, draymen were often rewarded for their delivery by a pint of beer at each pub. If they had ten or more drops, it was probably their horses that guided them safely back to the brewery. That's no longer the case now deliveries are made by lorry, and draymen are more likely to be offered a cup of tea and bacon roll.

On their return to the brewery, the drayman's day doesn't finish until mid-afternoon after the empty barrels are offloaded and the lorries parked up safely for the next day's delivery.

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: 'Our draymen are a vital link between the brewery and our pubs. When the sun shines, they know they're in for a busy few days, and when it snows, they are unstoppable in their determination to get through with the beer. They really are the Kings of the Road.”


Arkell’s celebrates 170 years in business in 2013

Arkell’s Brewery is celebrating 170 years of brewing this year by throwing its doors open on Saturday 7 September for an Open Day and Beer Festival at Kingsdown Brewery, Swindon, for visitors to tour one of the very few remaining working Victorian breweries in the world, and taste beers from across the UK.

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Leading up to this, the brewery is currently in the middle of an exciting brewing experiment, producing five 4.2% ABV beers using the same malt recipe with English Maris Otter for each, but using 5 carefully selected hop varieties, one in each brew. Head Brewer Alex Arkell explains: 'We are doing this to give drinkers the chance to learn how much hops influence beer flavour and we'll be explaining the science behind the flavour to those who tour the brewhouse during the beer festival.”

Open Day and Beer Festival Tickets cost £5, including 2 1/2 pint beer voucher and a commemorative glass. A tour around inside Arkell's Brewhouse costs £5, please book in advance if you can, particularly for the brewery tour as these can get booked up very quickly. Proceeds to our charities: Prospect Hospice and Swindon Cares.

Festival tickets and brewhouse tour tickets will be available from 8th August. Call Arkell's Brewery from 8th August on 01793 823026 to book

Arkell's was started by John Arkell at his farm at Stratton, Swindon in 1843 when the town was experiencing its first economic boom with Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Railway workshops opening the same year. The brewery outlived the first age of the train, but it is still run daily by the Arkell family.

No one knows the exact date that ‘Farmer John' who grew his own barley added ‘Brewer John' to his list of professional achievements, but Arkell's will be celebrating the anniversary in September 7th because it's around the time of the Spring barley and hop harvests.

1843 was also year of engineering excellence. The engineer Marc Isambard Brunel (the father of Isambard Kingdom Brunel) saw his Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel under the River Thames opened, and his son Isambard launched the SS Great Britain from Bristol, the first iron hulled, propeller-driven ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. His Great Western Railway works were officially opened that year and Brewer John Arkell was entrepreneurial enough to recognise that men working in the sweltering sheds would welcome beyond practically anything else, a glass of refreshing ale at the end of their shift.

Then, a price of pint of beer was around 2d (cheaper than a loaf of bread at 3d but more expensive than 1d pint of milk).

The Beerhouse Act of 1830 had enabled anyone to brew and sell beer from a public house or their own homes for a £2 licence without bothering the local Justice of the Peace. As a result public houses opened up everywhere, but Arkell's proved a firm favourite in Swindon and in 1861 built a new brewery at Kingsdown (it's present site), extended it again after just six years.

John Arkell died peacefully in 1881 and was succeeded by his sons Thomas and James. The Swindon Advertiser (which began publishing in 1854) reported shops closed and window blinds drawn as the funeral cortege passed on its way to Stratton church. 'The poor had lost a good friend, a plain and simple friend,” reported the paper.

The current chairman, James Arkell, is the founder's great, great grandson, and his sons George (director), Alex (head brewer) and John work alongside him running the business today.

James Arkell said: 'We'll celebrate a great British traditional industry and the continuity that a family business brings to the local economy. We're looking forward to a celebration worthy of 170 years in business.”


The writing’s on the wall for Sarah at Arkell’s Brewery

24-year old Sarah Bromley will be painting Swindon red, and black, blue, yellow and every other colour after being taken on as an apprentice sign writer at Arkell’s Brewery, to become what it thinks is the only female brewery sign writer in the country.

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Sarah, who has A levels in Art, textiles and maths from New College, will be completing a two-year apprenticeship at the brewery, starting in September, but the brewery were so keen to have her that she picked up her paint brushes and started this week. The apprenticeship is actually in painting and decorating, the closest qualification to brewery signwriting, but she'll be learning from the master, Ron Harper, Arkell's signwriter for decades who will be retiring at the end of the year.

Sarah said: 'It's a fabulous opportunity to do something I love, and a pretty unique thing to do too. I love painting and it will be wonderful to learn the traditional craft of signwriting for a family brewery.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'We're thrilled to have Sarah on board, and she'll be a central part of our brewery painting and decorating team. They play an essential role in making Arkell's unique, there are very few other breweries who still employ signwriters, most use modern printing methods for their signs, but like the way we brew beer, we prefer to keep the traditional methods which have, so far, stood the test of time – and make our pubs stand out from the crowd.”


New function room rises at The Baker’s Arms

An almost £100,000 investment by Arkell’s Brewery has delivered a brand new function room for The Baker’s Arms at Upper Stratton.

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Built on the side of the pub, it can cater for up to 40 people and according to Landlady Catherine Kelly, who has run the pub for eight years it's going to be perfect for parties, pub sports and games, and even weddings,

'It's just what the pub needed – and it gives the community around Upper Stratton another place to go. I love this pub, it's full of character – just like an old fashioned back street pub, but we have to move with the times and it's still cosy even with the new extension, especially now we can sit everyone down on a Sunday lunchtime, because before we were turning people away.”

Local community investment is an important part of Arkell's strategy, according Brewery director, George Arkell. 'The Baker's Arms has a lot of locals, from families with children to pensioners, and with 25 years in the licenced trade as landlords, Cath and her partner John Bristow always have time to chat with everyone. We hope that the new function room will help them build the business even further.”

Swindon Mayor Nick Martin will officially open the new function room on Monday July 8th at 12.30pm.

Catherine added: 'I love my pub, and thanks to Arkell's it's bigger and better than ever before.”


Arkell’s new Cider and Ale House has best view in Swindon

Following an extensive refurbishment, Arkell’s pub The Plough on Devizes Road, Old Town is reopening on 28th June with a brand new look, brand new landlords and the best view of beer in Swindon.

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The pub is now an Ale and Cider House and being run by Darren and Vicky Turner who also run Arkell's successful hotel, The King's on Wood Street, Old Town.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'We think we're opening Swindon's first Ale and Cider House for many years and Darren and Vicky will be serving craft ales, beers and perries along with good, honest pub food.

'This is an alternative to the traditional pubs and bars across Swindon and we've added to the pub's appeal by installing a brand new copper bar and, unusually, a window to the cellar where customers can see the barrels underneath their feet.”

Darren and Vicky are delighted to be in charge of the pub alongside The King's.

'Both are very different pubs and bars and there is definitely a desire among local people for different drinking experiences, it also adds to the fun when they are choosing where to go to eat or drink out.”

It might be called The Plough, but this is an urban pub. Fourteen years after Arkell's bought The Plough 145 years ago in 1867, a new railway was built across the pub's back garden and The Plough found itself next door to the old Swindon Town Station, where trains trundled past for the next 80 years until the line was closed. So although its name, ‘The Plough', hints at serving rural drinkers with real ale and cider in bygone days, it's pretty unlikely that ever happened.

George added: 'We've got five pubs called ‘The Plough' in The Arkell's estate of pubs, and none of them are in the countryside – so we might as well use the most urban Plough pub of them all to celebrate rural life through real ale and cider.”


Arkell’s second ‘Hoppy Anniversary’ Ale to fly high in July

With the success of its new beer Admiral Ale under its belt last month (the brew sold out in just two weeks), Arkells is launching its second ‘Hop’ Ale in time for one of the region’s biggest public events this summer.

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Pilot Ale is being brewed to coincide with The Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford on 20 & 21 of July and is the second of five specially hopped ales being brewed by Arkell's this summer in celebration of its 170th anniversary. The brewing team is producing five 4.2% ABV beers using the same malt recipe with English Maris Otter for each, but using 5 carefully selected British hop varieties, one in each brew. The first hop selected for June was Admiral, followed by Pilot for July.

It will be available at all Arkell's managed houses and at the Royal International Air Tattoo where Arkell's supplies beer, wines and spirits and there will certainly be a few pilots drinking Pilot – though after they've safely landed and parked their planes of course.

Head Brewer Alex Arkell explains: 'We are delighted by the interest in our project so far and there has been a great reaction from our customers. Hops are the ‘spice' of beer. Before hops were used in beer, brewers would add in a variation of different spices (called gruit) to compliment the malty sweetness of the brew. The introduction of hops in the 1300s was mainly due to the discovery of their preservative qualities. Boiling hops with the sugary wort allows the beer to last longer in the cask so larger production and distribution became possible for the small brewers.”

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said: 'The Air Tattoo's association with Arkell's stretches back many years and they have always been great supporters.

'It's great to see them enter into the spirit of the event with their limited edition ale. Pilots are always in great demand at airshows and thanks to Arkell's this year's event, on July 20-21, will be no different. I expect that much like the exciting acts from around the world taking part in the flying display next month, Arkells will be doing a few barrel rolls of their own over the weekend!”

Each individual hop variety adds a totally unique character to a beer. The Pilot hop has aromas of lemon and spice, and is known for its wonderful refreshing, clean and crisp taste.

Alex adds: 'Whatever the hop description says, we never really know what the beer will taste like until it's brewed, that's why I love my job. Our regular beers have a mixture of hop varieties in them, so by using one variety in each of these specials we hope to demonstrate the significance of their individual flavour.”

Arkell's is producing 30 barrels of each beer, each named after a different hop. The first hopped beer, Admiral, sold out. Alex is hoping the same for Pilot.


One of the ‘finest’ village pub landlords retires

After almost 30 years as an Arkell’s Brewery landlord Roy Sansum, described by brewery chairman James Arkell as ‘one of the finest village pub landlords’, is retiring, but he’s only planning to move a few hundred yards up the road, to live opposite his former bosses.

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Roy retired from running The George at Kemspford this week, having successfully run the pub for almost eight years. Before that he ran two other Arkell's pubs, in Wroughton and The Carpenter's Arms at South Marston near Highworth, putting in a total of almost 30 years behind an Arkell's bar.

At a leaving party attended by eight Arkell's Board Directors and other friends, Roy said: 'It has been an absolute pleasure working with Arkell's. If anyone asks me about going into the pub business I always tell them that you could not get a better brewery to work for.”

Roy's relationship with The George at Kempsford began when he was just thirteen years' old, after his parents took him there for a drink. He went back with friends when he was seventeen and it's been one of his favourite pubs ever since. 'When I finally got the opportunity to run it, I was delighted. It only took me twenty two years to get there!”

Brewery Chairman James Arkell paid tribute to Roy. 'The George was the first freehold pub Arkell's bought, way back in 1861, and it made sense for us to buy in Kempsford because Arkells have lived here since the 1750s. In his later years, just a few years' ago, my father Peter Arkell, was a regular here as he also lived just down the road. We're delighted that Roy and his wife Viv are moving so close to us and we'll miss him pulling pints behind the bar.

Such is the regard in which Roy is held, there will be a thanksgiving service at Kempsford Church on Saturday, led by the vicar Rev Tim Hastie-Smith.

Regulars at The George will welcome another local Kempsford man behind the bar next week, Kempsford Parish Councillor Jerry Stokes.


Village darts supremo takes over at Wroughton’s Fox & Hounds

John Skittrall, who considers himself the best darts player in Wroughton, has taken over behind the bar at Arkell’s pub The Fox & Hounds.

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Sue and John Skittrall


John moved in this month with wife Sue and their three daughters Jade, 21, Shannen, 19 and Daya, 16 – and cat Lizzie, and he's already polishing his darts ready for the first darts match in the pub.

'I ran The Iron Horse in the village for years before bowing out earlier this year for a bit of R&R before plunging back into the licensed trade – and to playing darts! I can't wait to get going again,” he said.

John was born and bred in Wroughton and knows the village, and the Fox and Hounds, inside out because he and Sue did a lot of their courting there. 'Then it was the best pub in the village and it's got great potential to be so again. We're a family, and we welcome families, but we're open to all – especially if they can play darts well.”

John will also be hosting quiz and poker evenings too, and live music is on the agenda once they've settled in.

Brewery director George Arkell is delighted that the pub is in the safe hands of John and Sue. 'They're a great couple who know the pub, the village and the trade. What more can you ask from a landlord – except to challenge the locals to a game of darts of course, but I hope he'll let them win occasionally.”


Is this the best job in Swindon?

Arkell’s Vintners has recruited a new manager for its wines and spirits department, only the third person to hold the position in 51 years.

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Richard Bailey and Nick Arkell


Richard Bailey, who is the seventh generation of his family to work in the licensed trade, moved from his previous role as head of catering at Stanton House Hotel.

Arkell's Vintners was established in 1962 as a part of Arkell's Brewery and over the last fifty years it has become a leading private supplier of wines across Wiltshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Arkell's Sales Director, Nick Arkell, said: 'We are delighted to welcome Richard to the team. He brings with him extensive knowledge and enthusiasm which will be of enormous benefit to our customers.”

Richard added: 'I have been trading with Arkell's for twenty years and know the business very well, so when this role became vacant it was a welcome and rare opportunity to work within an old and established family business.”

Richard is also no stranger to running pubs, having run The Horseshoe Inn at Minal and The Crown at Marlborough, which he bought and completely refurbished before selling a few years' later. He has also worked as Catering Manager for the National Trust at Avebury.

Richard added: 'There is a growing interest not only in wine varieties but also in spirits which we are responding to. I don't think there is any greater pleasure in life than to help our customers select the best to buy. I really do think I have almost the best job in Swindon.”


An Admiral way to wish Arkell’s a 170th Hoppy Anniversary

Over 5 months this summer Arkell’s is embarking on an exciting brewing experiment.


The brewing team will be producing five 4.2% ABV beers using the same malt recipe with English Maris Otter for each, but using 5 carefully selected hop varieties, one in each brew. The first hop selected to kick of a ‘hoppy' summer is Admiral.

Head Brewer Alex Arkell explains: 'We are doing this to give drinkers the chance to learn how much hops influence beer flavour. Hops are the spice of beer. Before brewers used hops they would add in a variation of different spices called gruit to compliment the malty sweetness of the brew. The introduction of hops from Holland in the 1300s was mainly due to the discovery of their preservative qualities. By boiling this particular plant with the sugary wort, the beer lasted longer in the cask and larger production and distribution became possible for the small brewers.”

Each variety adds a totally unique character to a beer. Modern hops have been bred to enhance flavour much more than bitterness and preservation qualities. Alex has selected the Admiral hop for the first Hop Beer, which is said to have an orangey and citrus taste to it.

He adds: 'Whatever the hop description says, we never really know what the beer will taste like until it's brewed, that's why I love my job. Our regular beers have a mixture of hop varieties in them, so by using one variety in each of these specials we hope to demonstrate the significance of their individual flavour.”

Hops add bitterness to beers and allowing early brewers to brew lower alcoholic beers, as the alcohol's preservative quality was now not so essential, costing them less money to produce. So hops became an important ingredient in all beers.

Arkell's will be producing 30 barrels of each beer, each named after a different hop.


The Apprentice's Nick Hewer visited the Brewery

Following the 8 May edition of the BBC Apprentice programme showing the hapless 2013 crop of apprentices trying to brew a fruit beer, Nick Hewer of The Apprentice came to see how it should be done at Arkell's. Luckily Arkell's is setting an example of how it SHOULD be done with Cherry Black (now on sale).

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Nick, who comes from Swindon, used to design some of the Arkell's advertisements. When we discovered of his old designs we invited him back to the brewery.

Nick brought Robert Humphreys, Hon Sec of the All-Party Parlimentary Beer Group, along with him. Robert also grew up in Swindon and The All-Party Parlimentary Beer Group promotes "the wholesomeness and enjoyment of beer and the unique role of the pub in UK society".
We'll drink to that - but perhaps not with one of the Apprentices's beers!


Landlord rolls out the barrels

The new landlord at The Rose and Crown at Ashbury has snapped up a bit of local history after having discovered and bought three original wooden Arkell’s Brewery barrels at a local auction.

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Gavin Ingram, pub dog Bruno and the Arkell's Barrels.


Gavin Ingram, who took over as landlord of The Rose & Crown in March is delighted with the purchase, which cost him £120 and which he thinks will become a pub talking point.

Traditionally, beer barrels were made by a cooper out of wood and bound by metal hoops. The Arkell's cooper would have made these barrels, which are probably over sixty year's old, over his fire which is still in existence at the brewery.

The barrels are just one of a number of additions to the Rose and Crown since Gavin took over. The pub has undergone a refreshing and sympathetic refurbishment that has opened up the interior providing dining and bar areas and a dedicated games room, with table tennis and pool table. Outside the garden has been enlarged increased. 'These changes seem to be a real hit with local families and we are looking forward to a busy summer,” said Gavin.

This is his first pub, but Gavin is no stranger to the industry having worked for a number of high profile catering companies and restaurants throughout his career. Alongside running The Rose and Crown he is also runing Bite Events, which supplies tableware for outside catering events.

'It's the perfect combination of businesses, and I love running the pub,” he said. 'We've had a lot of support from the village which we appreciate enormously.”

While he was surprised to see the brewery barrels pop up at auction, brewery director George Arkell won't be seeking their return. 'Gavin's got a great eye for detail and they look great in the bar.”


Longest standing landlord pulls his last pint

Derek Rowland, who has been a landlord for 33 years and an Arkell’s landlord for nearly 30 of those, has pulled his last pint having done time as landlord of practically every Stratton pub in Swindon.

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'I've done nearly all of them,” he said at his leaving party. 'I started as a relief manager at the Kingsdown and went to the Steam Train (now The Manor at Cheney Manor) for ten years. Then I did another ten years at The Bakers at Stratton, moved up the road to The Moonrakers, then onto the White Hart for six years before finishing off my career at The New Inn.”

Derek moved to Swindon from London to work at Pressed Steel but had to find another career after being injured at work and after recovering he moved into the licensed trade.

'The only two Stratton pubs I haven't run are The Rat Trap and The Crown, but now I've decided that enough is enough and I'd like to do a bit more fishing.”

However, Derek doesn't want to completely shake off his links with the brewery and intends to stay and play in the Arkell's Darts League, along with his wife Tina, an accomplished darts player in her own right.

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: 'Derek is one of our longest serving landlords, and we're very sorry to see him go, but we also recognise the huge contribution he's put into all the pubs he's run. We wish him and Tina a very happy and busy retirement .. and hope he catches a lot of fish."


Beer with a cherry on the top

Arkell’s Brewery will be launching its latest beer, Cherry Black, in time for the May Bank Holiday.

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Alex Arkell and Cherry Black (or should it be Cheery Black!)


A dark, easy drinking beer with a fruity, chocolaty base Cherry Black (3.6% ABV) has light coffee notes from the use of Crystal and brown malts.
Head Brewer at the Wiltshire Brewery, Alex Arkell, says that it's the first time he's used cherries in a beer. 'We did some experimenting but it really helps to highlight the fruity side of this smooth mild ale – which is perfect for the early Summer season. I've also added some golden oats to enhance the body of the beer and create a subtle nutty difference.”
Mild ales are generally known for their low level of hops. The beer originated in Britain in the 17th century, but modern mild ales are often darker coloured, as the name Cherry Black suggests.
Cherry Black will be in all Arkell's managed houses and across the Arkell's estate from the end of April.


A room at the Sun Inn a reality this September

Work has started on the new 10-bedroom hotel accommodation at The Sun Inn, Coate Water. Arkell’s Brewery, which owns the pub, will be investing around £half a million in the development, which is scheduled to be complete and open for business by October this year.

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Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'We are delighted to finally be able to start this development and there is certainly a demand for good accommodation in this part of Swindon which almost next door to the Great Western Hospital, a cherished local museum and Coate Water Country Park.”

The Sun landlady, Julie Moss, added: 'When we are open it will give guests the opportunity to stay in the most picturesque part of Swindon.”

Arkell's is using local builders Edmont Joinery on the project. 'Using local developers and suppliers makes sense because we keep more money in the local economy,” added George.

Arkell's Brewery now has around 500 bedrooms across its estate of 100 pubs and hotels across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and seriously considers adding rooms to its pubs where there is the space and potential demand.

George added: 'The more income-generating opportunities a pub has the better. If we consider that good quality accommodation would be of benefit to a pub and would serve the local community then it's sensible to make the investment. The Sun Inn is a busy and thriving pub on the edge of Swindon with plenty going on around it and a very strong local community. It also sits in a large plot with plenty of parking and a new children's playground. It's a perfect place for people and we look forward to watching the new building rise from the ground over the summer months. Perhaps we should call it The Rising Sun.”


An Angel for Arkell’s in Wootton Bassett

Arkell’s Brewery is delighted to announce that it has bought The Angel Hotel in Royal Wootton Bassett, it’s first hotel in the town. The brewery paid the going market rate for the hotel.

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Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: 'We are thrilled to have purchased this lovely hotel which was previously privately owned and where the former owner has done a great job on a sympathetic and elegant refurbishment.”

The new addition fits in with Arkell's strategy of continual investment in pubs and markets towns that have a thriving community around them. The Angel, a Grade II listed building, has 18 rooms and a function/meeting room that can accommodate up to 80 people, along with a smaller function room.

'Over the 170 years' since Arkell's first began brewing and buying pubs, we've continually added to and adapted our estate of pubs to fit with the requirements of our customers and of the prevailing economy,” said James. 'As costs rise for small businesses, a small hotel has more income-generating opportunities than some pubs, though we continue to invest in those where there is a vibrant and supportive local community.”

Between them, Arkell's estate of 100 pubs and hotels now have nearly 500 bedrooms between them, from Chipping Norton in the north of the region down to Whitchurch in Hampshire in the South, and from Malmesbury in the west to Winkfield, near Ascot, in Berkshire in the east.

Such a substantial investment also confirms Arkell's confidence in the pretty town of Wootton Bassett, now renamed Royal Wootton Bassett and which, until 2011, was regularly in the national headlines. RAF Lyneham, just to the south will have major investment in the future and Swindon is still thriving to the north.

'We believe in Royal Wootton Bassett,” said James Arkell. 'It's got a big heart and a thriving community. At The Angel Hotel Duncan and all his staff will be staying and it's very much ‘business as usual'.”


Arkell’s offers taste of new career as a tenant

It's a serious business, running a pub, but visitors to Arkell’s Brewery 2013 Tenant Recruitment day still had time to taste some Arkell’s Real Ale and chat away to brewery staff.

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Arkell's Recruitment Team


This was the third year that Wiltshire brewer Arkell's has invited those interested in investing in and running a pub to come and find out a bit more about what really goes on behind the bar.

Brewery director George Arkell, said: 'This is always a great opportunity for people who don't know about the business but quite like the idea of running a pub to come and chat to us informally to find out whether they would like to take the idea further. An increasing number of people want to own and run their own business business but haven't yet quite had the courage to take their first steps, running an Arkell's pub is the ideal way to begin, with the back-up and experience of a 170 year old brewery behind them.

As a result of the day, almost fifty people went away with plenty to think about and Arkell's has been able to add to its list of potential new tenants when any pub tenancies become available.

Arkell's has just over 100 pubs, many with landlords who have been there for years. 'Though we don't have many vacancies, because our landlords do tend to stay it's important for each pub's customers that we match the right landlord with the right pub,” said George.

'We were delighted to meet so many interesting people yesterday and I sincerely hope that it won't be too long before we can match them up with the Arkell's pub they want the most.”


Laughter on the menu at Golden Cross

The last thing Golden Cross head chef Justin Ashley wants to hear from a customer is that his food is “funny” but he’ll make allowances for the rest of March as the pub kitchen has joined up with the national Menu Relief project to raise money for good causes both at home and abroad, part of the BBC’s bi-annual fundraiser Comic Relief.

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Proceeds from dishes such as their ‘side-splitting' mixed grill, 'fun-guys” pan-fried mushrooms and 'lemon silly-bub” dessert will go to the charity starting from Monday 11th to Saturday 30th of March.

