Our letter to Beavertown

Today we made one of the most significant decisions in our retail careers in deciding to stop selling Beavertown, a brewery that contributes an enormous share of our revenue, after hearing the news of its sale to Heineken. We will sell through the stock we already have but going forward we will no longer retail Beavertown. We are, frankly, absolutely gutted about this but we feel strongly that we need to be true to our principles and our support of independent beer. Here's our letter to Beavertown in full.

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It's no exaggeration to say we are hugely disappointed by this morning's news. I imagine many of you will be feeling the same way.

Hop Burns & Black is built on the ethos of supporting the independent beer scene - it's at the very core of our reason for being. 

We appreciate breweries are businesses like any other and often need help to grow and realise their ambitions, but we hoped Beavertown were cut from a different jib to those who just follow the money. Beavertown has been hugely instrumental in developing the UK craft beer scene and to sell to Heineken (no matter what the share) feels, quite frankly, like a slap in the face.

Heineken - like AB InBev - does not have the health of the UK independent beer scene at heart. Dressing up this move as good for the consumer is just spin - in reality this is simply helping Big Beer chip away at the UK independent beer scene. As independent retailers whose business is also at risk from Big Beer's targeting of the industry, we cannot support this.

We have had a long and close relationship with Beavertown - your beers make up more than 8% of our annual beer turnover (second only to Cloudwater), so this is not a decision we have taken lightly. However, as with Brixton after it sold to Heineken, we are prepared to say goodbye. We're sad that we've had to take this decision but nothing is more important to us than our principles.

We will sell through the Beavertown beers we currently have in stock but will not be placing any more orders. 

We want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your fantastic support over the years - Beavertown people are good people and we will very much miss working with you. 

Jen & Glenn @ HB&B

UPDATE: We have also sent a similar email to the Fourpure team following the announcement of their 100% sale to Lion/Kirin. While this news was not at all unexpected, it's still a sad day as we have worked closely with the Fourpure team over the years, sharing many great nights, hangovers and even a collab brew. Our stance remains the same, however - we are here for independent beer.

We are officially a Living Wage employer

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It's only taken us two and a bit years, but we've finally got around to getting ourselves accredited as a Living Wage employer.

We've been paying over and above the London Living Wage since we first hired staff (the lovely Lewis and Craig back in early 2015) but, with one thing or another, put off doing the paperwork to make it official. We're proud to announce that today we have received our accreditation.

The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually, calculated according to the real costs of living. It is significantly higher than the statutory minimum wage.  Employers choose to pay the Living Wage on a voluntary basis.

Paying fairly forms part of our wider commitment to being an ethical business in all we do. Our staff are fantastic and they contribute a huge amount to what makes HB&B special! Cheers guys :)

To Slater Ales

We got sent a box of beers from Staffordshire brewery Slater Ales which contained this grossly offensive beer. (It also contained one called Haka, a New Zealand pale ale "reviving the Maori spirit", which is a whole other world of cultural appropriation we're not going to get into right now.) On investigating further, we see this isn't the first time this brewery has been called out for this sexist beer - they made national news for it, in fact, in 2012 - which means they know full well they're being vile and they don't care. So we decided to call them out again because come on guys, it's 2016 and we're bloody well sick of this bollocks. Our email is below.

To the team at Slater Ales -

Firstly, thanks for sending down the box of samples - we always like to receive beer and we've discovered some of our favourite breweries through a box of samples.

Unfortunately the first beer we pulled out of the box was your blonde ale, Top Totty, featuring a bikini-clad blonde woman sporting bunny ears. We wondered if perhaps we hadn't noticed the box was actually a time capsule from the 1950s.

We're proud to employ and serve wonderful, fiercely intelligent women who know and love their beer. We also employ and serve wonderful, fiercely intelligent men. It may be the best-tasting beer in the world but having this grossly sexist relic on our shop's shelves is simply not an option.

Apologies if this comes across as harsh - we could have just binned the beer and forgotten about it, but we felt we needed to say something as this sort of thing is just not OK in 2016. We would be very surprised if you had any success getting any of the new wave of beer retailers to stock this beer.

Thanks and we hope you'll take our feedback on board. I'm sure you won't, as it seems even the national news you made back in 2012 for being banned from the House of Commons hasn't changed the way you do business, but it's there for you anyway.

Regards
Jen Ferguson