How can tied pubs still host beer festivals?

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Increased selection: Punch and Star pubs can order beers from outside their ordinary range for festivals
Increased selection: Punch and Star pubs can order beers from outside their ordinary range for festivals
The hot summer weather may be but a distant memory, but for many pubs the arrival of summer is hailed as the perfect opportunity to increase trade and footfall by hosting a beer festival. 

For freehold pubs, organising a beer festival can be as simple as ordering beers direct from the brewery or through a supplier. But what about the many tied pubs that still host (very successful) beer festivals every year? How would a Punch-owned pub go about ordering beers outside of its ordinary range, and would Star pubs and bars stop one of its pubs from hosting a beer festival more than once a year?

The Morning Advertiser​ spoke to representatives from Punch and Star Pubs & Bars to find out more.

“It’s actually quite straightforward for a Punch pub to go about organising a beer festival,” explains Faye Eccleshall, marketing cask co-ordinator at Punch. “And there’s no restriction to how many times a year they choose to hold a beer festival.”

“They would need to have a meeting with their partnership development manager and complete a request form, which is then sent to our operations support team at head office.”

Finest Cask Guest Ale scheme

Once the request has been approved, Punch then passes the contact details of the pub on to Small Beer Ltd, a wholesale company that supplies a broader range of beers for Punch-owned pubs to choose from. Additionally, Punch pubs can sign up for the company’s Finest Cask Guest Ale scheme, which gives them access to an additional 16 beers to order from.

For Star Pubs & Bars, a new partnership with the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) means that licensees with Cask Marque-approved pubs have access to local cask ales produced by SIBA Beerflex members within 30 miles of their pub.

If Star licensees wish to showcase a wider or different range of beers from other breweries, they need to speak to their to their business development manager, agree the details and then buy them direct, says Mick Howard, operational commercial strategy director for Star Pubs & Bars. “They do not need to go through a specific distributor to make their purchases,” he adds.

Once the beer has been ordered, both Punch and Star Pubs & Bars offer help and advice to pubs with regards to running the festival. Punch’s preferred equipment provider Acask will supply racking and dispense equipment to rent or hire, while they also negotiate special rates with suppliers for other equipment such as glassware, furniture, marquees and banners.

Special festival kits 

In the build up to the festival, Punch provides its pubs with a step-by-step guide to ensure that pub licensees know what they need to do, and when they ought to be doing it. The guide also includes advice on using social media, any legal requirements for extended licensing and all the contacts the licensees will need.

Star Pubs & Bars have created special cask ale festival kits that their pubs can borrow free of charge. The kits, worth £2,000 per pub, includes the provision of rigging, taps, festival gazebos and tables, all of which are delivered and set up for licensees by a dedicated team, and dismantled and removed after the event.

“We recommend licensees make cask beer festivals an all-round event by adding food, music and entertainment and link it to a local, regional or national event,” Howard adds. “It is also a great opportunity to raise money for local charities.”

"There is no limit to the number of festivals a Star licensee can run.”

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