'It is a charity we can all get behind and it's all in good fun,” explained Justin. 'Comic Relief is celebrating 25 years this year so we should all be doing something to help. Cooking is not always a serious business.”


Beer and Chocolate – a perfect combination

It really is a tough job but someone’s got to do it.

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Julie Moss and Alex Arkell


And last week it was Head Brewer Alex Arkell and landlady Julie Moss who decided to spend a morning matching Arkell's beers with fair trade chocolate.

Surprisingly beer and chocolate go well together. Malt beer is naturally very sweet and doesn't taste good without the balancing bitterness of hops. Chocolate is based on bitter cocoa balanced by sugar. The perfect taste in both cases lies in the balance between bitter and sweet.

So what was the result? After two hours and a lot of munching and swigging, Julie and Alex decided on the following:

Arkell's Moonlight (4.5% ABV)) was matched with a dark chocolate with smoky toasted pine nuts. Alex said: 'The Celia hop used in Moonlight is citrusy and goes really well with the pine nuts.”

Arkell's Bee's Organic (4% ABV) is perfect with a milk chocolate, which contained caramel with a hint of salt. 'This was really moorish,” said Alex. 'The milk chocolate goes really well with the sweetness of the honey we use in the beer.”

Kingdown, Arkell's strongest beer at 5% ABV needed a chocolate with real personality to match it. Alex and Julie chose dark chocolate with cherry and cinnamon with a hint of spice. 'Kingsdown is a sweet beer with a really strong undertone of fruit – it was the perfect match,” added Alex.

At the end of the session Julie said: 'I could have done that all day.” Sadly, they didn't have any chocolate left.


A pint of beer and tin of beans Landlord!

When Liddington village store closed six years’ ago, residents were left with a three-mile round trip to Wanborough to pick up a paper and a pint of milk. Now landlords Vince and Donna Jones at The Village Inn at Liddington have come to the rescue by opening up a grocery store in the corner of the pub.

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'A few months' ago we started offering villagers the opportunity to pre-order as many wanted to take advantage of local suppliers which they saw delivering daily to the pub,” said Vince. 'We were very happy as it means more custom for our butchers from Lambourne, egg suppliers from Purton and other local fruit and vegetable suppliers.”

The trial went so well that the couple have now opened the shop, which sells essential supplies, including fresh bread dairy products, meat and daily newspapers.

'It's going very well,” said Vince, 'and because we're opening the shop at 8am we decided to offer breakfast too, which is surprisingly popular in a village with only around 200 residents.”

The Village Inn is owned by Arkell's Brewery and director George Arkell praised the couple on their business expansion. 'Vince and Donna are responding to the needs of the villagers. Opening a small shop is also a great way to encourage new people into the pub so as well as offering a local service, it's encouraging pub custom too. Ultimately it's all about serving the local community, whether with a pint of beer from over the bar or a pint of milk from the shop fridge.”


Cirencester pub is Bee’s Knee’s for new family

One of Cirencester’s most popular local pubs has new landlords. Regulars at The Bee’s Knee’s on Watermoor Road, owned by Arkell’s, welcomed Tyron Benjafield, Kelly Fletcher and their 10-month old baby Bailey last week.

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This is Tyron and Kelly's first time in charge of their own pub, although Tyron has plenty of experience, having been assistant manager at one of Arkell's biggest pubs, The Tawny Owl in Swindon, for the last three years. Before that he was a robot engineer for Swindon's Honda.

'We love the Bee's Knees, its got a proper set of regulars and feels a lot like a country pub,” said Tyron.

The pub's regulars include Stratton football team and a number of sports team, including darts and cribbage who have made the pub their base for many years.

The locals have certainly gone out of their way to make the new couple feel at home. 'Arkell's are installing new cooking appliances in the kitchen and until they're installed we can't cook – so we've even had customers bringing us food and even making us pies to eat, we're so grateful.”

The kitchen should be finished within the next two weeks and Kelly and Tyron will be serving pub food again.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'We're delighted to welcome Tyron and Kelly to The Bee's Knee's. It's a proper traditional pub with a really strong community around it where there is always a lot going on.”


Suits you sir

The Golden Cross Inn is claiming to be one of the Cotswold's most stylish pubs after calling in Cirencester tailor Barrington Ayre to give staff a wardrobe make over.


The Arkell's pub, on Cirencester's Black Jack Street, has recently had its back room refurbished and to coincide with this landlord Mark Lindesay has turned to the towns tailor to the stars for their new uniform.

'Appearance is important in this trade,” explained Mark. 'We wanted to use some one local to support local trade and Tom Wharton (Barrington Ayre) produces some great clothes.”

Mark will be hosting a ‘tipple with a tailor' evening in March in conjunction with Barrington Ayre where visitors to the pub can get properly measured with the option to order and purchase bespoke clothing from Barrington Ayre. Tom, who makes clothes for Robbie Savage, Anton Du Beke and other celebrities, hosted a similar event at The Bathurst Arms in North Cerney, an event he enjoyed greatly. 'So many people are now turning to old fashioned tailoring,” he said.

Tipple with a Tailor will be held on Friday the 22nd of March. A light finger buffet will be available for the event that will take place between 6-8pm. For more information please contact The Golden Cross Inn on 01285 652137 or call Barrington Ayre on 01285 689431.


SunBeat: Swindon’s first music festival of 2013

The Sun at Coate Water has teamed up with a local music promoter and the charity Swindon Carers Centre to launch SunBeat, a brand new one-day acoustic music festival for Swindon to be held at the pub on Sunday, 26th May from 12 noon to 11pm.


Confirmed headline acts for Swindon's first music festival of the year include gifted singer-songwriter Louise Latham who released her debut album, ‘Reclaimed', to great acclaim last year, blues/roots singer Jim Blair and the 1950s blues/ rockabilly act Josie and the Outlaw along with a further 17 acts.

The Arkell's pub landlords Andy and Julie Moss hope the festival will become an annual family event. 'This is a fantastic opportunity to open up our large pub garden to families from across Swindon in support of a very good cause and to offer the local community a great day out,” said Julie.

Alongside the music there will be a lot else going on, from holistic therapy and Quaser Laser Tag to a Vintage Kissing Booth and Henna tattooist. The Sun's childrens safe play area will be open, and of course the pub will be open all day for food and drink, along with an all-day barbeque.

Local music promoter Melanie Stanbury, who is also Chair of Community Fundraising at Swindon Carers Centre, is organising the event with Julie and Andy. She said: 'This is the second year we have done a music festival for Swindon Carers Centre and I'm delighted that we have been invited to use The Sun at Coate Water as our venue this year. It's the ideal location.”

Melanie explains the importance of the charity. 'Swindon Carers Centre provides help and support to over 15,000 carers across Swindon. We are part of The Carers Trust and provide a variety of services from funding holidays for carers and their families, benefits advice, training and all-round support for this often overlooked sector within our community and workforce.”

With the amount of support needed across Swindon growing and local Council funding dropping, Swindon Carers Centre has a difficult job to make up the shortfall and Melanie hopes that the SunBeat Festival will not only raise awareness of the charity but much-needed funds too.

'We will be charging a donation fee of just £3 per adult, children under 14 go free and all entrance money will go directly to Swindon Carers Centre. We will also be raising money on the attractions throughout the day. I am confident this major fundraiser will become an annual event, generating much needed funds and awareness for us. I am very proud of the relationship which has developed between Andy, Julie and our charity; it is encouraging to be involved with a local business that is so proactive and determined to support this truly local charity”.


Taste a new career as an Arkell's tenant

Wiltshire-based family brewer Arkell’s will throw open its doors for the third year running on Thursday 14 March from 1pm-8pm when it encourages people wanting their own business to take their first steps to running a pub.


The annual Landlord Recruitment Day at Arkell's Brewery, Kingsdown in Swindon now regularly attracts people from all over the country who like the idea of running their own business, but want the reassurance of doing so under the umbrella of a professional family brewery which has been in business for 170 years.

Brewery director George Arkell, said: 'For those who have the capability and determination to run their own business but haven't yet quite had the courage to take their first steps, running an Arkell's pub is the ideal way to begin. They might be running their own business, but Arkell's is there as a backstop for advice.”

'Practically all pubs have multiple income-generating opportunities and ours are no exception,” explained George. 'Now a publican can sell beer, food – including take-away, host events and offer overnight accommodation too. Some of our pubs even have hard standing for caravans.”

Chris Manners, landlord of two Arkell's pubs, said: "Arkell's give us regular support, but ultimately it's our business, we've got control and that's the way we like it.”

It takes a certain sort of person to be a publican, according to George. 'Stepping into a new business is always a challenge, but those who do and enjoy it fits them can quickly take great strides. Many of our landlords have been with us for decades.”

For more information on the Arkell's Landlord Information Day contact the brewery on 012793 823026 or visit www.arkells.com.


Scottish delicacy makes Cirencester debut

The foodie-horror and calorie laden deep-fried Mars bar is to be added to the menu of a top dining pub in Cirencester.


The Golden Cross Inn of Black Jack Street has gained a reputation for great food over the years, but despite their enviable reputation the pub's chefs will be adding this dubious delicacy to a special menu to celebrate the 16th Century poet Robbie Burns on Burns' Night this Friday evening.

The deep fried chocolate bar originated at chip shops in Scotland in the 1990's and will be joined on the set menu by traditional Scottish dishes such as Cullen Skink soup and of course Haggis served with ‘neeps n' tatties'. The pub has also booked a piper to play on the night along with the traditional address of the haggis by Scotland's famous son.

'We thought it might be a bit of fun,” explained Golden Cross Landlord Mark Lindesay. 'People both north and south of the border laugh about the deep-fried Mars bar, but I'm sure our head chef Justin can turn it into something that will actually be quite enjoyable.”


Stop by and buy one

When Tadpole Bridge at Blunsdon Railway near Swindon reopening on the 1st of February, after a seven-month closure, one pub landlord and landlady will be dancing for joy.

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Jackie Pritchett encouraging drivers to Stop by and buy a pint


Jason and Jackie Pritchett have run The Bell at Purton Stoke for five years and are hoping that North Swindon will once again take to its cars and come and visit as it's less than four miles away.

'We've missed some customers as it was a long detour to get to us. Now the bridge will soon be open again and we can't wait to welcome them back.” Said Jackie.

These customers might see a few changes to their liking. Arkell's Brewery, which owns the pub, has recently added a new skittle alley, which Jackie says is a huge success. 'We've got our own pub skittles team, and a lot of other teams including the VWH Hunt that base themselves here. Skittles nights have a great atmosphere.”

Arkell's has also made use of the field behind the pub and The Bell at Purton Stoke now has hard standing for caravans and plenty of space for caravan rallies.

'These days, village pubs have to work hard to attract customers, so when Tadpole Bridge closed we knew it could affect us,” explained Jackie. 'Luckily we have a loyal group of customers from Purton Stoke, Cricklade, Purton and Cirencester, but we sometimes want to stand outside the pub and call out 'Stop by and buy a pint” because I know when they do, they'll be back again and again.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: ‘”The reopening of Tadpole Bridge should really benefit the pub especially as Jason and Jackie are fantastic landlords who've made The Bell a wonderful, warm and welcoming place to visit.”


Heard the one about the Welshman, the South African and the English?

A Welshman and his South African wife have taken over at the very English pub The Rose and Crown at Lea near Malmesbury, and the couple have been bowled over by the way they’ve been welcomed by the villagers.

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Katherine and Wayne Jones celebrate their new pub


This is the first pub tenancy for Wayne and Katherine Jones who moved up from Wales a few months ago and have been hunting for their perfect pub since then.

'We were delighted to find The Rose and Crown which ticks all the boxes,” said Katherine. 'It's in pretty village, it's got a skittle alley, function room, garden and car parking – lots of opportunities for people to use us, and with so strong a welcome from the local community we're off to a flying start. We got some weddings, birthdays and even business meetings booked in our function room for the year.”

Wayne has a few royal credentials up his sleeve to impress his customers. A chef by training he's cooked for the Queen and for The Prince of Wales.

'I was a chef in the British Army and had the honour of cooking for Her Majesty,” he said. 'Then, when I came out of the army I was a chef at UWIST (The University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology) and prepared a meal when Prince Charles came to visit. You never know, he doesn't live so far away from here so perhaps we'll see him in The Rose & Crown.”

Brewery Director, George Arkell, said: 'It's always a good sign if the locals like the look of their landlords and Wayne and Katherine have so much enthusiasm that we think they're the pub's Crowning glory.”


Four Weddings and a Funeral? We did much better!

It wasn’t Four Weddings and a Funeral at The Moonrakers at Stratton, Swindon last year – more like 30 weddings and 72 funerals, according to landlady Bev Neal who runs this iconic Swindon pub with her husband Pete.

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The fabulous Moonrakers' function room - dressed for a party


'If we did 30 weddings last year, and we've got a lot booked already for 2013, then I reckon marriage is on the rise in Swindon – or at least around here. You're not going to find Hugh Grant in the pub, but our customers are certainly making the most of the space to get together with friends and family, ” she said.

Now Bev and Pete are expecting a rush of christening party bookings for their large Crossways Suite function room refurbished by the pub owner Arkell's Brewery last year.

'It might all be doom and gloom in the economy, but people around this area love an excuse to celebrate, and we're really lucky that they like doing it here,” she added.

Brewery director George Arkell says he's delighted that local people are using such a big venue on their doorstep.

'Bev is a perfectionist and makes the function room, which can hold up to 250, look fantastic.” He said.

The pub was built by Arkell's in 1931 to serve the new and growing suburban area of Gorse Hill. Until 1953 it was known as The Crossways Club, when it changed its name to The Moonrakers after receiving a full license. It was, for years, reckoned to be the largest pub in Wiltshire and may well be still, according to Bev. 'It's a big pub to fill, but luckily we've got a big band of customers to go in it,” she said.


Ball and Chain wedding ale for Alex and Alice

27-year old head brewer Alex Arkell has been keeping himself busy in the run up to his wedding later this month to long-time sweetheart Alice Braithwaite.

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Alex and Alice celebrating their upcoming wedding


While Alice is kept frantically busy organising the wedding, which is taking place at her family home in Northumberland on 26 January, alongside running her successful Lechlade teashop, which opened last year, her groom Alex has been creating the perfect celebratory beer for the occasion, which he's named (with Alice's approval) Ball and Chain Ale.

'It's been a lot of fun creating a beer to mark the most important day of our lives,” said Alex.

'I decided to brew a completely original recipe for Ball and Chain, using four different varieties of malt, the main ingredient in beer, to produce a distinct grist (milled malt) as its foundation with Celeia, Willamette and Columbus hop varieties added at different points through the brewing process to give a rounded, well balanced floral finish to the beer which has a hearty ABV of 5%.”


Alex says that the ingredients of his traditional ale are the same as that of a successful marriage. 'Beer is brewed from malt, hops, water and yeast.
Most malts are made from barley, much of it good English barley and it's the base of any real ale. Hops are the female flowers used primarily for flavouring and stability. The yeast is used for fermentation. Marry them together and there you have it: Malt and hops for content, stability and flavouring and yeast to rise to the occasion.

'I'm hoping that Ball and Chain will become fundamental to a truly contented married life for us both.”


Would you Adam and Eve it? 2 million pints, not out

80-year old Dot Gasson, probably Britain’s oldest working landlady, has finally decided to call last orders on a career spanning almost sixty years and well over two million pints pulled.

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Diminutive Dot, who is barely 5' tall, has presided over the bar at the Adam and Eve, Townsend Street, Cheltenham, for 35 years. She began working at the pub in 1977, the year of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, taking over as licensee a year later. 1977 was the also the year that Red Rum won his record third Grand National, Star Wars was released at the Cinema … and Dot married husband Brian.

The Adam and Eve is the local for many postal workers at the main Cheltenham sorting office, just around the corner and this Friday evening (14th December) many of them will be bringing a large celebration cake to the pub to wishing Dot and Brian a First Class retirement.

Dot was born at Beckford, Gloucestershire in 1932 and took over her first pub, The White Lion, in Winchcombe in 1958. 'Back then it was a proper pub,” she says. 'Now it's a bit posh.”

A great grandmother, she has four children, two sons and a daughter live in Gloucestershire and another daughter lives in Cyprus, but she hasn't had time for a holiday for 20 years.

James Arkell at pub owners Arkell's Brewery, which bought the pub off Whitbread in 1991, presented her with a leaving gift and a bunch of flowers almost bigger than she is. He said: 'When we bought the pub we didn't realise that the jewel in its crown was Dot. Ever since she took over she's been wonderful. The rest of the world has gone around and back but life hasn't changed at The Adam and Eve. Dot has been a wonderful landlady and Arkell's has been truly lucky to have her.”

When asked what her best memories of her life at the pub have been, Dot really can't pick out one above the other. 'It's been a very happy pub,” she said. 'I really can't think of a time when it hasn't been.”

Dot isn't planning on sitting down when she finally pulls her last pint. 'I'd like to do some charity work,” she said.


Lucky 13 for new South Marston landlords

13 might be unlucky for some, but not for the new landlords at The Carpenter’s Arms at South Marston, near Swindon. David and Helen Chilton took over behind the bar last week 13 years after leaving their last Arkell’s pub, The Sally Pussey at Wootton Bassett in 1999.

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'We always thought The Carpenters would be a fantastic pub to move to after building up the Sally Pussey,” said Helen. 'By 1999 we'd done twenty years in the licensed trade and wanted a pub that was just a bit smaller but with enough income-generating opportunities. The Carpenter's Arms has busy and good quality letting rooms alongside the pub so we thought it was ideal.”

Unfortunately for the couple, they missed out by a whisker in 1999 to the previous landlord who has just retired from the licensed trade. Instead they moved to Portugal and spent their time doing up properties. Earlier this year they moved back to the UK and were delighted to discover from pub owners Arkell's that The Carpenters Arms was about to become available.

'We didn't think twice about taking it on and we've come home to our comfort zone,” added Helen.

Arkell's Brewery director, George, said: 'Unfortunately South Marston isn't quite as warm as Portugal, but the locals have certainly given David and Helen a very warm welcome since they moved in and we're delighted to see them back too.”

David and Helen are now planning to build up business at their new pub. 'At the Sally Pussey we introduced one of the first carveries in the area and that initiative is as popular today as it was in 1990,” said David

'Every pub is individual, so we'll listen to what our customers want before making too many decisions. In the meantime, we've lit the fires, made the pub cosy and thrown open our doors to welcome people in.”


Allsorts goes wild on London Road, Newbury

The old Cross Keys pub on London Road, Newbury has been renamed Allsorts and given a startling new makeover by owners Arkell’s and its new landlord Mickey Liquorish, one of Newbury’s most well known landlords who has bee pulling pints in Berkshire for 30 years.

Mickey & Lisa Liquorice, with Lisa

Mickey & Lisa Liquorice, with Lisa's son Archie & George Arkell


The old Cross Keys pub on London Road, Newbury has been renamed Allsorts and given a startling new makeover by owners Arkell's and its new landlord Mickey Liquorish, one of Newbury's most well known landlords who has bee pulling pints in Berkshire for 30 years.

According to Mickey and his wife Lisa, the pub is now the most colourful licensed premises in Newbury, with a massive 1950s juke box taking price of place in the bar.

The pub also hosts the town's first pub ‘Open Kitchen' where diners can watch chef Mickey as he cooks their meals. 'It's great to have a bit of banter over the hotplate,” he says.

According to brewery director, George Arkell, this could be the pub face of the future. 'Mickey hasn't compromised on colour or fit,” he said. 'It's a wonderful breath of fresh air for Newbury, which is having a retail resurgence itself. The décor certainly matches Mickey's personality.”

The pub itself dates back to the 1890s, but George says that's no reason to keep it in the Victorian age. 'Pubs won't survive if they don't adapt to what their customers' want. In some places, people want traditional, in other places, they want colour and personality, everywhere they want quality – and judging by the first couple of weeks of opening, Newbury likes Mickey's version of Allsorts.”

The pub's big jukebox really helps the atmosphere. Lisa explains: 'Last Saturday night one of our customers put on a well-known song. When it got to the chorus, the whole bar joined in– just once, then went back to chatting and eating, just like a flash mob. It was priceless to see.”


The Sun: Arkell’s first Appy Pub

Cask Marque, the national independent association which assesses and awards for pubs serving great quality cask ale, is using Arkell’s pub The Sun at Coate Water as a pilot pub for a brand new scheme to assess the benefits of pub apps for individual pubs.

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Julie Moss with her new 'app'


The Sun is one of just a few pubs across the UK with a brand new app designed and new landlord Julie Moss can't wait to get it going.

'It's all about bringing in business, putting our pub in the new spaces where people are looking for information,” she said. 'Ten years' ago, not everyone was convinced that pubs needed websites – now it's considered rare if a pub doesn't. Apps are not replacements for websites, but an extension of them into the mobile space. I'll be assessing how, if at all, customers old and new will use and benefit from the app. However, apps are only going to work if people know about you – so advertising the traditional way – in local newspapers as well as on Twitter and Facebook will continue to be essential because its local media that encourage new people to try us out. Personally I think we should be everywhere, because you never know when someone might make the decision to visit.”

Brewery director George Arkell, is also very keen to see if the trial works. 'The basics of a popular pub will never change: Good beer, a great welcome, warmth, people to talk to and something nice from the menu. Get that right and you're more than half way there because the best reputation is built by word of mouth. But social media plays an important role in making sure customers know what's going on at their favourite pub, what specials are on, what events are happening, it's a great extension to the pub community.”

Apps are not for every pub, he warns, it's those with busy calendars, events and social events that could really benefit, but it's ultimately up to the customer as to whether they use it.

For Julie and her landlord husband Andy, they are as ‘appy' with an ‘A' board outside the pub and an advertisement in their local paper as a smart new mobile phone application. 'As long as people know we're here, we're friendly and want to make sure they enjoy their visit – we're happy to spread the word through technology or in print.”


It's Christmas (almost)

What's the best way to while away the time on a rather damp Tuesday morning at the Brewery with Noel Ale brewing in the brew house?

We know! Everybody piled out into the yard, put on Christmas hats, and tried to turn themselves into one big Advent Calendar. The photograph album is on our Facebook page.... but here's one of the pics!

Arkell



Sun Rises on new career for Rising Sun landlords

The Rising Sun at Woolhampton has new faces behind the bar – and they’re local.

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Wayne and Lesley Sangwell take over their first ever pub this week – but they've had a bit of practice, having run The Kennet and Avon Canal licensed tearooms at Aldermaston for the last two years.

'We loved running the tearooms but this is an altogether bigger opportunity for us – and we've known the pub for years,” said Wayne.

The Rising Sun, one of Berkshire's oldest pubs with an interesting history of its own (there are stories of highwaymen, and century old graffiti of an upside down hanged man is still in evidence in its cellar), was bought by Swindon-based Arkell's Brewery five years' ago, which saw it as a good investment due to its location on the main A4 road between Newbury and Reading. It was always known as proper pub with a menu full of robust pub food, and that's what Wayne and Lesley plan to continue, but they'll also be opening for breakfast from 9am too. 'We're used to early starts having run a newsagents business in the past, so if we're up, we might as well be open.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'We're delighted to welcome a local couple and their family into the pub – it makes a real difference to the feel of a pub if the landlords come from the local community, and if they're opening for breakfasts, the Sangwell's really will be up with the Rising Sun!”


Arkell’s Noel Ale on Wetherspoon’s Christmas list

Arkell’s famous Noel Ale will be one of the guest ales at Wetherspoons during the 2012 Christmas season, the brewery has revealed.

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Alex and George Arkell get a little help with the Noel Ale brew


Sales Director Nick Arkell, said: 'Our real ales feature regularly at Wetherspoons pubs but this is the first time they have specially selected our Noel Ale, so we are delighted that it will be tried and tasted from Taunton to Tyneside. It also gives us the opportunity to introduce Arkell's beers to a wider customer base than in our heartland across Wiltshire and the south of England.”

For new head brewer, Alex Arkell, it's a big responsibility – but also a pleasure to share one of his favourite brews across the country. 'I've drunk Noel Ale all my life and as far as I'm concerned, it's the best Christmas beer in the world.”

