This January, pubs yet again face the toughest month of the year. Undoubtedly, January is the toughest month for most of us. Our bank balances are dire, our waistbands are tight, the pavements turn to ice rinks, and we’ve made promises to ourselves that this year we will achieve those elusive New Year resolutions.
Furthermore, Alcohol Concern’s Dry January campaign continues to grow, contributing to the reported 15.9% decline in pub sales during the month. To be clear: if you want to go dry this January, by all means do. But we humbly ask the nation to recognise that Dry January is at the literal expense of the pub industry. And it doesn’t need to be.
For pubs, the difficulty of January goes deeper than dreary weather or alcohol abstinence. The doors don’t swing, the tills don’t ring, and ultimately pubs continue to face closure. 431 pubs closed across England between January and June 2018. Four hundred and thirty-one pubs. In six months. Pubs that were part of an industry which contributes over £23 billion to the UK economy. Pubs which create jobs and careers and contribute to our overall tax revenues. Say each of those had a tiny team of just four. That’s 1,724 people out of work. Kaput.
Alcohol still makes up the largest component in the market, and for breweries and pub groups like ourselves, that makes January even more challenging. But we all know that pubs are far more than just a place to have a pint. To quote CAMRA, ‘pubs provide
a wealth of social benefits to individuals and communities’. Ironically, in what’s considered the most miserable month of the year, when our mental health is most at need, we stop visiting a place which can help counteract the blues.
So, what can we do to protect our pubs this January? During the past few Januarys, two similar campaigns called Try January and Tryanuary spread through the pub and bar industry. The former focusses on encouraging people to try new food and drinks in pubs, bars and restaurants, rather than stay indoors or stick to their usual. The latter focusses on encouraging support for the beer industry during January, with their emphasis on trying new beers in cask, keg, bottle and can. We’re on board with both campaigns, and (as always) we will be showcasing new and exciting products in our pubs. If you fancy making January a month of exploration, join us at your Castle Rock local and take a risk with those tastebuds. There’s no reason why you can’t go dry and try something new.
(We should also remember however, that some pubs – especially those struggling – don’t necessarily have the facilities, space or money to serve food, or offer a broad range of non-alcoholic products. These pubs need your support, too.)
This year, we decided to ask our customers what their local is to them so we can remind everyone why the Great British Pub is worth protecting. What does it mean to you? What does it bring to your life? We took our bets that alcohol plays only a small part in our love of pubs, and it seems you agree. Students reported that their local gives them a place to do uni work, meet friends and bring family when they visit. Others said it is about friendship, about keeping old friendships alive and forging new ones. More than a handful described their local as a home away from home. One said it’s where they de-stress, and that they’d be lost without it.
We loved your messages so much, that we decided to collate some of our favourites and create a poster for you. Click here to download yours, or pick up the latest edition of the Castle Rock Quarter.
During January, we’ll be doing all we can to make our pubs the social hubs you desire. Keep scrolling to see what events we have taking place and use #mylocalis on social media to join the conversation.
We urge you to gather your loved ones and hit your local this January. There really is nowhere like it.
From month-long events to special one offs, our pubs are determined the last thing you’ll be this January is bored… and the pubs are being kept pretty busy too!
This January and February, not only are we asking our customers what their local means to them; we’ve also asked the assistant managers at each of our managed houses what they think is extra special about the pub. And then (obviously) we’ve turned it into a full-blown competition.
Aim: to keep people visiting their locals this January.
What’s at stake: a night out on the town, while Castle Rock directors and head office staff man the pub!
With that in mind, if a Castle Rock pub just so happens to be your local and you’d like to thank the staff (or run our MD off his feet pulling pints!) keep rocking up this January and February. Each pub has been set a sales target, and will (as always) be doing everything they can to keep you guys happy and coming back.
We’ve made sure to get a fresh and exciting range of non and low alcoholic beers into all of our pubs (on top of old favourites) and we’re also showcasing loads of quirky, new and diverse beers for you to whet your whistles with too, just in case you wanted to embark upon the quest of trying new things.
Plus, in the spirit of friendly competition, our pubs are really out doing each other with a whole lot going on.
Introducing Winter Warmer Wednesdays at the Bread and Bitter, delicious hearty meals for everyone, worth leaving the house for.
Pop into the Vat and Fiddle or the Lincolnshire Poacher to find out more about that Tryanuary campaign we were telling you about: the Vat is bringing you the best of local brewing with 12 casks and 5 kegs of LocAle – all sourced from breweries less than 20 miles away from the pub; while the Poacher is offering various discounts on their massive whisky collection everyday of the month.
In the spirit of Try January, and treating yourself to things you wouldn’t always do, Yarn has decided to crown January ‘Pizza Month’. Dry Janners rejoice: you get a free soft drink with every delicious dough-based feast. Or, get crafty at the Willowbrook with their loyality card scheme – which’ll see you get a craft can on the house for every eight you buy.
Gather up your favourite records and take them down to the Bread and Bitter for Vinyl Night. Book a table at any of our pubs, bring your friends and bring your board games.
The 21st January is our 43rd birthday(!) and amongst other celebrations, the Kean’s Head is hosting a Castle Rock Brewery TTO. Happy birthday to us!
There’s regular live music at The Embankment (including the new Acoustic Sunday sessions) and the Vat and Fiddle. Feeling brave? Try an Open Mic Night at the Fox and Crown.
We’re also launching Arthur Skill, a coffee stout to celebrate the founder of Skills Holidays, which started in Nottingham 100 years ago. On the 20th January we’ll be meeting at the Old Cold Store (next to the brewery and brewery tap, the Vat and Fiddle) where they’re also hosting Ar-Tea, a pop-up art gallery showcasing local Nottingham artists.
After trying the new beer and perusing the art work, it’s on to the coach – kindly provided by Skills – for a mini-Castle Rock Pub crawl. Tickets have now sold out, but the Vat and Fiddle will have the beer on all day (subject to availability!) and the gallery will remain until 2pm. You can always meet us back at The Embankment where we’re finishing up the day!
If you’re a fan of the cricket (or the great outdoors, or BBQs) make sure you join the Lincolnshire Poacher’s cricket team at the Forest recreation ground for a charity match in aid of Maggie’s, local Nottingham charity supporting people affected by cancer. Wickets are pitched at 12pm, then it’s back to the Poacher for a BBQ at 3pm.
Something for everyone then, even if popping down for a quiet one is more your style.
Follow the link below for the details of everything we’ve just mentioned and more.
And we’ll be seeing you down the pub!