Something Is Brewing In Portsmouth’s White Swan Pub
The White Swan in the Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth has been known over the years as just another large chain pub owned and run by JD Wetherspoon, offering cheap drink and cheap food.
Now, a new team of passionate landlords, pub owners and investors under the banner ‘Brewhouse & Kitchen’ are planning a microbrewery revolution in the area.
The pub will undergo a full renovation project to fit in with the groups’ brand, including fully-exposed copper brewery tanks on view for customers to enjoy. Until now, the company had focused their efforts in London and the surrounding area with pubs such as ‘The Botanist Kew‘ and ‘The Lamb Brewery‘ in Chiswick, London.
Britain’s love of beer is on the slide with sales of pints slipping by 1.5million a day in the past year. Landlords and pub owners are having to become increasingly innovative with their food menus, interior décors and drinks to offer customers a ‘unique’ experience.
Despite the ongoing decline in lager and beer sales/consumption in the UK, the microbrewery and craft beers trade has seen something of a revival over the past years and microbreweries are starting to pop up all over the UK producing beer and ales to award-winning standards.
Brewhouse & Kitchen managing director Simon Bunn expressed his excitement about the future of the pub trade in Portsmouth and the economic climate of the city as a whole to Team Locals:
“We looked at Portsmouth and the surrounding areas and realised that there was a massive amount of investment being poured into the region. The investment in the New Theatre Royal and the ongoing investment and expansion of the University, for example. And we felt that there was a real unfulfilled requirement for this sort of pub in Portsmouth.
“We felt what the public houses around the Guildhall area lacked was some real quality on service, while the existing selections of drinks and food on offer to customers remains limited. The White Swan will offer a great range of craft beers as well as creating some of our own brews made fresh on site!”
The firms’ ethos is very much one modelled from history and the pubs of old. In the old days, most pubs belonged to the local breweries. They were tied houses — they only sold their brewery’s beer. Independent pubs became known as free houses, and could buy their beer from any brewer.
After the Second World War, things began to change, and by the 1980s, the “Big Six” brewers owned more than half of the country’s pubs and produced 75% of its beer.
Mrs Thatcher’s government was concerned about the lack of competition and, in 1989, issued the Beer Orders. Brewers were not allowed to own more than 2,000 pubs, and had to give landlords the option of selling at least one guest beer produced by a rival.
Big breweries weren’t prepared to open up their pubs to other brewers’ beers and went on to create new pub companies to which they sold all their pubs. As these ‘pubcos’ didn’t brew beer themselves, they were exempt from the legislation.
Today, around half of pubs in the UK are owned by ‘pubcos’. These pubs have to buy their beer only from the pubco, at a price up to 50% more than a free-of-tie publican pays.
As well as the many award-winning drinks from around the UK, the White Swan will also be producing a number of unique beers and ales created on-site. Local favourite Katy Sexton, Portsmouth’s world champion swimmer, will be honoured by the firm with her own beer named ‘Sexton’.
“Being a Pompey girl, born and bred, it’s an honour to have my achievements recognised in this unique way,” she told Team Locals.
Refurbishment work is well under way at the site. Katy will officially open the doors on March 4th.
The pub has stood in the Guildhall Walk since it was built in 1916. The mock Tudor style and the current exterior will be preserved by the new owners.