Arkell's has been producing Noel Ale since 1987. It is named in honour of former brewery chairman, Sir Noël Arkell, who was born on Christmas Day 1893 and ran the brewery from the 1920s until 1971 when his son and former World War II flying ace, Peter Arkell, took over. Sir Noël died in 1981.

Noel Ale is, at 5% ABV, a full-bodied beer cleverly disguised by its distinctive light colour. It slides down very easily, leaving drinkers with a warm, tingling feeling – ideal for celebrations and cold winters.”


Goodbye and Hello at The Bull Hotel, Fairford

After more than 30 years, the Dudley family is bowing out of The Bull Hotel at Fairford.

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A fond farewell for the fabulous Dudley family


George Arkell, Brewery Director, says: 'Running a country hotel is a full time job and we want to pay tribute to Judy, Mark and Sherrie Dudley for the huge contribution they have made in The Bull's on-going success.”
Luckily for hotel customers, local couple Ian and Liz Summers are taking over.
'We are delighted to be taking over the management of The Bull Hotel,” says Ian Summers. 'Fairford is such a wonderful and vibrant community and the hotel is situated at the heart of this beautiful market town. I am confident that, with over 25 years experience in the catering business, we can continue to grow The Bull's strong community ties and bring something different to the hotel, food and beverage offer.”
Having worked in some of Europe's finest restaurants and hotels Ian will be using his inside knowledge to create a new food and service offer celebrating local producers and seasonal food. This will be one of a number of changes to the hotel that will be taking place over the coming months.
Ian continues: 'I believe in the importance of giving our chefs access to quality locally sourced ingredients and this will be evident in the menu we create. Our new menus will also fully complement the hand-crafted real ales that we have on offer from Arkell's Brewery.”
The Bull Hotel is part of Swindon-based Arkell's Brewery, which has over 100 pubs in the south west of England. Ian and Liz replace the Dudley family who have been running The Bull for over 20 years.
George Arkell, Brewery Director, says: 'I would like to thank Judy Mark and Sherrie Dudley for all their hard work and appreciate their efforts in making this transition as seamless as possible. We are really pleased to welcome Ian and Liz Summers to The Bull and look forward to the future of this great Cotswold hotel.”
ENDS
About the Bull Hotel, Fairford
Situated in the heart of Fairford's famous market square, The Bull Hotel dates back to around the 15th Century when it was used as a monks' chanting house and became a hotel as early as 1745.
The hotel includes a restaurant that can seat up to 80 people, 22 en-suite bedrooms and two function rooms. The Bull also owns and maintains one and a half miles of private angling bank on the River Coln.
For further information, please contact Ian Summers ian.summers@iqhotels.co.uk or 01285 712535.


New family shines at The Sun, Coate Water

The Sun at Coate Water, one of Swindon’s best known pubs, has new landlords behind the bar - thanks to their children.

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And the experienced landlords Andy and Julie Moss, who have run another Arkell's pub for years, say it's all the fault of their children, Euan and Liberty who wanted to move to a pub with the best children's play area.

Julie said: 'After running The White Hart at Whitchurch in Hampshire for nine years we were ready for a bigger challenge, so when we heard from Arkell's that The Sun at Coate Water in Swindon was becoming available we came up to have a look – without mentioning to the children why we were dropping in.”

Of course, it took seconds for the children to discover the play area, and the big garden, and when they heard it was next to Swindon's Coate Water Country Park, they didn't give their parents a minute's peace until the decision was made.

Andy and Julie are also thrilled. 'It's already a wonderful, busy pub with lots of regular customers,” said Julie. 'We're open all day and now for breakfasts too – in fact we're offering free toast with coffee before 11am.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Andy and Julie are fantastic landlords and we were thrilled that they have taken over at The Sun. In the summer, it's one of our busiest Swindon pubs. In the winter it's cosy and easily accessible, but whatever the weather, there's always a sunny welcome, and we know that Euan and Liberty will be out in the all-weather play area rain or shine.”


Hop Harvest delivers for Arkell’s

Everyone’s heard of food miles, but Arkell’s Brewery has believed in beer miles for years – and at hop harvest time head brewer Alex Arkell drives just eight miles down the road to inspect this year’s hop crop, at Berkshire Hops, Kingston Bagpuize.

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Alex Arkell, Chris Manners of The Rickety Press pub Oxford, and Tim Blanchard of Berkshire Hops inspect this year's crop.


Alex said: 'We've bought our Fuggles and Goldings hops from Tim Blanchard at Berkshire Hops for almost twenty years – it's the only hop farm in Oxfordshire, and it's also the closest hop farm to the brewery. Why travel miles when something so good is on your doorstep?”

Tim Blanchard and his family have been growing hops for almost fifty years, and now his sons James and Edward have joined the family business. The Blanchards grow hops across 50 acres of the farm, the rest of the 1100 acres is mainly arable, with 700 pigs.

'Most hop farms are in Herefordshire and Worcestershire, Kent,” explains Tim. 'Hop farming began here in the 1920s and our family got involved in the 1930s.”
The hop is, according to, Tim an amazing plant. It's got wonderful preservative qualities (one of the reasons brewers put it in beer), and it's a member of the nettle and cannabis families. It also has separate male and female plants and is full of essential oils.

For Alex Arkell, local hops help give Arkell's beer it's distinctive taste and flavour. 'Unlike many of the bigger breweries who buy cheap hops in bulk from abroad, many family breweries such as Arkell's love the fact that our beer is not only brewed in the traditional way but it's also using local ingredients.”

This year's hop harvest is nearly in, thanks to Berkshire Hop's new hop harvesting equipment (purchased after the farm's kilns suffered devastating fire damage in 2010), and Arkell's will be taking delivery of the new hop crop soon.


Jovial Monk gets stuffed after four years

After four years of fasting (as every good monk should), feasting is now firmly back on the menu at The Jovial Monk, at St Andrew’s Ridge. Not only that but one of Swindon’s best known chefs is in charge of the kitchens, having been recruited by the pub’s new landlord, Dave Rogers.

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Elisley Haines, or ‘Ging' to friends and colleagues, has worked across Swindon for years, most recently at The White Hart and before that at The Crown, both at Stratton and for many years at The Tawny Owl at Taw Hill.
Dave explains. 'I took over The Jovial Monk a couple of month's ago and beers sales are good. But to return it to the real community pub it was built by Arkell's to be, we need to offer a great menu, so Ging agreed to come and help get the pub's food offering as good as it can be. After all, there's nothing worse that a thin monk.”
The Jovial Monk is the first pub Dave has run since the Duke of Edinburgh at Gorse Hill in the early 1990s. Since then he's run his own building business, but he's comes from a very Swindon landlord pedigree: his sister Bev and her husband Pete run The Moonrakers.
The pub was built and opened by Arkell's in the year 2000, at the same time that the surrounding housing estate was being built and the brewery ran a competition for the locals to name the pub. The winning name was chosen to celebrate the monks of the old Blunsdon Abbey, the building remains of which are close by.
Dave is determined to build up the pub's trade again, and bringing Executive Chef Ging in is his secret weapon.
'No-one knows what Swindon likes to eat better than Ging,” he said. 'He's lived in the town for decades and he's either eaten or cooked in practically every pub and restaurant it's got.”
Monks traditionally eat simply – bread with seasonal meat and vegetables, and Ging says that there's nothing wrong with that. 'Quality, local ingredients are the basis for good cooking – but it would be a bit boring without lots of flavours, so we'll be breaking with tradition by adding those in.”
Dave is hoping that customers old and new will drink to that, but using the 21st century version of their traditional mead tipple. 'We'll celebrate with Arkell's Wiltshire Gold.”


Multi-award-winning landlords move into The Duke

Antony and Barbara Marshall, who have scooped more than a dozen top pub, innovation and customer service awards, have taken over as landlords at Arkell’s pub The Duke at Hilmarton, between Lyneham and Calne, Wiltshire.

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Antony and Barbara Marshall at The Duke at Hilmarton


Antony, who is a fourth generation landlord, said there is no secret to running a successful pub. 'It's simply about doing the basics very well; great beer, food, a big welcome and locally sourced produce. It's surprising how many landlords forget this. We are fiercely not a gastro pub, but offer good honest English food done exceptionally well.”

The couple moved from a pub on the Wiltshire/Dorset where they took on a short-term tenancy while making their minds up where to settle next with their 8-year old daughter.

'We looked at 40 pubs before we decided on The Duke”, said Antony. 'But we were being offered many more. What attracted me to this one was it's potential and George Arkell at the brewery who believes that we can make The Duke one of the best pubs in the area.”

Brewery director, George Arkell, added: 'Antony and Barbara are naturally talented landlords and The Duke has a lot of unfulfilled potential, with lovely letting rooms, a useful function room and camping facilities too. We're delighted they've moved in and are looking forward to a long relationship with them.”

Since moving in at the beginning of September, Antony and Barbara have enrolled their daughter into Hilmarton primary school and set about refurbishing the function room, which they plan to make available free to the local community for some events.

'The Duke is a great pub,” said Antony. 'But it needs to give more to the local community. It's not my pub, but theirs, and I'm delighted to see how many of them already support it. We'll reward that support and make a home for our family at the same time.”


Richard does a double exit at Arkell’s Brewery

Retiring once is enough for most. At Arkell’s Brewery, one man has done it twice. Former Arkell’s Brewery director Richard Turner, who retired ten years’ ago, returned last year at the age of 76 to help Arkell’s rural pubs and their communities to get to know each other better.

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George, Nick, James and Alex Arkell say goodbye to Richard Turner (centre)


Brewery director, George Arkell, explains: 'Richard's years of local knowledge was invaluable – you just can't ‘buy in' expertise like that, and he was delighted to return and add his weight behind the project.”

Richard planned to stay just three months, but has retired more than 18 months later. 'With rural post offices and village stores closing, the role of the village pub is changing and there are opportunities for these pubs which weren't there before,” said Richard. 'If new initiatives are supported by the local community, they improve a pub's viability and reintroduce local amenities which have been lost. I have been working with a number of local communities and Arkell's landlords, to identify what is and isn't practical and help make viable initiatives happen.”

Arkell's has around 30 pubs in rural areas and over the last 18 months a number have taken over the provision of Post Office services. Richard has also given advice on rural rate relief, the reduction of energy and utility costs and liaised between some pubs and local councils on roadside signage, which can really help boost visitors to rural pubs.

'It's a tough time for rural landlords, but Richard's long years of experience in the business have given many of our landlords some good ideas and real support,” added George.

The brewery directors wished him a happy second retirement yesterday at one of the brewery's most successful rural inns, The Bolingbroke at Hook near Purton.

'When you visit a pub like The Bolingbroke, which Arkell's bought in 2001, you realise the right combination of location, landlord and family brewery support makes a successful business,” added Richard, who is now heading off to a well earned second retirement with his golf clubs firmly in hand.


Arkell’s Hurricane Ale gets kegged

Arkell’s Hurricane Ale, which has proved such a hit with drinkers over the last three years when brewed during the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, is now available chilled in kegs.

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Alex Arkell, Peter Vacher and George Arkell on probably the only remaining airworthy Hurricane which saw service in the second world war.


Head Brewer Alex Arkell, said: 'Hurricane Ale was very popular indeed this summer so we've had a look at our stable of beers to see how we can offer it as a regular brew. Since I arrived as Head Brewer earlier this year I haven't had the opportunity to brew a new kegged ale so we decided this would be a great opportunity to present a popular seasonal ale in a brand new way.”

Arkell's has taken its Hurricane cask ale, with its traditional Maris Otter malt base and the lovely, lemony, spicy hop variety called Pilot and put it into kegs. This means chilling it right down, filtering and adding extra carbon dioxide to give it a little bit of lift off. Kegged ale is popular with many people who love cold beer, rather than the traditional cask ales that form the heart of the Arkell's Brewery.

'Our aim is to brew a variety of tasty beers to satisfy our customers' wide range of tastebuds,” said Alex.

Arkell's kegged Hurricane Ale (4% ABV) is now available at all participating Arkell's pubs.

Story behind the Hurricane Ale:

Often overshadowed by the more modern Spitfire, the Hurricane was the first fighter monoplane to join the Royal Air Force and became the workhorse aeroplane of the Second World War. It is widely acknowledged as the main victor of the Battle of Britain. Peter Arkell, former chairman of Arkell's Brewery who died two years; ago, flew Hurricanes as well as Lysanders and Mustangs during the Second World War.


Cycling Wiltshire Gold

After GB’s record tally of twelve cycling medals – not to mention Bradley Wiggins Tour de Force in the Tour de France, Arkell’s is bringing to every townie’s attention just how close some of its village and rural pubs are. Especially for those using its brand new pocket pub guide

Out and about with Arkell

Arkell's beer powers local cyclist.


For those who want to start gently, try Swindon Town Centre to The Sun at Coate Water. It might not exactly be countryside but it's got the beautiful Coate Water country park right next door. Just three miles.

Feeling a bit stronger? Try Swindon Town Centre to The Village Inn at Liddington at under 5 miles or The Brewer's Arms at Wanborough and The Baker's Arms at Badbury, just 5 and a half miles from the Town Centre.

The Jolly Tar at Hannington is only seven and half miles away.

If you're working your way up to a couple of pints of Arkell's Wiltshire Gold try The Riverside at Lechlade, just 11 miles or (and this is probably for the hardened few) The Volunteer at Great Somerford, almost fifteen miles.
Brewery Director, George Arkell, said: 'Cycling to a pint is a wonderful idea, many of our rural and village pubs are a good deal close than anyone thinks. It's also as healthy and natural as the ingredients in our real ales. Cycling home is the perfect way to keep fit – and you don't need Bradley's sideburns, or Victoria Pemberton or Chris Hoyle's thigh muscles to do it.”


Postman Bill at The Rose and Crown, Ashbury

After over a year of battling by Arkell’s brewery and the landlord of the Rose and Crown at Ashbury, post office services are now available at the pub after the village post office closed over a year ago.

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For Bill Downes, who took over as landlord at the Arkell's pub, it couldn't come too soon: 'It's another good reason for people to come into the pub,” he said.

Brewery chairman James Arkell added: 'With rural post offices and village stores closing, the role of the village pub is changing and there are opportunities for these pubs which weren't there before,” he said. 'If new initiatives are supported by the local community, they could improve a pub's viability and reintroduce local amenities which have been lost. The reintroduction of post office services in the pub is an excellent example of this and we hope that the local community will take full advantage of the service.”

Bill added: 'Pub landlord have to be many things, and I never thought I'd be a post master, but if that's what the village wants, they I'm only too happy to oblige.”


All the fun of the Beer at King’s and Longs

Arkell’s pubs Longs and Bar 20, part of The Kings in Old Town, are joining together on 25 August for their first Beer Festival and Family Day.

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Darren and Vicky outside The King's


Sponsored by Arkell's and supported by CAMRA the event celebrates the Great British Summer over the bank holiday weekend.

Landlord Darren Turner of Bar 20 and The King's, said: 'We've had the Olympics, and the Golden Jubilee, so we thought we'd keep up the mood by having a Beer Festival – and hosting it alongside Long's Bar – together we make a great team.”

More than 15 beers will be available, including six from Arkell's and others from Donnington, Hook Norton and Fullers.

For more information contact Darren Turner at Bar 20 (The King's) on 01793 522156 or Mike Sheridan at Long's Bar on 01793 534519


Porter’s over a million barrels

Arkells has said goodbye to cellar man Lionel Porter after almost forty years at the Wiltshire brewery, and the cleaning and filling of almost a million barrels of real ale.

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Lionel joined Arkell's on 27 June 1966 and spent almost his whole working life at the brewery. For a brief 20 months he worked at the nearby Honda factory, but returned to Arkell's with the brewery delighted to welcome him back.

The job of cellar man is an essential part of brewery life. Cellar men are responsible for one of its key processes: cleaning and sterilizing the casks before refilling them with real ale, and when they're returned from the pubs starting the whole process again.

It's also a job of very early starts. Cellar men typically arrive at 5am or 6am to fill the barrels before they're loaded onto the dray, and after 40 years of being up with the lark, Chairman James Arkell reckons Lionel fully deserves a few lie-ins. 'Cask washing is at the very core of a brewery such as ours,” he said. 'When Lionel joined the brewery we used oak casks, after around 1971 we began using metal or stainless steels casks, but the method is still the same – steam cleaning. Now our team can wash and sterilize up to 200 casks per hour.

Lionel wasn't the first member of the Porter family to work at Arkell's, according to James. 'His father Trevor, was our foreman painter for many years, before retiring in 1997.”

The brewery reckons that over his working life, Lionel could have washed and filled almost a million barrels of beer.


Shiny future for The Rising Sun

One of the most recognisable pubs on the A4 Bath Road between Newbury and Reading has new landlords. Dave and Helen Chilton have taken on The Rising Sun at Woolhampton and are planning to refurbish much of the pub with its owners Arkell’s Brewery.


The couple recently swapped the sunshine of Portugal, where they lived for 13 years, for The Sun at Woolhampton, and are delighted to have a new challenge.

'We spent 13 very happy years in Portugal where we bought and refurbished properties, but the economy isn't great out there so we decided to return home, back to what we do best, which is bringing the best out of a pub.”

Brewery chairman James Arkell, said: 'Dave and Helen were very successful Arkell's licensees for us in Royal Wootton Bassett before they ‘retired' to Portugal so we are thrilled they have returned to take over The Rising Sun.”

Running a pub is all about the location, according to Dave. 'Everything is right about the Rising Sun. It's on a busy road, but has a big garden, big car park and plenty of scope for improvement. Shortly we'll be putting in a new kitchen, opening up and redecorating the bars.” There are hoped-for long-term plans to build bed and breakfast accommodation behind the pub.

'The time to invest is when the economy appears to be in the dumps,” said Dave. 'It will always come back and we'll be there to catch it on the up.”


King-sized endorsement for Old Town Hotel

The King’s in Old Town is celebrating being the only restaurant in Swindon to make it into the annual Les Routiers publication.

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The blue and red Les Routiers sign was first seen in Paris in 1935 and has traditionally identified hotels, restaurants and bars of individual character that offer excellent food, hospitality and value for money.

Head chef Darren Turner, who joined the Swindon hotel last summer and who has now taken over running of the business with his wife Vicky, is thrilled to have received such acknowledgement so early.

'The King's is the probably the oldest hotel in Old Town, Swindon, with 15 rooms which we are refurbishing,” said Darren. 'It's got a lovely big bar, a function room for around 100 people and a busy weekend bar trade. Our ambition with this Les Routiers recognition is to build our local restaurant trade.”

'I love being a chef, and I've worked all over the UK, but to be in charge of such a hotel with such potential alongside my wife Vicky, in our home town is fantastic.

'The King's Hotel is an Old Town landmark,” said Darren. 'For years it was the brewery's flagship hotel and this national acknowledgement of excellence will help us regain that slot.”

STOP PRESS: The Kings is now also serving real ales directly from the cask and has opened its new garden behind the hotel.


Arkell’s delivers Medal Maker for Olympics

Arkell’s has been producing winning beers since 1843 so the Wiltshire brewery isn’t missing the opportunity of a generation to do the same for this year’s London Olympics.

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Look for the Arkell's Medal Maker Pump Clip in our pubs


Arkell's Medal Maker will be available in casks across Arkell's estate of pubs from 23 July for the duration of the Games.

According to Chairman, James Arkell: 'There's no record of us having produced a special ale for either of the 1908 or 1948 ‘Austerity Olympics' Olympics held in London, so this really is a ‘once in a lifetime' opportunity to celebrate the most exciting sporting event in the world.”

Even for those lucky enough to get tickets, with a pint of beer reported to be costing over £7 in the Olympic village, it's also going to be a lot cheaper cheering on Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley or Zara Phillips at a local Arkell's pub.

Head brewer Alex Arkell has come up with what he thinks is a winning combination. The beer gets off the blocks with Styrian Golding hops to give a deep earthy lemon base, picks up speed with Willamette hop producing a spicy floral compliment and Fuggles and Cluster hops for the well-balanced finish well ahead of the competition. The beer weighs in at 3.6% ABV.


Roasting for new landlord at Jovial Monk

The pub hasn’t done food for four years, but when new Jovial Monk landlord Dave Rogers told a few customers he planned to put a big joint of beef in the oven for a Sunday Roast last weekend and suggested they might like to join him, he couldn't believe how many people turned up that weekend - the place was packed.

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Dave Rogers outside The Jovial Monk


Perhaps they knew Dave's been taught to cook a roast by one of the best - Bev Neale who runs The Moonrakers with her husband Pete, and who happens to be his sister – Bev is renowned for her pub roasts.
The Jovial Monk at St Andrew's Ridge, Swindon is the first pub Dave has run since the Duke of Edinburgh at Gorse Hill in the early 1990s. Since then he's run his own building business, but when Pete and Bev took on The Moonrakers last year, and asked him to help out from time to time, he got the buzz back.
'When the Jovial Monk became vacant, it was a great opportunity to step back into the pub business, and the place has been really busy since I took over,” he said. 'In fact, despite being in the middle of St Andrew's Ridge, it feels like a country pub.
'One customer wants to try his hand as a kitchen hand, so despite him being a businessman more used to a suit and tie during the week, we'll give him his own apron this weekend and set him to work prepping the vegetables.”
George Arkell at Arkell's Brewery which owns the pub, said: 'It's wonderful to have Dave back – he's got the perfect personality for a pub and it's not surprising the locals have taken him to their hearts”.
Thanks to huge customer demand, Dave will now be offering Sunday Roasts at The Jovial Monk every weekend from the 8th July, 'I think I might have a riot on my hands if I didn't,” he said. A weekday menu will follow shortly afterwards.


Arkell’s Hurricane Ale blows in for 3rd year

Hurricane Ale will fly into Arkell’s pubs next week in celebration of the International Air Tattoo – the world’s biggest airshow held annually at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire. Hurricane Ale was first brewed in 2009 celebrating former Arkell’s Chairman, Peter Arkell, who flew Hurricanes during the Second World War.

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This year two of Peter's grandsons, brewery directors George and Alex Arkell, celebrated by visiting the only remaining airworthy Hawker Hurricane Mark 1 flown during the Battle of Britain. The plane, with its Merlin III engine, is said to be the most historic fighter aircraft to have survived the war. It almost didn't survive the peace but amazingly, in 2001, it was discovered in India by Peter Vacher who spent six years arranging to bring it back to the UK and a further three having it restored.

Often overshadowed by the more modern Spitfire, the Hurricane was the first fighter monoplane to join the Royal Air Force and became the workhorse aeroplane of the Second World War. It is widely acknowledged as the main victor of the Battle of Britain.

George Arkell said: 'It was a privilege and a total thrill to see this wonderful aircraft lovingly restored outside its hanger in the Oxfordshire countryside. My grandfather, who also flew Lysanders and Mustangs, would have loved to see the aircraft restored and Peter Vacher's story of his discovery and recovery of the Hurricane is inspirational.”

Naturally, Arkell's Hurricane Ale (4% ABV) uses the lemony Pilot hops which, when combined with Maris Otter Malt, give the beer a delicious, well-rounded finish – a bit like a Hurricane coming into land.

The International Air Tattoo is at RAF Fairford from 7-8 July. Peter Vacher has written a book about his story. Called Hurricane R4118 it is published by Grub Street, www.grubstreet.co.uk.

Hurricane Ale will be available at all participating Arkell's pubs from this weekend.


Fox and Hounds is legal for Gavin

He first worked at the pub when he was fourteen years’ old. Now it‘s definitely legal as Gavin McKelvie takes over behind the bar of The Fox and Hounds at Wroughton near Swindon.

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Gavin is one of Swindon's better known licensees, he also runs another Arkell's pub, The GW opposite Swindon Train Station – but The Fox and Hounds is special, as it was where he landed his first pub job.

'I remember it being full of people and real ale – just like it is today,” he said.

He's not joking. Currently the bar has four real ales on the go: Arkell's 2Bs, 3Bs, Witlshire Gold and Moonlight and he's already booked head brewer Alex Arkell for a ‘Meet the Brewer' evening on Thursday 19th July.

