Historic Bristol pub and its craft brewery owner in the running for three coveted industry awards

February 10, 2021

A Bristol craft brewery and an historic waterside hostelry in the city it recently renovated have been shortlisted in the UK pub industry’s leading awards.

Butcombe Brewing Co and its parent company Liberation Group are in the running in three categories in the prestigious Publican Awards, which champion the best operators in the sector. 

The Best Managed Pub Company award will go to the managed retail estate that has shown strong innovation and business performance in the past year, while the Best Premium Food Offer title will be presented to the pub company that delivers the most successful premium food offer across its estate, with food a key part of the company’s total sales.

Liberation/Butcombe will be looking to defend its Best Food Offer crown, having held it for two consecutive years.

Meanwhile The Ostrich, pictured, the 18th-century, Grade-II listed harbourside pub on Lower Guinea Street that Butcombe renovated last year, will compete for the Best New Site award.

The winning pub will either be a new-build hostelry or substantial re-development and entrants must demonstrate evidence of how effectively trade has been built at the site.

Wrington-based Butcombe bought The Ostrich in 2017 and last year extended its food offering with a new upstairs dining space and bar and new menu. 

It was also a finalist in last year’s Publican Awards but lost out in the Best New Site category.

The award shortlistings come three months after Butcombe acquired a group of 21 pubs, including the Badminton Arms at Coalpit Heath, from Wiltshire brewer Wadworths, extending its portfolio across the South of England and into the West Midlands for the first time and adding 140 rooms and over 800 new covers to its estate.

Alongside this, the group also embarked on an extensive program of refurbishment and upgrades and a substantial investment in outside areas providing safe and secure eating and dining areas at many of its sites.

Butcombe, which was acquired by Channel Island-based beer, wine and pub group Liberation four years ago, already owned 39 pubs around Bristol, Bath, Somerset and the Mendips, including The Bell in Stokes Croft, The Cottage Inn at Baltic Wharf and the Hatchett Inn on Frogmore Street as well as The Ostrich.

Liberation Group managing director, pubs & inns, Jayson Perfect, pictured, said: “In what has been the most difficult of years, to reach the finals in three categories is a real boost. We’re incredibly proud of the way our teams have continually adapted and faced the challenges the pandemic has brought face on. 

“The health, safety and well-being of our teams and customers is at the forefront of everything we do, yet we have still managed to set the bar high with our food and drinks offer whilst creating a comfortable, safe and welcoming pub experience for our guests.

“This is the third year we’ve reached the finals for our food offer which is a huge achievement and pays testament to our executive chef Alice Bowyer and her team’s innovation, passion and dedication to making sure we serve the very best, using only the finest local produce and suppliers.”

A panel of judges made up of leading industry experts will now oversee the second stage of the judging process for the Publican Awards, which involves virtual head office visits and online interviews.

A virtual evening awards ceremony will take place on March 30.

Butcombe was founded in 1978 by former managing director of Courage Western Simon Whitmore. At the time, few breweries were making what became known as ‘real ale’ and Butcombe built up a loyal following of beer lovers in the Bristol area.

As well as its much-expanded brewery in Wrington it operates a distribution and packaging facility in Polden, near Bridgwater.

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