'The pub offers food – of course,” adds Gavin. 'But for us it's just as much about the beer. We hope lots of our customers will come along for the Meet the Brewer evening – it's the first one that Alex has done in Wroughton since he took over as head brewer in March. There will be plenty of opportunity to chat about beers, brewing – what ingredients he uses and why, and perhaps even suggest a new brew for Swindon.”

The Fox and Hounds has recently has significant investment thanks to previous landlords Ross and Dawn Morgan who revamped the bar, and began an upgrade of the eight letting rooms behind the pub – which have a fabulous view across the valley.


Kassy rings the right Bells in Fairford

The Eight Bells pub at Fairford has a new licensee. Kassy Harris has taken over behind the bar at the Arkell’s-owned pub after three years running another pub in Cricklade.

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Kassy outside The Eight Bells


Kassy knows Fairford well after many years spent working at a senior finance level for a large company on the edge of the town. She decided to take the plunge and change career a few years' ago.

'It's completely different from my previous business life – but I decided that there's more to life than a desk and computer and it was about time I embraced it. Life as a pub licensee is hard work and long hours but I enjoy it – and my finance experience does come in very useful,” she said.

Kassy is not the only Arkell's licensee to have moved into the industry from a previous role in finance. Mark Turner at The Highwayman near Cirencester worked in the City of London before taking over at this busy pub two years' ago. The sums obviously add up for these two landlords.

Kassy returned to Fairford when she heard that The Eight Bell's tenancy was vacant. 'It was too good an opportunity to miss,” she said. 'I know the pub, I know the town, I know the people and they're all great.”

The Eight Bells is one of Fairford's five pubs – a lot for a small town, but each one has a personality of its own. 'The Eight Bells is the pub where Fairfordians meet,” says Kassy. 'If you want to know what's going on in Fairford, you'll find out at The Eight Bells.”


Arkell’s helps local community celebrate Jubilee

Arkell’s pubs across Wiltshire and Gloucestershire are turning their car parks into Jubilee party venues this weekend as they offer their support to the region’s town and village street parties.

And the brewery is also donating barrels of beer to two of Swindon’s biggest street parties at Queen’s Park and Town Gardens. Queen’s Park particularly holds a special place in Arkell’s heart as it was former brewery chairman, Sir Noel Arkell, who was officially invited to open the park in 1953, a year after Queen Elizabeth became queen.

“Arkell’s loves a good party, and this is a once in a generation opportunity to come together and celebrate probably our best British tradition,” said brewery director, George Arkell.

“There are over 100 Arkell’s pubs across the area, and practically all of them will be contributing in some way to this special weekend,” added George.

In Swindon it will be party time at The Bakers at Stratton and The Tawny Owl. In the surrounding villages, The Baker’s Arms at Badbury, The Rose & Crown at Ashbury, The Bell at Purton Stoke, the White Horse at Woolstone, The Volunteer at Great Somerford and The Rose & Crown at Lea near Malmesbury.

In Berkshire The 3 Horseshoes at Brimpton is rolling out the barrels and in Oxfordshire It’s Ye Olde Red Lion at Chieveley. In Gloucestershire it’s party time at The George at Kempsford, The Victoria at Eastleach and The Tavern at Kemble.

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Alex and George celebrate the Jubilee


And the brewery is also donating barrels of beer to two of Swindon's biggest street parties at Queen's Park and Town Gardens. Queen's Park particularly holds a special place in Arkell's heart as it was former brewery chairman, Sir Noel Arkell, who was officially invited to open the park in 1953, a year after Queen Elizabeth became queen.

'Arkell's loves a good party, and this is a once in a generation opportunity to come together and celebrate probably our best British tradition,” said brewery director, George Arkell.

'There are over 100 Arkell's pubs across the area, and practically all of them will be contributing in some way to this special weekend,” added George.

In Swindon it will be party time at The Bakers at Stratton and The Tawny Owl. In the surrounding villages, The Baker's Arms at Badbury, The Rose & Crown at Ashbury, The Bell at Purton Stoke, the White Horse at Woolstone, The Volunteer at Great Somerford and The Rose & Crown at Lea near Malmesbury.

In Berkshire The 3 Horseshoes at Brimpton is rolling out the barrels and in Oxfordshire It's Ye Olde Red Lion at Chieveley. In Gloucestershire it's party time at The George at Kempsford, The Victoria at Eastleach and The Tavern at Kemble.


New manageress rises to the top at Lansdowne Strand

When June Notman applied for a job as a receptionist at the Lansdowne Strand Hotel, little did she think she’d be the boss ten years’ later.

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June Notman outside the Lansdowne Strand Hotel, Calne


June took over the running of the hotel this month, a beautiful Grade II listed building, and is already presiding over a number of significant improvements, including the complete refurbishment of the hotel's 24 letting rooms and redecoration of its main function room.

The Lansdowne Strand was bought by Wiltshire brewery Arkell's just five years ago. With such an historic building the brewery has had to wait to begin much of its planned rolling refurbishment but was keen to kick start the process as soon as June took over.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'The previous owners of the hotel ran it as a destination hotel, and didn't make a big effort to attract the local community. Since we took over, we've aimed at attracting back the locals alongside visitors from further afield – after all, the Lansdowne Strand Hotel is the most imposing building in the town and should be at its very centre.

'June knows the hotel inside out – both before we bought it and since then, and she's impressed us with her determination to restore it's place within the local community.”

June added: 'It's not just the big things that make a difference – it's the little things too – such as putting tablecloths on the tables and making people feel comfortable and welcome.”

And her ambition to make locals welcome is paying dividends. 'The hotel's been packed out over the last few weekends,” she says. 'Visitors love it because they're getting to know local people and the locals seem to love it because they're back where they belong.”


Arkell’s brews up Jubilee Queen’s Tipple

There will be hundreds of real ales being brewed in celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee this month, but we think there is only one which will be her real Tipple.

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We are brewing Queen's Tipple – so called because of the Tipple Malt that head brewer Alex Arkell is using in the recipe.

Alex has researched carefully and come up with a beer that is truly British – with a nod to our American cousins who love our Royalty almost as much as we do!

Queen's Tipple will also have Maris Otter Malt (the old English variety of Malt which is used in many Arkell's Ales), Sovereign Hops, Cascade Hops (a floral American hop) and Cluster Hop (another American hop, this time of the spicy blackberry variety).

The result will be a light Pale Ale with a well-rounded floral hoppy finish at 4.5% ABV. Perfect for Jubilee parties across the country it will be available from 21 May in cask only.

Alex said: 'It was enormous fun researching the hops and identifying ones that not only had the right names, but also the right tastes to pay tribute to the queen and celebrate this once-in-a-generation Jubilee.

'We hope it will be everyone's Tipple, not just the Queen's!”

Queen's Tipple Ale is available at most Arkell's pubs and to order from Arkell's Brewery.


Alex has brewery over a barrel

Wiltshire brewery, Arkell’s will take delivery of over £200,000 of new beer barrels over the next five years.

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Alex is a Barrel of Laughs


Each barrel, made out of stainless steel, costs £70, holds 72 pints of beer and has ‘Arkell's Brewery' embossed around the collar.

Head Brewer, Alex Arkell, who took over brewing responsibilities just last month, is delighted.

'Traditionally, of course, beer barrels were made out of wood and bound by metal hoops. They were made by a Cooper and the cooper's fire is still in existence here at the brewery.

'However, much as I appreciate tradition, steel barrels are much easier to clean, better for maintaining quality and consistency of the beer and we've been using metal (aluminimum) barrels probably since the 1960s. Now it's time for some new ones to keep Arkell's Ales arriving at our pubs in tip top condition.”


Maypole Mild is back in Town

First brewed by Arkell’s in 2008, Maypole Mild ale is back, but this time the new Head Brewer, Alex Arkell, has given it a different twist.

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Alex and George Arkell take five minutes out with a pint of Maypole Mild, after trying to get the Maypole ribbons right,


Maypole Mild is back in Town

First brewed by Arkell's in 2008, Maypole Mild ale is back, but this time the new Head Brewer, Alex Arkell, has given it a different twist.

Milds are traditional ales in danger of dying out in certain areas of Britain. Arkell's Maypole Mild, 3.6 abv, is dark in colour and has a new American hop, Willamette, giving this dark ale an exciting spicy floral aroma.

According to CAMRA (The Campaign for Real Ale) this traditional style of beer, dating back over 400 hundred years, disappeared from many pubs and was in danger of becoming extinct in certain areas of Britain. Arkell's has been helping to revived it.

Alex Arkell said: 'Mild ale is usually slightly sweeter and distinctly less bitter on the palate and in aroma than the more highly hopped bitters. Mild is usually, but not always, darker in colour than bitter, through the use of a higher roast malt or caramel, and is a lovely beer for this time of year.”

Maypole Mild will be available throughout the month of May at participating Arkell's pubs and many other free trade houses across the South West.

Historically, Mild ales were the staples in the cellars of beerhouses and taverns across the land. Popular in the more industrial areas of Britain as it was perfect to drink after a hard day's physical work, but perhaps as a result of lifestyles becoming more sedentary, so the call for mild ales became less.

Recently, however, mild ales are once again becoming more popular and drinkers recognise that their distinct taste and quality, thanks to real ale brewers such as Arkell's.

Maypole Mild is being sold in all Arkell's managed houses and many of its tenanted pubs from 23rd April from £2.80 per pint.


Exmouth wraps its Arms around local Community

Is this the best community pub in Cheltenham? Exmouth Arms Manageress Sarah Capewell thinks it might be.

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Sarah Capewell amongst the runner beans....


The pub, on Bath Road in Leckhampton, regularly hosts a whole range of special interest groups including a Dowsing Group, Metal Detecting Group, Toast-masters group – even a Ukelele group, all in its upstairs function room – though obviously not at the same time.

The pub also supports Bath Road Traders Association and hosts a music festival. It has also hosted local craft fairs.

Sarah says: 'Our garden is right in the centre of the street so people sometimes view it the same way as they would view a village green – and our function room as a village hall!”

When Bath Road Traders clean and tidy up Bath Road, The Exmouth Arms provides the bacon butties.

There's also regular Zumba and Pilates classes who fight for space with the metal-detecting mob, or the mums group who meet in the bar. One a month (when all the metal-detecting, dowsing ukelele players have gone home), the function room turns into a cinema.

Outside, the pub is equally busy – with gardeners coming and going all day to tend the ten allotments behind the pub. The Exmouth Arms receives some of the produce from a box of beans to a punnet of raspberries, or a head of rhubarb –depending on the time of year, and the customers love it.

Pub owner Arkell's Brewery is delighted with the busy Exmouth Arms. Director George Arkell said: 'Leckhampton is a buzzy, busy traditional shopping street just outside Cheltenham's town centre and The Exmouth Arms is an oasis of activity, just like a proper pub should be.”


Countess pulls at Cirencester pub

The Golden Cross Inn, Cirencester, reopened its doors to the public on Friday 30th of March.

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The Black Jack Street pub, which has undergone a complete makeover, was opened by The Countess of Bathurst, Peter Lindesay, father of Landlord Mark and George Arkell of pub owners Arkell's over a charity lunch.

The Countess pulled the first pint of Arkell's 3B in the well known eatery before saying a few words for landlord Mark.

Cotswold businesses attended the lunch cooked by chef Justin Ashley, in aid of Corinium Radio, Cirencester's Community Radio Station, Clic Sargent and The Army Benevolent Fund.

The fundraising started before the pubs closure with a gig by the band The Slammerz, who raised £350. The grand total finally raised on the day of the lunch was an incredible £1000 which will be divided equally among the chosen charities.

The Golden Cross is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Saturday and lunch is served Tuesday to Sunday. To book a table please contact The Golden Cross on 01285 652137


WW2 mast misery at The Highwayman

German bombs missed it (luckily), MI5 knew about it but during World War 2 it was a lost British pilot who finally toppled a solitary telecommunications mast in the corner of a field next to The Highwayman Pub At Elkstone near Cirencester.

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Mark Turner looks east


The British Secret Service, RAF and German Luftwaffe all knew the significance of the mast, which was that if a pilot uses it as a marker from which to fly due east it would take them directly to Moscow – a very useful pointer for those lacking the sophisticated technology of today.

This bizarre fact was just one of many which came to light at one of the now regular Highwayman History Talks given by local historians at the pub.

Landlord Mark Turner explains: 'We hosted the first talk by well-known local historian Mary Bliss a couple of months ago and had a pub full of people. We did a second one last month which was equally successful so we've decided to make it a regular event – if there are local historians out there who want to share their stories with a growing number of interested people, give us a call.”

The Highwayman Inn has a powerful history of its own. It's been a pub for over 400 years. Originally called The Huntsman and Hounds, the name was changed to the Masons' Arms by 1856 and remained that way until around 1960 when the buildings were restored and it became known as The Highwayman. Arkell's bought the pub in 1972.

While the pub is located at a turnpike and the Gloucester to London Mailcoach used to lumber past from 1785, few tales of highwayman at the pub remain in circulation.


Arkell’s appoints country’s youngest Family Head Brewer

26-year old Alex Arkell has been appointed Head Brewer at the Wiltshire family brewery.

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Alex Arkell


This is a proud moment for the brewery as Alex is the first family member to take on the role for generations. But just because he's family doesn't mean his appointment was a shoo-in. Chairman James Arkell, Alex's father, made it clear from the start that Alex needed to complete a rigorous apprenticeship.

Following university, Alex took on the tenancy of The Rusty Bicycle in Oxford, running it for a year. 'This was invaluable experience,” he said. 'Customers don't pull any punches if the beer isn't to their liking, and landlords must deal with issues there and then. There's no better way to learn about customer satisfaction.”

After a six-month internship with fellow family brewery, Fullers in London, Alex attended the World Brewing Academy in Chicago and Munich where he finally achieved his Master Brewer qualification last year.

For the last six months Alex has been working alongside Arkell's former Head Brewer, Don Bracher, who retired earlier this month after 20 years.

'I've learned from the best,” said Alex, who will maintain the traditional values of the family brewery. 'We will continue to brew consistent core real ales, while producing a variety of new, seasonal varied beers to meet the demand of modern beer drinkers.”

To mis-quote the film Casablanca: Of all the beers in all the towns in the world, Alex says his favorite are English Ales, which are easily the most flavoursome. ' Of these I think a great Mild can often be the most satisfying. However my taste definitely varies depending on my mood and the weather, a cool Pilsner on a hot summers day is perfect!”

Alex has already implemented a range of developments at the brewery. In less than six months he's ensured that nearly half of Arkell's landlords have achieved Cask Marque accreditation for serving the perfect pint of cask-conditioned ale. Cask Marque accreditation is only awarded to licensees whose ale passes a series of rigorous independent beer quality audits.

He's also taking his responsibilities for customer satisfaction seriously and will be embarking on a series of ‘Meet the Brewer' evenings at Arkell's pubs across the South and West.

'I will be at The White Hart Hotel Whitchurch in Hampshire later this month,” he said. More details about the Meet The Brewer events and participating pubs will be on the Arkell's website and facebook page.


Brewery chairman James Arkell, is absolutely delighted than a second son has come into the family business. 'My eldest son George has been here for over a decade and is now a director. Having Alex on board too is wonderful, we've worked him hard the last two years to make sure he's the right man for the job – and now I can't think of anyone better to introduce our beers to the next generation of real ale drinkers.”


Arkell’s Head Brewer celebrates 20 years and retirement

One of Britain’s longest serving head brewers will celebrate twenty years with his brewery this week and then step down from his day job to become Arkell’s consultant brewer.

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Arkell's Brewery pays tribute to a Great British Brewer


Don Bracher, head brewer at Swindon based Arkell's Brewery, decided to round off two decades of work last year and will finally pass over the mantle of Head Brewer to Alex Arkell who has spent the last two years with the brewery learning from the best.

Don said: 'I won't miss getting up at the crack of dawn to do an early morning brewing, but I will miss all the people – there is a huge sense of camaraderie across the brewery and our landlords which is infectious.”

Don left university in 1972 with a degree in Zoology. However, when he started job hunting he changed tack and wrote to every national brewer across the country, and to the RAF.

Mann Crossman Brewery, which closed some years ago but which operated out of Whitechapel Road in London, offered him an interview – and so did the RAF. The Brewery interview came first so he cancelled his RAF interview and sealed his fate forever.

'I spent four and a half years with Mann Crossman and it was fantastic,” said Don. 'I learned everything and every aspect of brewing. In those days it was 24-hour brewery brewing 20,000 barrels a week.”

Don decided to return to university – this time to do an MSc in Malting and Brewing Science at Birmingham. On completion of his degree he was employed by Whitbread Brewery on Chiswell Street, London and soon seconded to Morlands Brewery in Abingdon for two years. He ended up staying there for over fourteen years before Arkell's came calling when their Head Brewer, Don Kenchington, was looking to retire.

'I'd never visited Arkell's at that point but when I did I realised what a great opportunity had fallen into my lap and I moved here in 1992,” said Don.

'I've always been a traditional mash tun brewer, but while respecting the traditional techniques I've adopted the best of the new brewing techniques to produce consistently good beer. Arkell's has supported my innovations and we've now got a range of beers of which we are all very proud indeed.”

As consultant brewer, Don still plans to be involved in Arkell's future but is very happy to see a member of the brewing family take up the challenge.

However, he also has career ambitions of his own. 'I rather fancy training to be a butcher,” he said. 'Perhaps it's a way of finally making use of my Zoology degree.”

His wife, Margaret, probably has other ideas. With two children and very young grandchildren (aged 2 ½ and 1), he is also being reserved for babysitting duties.

Brewery chairman James Arkell, paid tribute to Don's enormous contribution in evolving Arkell's into a 21-century brewery while still based on solid traditional family brewery traditions.

'In 1992 we didn't think that a new ‘Don' could ever replace our first ‘Don' Kenchington as head brewer,” he said. 'I am absolutely delighted that we were wrong and over the last 20 years Don has driven the development of beer at Arkell's Brewery like no-one else could have done. I know we are the envy of many family brewers in having him and we are delighted that he has agreed to stay involved as consultant brewer. I am sure the lure of babysitting is enticing, but nothing excites a brewer more than the smell of beer being brewed.”


Not just here for the beer

More than 100 people turned out for this year’s Arkell’s Publican’s Information day at the brewery in Swindon. One man was so keen not to miss it that after a hard day’s work in London he drove straight to the brewery rather than heading home.

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George Arkell chats to prospective publicans


Another, Jenny Hull who lives in Cirencester, said now her children are grown up, it was something she wants to discover more. She added: 'Some pubs are closing down, but that hasn't put me off – rather I think what are they doing wrong that I could do better?”
Brewery director George Arkell spent the afternoon talking through the nuts and bolts of running a pub with visitors. He said: 'Running a pub is an opportunity and a challenge. Customers want more and tenants can turn the old-fashioned pub into a broader business.

'Practically all pubs have multiple income-generating opportunities. Selling beer and food is just the start. Our pubs can offer take-away service, host events, some have bed and breakfast and even hard standing for caravans too.”
Some attending the event said they had money to invest, but wanted a better understanding of what the business was all about.

'Like setting up any other small business, a prospective publican needs investment plus working capital,” said George. 'But the benefits of running a pub owned by a family-brewery is that you are not alone. We maintain the building and give our tenants as much support as they need – and there are not layers of managerial bureaucracy to battle through – it's just us, so decisions can be made fast.”

Late year Arkell's purchasing a community pub and a hotel on one of Wiltshire's most historic towns. The brewery currently has five tenancies available across its estate of pubs, and as soon as a tenancy is available it is posted onto the Arkell's website and announced on Arkell's Facebook page. Those seeking early information about pub tenancies can have their details added to the brewery's e-alert system.


New landlords Volunteer for duty

Thanks to a tip-off from an Arkell’s landlord, The Volunteer Inn at Great Somerford has new landlords.

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Ellie and Neil Lowthian outside The Volunteer (on a bit of a rainy day)


Neil and Ellie Lowthian moved from a busy pub in the Exeter Ship Canal to take over The Volunteer after landlords at The Thameshead Inn near Cirencester, Nicola King and Ben Lord, tipped them off that the pub's tenancy was up for grabs.

'We have a two-year old daughter and wanted a life in the country, so when Nicola told us about this lovely village pub, and we heard the village has a good school, we jumped into the car immediately to visit,” said Neil.

It's an entirely different lifestyle for the couple, as Neil admits. 'In Exeter I had 30 staff – here it's just me and Ellie, everything is different. We're both chefs so we can share the cooking and running the bar – everything. This is all about going back to basics and we love it.”

He can also get to talk to his customers – something that it wasn't easy to do in a busy city centre pub.

'The Volunteer Inn has a strong crowd of locals, we've also got eight skittles teams in the Malmesbury skittles league,” added Neil.

The best thing about running a county pub is that everything's up to you, he says. 'It's nice to be able to do what you want to do without having to explain your ideas to an area manager. The only people we have to answer to are our customers – and they are the hardest task-masters of all – and the most enjoyable.”

George Arkell is delighted to welcome the couple.

'We bought The Volunteer in 2007 and it's lovely to welcome a young family in because they'll really take part in the village community.”


Arkell’s salutes Town’s Red Army

After a storming win by Swindon Town Football Club on Saturday against Accrington, Arkell’s Brewery is on full throttle this morning brewing a new Red Army real ale to celebrate.

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Alex and George Arkell celebrate


Red Army ale will be available to all Arkell's pubs from 9 March. With an ABV of 4%, it will have English Fuggles Hops and Rye Crystal Malt, giving the beer a reddish tinge.

George Arkell at Arkell's Brewery, said: 'We are delighted to celebrate Swindon Town Football Club's success. Paulo di Canio has done an amazing job bringing Swindon Town up to the top of League Two.”

He added: 'A result like this gives the whole town a spring in its step and we're looking forward to watching the Robins complete the season in style. And if Paul Benson continues his run of goals, perhaps we'll bring out a beer called ‘Benson's Brew'.”

Arkell's Brewery has continuously supported Swindon Town Football club for decades. It sponsors the Arkell's Stand and last year installed an entire bar into the new Bar 71 for Away Fans, which was opened last August.


Cirencester bids farewell to long serving resident

On Sunday the 26th of February a stalwart of Cirencester’s social scene will be leaving forever.

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After a busy Sunday lunch service the bar at The Golden Cross, which has been at the pub since 1970, is to be broken up and destroyed to make way for a new model.

Since its installation it has served six landlords, numerous managers and countless staff. It has been present for historic events such as Watergate, the death of Elvis, Margaret Thatcher becoming Prime Minister, Live Aid, Nelson Mandela being freed, the millennium and other events too numerous to mention.

Three hosts from the past joined current landlord Mark Lindesay for a farewell drink and to share memories of the bar and the Black Jack Street pub. They were all shown the new plans and Henry Archer, who ran the Arkells pub from 1968 to 1984 had even brought along a diagram of how the place looked at the beginning of his tenure. 'When I took over in the 60's the pub had two bars,” he said. 'We also had a serving hatch, called a jug and bottle hole where people could come up and get a refill without actually coming in.”

Other ex-landlo rds present were Glen Robinson, who ran the pub from 2001 to 2007 and his predecessor Mike Smith, in charge from 1988.

Mark Lindesay explained the need for change. 'Since taking over The Golden Cross in 2009, the pub has undergone quite significant change, as has Black Jack Street and indeed Cirencester itself. The existing bar has grown haphazardly over the past quarter century or so, and has become increasingly difficult to operate, while being somewhat out-dated in its design and aesthetic. In contrast, the new bar, while retaining a traditional look and feel, has been intricately designed to incorporate the latest in drink service equipment and services, from refrigeration to lighting, dispensing to waste management.”

The Golden Cross will be closed for this and other renovation work from the evening of Sunday February 26th until Friday the second of March. A grand reopening party is planned for later that month, following a major refurbishment of the ground floor of the property.


Golden opportunity for a new career

Golden opportunities exist for those seeking a career in the licensed trade, according to Arkell’s Brewery, which is once again holding its Recruitment Day, on Tuesday 6 March, 1pm-8pm at Arkell’s Brewery in Swindon.

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Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'Arkell's Brewery has 100 pubs across Swindon and the South and West of England and we're always on the look-out for good publicans. At this time of year many people consider a change in career, so we're offering a look at the licensed trade.”

The licensed trade is going through a period of change. Some might regret that the number of back-street pubs selling beer are getting fewer, but breweries and pub-owners know that most customers want much more, and this gives tenants the opportunity to turn the old-fashioned pub into a broader business.

'Practically all pubs have multiple income-generating opportunities and ours are no exception,” explained George. 'Now a publican can sell beer, food – including take-away, host events and offer overnight accommodation too. Some of our pubs even have hard standing for caravans.”

A number of Arkell's publicans have seized the opportunity to take on not just one pub, but two. According to Ross Morgan, who has recently taken on a second Arkell's tenancy in Wroughton near Swindon with his wife Dawn: 'If you've got good staff and suppliers, running two pubs isn't much more difficult than running one – especially for a brewery like Arkell's who I find very easy to get on with,”

Chris Manners, landlord of two Arkell's pub in Oxford, agrees. He said: "We had a lot of help from Arkell's and they provide us with regular support, but ultimately it's our business and up to us.”

It takes a certain sort of person to be a publican, according to George. 'We can't write a job description for the perfect publican: we generally know whether they've got what it takes when we meet them, and when we do, we give all the help they need.”

He adds: 'Running a pub requires dedication and investment, but if you're the right person at the right time of your life, it's the business.

'We are a 160-year old family brewery with pubs, not a big pubco,” said George 'To us, it's absolutely all about the people and giving our customers what they want, and that's the way we want it to stay.”

For more information on how to become an Arkell's licensee visit www.arkells.com or come along to the event on 6 March. Contact Arkell's Brewery for more details on 01793 823026.


Ross and Dawn go for the double

As if one pub wasn’t enough, the landlords of The Crown at Stratton in Swindon have now taken on the tenancy of nearby The Fox and Hounds at Wroughton.

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Ross Morgan and his new pub!


But for Ross and Dawn Morgan, it's going back to their roots as Ross comes from Wroughton and for six years, the couple ran The White Hart down the road.

'It's wonderful to have a pub back in my home village,” said Ross. 'When we were running The White Hart years ago we used to look up the road at this pub and wish we were running it. It's got the best pub garden for miles, a big car park and lovely views.”

But it's not quite perfect, according to Ross, who will be reinstating the partition between the dining area and the bar. 'The lounge and dining area should be for those wanting a different pub experience. For me, the one big bar experiment of the late 1990s and early 2000s didn't work.”

Brewery director George Arkell agrees that for some pubs, two spaces are better than one. 'Fashions come and go and we adapt with the times. Some of our pubs even have three bars, the public, the lounge and the snug.”

Apart from a bit of rebuilding and installing a log-burning fire, Ross and Dawn aren't planning on doing anything very radical. 'We'll do good food and nice beer in a pub with a good bit of an atmosphere. Nothing very extraordinary about that.”

But that's what works – and they should know because this is the tenth pub they've run.

'Our first pub was a spit and sawdust in Bournemouth years ago,” said Ross. 'When we moved in it was mainly beer, but we introduced a menu alongside which proved hugely popular and attracted a whole new group of customers.”

So why, when the pub trade is often reported as having such a difficult time, take on the responsibility of a second pub?

'Because if you've got good staff and suppliers, running two pubs isn't much more difficult that running one – especially for a brewery like Arkell's who I find very easy to get on with,” said Ross. 'Dawn and I make a good team, and we've got fantastic staff too – they've commuted between the two pubs over the last couple of weeks helping get everything up and running. I'm the brain behind the pub and Dawn is the brain behind the business.”

George Arkell was delighted to be able to offer Ross and Dawn The Fox and Hounds tenancy. 'They know the village, they knew the pub, they've got the experience and most importantly they've made a big success of The Crown at Stratton.”


Rose & Crown’s new landlords bring home the bacon

Less than 24 hours after taking over the tenancy of The Rose & Crown at Lea near Malmesbury, Mark Green and Sarah Smith found themselves providing breakfast for 44 members of the church, next door to the pub.

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Mark and Sarah outside The Rose & Crown at Lea


Less than 24 hours after taking over the tenancy of The Rose & Crown at Lea near Malmesbury, Mark Green and Sarah Smith found themselves providing breakfast for 44 members of the church, next door to the pub.

However, it was a welcome introduction to village life for the couple who have two pre-school children. 'The first thing we unpacked was packets of bacon – almost before the children's suitcases,” said Sarah.

Mark and Sarah are experienced publicans – they even met in pub and both sets of parents were publicans themselves. Most recently Mark and Sarah ran The White Hart at Broadoak in the Forest of Dean but decided to bring in a manager to run it after deciding to find a village pub where they can settle down and bring up their family.

'The church breakfast is a regular event, apparently, and it a great way to meet our new neighbours,” said Sarah. 'The pub also hosts a Friday toddler group in the pub skittle alley so I can't wait to meet some of the local mums and dads there too.”

The couple spent months looking for their perfect pub, but fell in love with The Rose & Crown after contacting Arkell's who said that the previous tenants were moving to New Zealand.

'It's got a lovely feel to it, a big pub garden and a little private one for our family too – we love it, even if we've moved in during the depths of winter,” added Mark.

George Arkell, director at Arkell's Brewery, is delighted that such experienced landlords have taken on the pub. 'It's great for the brewery and for the villagers and pub regulars,” he said. 'Mark and Sarah understand the industry inside out and know how to deliver a really good night out.”

Mark is well aware that people have to have a good reason to come out in the current economic climate: 'If you want people to come in, you have to give them a reason to do so. We pay a lot of attention to the quality and value of our food, so we'll have plenty of regular menu choices – but a specials board too, which will really mean special.”

In the meantime, the family are starting to find their way around the area. 'Malmesbury is lovely, and less than five minutes away, so we've enrolled the children in a nursery there twice a week. Hopefully it won't be long before we've built up a new network of friends,” added Sarah.


CAMPAIGN TO REDUCE VAT CHARGED IN PUBS RECEIVES £240,000 BOOST FROM FAMILY BREWERS

As the cost of eating out in the UK continues to rise at an alarming rate, having escalated by 7.5 per cent in the last year*, the Independent Family Brewers of Britain is taking action, contributing almost quarter of a million to help fund a campaign designed to reduce the VAT charged in pubs.


Pubs have suffered due to the VAT increase, in January 2011, to 20 per cent, with many consumers opting to stay at home. Orchestrated by Jacques Borel, the campaign seeks to reduce the VAT charged in pubs to stimulate economic growth and employment. Having already achieved success in Germany, Belgium, Sweden and France, where a tax reduction from 19.65 per cent to five led to the creation of 21,700 jobs in the first year alone, the influential French leisure entrepreneur and lobbyist is aiming to influence Government policy before the next general election.

It is estimated that a reduction of VAT to five per cent would create between 140,000 and 320,000 jobs in the UK hospitality sector**; welcome news as youth unemployment hits a 17-year high of one million.

Paul Wells, Chairman of the Family Brewers comments: 'Pubs are beleaguered with tax increases and legislation so this campaign is to kick-start some economic growth. Reducing VAT will give a boost to the pub sector and help employment as pubs get busier; this will particularly help youth unemployment as pubs take on junior help.”

Jacques Borel adds: 'A VAT rate cut is essential for the UK economy; the hospitality industry is ideally placed to help kick-start this because jobs can be created relatively quickly and at relatively low cost.”

Arkell's Brewery Chairman, James Arkell, said: 'As a member of the IFBB, Arkell's is endorsing this initiative which would take some pressure off our incredibly hard-working licensees and help to boost the industry as a whole.”


Arkell’s adds to pub estate

Arkell’s is delighted to announce that it has acquired The Fox and Hounds at Haydon Wick in Swindon and The King’s Arms Hotel in Malmesbury, both purchased from Enterprise Inns. The brewery, which paid market price for the pubs, will take over both premises next week.

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Alex and George Arkell celebrate with The Fox & Hounds landlord Brendon Lee


Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: 'These new purchases fit our strategy of continual investment in pubs and small town hotels which have a thriving community around them.”
The Fox and Hounds is a lovely country pub that first opened around 1840. No longer in the country, as Swindon's western expansion began surrounding the village some 30 years' ago, The Fox and Hounds retains a rural feel and is well-supported by the local community.
The King's Arms is Arkell's first acquisition in the historic town of Malmesbury. With twelve letting rooms, two bars, a restaurant and a function room for up to 120 people, this pretty hotel offers lovely overnight accommodation and a warm welcome.
According to James: 'The licensed industry changes all the time, and breweries and pub companies must too. We've always known this and adapt our estate of pubs accordingly, that's why we've been in business for over 160 years, just like the majority of fellow family brewers across the country who understand the licensed trade better than anyone. People want more from pubs than just a great pint of beer and someone to chat to – those are essential. Good food is important for every licensed premises and a small country town hotel should be friendly and cosy with room for a good party.”
Over the last six years, Arkell's has made a number of significant investments in pubs and hotels across the region. In 2006 it bought The Bear Hotel in the centre of Wantage, significantly upgrading the bars and accommodation to make The Bear into a thriving town centre hotel.
In 2007 the brewery bought the 16th century 26-bedroom Lansdowne Strand Hotel in Calne, and the following year it purchased the iconic Riverside Inn at Lechlade, next to the most up-stream marina on the Thames and where, earlier this year, David Walliams began his incredible Thames charity swim.
In 2009 the brewery turned its attention back to pubs and bought The Mason's Arms at Meysey Hampton. Earlier this year it bought a closed Oxford pub reopening it as The Rickety Press. The pub, located at Jericho, is once again thriving.
Alongside new investment, the brewery continually invests in its estate of pubs, with this year investing a six-figure sum in The Bull Hotel, Fairford, which the brewery has owned since 1973.


Cask Marque success for Arkell’s Landlords

Nearly half of Arkell’s Brewery landlords have won Cask Marque accreditation for serving the perfect pint of cask-conditioned ale. And this week the brewery is celebrating with three more landlords: Dave Howells at The Boundary House and Pete and Bev Neal at The Moonrakers, both in Swindon and Terry Sullivan at The Punchbowl, Woodstock near Oxford who have also achieved Cask Marque status.

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Bev Neal at The Moonrakers - Cask Marque accredited.


Backed by 45 of the country's leading brewers and pub companies, Cask Marque accreditation is only awarded to licensees whose ale passes a series of rigorous independent beer quality audits.

Since its foundation in 1997, Cask Marque has inspected around 135,000 pints of beer and accredited over 6,000 of the country's 36,500 pubs estimated to serve one or more cask conditioned ales.

Cask Marque director, Paul Nunny, said: 'Arkell's should feel justifiably proud of this excellent achievement, which not only recognises the commitment the brewery has made to serving the perfect pint but also acts as an independent guarantee of quality for customers.

'All too often, publicans don't appreciate the care and attention cask beers require and then run the risk of losing custom by serving pints that are below par.”

Alex Arkell, Brewer at Wiltshire family brewery, Arkell's, said: 'I started my working life at the sharp end: Running a pub where I was behind the bar every day. It was there I learned the importance of having delicious-tasting, consistent beer – because if we didn't deliver the perfect pint, we'd be on the receiving end of direct criticism – especially me as the son, grand-son and great-grand-son of brewers!

'Good beer starts in the brewery, and finishes as it's pulled through the lines and into a beer glass. At the brewery it's our responsibility to ensure our beer leaves the brewery in absolutely top condition. Then the responsibility is passed to our landlords who look after the beer properly from barrel to glass. When I began working in the brewery last year I felt that the best sign of beer quality in a pub was the Cask Marque sign which appears outside pubs guaranteeing that inside you will get a great pint of cask ale.”

Arkell's is aiming for all its landlords to be Cask Marque accredited.


Christmas Greetings for Noel Ale

With the 2011 Christmas season now in full swing, Arkell’s Brewery has delivered its seasonal Noel Ale into pubs across Wiltshire and the South of England.

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Alex Arkell with history riding on his shoulders and Noel Ale in his hands


And this year, for the first time, the beer has been brewed by Alex Arkell, great grandson of the beer's namesake, Sir Noel Arkell, who was born on Christmas day in 1893 and ran the brewery from the 1920s until 1971.

For Alex, who qualified as a brewer earlier this year and is now working at the Wiltshire family brewery in Swindon, it is an honour, but quite a responsibility to be able to carry on the family tradition – especially as, at 26, he's as old as the beer itself.

'I can say with absolute sincerity that I've tasted Noel Ale at Christmas for my entire life,” he said. 'As far as I am concerned, it's the best Christmas beer in the world – but as I've been working alongside our Head Brewer, Don Bracher, in charge of brewing it this year, I also feel a big sense of responsibility to see that it goes out of the brewery in the best condition possible – there's over two decades of Arkell's brewing history riding on my shoulders.”

Noel Ale is, at 5% ABV, a full-bodied beer which is cleverly disguised by its distinctive light colour and slides down very easily, leaving drinkers with a warm, tingling feeling – ideal for celebrations and cold winters.

A pint of Noel Ale will cost around £2.90 in the pubs. Party pins are also available (10 litres Party Pin £32.17, 20 litres Party Pin £61.64). An 8-pack of Noel Ale costs £14.26. And the perfect perfect gift for Christmas? A 3 bottle gift pack at £5.22.

To purchase Noel Ale party pins contact Arkell's Brewery on 01793 823026.


Akai is The Bee's Knee's for Brain Tumour Research

On 10 December at The Bingham Hall, Cirencester, 11 year old Akai, the winner of Sky1 series ‘You’ve got to Dance’ and star of ‘Street Dance 3D’ the movie, will perform alongside ‘The Cheeky Boys’ and renowned comedy dance troupe: Bad Habits.

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Akai


Tickets are £10 per person and there will be a bar and raffle as well as further entertainment from singer Pavo and the Electric Dance Group. Tickets can be purchased from the Bees Knees public house in Watermoor, Cirencester 01285 652112 or call Jo on 07971 628698.

Organised by Bee's Knee's Landlady, Sharon Scrivens the event is to raise money for the Lyndsey Roughton Purple Heart Brain Tumour Fund (SDBTT) in aid of Brain Tumour Research.

Lyndsey Roughton is originally from Cirencester but it is also a cause close to Bad Habits as group member Liz Maw explains. 'Lyndsey is my niece and was diagnosed with a brain tumour in late 2009. Despite some very strong treatment and thinking she was all in the clear the tumour came back a year later.

'She was operated on in early 2011 and has since finished her 6 wk Radiotherapy. We have all heard about brain tumours but it is one of the cancers that get the least amount of funding or certainly not the funding it deserves. 4000 are diagnosed a year with this type of cancer and we want answers.”

The aim of the charity is to raise £10,000 and they are currently at the £1000 mark. Alongside the evening the charity have set up a Facebook auction, which is currently taking place, including prizes like Premiership football tickets, static line parachute jumps, signed Russell Brand merchandise and electronic goods.


Pint-sized History of Arkell's Brewery
At 168 years old, Arkell's Brewery is one of just 28 family breweries left in the UK. The Brewery was established as an offshoot to the family farm when Isambard Kingdom Brunel was building his locomotive and carriage works for the Great Western Railway. Beer from Arkell's helped quench the thirst of workers in the hot, humid environment of the railway works. Whilst Swindon's historic railway works closed in the 1980s, Arkell's is still going strong, fulfilling the demands of today's workers.
Three generations of Arkell's family work at the brewery every day, alongside generations of local families, brewing real ale and overseeing over 100 pubs the brewery owns across Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire. Arkell's continuously invests in its pubs and the brewery, recently installing bottling equipment, fermenters, conditioning equipment and a kegging unit to brew Pilsner lager. Full-bodied real ales include 2Bs, 3Bs, Kingsdown and Bees Organic Ale. Specials include Summer Ale, Noel Ale and Moonlight. Moonlight was brewed in secret in 2004 commemorating Chairman Peter Arkell's 80th birthday and his RAF 1943 pilot missions flying low level sorties collecting agents in occupied France under full moon, later in Burma. Peter Arkell passed away in 2010.

www.arkells.com


Government decision applauded by Arkell's

Arkells, has applauded the Government for preserving regional brewing through its decision to protect the traditional brewery tied tenancy agreement, praising Consumer Minister Edward Davey for recognising its importance to the longevity of breweries and success of tenant licensees.


Local brewer and Independent Family Brewers of Britain member, Arkells, has applauded the Government for preserving regional brewing through its decision to protect the traditional brewery tied tenancy agreement, praising Consumer Minister Edward Davey for recognising its importance to the longevity of breweries and success of tenant licensees.

The decision has averted a potentially disastrous situation, with brewery closures, the loss of well-known and respected beer brands and pub closures all being predicted had the agreements been abolished. Jobs of local people and suppliers, as well as consumer choice and competition, have also been saved.

In a response to the House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee's tenth report of session 2010-2012 into pub companies, the Government has recognised that, particularly in the case of the traditional tenancy model, the tie may play an important role in safeguarding the future of Britain's smaller breweries. Acknowledging that the traditional tenancy model not only provides a low cost entry for a licensee wishing to open a pub but also offers a low cost/low risk exit, as neither the freehold nor the lease need to be sold on, the response also recognises that the tied model may be essential to the preservation of small British brewers and local beer, as well as British businesses and jobs.

Speaking after the announcement, James Arkell of Arkells Brewery said: 'The Government has provided a substantial boost in confidence for Family Brewers, and their tenants, by ending the uncertainty surrounding the report's recommendations and explicitly supporting the traditional tenancy model, as well as recognising that the brewery tie is vital for regional brewing.

'As a family owned company, we take a long view of investment into our pub buildings and, within the traditional brewery tenancy agreement, we take the costs of looking after and improving the buildings we own. This is a centuries old business model and allows a strong partnership between licensee and brewer, sharing the ups and downs of trading the pub.

'Thanks to the support the Government has announced for the traditional brewery tenancy agreement and the beer tie, we will now be able to increase investment into our pubs.”

Consumer Minister Edward Davey added: "This is good news for everyone to raise their glass to. It gives the industry more certainty, which is vital to the success of Britain's Family Brewers; and it gives pub-goers the knowledge that they are drinking a fairer pint down their local.”

Notes
A brewery tied tenancy is a short term renewable tenancy agreement, typically for a three to six year term, with a full or partial drinks tie. The cost is low because new tenants only have to purchase the trade inventory when they enter the pub, together with stock at value and a refundable trading deposit. The risk is also low because the member brewery maintains the structure of the pub, decorates and signs the exterior, provides building insurance and maintains fixtures, unlike a lease which are fully repairing and insuring.

The Independent Family Brewers of Britain
The Independent Family Brewers of Britain was founded in 1993 to defend the tie and currently operates around 4,200 pubs in the UK; its members include some of the most respected brewers in Britain. The Family Brewers represent a distinct and unique sector of the UK brewing industry; owning regional breweries and pub estates, with the majority being private, family run businesses. Spanning generations, Family Brewer members' currently employ around 36,000 people across their breweries and pubs.


Unique rural pub initiative pays off

Rural village pub The Rose and Crown at Ashbury, near Swindon which had faced an uncertain future, has reported a record week and is now so busy that its bedrooms are regularly booked out and the restaurant is full for Christmas lunch two months in advance.

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Bill Downes, Landlord and Richard Turner, Community Liaison Manager at Arkell's


Rural village pub The Rose and Crown at Ashbury, near Swindon which had faced an uncertain future, has reported a record week and is now so busy that its bedrooms are regularly booked out and the restaurant is full for Christmas lunch two months in advance.

At the beginning of the year, Swindon-based Arkell's Brewery, which has around 20 pubs in rural areas, appointed Richard Turner as its Brewery Community Liaison Manager, the first such appointment in the country, to help build links between rural pubs and their local communities.

At the time the brewery was seeking new landlords for a number of rural pubs and brewery chairman James Arkell decided to work with local communities to ensure the right landlord for their pubs. Richard Turner visited villages where the Arkell's pub represented the only remaining business. One of these was The Rose and Crown at Ashbury where interest in the project was so strong that the pub's local MP, Ed Vaisey, dropped in for a pint to find out more.

Just six week's later Bill and Sandra Downes moved in, Bill says it was the active the support of the village that encouraged them to take over the tenancy of a rural pub, which they might have considered as being too difficult to turn around.
'Rural pubs must have local support to survive and the villagers had set up a pub steering committee to come up with ideas as to how to make the most of their pub,” he said.

Since the couple took over, the pub has seen a big boost in business, which has further encouraged the couple to invest in the pub, along with Arkell's.

The pub's letting rooms have been refurbished, including one which now has a king sized Victorian brass bed, dressing room and double walk-in shower, and the pub's menus have been revamped.

Bill says the pub's letting rooms are now regularly booked out during the week and at weekends. 'We've looked at our rates and my view is that if we don't charge a fortune for our bedrooms, then people will stay and eat in the bar.” It currently costs £50 per night for a double bedroom and at weekends, The Rose and Crown is charging just £65 for a weekend two-night stay including a 3-course Sunday lunch.

'These costs work for us,” said Bill. 'They won't work for everyone, but I'd rather we were busy because it improves the atmosphere of the pub.”

George Arkell at Arkell's Brewery is delighted. 'Working with the villagers of Ashbury reinforced how important pubs are to local communities. Bill and Sandra have done a fantastic job – so much so that they're now attracting celebrities.” Last week Jimmy Doherty from Channel 4's Jimmy Farm stayed the night with his film crew – and Bill made sure he slept the smart new Victorian suite.


Lord Lyon wins Community race


It was a close-run race but finally the Arkell’s-owned Lord Lyon pub, named after a famous thoroughbred racehorse, has now won the 2011 West Berkshire CAMRA race to be voted Best Community Pub. This is the fourth time a Best Community pub award has been presented by West Berks CAMRA and the second Arkell’s pub to win it. The Fox and Hounds at Donnington (now renamed as Harry’s Bar and Kitchen) won in 2009.

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Mark Genders at The Lord Lyon


Customers nominated the Lord Lyon for an impressive 24 distinct reasons, according to West Berkshire CAMRA. Too numerous to list in full, they include: making the pub's garden available to local schools for projects (including ‘meet the chicken' and vegetable gardening); hosting a party for the last night of the Stockcross pantomime; providing a venue for the village's book group, bridge, guitar and knitting clubs; supporting the local cricket and football clubs; aiding charities including the Sutton (village) hall.
Pub landlord Mark Genders said: 'We're very pleased, it's marvelous! It recognises all the team's hard work.' 

Adrian Bean, Chairman of West Berkshire CAMRA, said: 'What impressed me about the pub was the range of local events that were mentioned as happening at the pub or being supported by the pub. The fact that people felt that the pub acted as the hub of the village was also very important.”

In September, The Lord Lyon received a £100,000 boost thanks to Arkell's which completed a total refurbishment of the pub's five letting rooms.

Brewery Director George Arkell, said: 'Despite a tough economy, especially for the licensed trade, The Lord Lyon is trading well so it made sense to invest in the pub and totally refurbishing the old letting rooms back into use by installing new plumbing and heating, and redecorating them throughout. It's a sound investment in this thriving pub and provides another revenue stream for the landlord, Mark Genders. This award by West Berkshire CAMRA is now the icing on the cake.”


Ten minutes to top food

Rural pubs have to produce something special for it to be worth a trip out of town but The White Horse at Woolstone, between Swindon and Faringdon, has done just that.


The Arkell's-owned pub has brought in new chef Kai Taylor, who moved to the country pub from his previous role as Executive Chef at the Copthorne Millennium Group of hotels.

The 37-year old chef has designed and opened restaurants in Italy, Japan and even Cardiff, Wales, and was operations manager for the Lava Lounge in Swindon, has opted out of the rat race to concentrate on building up the reputation of The White Horse at Woolstone alongside its landlord Keith Adams.

'It might seem surprising to move away from a big role in a large group to being my own boss in a village pub kitchen, but here I can really develop good food that people not only want to eat, but surprises them as well,” he said.

Kai isn't joking when he says he wants to surprise customers. His scampi and chips may not be quite what people expect from their local take-away or pub. It's whole fried scampi still in its shell, with home-prepared chunky chips.

Other choices off the menu are not so wacky – although they are often presented on rather unusual dishes. 'I don't mind visiting Savernake Forest and picking up beautiful pieces of wood to fashion into plates,” he says. 'It does make eating out a bit more exciting.”

Landlord Keith Adams says that since he took over The White Horse last year, business has picked up, but he is now working to attract customers from Swindon. 'The White Horse at Woolstone is much closer than people in Swindon often think,” he says. 'We're just ten minutes from The Oxford Road roundabout and ½ mile from the famous White Horse Hill.

'I hope that local people will again consider their rural village pub for an evening out. If they agree to drive here, it's up to us to give them a good night out – and I can guarantee that Kai's menus will do just that.”


Bryn knows his onions at The Royal

As Wootton Bassett prepares to welcome Princess Anne this weekend, there's a new face at The Royal Inn, Wootton Bassett (formerly The Borough Arms, now known as The Royal in honour of the town's new status). Local fruit and vegetable merchant, Bryn Stew, says it's home from home as he grew up in The Plough at Badbury.

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Royal Bassett Ale being brewed.


The Royal will also be selling Royal Bassett Ale, first brewed by Arkell's in March when the town's Royal status was announced earlier in the year, along with the other two Arkell's pubs in Wootton Bassett: The Sally Pusey and The Curriers. £10 from each barrel of Royal Bassett Ale will go to SSAFA (Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association).

Brewery director: George Arkell said: "We're delighted to be able to pay tribute to the townspeople who turned out, rain or shine, to honour fallen servicemen."

Arkell's has a long association with the services. Peter Arkell, who died last year, flew as an RAF pilot behind enemy lines during the Second World War. Brewery Chairman James Arkell is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, his son George currently serves as an officer in the same regiment. George's brother Captain John Arkell of the Light Dragoon Guards was wounded on his second tour of Afghanistan in 2009 when an explosion hit part of his 30-man patrol in Helmand Province.

James Arkell, who attended a number of repatriation ceremonies, said: "We have all been immensely touched by the respect shown by the townspeople of Wootton Bassett to our servicemen. It is both a deep honour and privilege to pay tribute to the town in the way we know best."

Head brewer, Don Bracher, added: "This is our small tribute to those who quietly but publicly recognised the enormous sacrifice that so many or our armed forces have made."

The Royal Inn's landlord, Bryn Stew, will continue to run his fruit and vegetable supply business, S&R Fruits, alongside the pub. "I know my onions, everyone should have their 'five a day', and then come and wash them down with a pint of real ale from The Royal," he said.


£100,000 pub investment bucks trend

The Lord Lyon pub at Stockcross near Newbury has received a £100,000 boost thanks to owners Arkell's Brewery, which has just completed a total refurbishment of the pub's five letting rooms.

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One of the pub's lovely new rooms.


The Lord Lyon pub at Stockcross near Newbury has received a £100,000 boost thanks to owners Arkell's Brewery, which has just completed a total refurbishment of the pub's five letting rooms.

Investment in The Lord Lyon goes against the trend many pubs and pub-owners are following to reduce spending on maintenance and improvements in order to cut costs.

However, the Wiltshire Brewery feels this is a shortsighted attitude. Director George Arkell, said: "Despite a tough economy, especially for the licensed trade, The Lord Lyon is trading very well so it made sense to invest in the pub and totally refurbishing the old letting rooms back into use by installing new plumbing and heating, and redecorating them throughout. It's a sound investment in this thriving pub and provides another revenue stream for the landlord, Mark Genders."

The brewery has worked closely with Mark on the project, who has also invested his own money.

Earlier this year West Berks CAMRA voted the Lord Lyon its Community Pub of the Year and Mark received a second Certificate of Excellence from Cask Marque for the quality of his real ale.

"The Lord Lyon is a great pub in a village that supports us and wants the pub to succeed," said Mark, who took over behind the bar less than two years' ago and has been instrumental in its current success. "Arkell's rolling programme of redecoration and refurbishment of the pub has meant that it's in very good shape inside and out."

The pub's new letting rooms are now open.


Two golds and a silver for Arkell's Beers

Two golds and a silver for Arkell's Beers

Arkell's Kingsdown and Moonlight both achieved gold awards at this year's Taste of the West awards, with Bee's Organic achieving silver.

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George Arkell tastes the beer in Arkell's Brewhouse.

Photograph taken by Chris King.
www.chriskingphotography.com


Brewery director, George Arkell, is delighted with the result. "The well-established and highly respected Taste of the West Awards are attracting record numbers of entries so we are particularly thrilled at having achieved such a great result this year," he said.

The judges loved the presentation of the three ales submitted, all the bottles and packaging scored full marks.

Of Arkell's Kingsdown, the judges added: "The ale has a fantastic aroma that almost scored full marks. A good appearance with a sweet, malty finish to the taste. Overall a great taste of a classic ale, well worthy of a gold award."

Arkell's Moonlight also came in for particular praise: "The ale has a lovely aroma with good balance. A good appearance with a mostly malt finish to the taste. Overall a fantastic taste."

Arkell's Bee's Organic which has, in previous years, scored gold at these awards, proved it's all down to individual taste by achieving a silver this year. The judges said: "The ale has a lovely, malty aroma with a slight hint of honey; very good in appearance and a nice finish to the taste, a very smooth aftertaste with notes of citrus and honey. The overall taste was very good, though the honey taste could perhaps be enhanced a little more."

George Arkell added: "We put heart and soul into brewing our beers and it is wonderful that professional beer tasters love what we produce."


Wroughton bar goes to Swindon Town

Wroughton bar goes to Swindon Town

If they look carefully, former customers of the Three Tuns at Wroughton, who are NOT fans of Swindon Town Football Club, might recognise the bar at the football club's brand new Away bar.

For the brewery has donated the old bar from The Three Tuns, which sadly closed earlier this year, to furnish the football club's Bar 71, which opened a few week's ago for Away fans.

Brewery director Nick Arkell, said: "It seemed a big waste to have such a lovely bar not being used, so as we are sponsors of the football club we asked if it might be useful."

Mark Issac Operations manager, jumped at the chance. "We were planning a new bar for Away fans and this was the ideal contribution from Arkell's."

Swindon Town Football Club's new Away Bar is called Bar 71 as there are 72 clubs in the football league and this is open to every one of them except, of course, town fans who have their own bar.

Since opening, Bar 71 is proving hugely successful, according to Mark. "More than 150 people enjoyed themselves here after the match, and it's also available to hire," he added.

Nick added: "It's always sad when a pub has to close, and luckily for Arkell's this doesn't happen very often, but it's good to see some of the furniture and fittings being put to good use elsewhere."

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Royal association for new fermenters

Arkell's Brewery has installed two new fermenters, bringing the total investment into new equipment at the Swindon-based brewery to around £1/2 million over the last five years.

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Not quite the 'real deal' but as near at we could get to Royal approval!

Head Brewer, Don Bracher, 'Catherine and William' and Alex Arkell in front of the new fermenters.


And in honour of the country's most famous couple the fermenters have been named 'William' and 'Catherine' by brew-house staff.

The new equipment, which cost £55,000 to install, replaces a large open copper fermenter from the 1930s. Head brewer, Don Bracher, said: "We decided to replace the old equipment earlier this year and as the Royal Wedding was the only topic of conversation at the time, the names stuck."

"More seriously, it's a good investment for us because we can now respond more quickly to the increasing demand for more seasonal and occasional real ales."

Earlier this year Arkell's produced Blue Sapphire for the Royal Wedding as well as Hurricane Ale, for the International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and Royal Bassett Ale, celebrating Wootton Bassett's unique contribution to honouring the British Armed Forces.


Real ale is produced by 'top fermenting yeast' at temperatures up to 22°C which produces the rich variety of flavours in an ale. It is this primary fermentation that takes place in the new equipment at Arkell's. After primary fermentation the ale is allowed to mature at 11-13°C in a cask where a slow secondary fermentation occurs.

"The most important outcome for a traditional brewery, such as Arkell's, is to consistently produce top quality real ale," said Alex Arkell, who is working alongside Don. "And that takes continued investment in equipment."


David Walliams sets off on 140 mile Thames Swim

7.30am on a chilly September morning and more than 100 paparazzi, TV crews were tucking into bacon sandwiches (supplied by local butcher Andrew Cutler) and coffee at The Riverside Inn at Lechlade.

7.32am and out steps David Walliams, to do interviews and meet the public before setting off on an epic 140-mile swim to London, where he should arrive at Big Ben in eight days.

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Visit the Arkells Brewery Facebook page for photographs....



The Carpenter's Arms tops Trip Advisor

The Carpenter's Arms Motel at South Marston has again topped the best business and leisure hotels in Swindon on Trip Advisor, which features reviews and information on hotels, holidays and travel around the world.

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Bob Feal-Martinez at top-rated The Carpenter's Arms


The Arkell's-owned motel (there are only two in the brewery's estate of pubs), which has just nine rooms, scored top out of the 35 hotels listed in the Swindon area.

Carpenter's Arms Landlord Bob Feal-Martinez, said: "I didn't know anything about Trip Advisor until last year when one of my regular customers mentioned that we were on there. I visited the website to see what they had said and was delighted with the review. Since then we have had many positive reviews, which has pushed our rating up the site."

Some travel review websites have been criticized recently for publishing glowing reviews on hotels and resorts written by the management themselves. Bob says that while it is possible to do this on Trip Advisor, it's not easy as the website won't accept a review emailed from the IP address of the business being reviewed, and carries out random checks on reviews written.

"We have to rely on our customers to write the reviews when they have left the motel," explains Bob. "It's up to us to make their stay memorable enough for them to remember to do a review when they've returned home."

"The majority of comments we receive seem to mention that our customers like the fact that we are not a corporate hotel but a small number of chalet rooms grouped around a courtyard next to a traditional country pub," added Bob.

Of course, not all reviews are favourable, but Trip Advisor has a method for a destination's management to respond to poor reviews.

"No hotel will always get it right," admits Bob. "However, less favourable comments keep us on our toes. Showing publicly that you accept and want to resolve a problem quickly is very important, and that's what we do."

Arkell's Brewery bought The Carpenter's Arms in 1881, the same year that 'Honest John' Arkell, who founded the brewery in 1843, died and many years before the age of the motorcar. Arkell's Brewery adapted the country pub into a motel in the 2001 due to a rising demand for comfortable and economical overnight accommodation in Swindon during its first boom years. Such was the motel's success that a second phase was added along with landscaped patios.


The Bull charges into hotel refurbishment

More than £100,000 has been pumped into the historic Bull Hotel at Fairford by owners Arkell's Brewery and although the brewery thinks that no one may notice when they first walk in, the directors and landlord Mark Dudley don't mind a bit.

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James Arkell, Joe Cuzack (Fairford Town Mayor), Mark and Cherie Dudley (Landlords) and Town Crier Maurice Jones.


"The Bull Hotel dates back to the 17th century and it just wouldn't be right to make this lovely old Cotswold Hotel look modern and shiny inside," says brewery director, George Arkell.

Much of the investment is behind the scenes, with new plumbing, heating and customer toilets. Other investment has opened up the bar areas and redecorated restaurants and 60-seater function room.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "Guests want to be warm and clean - so that's where we've invested most, but the restaurants haven't had a full redecoration for years so we've really gone to town there too."

Such major refurbishment was considered an essential investment to relaunch The Bull Hotel onto the tourist map, after a significant source of revenue to the town of Fairford dried up when more than 1000 Americans left Fairford Airbase last year.

Landlord Mark Dudley said: "The town has been incredibly privileged to have such a large group of people living close by who, for years, made a significant contribution to the local economy. When we heard the news that the airbase was closing it was not only sad to lose the personal relationships we had built up with many of the families living there, but obviously it was going to have a significant impact on local business.

"The investment has made The Bull more attractive not only to our loyal and regular customers from the area, but also to guests from further afield."

The Bull holds fishing rights to a stretch of the River Coln, a major draw to weekenders and anglers.

George Arkell added: "Every business must adapt to changing circumstances and the latest refurbishment will allow Mark and Judy Dudley, who have successfully run the hotel for more than 20 years, to go on doing just that."

Notes on The Bull Hotel.

The Bull hotel dates back to the 17th Century and it was a monastic house, merchant's house and meeting hall before being adapted as a hotel. Until 1910 part of the building served as bank and the entrance to its hidden tunnel, discovered only a few years ago and thought to allow direct access to the church by the monks, is under the chef's office. Arkell's bought the hotel in 1973, and Judy Dudley and her son Mark have run the hotel for over 20 years.


The Baker's Arms rises in Badbury

Another village pub is facing a brighter future thanks to Arkell's new Community Liaison Officer, the villagers of Badbury and its new, newly married landlords.

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Dave & Becky Preston, Peter Hayman outside The Baker's Arms


Dave and Becky Preston, who also run The Sun Inn at Coate Water, one of Swindon's busiest family pubs, have taken over behind the bar at The Baker's Arms at Badbury and plan to run them side-by-side.

The newly-married couple, who wed at Christchurch in Swindon only last year, have wasted no time since they moved in and the pub has been repainted and new furniture brought in. They are keen to put down roots in a local community, perhaps start a family and Becky says Badbury seems perfect.

"The Sun Inn at Coate Water is busy and thriving - especially since the new children's play area went in earlier this year," says Becky. "The Baker"s Arms at Badbury is different. It's smaller, in a village with an active and supportive community and running it alongside The Sun gives us the opportunity to build the business up. Thanks to the former landlords, we have a good customer base on which we can build. Perhaps we should call it our 'country retreat', thought it's much more than that."

Richard Turner, Arkell's Community Liaison Manager, appointed by the brewery in March this year, began working with the previous landlords in April when they needed to retire from the pub and find alternative accommodation due to poor health.

"For some long-term landlords who live 'above the shop', it can be difficult to plan for the future," said Richard. "As a family brewery we value our landlords and my job was to help them. As I saw it I had two responsibilities: To the landlords seeking to move on and to the villagers, who wanted to know what was going on."

Badbury villagers didn't need any encouragement to become involved and, having followed the recent story of another Arkell's pub in the media, The Rose & Crown at Ashbury, where locals rose up to support the brewery in finding a new landlord, the residents of Badbury decided to do the same thing.

Badbury villager, Peter Hayman, said: "I've lived in the village for 34 years and worn out three tankards in The Baker's Arms over that time. It has always been a gathering place for the local community. When we heard that new landlords were being sought, we got in touch with Arkell's and pledged our renewed support for the pub and for the new landlords."

He added: "We value the pub as the centre of the village and hope that many of the 300+ other Badbury villagers will take the opportunity return and meet Dave and Becky."

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, is delighted that Dave and Becky are so enthusiastic: "They are just what The Baker's Arms needs," he said. "It's wonderful to have a young couple in there, welcoming back families and children, and great to see the enthusiasm of the Badbury villagers - many of which have already dropped in to say hello to the new landlords.

"The Baker's Arms is definitely rising again."


Crackliest Roast Pork ever at Broad Hinton Crown

Landlord and Chef at The Crown at Broad Hinton near Swindon, Oliver Moody, is claiming that his Roast Pork crackling is the crackliest ever.

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Oliver and Anna taste the fabulous pork crackling....


"It's taken me years to perfect the perfect pork crackling because it's so delicious when it's cooked properly - golden crisp on the outside, meltingly sweet underneath before you plunge into the tenderest of meat itself - and a big disappointment if the joint is soggy right through," he said.

But it's not just crackly roast pork on the menu at this pretty Arkell's country pub. Oliver is a bit of a radical chef as the pub regularly hosts 'Extreme Steak Nights' with massive steak joints. The next such night is being held in October.

Oliver and his partner Anna Brookman are celebrating taking over officially behind the bar at The Crown, having worked tirelessly behind the scenes for the previous landlords, who left last month.

"We know The Crown and its customers well," said Oliver. "Before we were employees, now we have the opportunity to make the pub truly our own."
And the couple intends to do this in style. In what they think will be a first for Swindon, and what they also predict are the 'next big thing' in culinary delights, they will soon be introducing Monkfish Liver and Cod Cheeks onto the menu.

Monkfish liver is a Japanese delicacy - rich and creamy and it has been called 'the foie gras of the sea', cod cheeks (which really are the cheeks of a cod) can be cooked in much the same way as scallops and are also considered a delicacy.

"I love introducing new foods and new ideas onto the menu," says Oliver, "But I know that not everyone wants to try it out so there's plenty of recognisable dishes on the menu for the majority of our customers who would rather know what they are ordering!"

"Perhaps I'm like an extreme sportsman - sometimes I just want to go 'off piste' as they say and do something amazing, and sometimes more customers than we expect come along for the ride. When we started the extreme steak nights we thought to attract just a few but we're having to do more of them as they've proved very popular."

Arkell's Brewery chairman, James Arkell, isn't entirely sure about the monkfish liver or the cod cheeks, but is a big supporter of the extreme pork crackling. "There's nothing better than tender roast pork inside an armour of crackling prepared by a young and enthusiastic team who love what they do - all washed down with a pint of Wiltshire Gold or 3Bs," he says.

So what is the secret of Oliver's crackling? "The meat must be as dry as possible before it"s rubbed all over with salt," he says. "Then put it into a very hot oven - up to 220 degrees and leave it at that heat for the first half of the cooking time, then 'Bob's your uncle'."


James goes wild for Charity

On Sunday, 24 July Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, Chief Executive of ABF The Soldiers Charity and Cotswold and Wiltshire brewer James Arkell, who both live near Fairford, will set off on an epic horse ride across Northumberland.

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James and Mozart get ready for the ride of the year


In total six people will ride the ancient Reivers Route, a medieval frontier between England and Scotland and the location for violent battles such as Otterburn in 1388 and Flodden in 1513. Reivers were wild men who ranged around Northumberland and the lowlands: Britain's mediaeval 'Wild West'.

One the way up to the borders the men will stop off at Tim Taylors' brewery and pick up its managing director, Charles Dent, who will join them.

The ride is to raise money for The Soldiers' Charity Current Operations Fund, which supports soldiers and their families who are in need resulting from current operations or any future conflict. The six intrepid riders will visit locations of ancient battles across the English/Scottish borders between the 13th and 17th centuries, culminating at Dunbar where two battles were fought. 
Events are scheduled along the route that will take the team via Callaly, The Cheviots, Coldstream, Kelso,
 Philiphaugh, Galashiels, Thirlestane Castle and 
Haddington.

James Arkell, chairman of Arkell's Brewery in Swindon and proprietor of Donnington Brewery, Stow on the Wold, said: "It will be a tough ride - a mental and physical challenge for us all which we hope will not only raise money for the cause, but raise awareness too. For the Major General and I, it will probably be our last big ride after completing a similar ride, the Tudor Ride, across Wales two years ago.
For more information or to donate contact: 0845 241 4820
www.soldierscharity.org


Lyons share of investment in Bed and Breakfast

Arkell's Brewery and landlord Mark Genders are investing over £75,000 in the refurbishment of bedroom accommodation at The Lord Lyon pub at Stockcross near Newbury.

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Mark and chicken ( much more attractive than the state of the rooms at the moment...)


The pub won the West Berkshire Best Community Pub earlier this year and now Mark Genders, who only took over as landlord in 2010, is determined to expand his business by reintroducing overnight accommodation to the same standard as the rest of the pub, which was itself refurbished by owners Arkell's last year.

"The pub used to offer bed and breakfast many years ago, but it's fallen behind the times in terms of facilities and for the last ten years or so the rooms have been used simply for staff accommodation," he said. "With the recent success of the pub Arkell's decided that it's time for significant further investment and I'm delighted."

Director at the Wiltshire brewery, George Arkell, said: "Mark has worked his socks off to encourage local people back into the pub. Initiatives, such as cultivating a vegetable garden, working with the local school and the community and making the pub available for them and others have paid off in the recent CAMRA recognition. Now we are matching his enthusiasm with our investment."

Refurbishment has begun and the new rooms will be available for letting by September.


Bumper allotment harvest delivers for pub kitchens

The dry spring weather and wet summer rains might have been bad news for farmers, but for allotment holders at The Exmouth Arms on Cheltenham's Bath Road, it's producing a bumper crop.

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Sarah Capewell amongst her dad's runner beans at The Exmouth Arms


And what's good news for the allotment holders is very good news for the pub, because payment for each allotment is a share of their vegetable crop to the pub's kitchen.
However, one allotment holder is finding himself paying a bigger price than the others - because his daughter is the pub-s manageress.
Sarah Capewell said: "The Exmouth Arms allotments were set up three years ago on a disused area behind the pub. Arkell's Brewery, which owns the pub, ploughed and prepared the site and ever since local people have cultivated their patches. Each allotment is around 3 metres square which doesn't sound much but it's amazing how much can be grown on them. My dad, Julian, is a great gardener and he and mum can't possibly eat everything they grow so I say it's much better to pass the excess over to The Exmouth Arms' kitchens."

Julian Capewell harvested 15 courgettes this week - only to find himself handing most of them over to the chef, but he doesn't mind. 'He and mum can come in and eat their own courgettes in a pub meal," said Sarah.

"Most of the vegetables appear on our specials board the evening we're given them and vegetarian customers have an usually large menu to choose from at this time of year - our veg lasagne is a hot favourite,' she added.
George Arkell, at pub owner Arkell's Brewery, praised the pub's initiative: "It's a wonderful use of a derelict piece of land in the middle of Cheltenham - and a great idea to make others do the digging and then be able to eat the fruits (or should I say vegetables) of their hard work!"


Wantage hotel 'Bears' all for Loo of the Year

The Bear Hotel at Wantage is planning to enter this year's national "Loo of the Year" awards after its landlady persuaded hotel owner Arkell's Brewery to splash out on expensive new wallpaper in the ladies loos during the hotel's recent refurbishment.

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Ellie Walkley, 16, daughter of landlady Jo, experiences the delights of 'Bearing' it all. Very expensive wallpaper can be seen in the background!


Hotel Landlady Jo Walkley explains: "When the interior designer showed me the wallpaper I fell in love with it - but then we all discovered the cost and common sense took over - almost. I was determined to use the wallpaper somewhere in the hotel, and the ladies loos were the only room we could afford to do it in. It's just a pity that only 50% of our customers will ever appreciate it."

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, doesn't think it's money wasted though. "Lovely loos are essential in pubs and hotels, and our female customers really do appreciate our landlords offering the highest possible standards."

According to tongue-in-cheek report in the Metro Newspaper, loos are the new clubs. A report in the newspaper mentions Kate Moss holding an impromptu party in a Chinese restaurant loo on her 33rd birthday.

More usually, though hotel and pub loos are a great place to have a quick gossip during a night out.

Jo Walkley thinks that, after cleanliness, the most important items in hotel and pub toilets are quantities of loo paper, soap, plenty of mirrors and good lighting to touch up makeup, and whilst her customers might not appreciate the expensive wallpaper, she still thinks that it's all part of good interior decoration that everyone appreciates.

A number of other Arkell's pubs have recently has their loos refurbished and plan to enter the awards. These include: The Saracens' Head, Highworth. The Bull Hotel, Fairford, The Rickety Press, Oxford and The Moonrakers, Swindon.


Debt Collector turns the tables

After spending practically every day of the last eight months using The Black Horse at Wanborough as his 'office', Debt Collector Neil Davies had seen enough.

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Neil Davies swaps debt-hunting for a job behind the bar


So when he heard that the landlord wanted to head off to Cyprus and coach football he dived right in and took over.

"I was working as a freelance debt collector and was in most days with my laptop. I had seen the pub up close and personal and knew how it worked, who the customers are and why people use it. I knew I wouldn't get another opportunity if I didn't seize it quickly," he said.

Neil has seen his fair share of business disasters over the last four years of debt collecting, but is convinced that a well-run pub will not be one of them. "What people want is a sense of community, good food and good beer. That's what the previous landlords worked so hard to deliver and that's why The Black Horse is increasingly popular. Four years is also quite long enough to be a debt collector, receiving regular black eyes and threats from unhappy debtors."

It's not an entirely unfamiliar industry for Neil, however, who trained as a chef and worked in the industry for a decade before his previous job.

Arkell's Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "I don't think we have had a debt collector as a landlord before, but it strikes me that he's likely to understand more than many the potential pitfalls of running a small business."

Neil added: "I've got big ambitions for the pub, which has over four acres of land. I love beer and I love music. I've started regular jazz evenings and plan on hosting music festivals over the summer. I love people, but there wasn't a lot of opportunity to love them in my last job. There is now."


Ashbury and Arkell's celebrate landlord success

A ground-breaking initiative by Swindon-based Arkell's Brewery, launched just six weeks ago, has been hailed a big success after experienced landlords took over at The Rose & Crown at Ashbury, near Swindon.

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Steve Tredwell, Bill Downes & Richard Turner celebrate


In March, Arkell's made the news when it appointed the country's first Brewery Community Liaison Manager to help build links between its rural pubs and their local communities. At the time the brewery was seeking new landlords for The Rose and Crown at Ashbury and the villagers were delighted to be given the opportunity to get involved. Interest was so strong that when the pub's local MP, Ed Vaisey, heard about it he dropped in for a pint to find out more.



Last week Bill and Sandra Downes took over. After a 12-year career in The Navy, Bill carved out a successful career running pubs with Sandra in London and Wiltshire, including pubs for Arkell's. Eight years' ago the couple moved to Spain, but Bill became homesick for the English seasons and they contacted Arkell's just last month.



Bill says it was the active the support of the village that encouraged them to take over the tenancy.



"Rural pubs must have local support to survive and the villagers had set up a pub steering committee to come up with ideas to make the most of their pub."



Village Steering Committee chair, Steve Tredwell, said: "Welcoming Bill and Sandra is a big step forward in making the pub the hub of the local community again. We've got lots of ideas and we'll be supporting our local for the long term." Book clubs and business breakfast clubs are some of the ideas under consideration.



George Arkell, directors at Arkell's, is delighted that the brewery's community initiative is proving so successful.



"Working with the villagers of Ashbury reinforced how important pubs are to their local communities, but sometimes it's easy to forget that those same pubs are businesses and need on-going local support. The villagers of Ashbury have been fantastic."



Richard Turner, Arkell's Brewery Community Liaison Manager, is actively working with all Arkell's 21 rural pubs where they are the only remaining business in their community.


Cambodian advertisement leads Cotswold man back home

A notice board more than 6,300 miles away has led to a new job for a Gloucestershire traveller.

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Ali Neal


30 year old Ali Neal was travelling across Cambodia on the final leg of his world tour when he stumbled on the advertisement for a position in his home town of Cirencester. Knowing he was returning to the UK in April he gave The Golden Cross on Black Jack Street a call to enquire about the position as head barman and front of house supervisor.

"I couldn't believe it when I saw it. I was staying at the FCC Hotel in Siam Reap and had only just got off the phone enquiring about another job in Bristol. I thought it was a joke but was familiar with the pub so thought why not!"

The ad had been placed there by a friend of Golden Cross landlord Mark Lindesay after an email conversation in which Mr Lindesay mentioned that his previous barman had left the venue back in March. Mr Lindesay was a travel journalist and writer in Asia during the 1990's and early 2000's.

"I also thought it was a bit of a joke," explained Mr Lindesay "When my friend suggested it I did not think he would go through with it but am pleased he did. Ali has been here for a couple of weeks now and has just settled straight in."


Avocado off the menu at The Bull, Fairford

It was THE colour of the 1970s and 80s, but avocado is definitely off the menu at The Bull at Fairford, currently undergoing a major refurbishment.

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The Bull Hotel


As the last hotel bathroom avocado-coloured suite is replaced with white fixtures and fittings, hotel-owners Arkell's Brewery has started on the bars and restaurant.

Most of the investment is 'behind the scenes', however, with new plumbing, heating and customer toilets - although the secret tunnel from the hotel to Fairford's 500-year-old St Mary's Church isn't being refurbished.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "Guests want to be warm and clean - so that's where we're investing most - although it's a shame few people will notice when the walls are plastered over."

The Bull hotel dates back to the 17th Century and it was a monastic house, merchant's house and meeting hall before being adapted as a hotel. Until 1910 part of the building served as bank and the entrance to its hidden tunnel, discovered only a few years ago and thought to allow direct access to the church by the monks, is under the chef's office. Arkell's bought the hotel in 1973, and Judy Dudley and her son Mark have run the hotel for over 20 years.

"Old hotels need regular refurbishments, especially one as busy as The Bull," said Mark, "Fashions change too so goodbye avocado, hello sparkling white. Thankfully our four-poster beds never go out of fashion."

The Hotel is planning a party at the end of June when refurbishment is complete.


Old railway workers let train take strain

Retired railway workers from across England converged on The Tavern pub, Kemble last week to reminisce over old times. They came from as far afield as Staffordshire, Shoreman-by-Sea and even Crackington Haven, Cornwall - converging on the pub, which is next door to Kemble mainline station.

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Retired railway workers at The Tavern


The group, which started in 1993 is 40-strong, meets monthly at pubs next to train stations across England and consists of retired signalmen, timetable managers and area managers. Members' ages' range from 82-year old former area manager Brian Simpson to 69-year old baby Norman Uzzell.

Norman (far right in attached photograph), a retired railways personnel manager from Wolverhampton, said: "There are lots of groups like ours who meet regularly. Our members tend to be drawn from the management, but there are former train-crew and engineers groups who also do the circuit."

"We all enjoy planning our trips - and if the trains are on time then we know exactly when everyone's going to arrive."

John Rebb, who was responsible for timetabling at British Rail, arrived at the pub on the 12.07 from Bodmin. Phil Ross arrived at 12.38 from Birmingham.

Tavern landlady, Tracey Scott, who only took over behind the bar a few weeks' ago, was delighted to see them. "The trouble is they wanted to know exactly what time I was serving their lunch," she said. "I felt like saying 'The next Cornish Pasty to arrive at your table will be the 1.10pm from The Tavern's kitchens'."


Moonrakers calls for Pinehurst's former schoolmates

The landlords of The Moonrakers at Stratton at are on the hunt for former students of Pinehurst school.

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Bev Neal say's 'come on down' to The Moonies


Pete and Bev Neal, who took over behind the bar at The Moonrakers in February, are on a mission to find old friends in the area and plan to host a series of reunion evenings over the next few months at their pub. The next one will be in July for former pupils of Headlands School.

But first it's Pinehurst School's turn on 17th June. "I grew up in this part of Swindon, and it's about time that I caught up with old friends who haven't yet dropped into the pub," said Bev - who ran Arkell's pub The Manor, Cheney Manor with Pete for years and The County Ground Hotel prior to that, before taking time out of the pub trade "for a bit of a breather", she says.

"One of the reasons we came back into the business was because The Moonrakers, one of the town's best-known pubs, became available - it's got the biggest function room in Swindon and I'm a bit of a party girl.

"It was the only room big enough to host Pete's 50th birthday some years' ago when around 400 people crammed in there, and Arkell's have just done it up so I want to show it off to everyone." Well-known across Swindon, Pete is a former British welterweight boxer.

Bev hopes that everyone will bring their old school photographs along with them and the disco will play 60's and 70's music.

For more information call Bev or Pete at The Moonrakers on 01793 721017.


Highwayman must 'stand and deliver'

The Highwayman pub on the A417/419 Cirencester-Gloucester is facing tough trading in June after Gloucestershire Highways announced that the road will close overnight for a month for resurfacing.

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Mark Turner at The Highwayman


Landlord Mark Turner, who took over two years ago and has successfully built up the pub's trade, has been told that either the north-bound or southbound carriageway will close every evening from 8pm, Monday-Friday, to 6am the following morning from 31st May - 23rd June for 'essential resurfacing works'.

"This could knock a big proportion of our business on the head during one of our busiest months of the year." he said.

George Arkell, at pub owners Arkell's Brewery, said: "The Highwayman is the busiest it's been ever since the road was built - which must be more than ten years ago. It's a real rural success story - with fantastic food and a great new chef."

Now it looks like the Gloucestershire Highways want to put the boot in. Mark added: "Much of our business is passing trade because of where we are. For those that know the back roads around Winstone and Elkstone I say: Come along and support us, because we really want your custom.

"It's incredibly tough for the licensed trade at the moment and we would have though that the Highways department would have recognised this and done their best to help - it seems such a blanket approach to close the whole north-bound or southbound carried when they are resurfacing one carriageway at a time. I thought that's what bollards are for."

The Highways agency has already told the pub that it cannot do contraflow, because it would cost too much money.

Similar resurfacing work was carried out the month Mark took over The Highwayman less than two years ago, so he is bemused as to why it is happening again so soon.

"It knocked our trade then, and it will do so again," he said. "We work more than 12-hour days in this trade, and we love what we do but when what appears to be a 'jobs-worth' department come along and threaten your livelihood, it is a bitter pill to swallow."


It's GOLD for Arkell's new beer

Arkell's is launching Wiltshire Gold, its first new regular beer to be brewed and available all year round since 2003.


At 4% ABV, Wiltshire Gold is a light amber colour using Styrian Goldings with a gentle floral, hoppy aroma and a sweet, malty, hoppy taste.

Wiltshire Gold will be available across Arkell's estate of pubs from Monday 9 May onwards.

According to brewery director, George Arkell, it complements the Arkell's family of regular beers by adding a lighter ale to the range.

"Our customers' tastes are diverse. By adding Wiltshire Gold to our regular brews we feel that we now have a range of beers to appeal to real ale drinkers across the board." he said.

In 2003 Arkell's brewed Moonlight, paying tribute to 80-year old Peter Arkell's moonlight RAF flying sorties into occupied France during World War 2. Launched as a special, it was added to Arkell's regular stable of beers thanks to strong customer demand.

"After Moonlight, it was definitely time for some sunlight and that's how we think of Wiltshire Gold," said George.

Don Bracher, head brewer at Arkell's, explains: "Wiltshire Gold is very similar to our Summer Ale which has been a regular seasonal hit for the brewery for over ten years and which many people are always sorry to leave behind as winter approached. Now it can be summer all year round."


Arkell's stable of year-round beers are:

2B.
At 3.2% a lighter beer brewed constantly since the early 1900s
3B.
4% ABV. First brewed in 1910 and has been affectionately known as BBB or 3B by customers ever since. (One Swindon landlord says 'BBB' stands for "Big Boy's Beer".)
Kingsdown.
5% ABV. The strongest regular Arkell's beer, originally brewed as a special beer to commemorate Swindon Town Football Club's League Cup triumph in 1969. It went into regular production in 1976.
Moonlight.
4.5% ABV. Brewed in 2003 paying tribute to 80-year old Peter Arkell's moonlight RAF flying sorties into occupied France during World War 2. A special blend of malts and English Fuggles and Susan hops to give a beautiful golden colour, lingering taste and toasty aroma.

Smooth.
3.6% ABV. Satisfying the demand for 'smooth' beers, its lower alcohol content makes it a lighter alternative to other 'smooth' beers which are available.
And of course:

Arkell's Czech-style Pilsner, launched in 2009.
3.8% ABV. Brewed in the classic traditional Czech fashion, using Czech hops such as the Saaz. Bottom fermented and cold-conditioned.


All hands to beer pumps for Help for Heroes

All hands to beer pumps for Help for Heroes

It will be all hands to the pumps at The Riverside Inn, Lechlade on 4 June when hundreds of walkers raising money for Help for Heroes descend on the pub after completing the Thames Challenge, a 16-mile walk starting at Newbridge.

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Dave Lewis 'tanked up' and ready to go


The walk is being organised by Dave Lewis, a Hercules Ground Engineer who has been on Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a crew.

He said: "We have transported badly injured personnel from the more remote areas of the country, as well as the coffins of our fallen troops. As part of my rehabilitation after an injury, I spent time on courses at Headley Court and witnessed the same injured troops being treated and getting used to false limbs. These experiences persuaded me get involved with Help for Heroes."

Part of his rehabilitation was to do a lot of walking and in September 2009 he organised the first Malvern Challenge, when more than 100 walkers taking part. This event has grown and been run annually ever since. This year, after becoming the Oxfordshire County Coordinator for Help for Heroes, he has added this second event to his fund-raising calendar.

"With RAF Lyneham closing and moving to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire I thought it would be a good way to introduce the Lyneham personnel to the area and to Brize Norton personnel. It will also introduce everyone to the Thames path, the pubs along the river and the beautiful town of Lechlade."

When Dave approached The Riverside Inn, Arkell's Brewery immediately threw their weight behind the idea and offered him the use of the pub for the day - which sits on the Thames path and has big river-fronted gardens.

George Arkell, brewery director, said: "It's a great idea and we are even badging one of our beers especially for the day. Dave's team are also aiming to raise funds for 'Beer for the Boys', which we thoroughly approve of."

'Beer for the Boys' is a charity run by 216 Sqn, which provides a beer for every person returning from Afghanistan on one of their Tristar aircraft.

Dave added: "I have been the recipient of a beer many times on my return to the UK and it is a very welcome drink. It also makes you feel like people are thinking about you and appreciate what you do."

Dave adds: "The response to this first Thames Walk has been amazing with many Lechlade businesses getting involved and walkers starting to register."

The 16-mile walk runs along the Thames Path from Newbridge to Lechlade taking in five pubs en route. There is also the option of a 12 mile walk starting at The Trout at Lechlade or an 8 mile walk from The Swan at Radcott.
At the finish in Lechlade, walkers will be presented with a medal and there will be a raffle/auction, entertainment and a barbecue - all taking place at The Riverside Inn.
Visit: www.events4h4h.org.uk for details and how to register for the walk.

http://www.riverside-lechlade.com


Roger 'bottles' out at 84!

84-year old Roger Partridge refilled the shelves of the Kingsdown Inn for the last time today after working at the Arkell's pub for 20 years, first as the gardener and then inside bottling up and as general help.

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James Arkell thanks Roger Partridge for 20 years' at The Kingsdown


Kingsdown landlords John and Liz McGregor threw him a farewell party and brewery chairman James Arkell came along to say a personal thankyou to probably the oldest bottler in town.

After a career working for the RAF in Iraq during the war, at Short Brothers, in the stores at Swindon's railway works and at Pressed Steel, Thamesdown Council and Nationwide Roger retired once before becoming bored and offering to look after the gardens at The Kingsdown Inn at Stratton.

He began bottling up a few years later and enjoyed the bustle and friendliness of the busy pub.

"I only live down the road and it's been great to earn a bit of money, then to put it back behind the bar in the evenings when I come in and have a drink with my friends," he said.

But at 84 he decided enough was enough, and while he still plans to be a regular on the customer side of the bar, he think's it's time to put his feet up during the day. Next week he's off to Wales to visit his younger brother Clive, 69, who lives in Barmouth.

"I won't be there long, though, because their local pub's closed down. And anyway, there's no place like home, especially when it's close to a pint of beer."

James Arkell said: "He's a wonderful example to us all - but if he think it's time to bottle out at 84, we'll miss him, but we salute him. It must have been all the Arkell's that kept him fit and active."


Kids play out in The Sun

More than 30 children were queuing to get in when landlords Dave Preston and Rebecca Mallows threw open the gates to their new children's play area at The Sun at Coate Water.

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Sun and children shine at The Sun, Coate Water.


"The Sun was definitely shining for us the day we opened it and word got out about the new play area so we hope for a summer of hot and busy weekends for everyone" said Dave, who has been running the busy Arkell's pub for two years.

Since Dave and Rebecca took over The Sun it has got busier and busier - but before Dave took over he'd never pulled a pint in his life. This former employee of Swindon-based Threadneedle Investments spent most of his life commuting between Swindon and London.

He hasn't got a minute's regret at leaving his desk-based former life behind though - especially when the sun comes out and the pub gardens are alive with families enjoying themselves.

"I love running a busy pub, and Arkell's investment in the children's area make sound financial sense, as parents will come and relax more as they know their children can play safely and happily."

The new play area has specially-designed safety flooring and all-new play equipment.

More than 30 children were queuing to get in when landlords Dave Preston and Rebecca Mallows threw open the gates to their new children"s play area at The Sun at Coate Water this week.

"The Sun is definitely shining for us this weekend, and word got out about the new play area so we're hoping for a hot and busy weekend for everyone" said Dave, who has been running the busy Arkell's pub for two years.

Since Dave and Rebecca took over The Sun it has got busier and busier - but before Dave took over he'd never pulled a pint in his life. This former employee of Swindon-based Threadneedle Investments spent most of his life commuting between Swindon and London.

He hasn't got a minute's regret at leaving his desk-based former life behind though - especially when the sun comes out and the pub gardens are alive with families enjoying themselves.

"I love running a busy pub, and Arkell's investment in the children's area make sound financial sense, as parents will come and relax more as they know their children can play safely and happily."

The new play area has specially-designed safety flooring and all-new play equipment.


Tribute to townspeople of 'Royal' Wootton Bassett

Arkell's Brewery is proud to announce that, in recognition of Wootton Bassett's new royal charter status, it is brewing a special new beer called Royal Bassett Ale in tribute to the townspeople who have turned out, rain or shine, to honour fallen servicemen as their bodies are brought back home.

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Head Brewer Don Bracher, Collette Parsons, manager of the Sally Pussey Inn at Wootton Bassett, James Arkell, Chairman Arkell's Brewery


The beer is now available and £10 from each barrel will go directly to The Soldiers Charity, formerly The Army Benevolent Fund, which gives lifetime support to serving and retired soldiers and their families.

Arkell's has a long association with the services. Peter Arkell, who died last year, flew as an RAF pilot behind enemy lines during the Second World War. Brewery Chairman James Arkell is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of The Royal Wiltshire Yeomanry, his son George, who is also a director at the brewer, is currently serving as an officer in the same regiment. George's brother Captain John Arkell of the Light Dragoon Guards was wounded on his second tour of Afghanistan in 2009 when an explosion hit part of his 30-man patrol in Helmand Province.

James Arkell, who has attended a number of repatriation ceremonies, said: "We have all been personally and immensely touched by the respect shown by the townspeople of Wootton Bassett to our servicemen. It is both a deep honour and privilege to be able to do this."


Head brewer, Don Bracher, added: "I have friends who turned out every week to pay their personal tribute to those who have fought and died on this country's behalf. This is our small tribute to those who wish to quietly but publically recognise the enormous sacrifice that so many or our armed forces have made."


Millie's Blue Sapphire Tribute to Royal Couple

Ten year old Millie Hemphill with Head Brewer Don Bracher and George Arkell

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Ten-year old Millie Hemphill has won a competition held by Upper Stratton's Ruskin Junior School and Arkell's Brewery to come up with a name and design for the brewery's Royal ale, which will be on sale in Arkell's pubs across Swindon from early April.


Ten-year old Millie Hemphill has won a competition held by Upper Stratton's Ruskin Junior School and Arkell's Brewery to come up with a name and design for the brewery's Royal ale, which will be on sale in Arkell's pubs across Swindon from early April.

Her name for the Royal beer is Blue Sapphire. Millie said: "I named the beer because of the engagement ring Prince William gave to Kate Middleton."

Millie's name and design for the beer was chosen from almost 100 entries from Ruskin pupils and brewery director George Arkell, along with Head Brewer Don Bracher, visited the school last Friday to announce the news.

George said: "We were absolutely delighted at the number of entries we received for this competition and we had a really hard time to come up with the eventual winner. We did draw up a shortlist of five but Millie won because her chosen name matched her lovely design for the pump clip. She had obviously spent a lot of time thinking about the project and doing the design. Well done Millie."

The short list of five included: Georgia Simms, Class 7 who came up with the name of Royal Windsor, Adam Crook, Class 10: Royal Ale. Megan Attwood, Class 4: Royal Hearts and Kayleigh Beveridge, Class 7: Wiki Malt Ale (a clever anagram of William and Kate).
Blue Sapphire will be sold as cask ale only, and available in polypins for local and street celebrations.

It will be brewed from Organic First Gold Hops and have an ABV of 4.7%.

For more information or to reserve or buy and barrel, contact Arkell's Brewery on 01793 823026.


White Hart at Stratton carves up new restaurant

After a major investment three years' ago in The White Hart at Stratton, Swindon, Arkell's Brewery has just completed a further stage of investment in one of its largest pubs by converting the restaurant into a brand new carvery for the town.

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George Arkell checks out new carvery at The White Hart at Stratton with Richard Crickmar


Managed by Richard Crickmar, who also manages one of Arkell's most successful pubs, The Tawny Owl at Taw Hill, The White Hart opened its doors last Friday and had a busy first weekend.

Brewery director George Arkell, said: "After some years out of favour, the carvery concept is proving very popular again, probably because it's a great way to cater for the diverse tastes of all the family without blowing the budget.

"The White Hart at Stratton was the obvious choice for us to prove this: It's a spacious building, with a big car park and just off one of Swindon's busiest junctions: the A419/Oxford Road roundabout."

The original carvery concept dates back many decades and probably originated from traditional gentlemen's clubs where a range of traditional roast meats and vegetables were displayed in the dining rooms. The concept was popularised in the 1970s and 1980s when some pub and restaurant discovered that it was a great way to offer fresh food to the increasing number of people who were starting to eat out regularly.

As tastes changed in the 1990s towards more 'gastro-dining', the concept died away but as people are now demanding good food at competitive prices the carvery is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity as diners remember that because all the food is on show, they know exactly what they're getting and the final bill often works out cheaper because there's less waste.


Liquorish to have allsorts of fun at Fox & Hounds

Well known local landlords Mickey Liquorish and Ali Wright along with many of their team who for years ran The Bunk at Curridge have taken over at nearby The Fox and Hounds, Donnington near Newbury, Berkshire and plan to rename the pub as a tribute to its charismatic former landlord, Harry Coates.

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Mickey Liquorish, left, Ali Wright, seated right, George Arkell, right outside The Fox & Hounds with pub staff and Arkell's Painting team.


Arkell's Brewery, which owns the pub, has set its painters on the case and from next month the pub will be renamed Harry's Bar and Kitchen.

Harry is remembered as one of the best landlords in England by many around Newbury, despite having died a few years ago. "Harry was the most professional landlord I've ever met," said Mickey. "He remembered all his customers and their favourite drink; he was the perfect host and a legend that I was lucky enough to know."

The most famous Harry's Bar in the world lies in Venice and boasted famous customers such as Ernest Hemingway, who spent many months writing novels there, Charlie Chaplin and Aristotle Onassis. Mickey and Ali say that everyone's welcome at Harry's Bar and Kitchen at Donnington, whatever their name - and if anyone wants to write a best-selling novel there, there's a perfect table with strong wifi connection in the corner.

George Arkell at Arkell's Brewery, said: "There are a lot of similarities between Mickey and the famous Harry Coates, both with big personalities and the gift for being a great landlord. As there are many Fox and Hounds pubs around the area we were very happy with Mickey and Ali's suggestion that we rename the pub. One thing is for sure: As a team, Mickey and Ali are unique and so is Harry's Bar and Kitchen."


Arkells turns rural pubs on their heads

Arkells has appointed the country's first Brewery Community Liaison Manager to get rural pubs and parish councils working together. Richard Turner, who has over 30 years' experience in the brewing industry, will work with Arkell's rural pubs to build links with local parish councils and communities helping to sustain rural and pub life.

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Neil Irvine, Ashbury Pub Steering Committee, Richard Turner and George Arkell, Arkell's Brewery and Ashbury villagers turn out to support new rural pub initiative.


Brewery chairman James Arkell spearheaded the move as rural pubs are at particular risk of rising costs and difficult trading conditions. "With rural post offices and village stores closing, the role of the village pub is changing and there are opportunities for these pubs which weren't there before," he said. "If new initiatives are supported by the local community, they could improve a pub's viability and reintroduce local amenities which have been lost. Richard will work with the local community and pub landlord, to identify what is and isn't practical and make viable initiatives happen."

Richard Turner was Arkell's Free Trade Director before retiring a few years ago. He said: "The current issues facing rural pubs aren't new, but have been exacerbated over the last few years with the spiraling cost of utilities, staff and the smoking ban. Where local post offices have closed, a number of Arkell's pubs have already taken the initiative to offer rural postal services. Others sell grocery essentials such as milk, bread, eggs and daily newspapers. This benefits everyone. We are encouraging input and support from local communities where this has yet to happen."

Richard will also work directly with pub landlords to secure rural rate relief and reduce energy and utility costs. Other initiatives such as alternative uses for a pub will also be considered.

"Creative, lateral thinking is needed, and that's where we hope local communities will come forward," he said.

At the Rose and Crown, Ashbury near Swindon the local community is already firmly on board. The pub, with its restaurant and letting accommodation, is being run by relief landlords Barry Barker and Malin Ricknell who have been so impressed with village support they are considering applying to take over the license permanently. When the previous landlords announced they were leaving in February, Arkells invited the village to tell them what they wanted from their local pub. At the first meeting the pub was packed with over a hundred locals wanting to have their say and a village steering committee has been established to share ideas and support the brewery.

The Rose & Crown lies in the centre of Ashbury, a pretty village at the foot of the Berkshire Downs in one of the most scenic areas on the borders of Wiltshire and South Oxfordshire. It has not been immune to the economic downturn and recently lost its village shop.

Leading the steering group is local man Steve Treadwell. He said: "The Rose & Crown is woven into the fabric of our community. It is the hub of the village and we are delighted to be able to work with Arkell's to find the right tenant.'

Ashbury has an impressive background, attracting celebrities such as Jude Law and more recently local neighbour legendry leader of The Who, Pete Townshend. It has an enviable location at the foot of the Ridgeway National Trail and famous White Horse Hill draws walkers and tourists from far and wide.


Arkell's to rescue and reopen Jericho pub

A Jericho pub which looked destined for permanent closure is the second pub in Oxford to have been rescued to be reopened by Wiltshire brewer Arkells.

The Radcliffe Arms on Cranham Street which closed in July 2010, has been bought by Arkell's from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries. The new landlords will be Chris Manners and Leo Johnson who have been running the hugely successful Rusty Bicycle in Magdalen Road, Oxford since Arkell's bought old pub The Eagle to refurbish, rename and reopen it in 2009.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to buy and reopen this pub. It's had an unhappy history since the local council sold it in 2009 but we want to repeat what we have done at the Rusty Bicycle and invest money and tender, loving care in the building before reopening to sell well-kept real ale and good food. Chris and Leo are the perfect men for the job."

He added: "When we reopen the pub, we hope that local people will come in, enjoy themselves and put their pub back at the heart of the community."

Chris and Leo will continue to run the Rusty Bicycle alongside The Radcliffe Arms. Arkell's took possession of the pub this week and will spend 6-8 weeks refurbishing and refitting the pub before reopening in early April.

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Chris Manners, George Arkell and Leo Johnson outside The Radcliffe Arms


The Radcliffe Arms on Cranham Street which closed in July 2010, has been bought by Arkell's from Scottish and Newcastle Breweries. The new landlords will be Chris Manners and Leo Johnson who have been running the hugely successful Rusty Bicycle in Magdalen Road, Oxford since Arkell's bought old pub The Eagle to refurbish, rename and reopen it in 2009.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be able to buy and reopen this pub. It's had an unhappy history since the local council sold it in 2009 but we want to repeat what we have done at the Rusty Bicycle and invest money and tender, loving care in the building before reopening to sell well-kept real ale and good food. Chris and Leo are the perfect men for the job."

He added: "When we reopen the pub, we hope that local people will come in, enjoy themselves and put their pub back at the heart of the community."

Chris and Leo will continue to run the Rusty Bicycle alongside The Radcliffe Arms. Arkell's took possession of the pub this week and will spend 6-8 weeks refurbishing and refitting the pub before reopening in early April.


Lord Lyon Rides to Victory

The Lord Lyon at Stockcross has beaten off tough competition to be awarded the hotly-contested Community Pub of the Year for 2011 by West Berks CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale)

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Mark Genders at The Lord Lyon


Customers nominated the Arkell's pub for an impressive 24 distinct reasons, according to West Berks Camra. Too numerous to list in full, these include: making the pub's garden available to local schools for projects (including 'meet the chicken' and vegetable gardening); hosting a party for the last night of the Stockcross pantomime; providing a venue for the village's book group, bridge, guitar and knitting clubs; supporting the local cricket and football clubs; aiding charities including the Sutton (village) hall.

The pub is named after a famous thoroughbred racehorse which won the three prestigious races that comprise the Triple Crown in 1866.

James Arkell, Chairman Arkell's Brewery, said: "We are thrilled that Mark's hard work at The Lord Lyon has been recognised by West Berks CAMRA. He's a fantastic landlord, a real professional, who works almost around the clock to make sure that the pub is at the centre of the local community. His beer is excellent and since he took over we have had to double the number of real ale hand pulls in the pub."

On hearing that the pub, which he has been running since April 2010, had won the award, Mark said "We're very pleased, it's marvellous! It recognises all the team's hard work."

Adrian Bean, Chairman of West Berkshire CAMRA, said of the Lord Lyon, 'What impressed me about the pub was the range of local events that were mentioned as happening at the pub or being supported by the pub. These included the village book club, the Guitar club, children's parties and prizes for village events. The fact that people felt that the pub acted as the hub of the village was also very important.'

West Berkshire CAMRA thanked everyone who took the trouble to nominate a pub for the award.

Hazel Munro, the West Berkshire Pubs Officer said: "Now is a good time to go out and find more about your local and its ties to the community. We will be opening nominations for the 2012 award within the next two months. So do your research and keep an eye on the website so you can put your pub forward for the next award."


Back behind the bar and over the Moonies

One of Swindon's most formidable landlord teams is back after three years out of the business. Former British welterweight boxer Pete Neal and his wife Bev have are back running The Moonrakers, Stratton. The couple previously ran The Manor at Cheney Manor for nine years and The County Ground Hotel.

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Amy, Bev, Pete and Sarah Neal, and Sarah Armstrong.


At the height of their popularity at The Manor, one of Arkell's busiest town pubs, Bev was serving almost 150 Sunday lunches every week and is hoping to repeat this success when she starts serving Sunday lunches from March. But most of all, she says, she's going to make sure The Moonrakers returns to its former role as the centre of the community of Stratton.

"The first thing we did when taking over was to ask Arkell's to rebuild the wall between the public and lounge bar/dining area," said Bev. "I want to be able to invite my friends in for a nice glass of wine, without hearing the lads cheering their team on Sky sports. That way, everyone enjoys themselves and old and young family members feel welcome."

The couple also plan on having live music on Saturday nights - but it won't be rock and roll - more 1970/80s music as well as jazz and blues.

Since leaving The Manor a few years ago, because they needed 'a bit of a breather' from pub life, the couple have been busy buying and renovating houses, but when they heard the tenancy for The Moonrakers was becoming available, they jumped at the chance - and this time they have brought their entire family in to help.

"Pete held his 50th birthday party in the function room a few years" ago - there were more than 400 people crammed in there and it was a fantastic night," said Bev. "Now both our daughters have given up their jobs to help us run the pub so it's going to be a real family affair."

Brewery chairman, James Arkell, said: "We are thrilled to welcome Pete and Bev back. I can't think of any other couple I would rather have running one of Wiltshire and Swindon's most iconic pubs and putting it back on the map."


Brownie points for Jack at Lansdowne Strand

It's Calne's biggest hotel, now new manager Jack Clarke hopes to develop a reputation for food to match, so this week he set out with a plate of squidgy chocolate brownies and the new menus for The Lansdowne Strand Hotel.

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Jack Clarke offers brownies and a new menu to a local Calne Shopper


"I wanted to offer local people a taste test and the feedback was great," he said. "They say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach - and it seems to go for ladies too as I'd hardly got further than the library across the road before my plate had been cleared and I had to go back to the hotel kitchens for more."

This is 25-year-old Jacks' first managerial role for Arkell's Brewery, which owns the hotel, after having undergone a thorough training with the brewery over the last two years.

"The hotel is historic, in a great location and I can put my training into action," he said. "Being a successful manager means long hours, but I'm not in the least afraid of hard work and as the hotel's got a thriving bar, coffee lounge and function room trade, the time goes fast. Now it's time to beef up the restaurant with a new chef on board - even if it means more working hours for me!"

Jack did some research and went around the town looking at what else was on offer. "What Calne seems to lack is unpretentious food made from good quality produce, so that's what we've put on the menus," he said. "We also want the hotel to remain firmly at the centre of the community so we give 20% discount cards to any senior citizens who come in and ask - and for children under 12 too."

James Arkell, Chairman at Arkell's Brewery which bought The Lansdowne Strand Hotel in 2007, said: "Running a busy town centre hotel is a big responsibility but Jack's got a great attitude and he certainly earned brownie points from shoppers in Calne last week."

Jack added: "It's been an amazing few weeks and best of all, the locals have really supported me and for that I thank them all."


200 reckon they might have the pub factor

Nearly 200 people turned out for Arkell's Prospective Landlords Day at The Tawny Owl, Taw Hill, Swindon.

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Visitors came from as far afield as Manchester, Swansea and London, as well as many local people, all keen to see what was involved.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "Arkell's Brewery has around 100 pubs across The South and West and we're always on the look-out for good landlords."

He added: "We were thrilled with the number of people who came through the doors yesterday. It was a great opportunity to meet so many people and share our experiences of working in the industry and running a pub. We usually have some vacancies across our pub estate and we hope we can help some of the new and enthusiastic people we met yesterday into a new career in the licensed trade. It's all about matching the right person to the right pub."

It takes a certain sort of person to be a landlord, according to George. "A good landlord needs flair, spirit, personality and a liking of your fellow man (and woman)," he said. "We can't write a job description for the perfect pub landlord: What they need is the 'pub factor' - we know it when we meet them, and when we do, we give all the help they need.
"We are a 160-year old family brewery with great pubs," said George "To us, it's absolutely all about the people and the beer, and that's the way we want it to stay."

For more information on how to become an Arkell's landlord visit www.arkells.com

Visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7sLc7qS206w to find out more.


Lord Lyon turns austerity age to village advantage

The Lord Lyon pub at Stockcross near Newbury is turning the age of austerity to the village's advantage by making an unused piece of land next to the pub into a kitchen garden - with the help of some of the locals.

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Mark Genders and one of the as yet un-named chickens


Landlord Mark Genders has also installed a dozen Rhode Island Red chickens who felt so at home that they began producing eggs for the pub kitchen even before he'd had a chance to christen them.

"The chickens are so productive that we've been trying to think of lots of eggy recipes for the pub," said Mark, who has been tenant at the Arkell's Brewery-owned pub for less than a year. "Without doubt our egg mayonnaise sandwiches are the best I've ever tasted - especially when the mayonnaise is home-made."

Mark is asking the pupils at Stockcross Primary School, near the pub, to come up with names for the chickens.

It might only be January but the garlic, planted late last year, is already starting to grow and Mark and his support crew of retired villagers are starting to plan the year's crops.

"We're buying seeds in bulk and sharing them around the village to save money," adds Mark. "We'll grow all our own salad plants and we'll use heritage vegetables - commonly grown long ago and which generally have more flavour than the conveyor-belt supermarket vegetables many of us are used to."

George Arkell at Arkell's Brewery, said: "I hope Mark will be paying his expert gardeners in cabbages, carrots and eggs. More seriously, it's fantastic to see Stockcross residents getting involved and speaks volumes for local community spirit."


Top Landlord Tip 13

Start a discount club for regular customers - a few pennies off a pint, and meal discounts, can often encourage customers to stay longer.



Familiar face rides The White Horse at Woolstone

Thanks to a little help from pub owner Arkell's and his friends and fellow local pub landlords, Keith Adams was up and running straight away at The White Horse at Woolstone near Shrivenham - just a week before Christmas with a foot of snow on the ground.

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Keith Adams outside The White Horse, Woolstone


"It was great," he said. "The thing about rural pub landlords is that we're all in it together, and having worked as a landlord in this area before, I know everyone and they know me. That was a great help when faced with snow and ice the day I moved in."

Having run pubs around Wiltshire and Oxfordshire for years, Keith had decided to return to his native Ireland early last year, but Arkell's boss George Arkell called immediately when the tenancy of The White Horse at Woolstone became vacant.

"I spent just five months back in County Antrim before coming back here, and it's great to be back," said Keith.

"The White Horse is an iconic local pub and is always very busy in the summer with walkers from White Horse Hill and The Ridgway. In the winter it's quieter because it's tucked away, so I want to build up the winter trade by offering everything from baguettes and soups for the walkers to gastro-pub food for those who love it."

Keith is also planning to appoint a top-notch chef. "People around here expect the best," he said.

George Arkell said: "It's great to have Keith at The White Horse and I'm not surprised at the camaraderie of his fellow local landlords. We all rallied around to get the pub up and running with him behind the bar during the coldest winter in 120 years."


Top Landlord Tip 12

Everyone loves a pub quiz. Here are some ideas:
Smell, Touch and Taste Quizzes, smell quizzes available from Freequizes.co.uk, touch - place everyday objects in sealed jiffy bags to pass round and guess, taste- use chunks of different cheeses or different flavoured crisps to guess



Top Landlord Tip 11

Put your business on the map, the Google map that is: Google World - it is a modern world so put yourself ahead of the competition in internet searches. Simply visit google.com, click on googlemaps and they'll guide you through the process. It takes less than ten minutes.



Top Landlord Tip 10

Organise a pub outing to your local brewery or a day at the races. Everyone loves looking forward to a day out - and it helps to create a community within the pub.



Top Landlord Tip 9

Start selling herbal & detox teas, alongside your coffee offer to help your customer's New Year resolutions.



Top Landlord Tip 8

Raffle a meal for two on Valentines night for just a pound a ticket. You'll probably raise more than the meals would cost, it will promote your menu and you will still gain drinks sales from the table - a win, win situation



Top Landlord Tip 7

Take a moment to look at your pub as a customer. Would you want to spend time here with friends & family - what can be improved?



Top Landlord Tip 6

New Year's Eve tonight but Burns night's on 25th Jan. Offer Haggis, Tatties & Neaps supper with a wee dram to all "traditionally" worn kilts



Top Landlord Tip 5

New Year New Wine Menu. Launch with a customer tasting session. Ask your wine company to provide wine & host,they want to drive sales too.



Top Landlord Tip 4

On New Year's day offer complementary black coffees to all customers who make it back in the next day after joining in your pub's previous night's celebrations



Top Landlord Tip 3

Today's Landlords Tip


Serve Hot toddies on the bar to chase away winter colds, and orange juice to top up vitamin C levels.


Great Prospect for Arkell's Beer Festival

Arkell's Brewery chairman, James Arkell presented Prospect Hospice Chief Executive, Angela Jordan, with a cheque for £4,000 raised during Arkell's Beer Festival, held in September.

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Arkell's Directors present £4000 cheque to Angela Jordan of Prospect Hospice.
(Left to right: George Arkell, Don Bracher (head brewer), Steve Berry, Angela Jordan, Teresa Hill, James Arkell, Nick Arkell, Craig Titchener)


The festival, which attracted more than 800 people, was the best yet according to Sales Director Nick Arkell.

Over 2500 pints were consumed from the forty barrels of real ales donated from Arkell's and fellow family brewers across the country by visitors, who started pouring through the brewery's gates before the official opening by the Mayor of Swindon.

Prospect Hospice cares for more than 1600 patients each year and receives just 26% of income from statutory organisations. Each year it must raise more than £4.5 million to continue providing care the community relies on.

Alongside the real ales, there was entertainment throughout the afternoon, including vintage fire engines, motor cyles and steam engines, musical entertainment and even the Morris Dancers, as well as the opportunity for visitors to enjoy tours of the historic brewery.

James Arkell, who is also Vice Chairman of Prospect Hospice, said: "We love the atmosphere of the beer festival and the weather was wonderful throughout the day. Practically all our staff gave up their weekend to make sure the day went with a bang. As ever, our visitors were generous with their time and their donations - it's a wonderful sum to have raised for a hugely worthwhile charity."

Angela Jordan at Prospect said: "From everyone at Prospect Hospice, we thank the team at Arkell's for raising funds at their beer festival, and also everyone who came along to help raise the astonishing £4,000. It's a very welcome boost for us, and will make a real difference to the care of patients and families this Christmas and into the new year."


Top Landlord Tip 2

Arkell's Brewery Top Landlords Tip Day 2


Sell gift vouchers, if your customers enjoy themselves what better gift could they give than a good time at your pub - the original gift experience


Top Tips for Landlords from Arkell's

Christmas and New Year are generally the busiest for pub landlords but January is often a different story.

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Julie Moss & daughter Liberty show off White Hart Whitchurch's painted bollards - part of a community stunt which the pub helped to pioneer.


To support their landlords during one of the traditionally quietest months of the year, Swindon-based Arkell's Brewery will offer one top tip to help encourage customers through the pub door every day from now until the end of December.

Every tip will be on Arkell's website and announced daily via Twitter (ArkellsBrewery).

Brewery Director, George Arkell, said: "It's tough for landlords at the moment, and we are helping them as much as we can. These tips are pint-sized ideas that our training and recruitment manager, Julie Moss, is using in her pub in Hampshire. They're tried and tested and have boosted her trade. Many landlords are already following these tips, but we hope they act as a reminder and will inspire others too."

The Brewery is kicking off the campaign by offering three top tips today:

Top Tip 1: Snow must go on! Snow & Ice forecast this week. Clear & salt steps & car parks, a safe customer is a returning customer.

Top Tip 2: Strike reciprocal discount offer with local taxi firm so customers using them to/from pub get discount on taxi fare & food bill

Top Tip 3: Serve free toast before 11am to any customer ordering and paying for a hot drink.


Pints of passion? You've got the pub factor

Arkell's Brewery is hunting for people with pints of passion, shots of drive and a spirit for hard work when it throws an open day for new landlords at The Tawny Owl, Taw Hill, Swindon on Tuesday 25 January 2011 from 1pm - 8.30pm.

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Nick, James & George Arkell hope to entice new landlords to Arkell's Brewery


Brewery director, George Arkell, said: "Arkell's Brewery has 100 pubs across Swindon, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Hampshire and we're always on the look-out for good landlords. At this time of year many people consider a change in career, so we're offering a look at the licensed trade."

Julie Moss at The White Hart at Whitchurch, Hampshire, loves being a landlady so much, she's made a YouTube video about how others can do it too.

Julie has run the pretty town centre hotel alongside husband Andy ever since Arkell's bought it in 2004. She said: "Running a pub is getting a pretty hard press at the moment, but I've not regretted for a day our decision to make this our career. We've got two small children and a great life. I want to share what it means so the White Hart team got together and made a short video."

It takes a certain sort of person to be a landlord, according to George. "A good landlord needs flair, spirit, personality and a liking of your fellow man (and woman)," he adds. "We can't write a job description for the perfect pub landlord: What they need is the 'pub factor' we know it when we meet them, and when we do, we give all the help they need."

Julie adds: "Running a pub requires dedication and some money of your own to invest, but if you're the right person at the right time of your life, it's the business."

"We are a 160-year old family brewery with pubs, not a big pubco," said George "To us, it's absolutely all about the people - and the beer, and that's the way we want it to stay."

For more information on how to become an Arkell's landlord visit www.arkells.com or come along to the event on 25 January. Contact Arkell's Brewery for more details on 01793 823026.


21- Nun Salute!

Up to 21 'nuns' will be on stage at the Bingham Hall in Cirencester this Saturday (December 11) raising money for Cancer Relief.


Indefatigable Arkell's landlady Sharon Scrivens from The Bee's Knees, Watermoor, Cirencester is organising the "Bad Habits" event which features regulars from the pub dressed up as nuns and performing well-known songs, all for charity.

The 'nuns' are not just female - they include five or six brave rugby players and the concert is called Rocking around the Christmas Tree.

Sharon, a well-known local fundraiser, started up Bad Habits last year with a bunch of friends from the pub and they put on their first show during the summer. It was a sell-out. She's now being asked to arrange shows for various pubs and charitable organisations around the town - and has even got a booking from the British Legion for next year.

Sharon is a very successful Arkell's landlady and really looks after the local community. She'll deliver lunches to housebound senior citizens who live nearby and has raised thousands for charities in the past. She's also got a very loyal customer following who will turn out rain or shine to support anything she does. Her husband Nigel Scrivens played rugby for Gloucester, clocking up an impressive 250 games before he retired.

The concert at the Bingham Hall is a big fun singalong and includes supper. Tickets are £15 available on the door or by calling the pub. Tel. 01285 652112.

The Bees Knees - more info


Professional Beer Taster 'Crowned' at Broad Hinton

Locals visiting The Crown at Broad Hinton near Swindon will be drinking some of the best-tasting beer in Wiltshire after new landlords, Alla and Dave Wells took over last month.

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Alla & Dave Wells


Alla is a professional beer taster and before moving in as landlady to the Arkell's-owned pub, spent years providing professional consultancy to breweries across the UK.

Russian-born Alla, also a qualified lawyer and teacher, lived in St Petersburg before marrying Dave and moving to the UK 12 years ago.

Now she is making sure her beers are in top quality condition for drinkers at the pub.

"Word soon got around and the locals drunk the pub dry of beer on our first night behind the bar," she said. "Since then we've almost quadrupled the amount of beer we've sold and added Arkell's JRA and Moonlight to our regular beers. Our customers do seem to like them."

George Arkell, brewery director, said: "This is just the sort of landlady we love. She appreciates good beer and can offer advice to customers on what to taste for and how to drink real ale for maximum enjoyment. Beer is so much tastier than vodka."

For husband Dave, this is a second career after his first as a photographer.

"I met Alla whilst working on a job in St Petersburg and we kept in touch as pen pals before getting to know each other better when I returned to the city. Little did we know then that 12 years later we'd be living in one of Wiltshire's prettiest villages close to the famous Ridgway footpath with a five-year old boy and running one of Arkell's best pubs."

The couple took over employment of all the staff from the previous landlord, many of whom have been there for many years, and promoted Oliver Moody to chef.

He said: "I worked here for almost a year under the previous landlords and I'm thrilled to now have full responsibility in the kitchen. We're keeping the most popular menu items including the Sunday carvery and the fabulous fish and chips, and introducing a select number of new dishes. We're also buying a lot locally - sometimes very locally when we're offered birds from the local shoot: There are no food miles in a local pheasant!"

The Crown, Broad Hinton - more info


As the cold bites, you're better off down the pub

There seems to be little sign of the cold weather ending, and as households across the country turn up the thermostat, Arkell's Brewery is urging everyone to keep heating costs down, spirits up and conversation flowing by going down to their local.

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Arkell's beer is still being delivered despite the snow!


According to Tom Lyon an energy expert from U-Switch, speaking on BBC Breakfast this week, the cost of heating the home could almost double as people keep their heating on for longer.

And for those who live alone, with the curtains drawn and the doors closed, there's also the threat of social isolation which, according to a report by psychologists from the University of Toronto, makes people feel colder still.

Heading down to the pub will not only keep your own costs down but could help keep you healthy and happy according to The Family Brewers of Britain, which represents the oldest family brewing companies across the country.

The organisation, of which Arkell's is a member, says that beer is packed with many of the nutrients the body needs for a healthy diet. Unlike other alcoholic drinks it's full of vitamins, minerals and has a water content of 93 per cent. In general, lower strength drinks such as ale, have been shown to be absorbed more slowly from the stomach leading to lower blood alcohol concentrations. Moderate consumption of beer can provide many essential vitamins and minerals but of course it's important to remember that no single source can provide the full range of elements essential for life, so beer must always be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet - perhaps something from the bar menu!

A litre of beer will supply 10% of daily protein needs. In comparison, wine has none. It has absolutely no cholesterol or fat and has useful quantities of soluble fibre. It has no more calories than a serving of wine (half a pint contains 110 calories), and a lot less than milk or apple juice. Polyphenols in beer are as effective at scavenging harmful cancer inducing free radicals as those in red wine.

In moderation, beer does not make you fat and its constituents are proven to help make a balanced diet.

Brewery director, George Arkell, said: 'As far as we're concerned the evidence is conclusive - you're better off down the pub, and that could be the key factor in saving your local pub from closure over these difficult winter months'.

Arkell\'s Pubs Map - more info



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