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Victory for St Austell!

By editorial assistant Sandi Toxic

Posted March 20, 2015
big job
Love at first sip: Big Job at the GBBF two years ago yesterday. © Ignatius Rake

St Austell Brewery's Big Job wins big gongs at SIBA's BeerX Festival while Tribute takes taxi up Lunnun to celebrate "cosmic birthday".

The fantastically named Big Job, a 7.2% double IPA from Cornwall's St Austell Brewery, has landed top gong at the Society of Independent Brewers's (SIBA) BeerX 2015 Festival of Beer in Sheffield.

After first winning a Gold medal in the Bottled Gold Beers category, it was then crowned Supreme Champion Bottled Beer in the overall National Bottled Beer Competition, receiving its orb, sceptre and stately robes of office alongside Yorkshire-based Brass Castle Brewery's Burnout, which won the National Cask Beer Competition, and Madness IPA from Somerset's Wild Beer Company, which won the National Keg Beer Competition.

In total, some 60 medal winners were announced at the event, which runs until 23:00 local time tomorrow (21/3/15).

"Our head brewer Roger Ryman has created an amazing beer in Big Job and it's gratifying to have that recognised," Rob Orton, St Austell's brewing team leader, says in a SIBA press release.

"It's building a following and, as we plan to offer Big Job as a cask ale more frequently, this award will definitely increase interest from pubs."

Described on the St Austell Brewery website as "a BIG beer", Big Job, it continues, is "dry as a bone and jammed full of Cornish barley and as many Citra and Centennial hops as we could get our hands on".

"It's not subtle," the brewery warns, "but if you love the taste of big, powerful hops, Big Job will be just the job for you!"

"To be honest, I'm not surprised it won top gong," says Rake & Herald chief hack and globetrotting soak Ignatius Rake.

"It's basically the big brother of St Austell's excellent Proper Job IPA and the first time I came across it, at the Great British Beer Festival [GBBF] two years ago, I immediately fell in love with its full flavour and even fuller strength."

"In fact, if truth be told, it stood out head and shoulders for me as the best pint I had there."

"And trust me, I had a few."

"What's more, I'm not just saying that because St Austell's my local brewery," he continues, subtly covering up his Proper Job T-shirt with a fetching purple fleece.

"Seriously, it was even better than Jarl and that is one top-flight pint."

"Honestly, I couldn't stop raving about [Big Job] when I got back to Kernow."

"Bored everyone to tears with it."

"So congratulations, St Austell."

"Big Job: it's flippin' ace!"

2015 eclipse
Happy birthday! Today's eclipse thanks to some freaky lens refraction or summat. © Ignatius Rake

By an amazing astrological/astronomical coincidence, that Rake bloke's fleece, I've just noticed, is emblazoned with the logo for St Austell Tribute, a 4.2% Cornish pale ale that, what with today's (20/3/15) solar eclipse, is officially celebrating what St Austell describes on its FaceBook page as "its cosmic birthday", having first been brewed "as a short-term seasonal beer during the last solar eclipse in 1999", when, of course, it was sold as Daylight Robbery.

Following "its phenomenal success", it was then relaunched in 2001 as Tribute, taking its name from the old Cornish mining practice whereby tinners would work a lode under a type of contract thingy with the mine owner, more details about which can be found here, for example.

And on the subject of seasonal beers, St Austell has also now announced the return of its 4.4% Spring Brew best bitter.

First brewed last year, if I've read the press release right, this limited edition ale boasts "a full flavour but with a clean, bitter finish with hints of peach and apricot to give it that spring feel".

"Spring Brew is the perfect beer to ease you into the summer months with its balance of biscuit taste and a hint of fruit cake," Ryman reckons.

"The brew has a distinctive aroma of peach and toffee with a chestnut colour."

"The beer will be stocked in many of our South West pubs, so one to keep an eye out for if you're popping into a St Austell pub after a long spring walk or enjoying the early sun in a beer garden."

Or just getting in out the rain, I guess.

But Tribute's cosmic birthday isn't St Austell's only recent major milestone, with the brewery this past St Piran's Day (5/3/15) issuing a press release in which it reported that it had just "brewed and sold 100,000 brewers' barrels of its own-brand beers in the last 365 days".

Equivalent to 28.8m pints, or roughly one half of the beer American wrestling legend Andre the Giant could consume in a week, the figure "includes all of St Austell Brewery's own-brand beers, such as its multi award-winning Tribute pale ale, Proper Job IPA and Korev lager", the canned variety of which last month won Bronze at the International Brewing Awards Smallpack Lager Competition.

"Ten years ago we were selling approximately 25,000 barrels a year," Ryman notes.

"To hit 100,000 barrels today just shows the exponential rise in the popularity of St Austell beers."

"This growth has been predominantly driven by our flagship beer Tribute, which has gone national."

"But other brands have come through over recent years to support it, with Proper Job and Korev really blossoming."

"If we continue to grow at this rate then we could well hit 200,000 barrels by 2020."

"I am absolutely ecstatic to report that we have brewed 100,000 barrels of beer in the last 365-day period," adds managing director James Staughton.

"I cannot put into words what an amazing achievement this is."

"It is a landmark figure that will go down in the history of the company and one that everyone in the business is very proud of."

"It is a tribute to the proper job we have done over recent years and to the customers who choose our beers!"

"What a great announcement on St Piran's Day."

And not a bad pun, either.

Moreover, in a move that some might see as echoing the 1497 Rebellion but which is probably more in line with plans to plant its pints' presence on the pumps of Pow Sows, the brewery this past January hired the services of Transport Media to unleash a new 12-month ad campaign that will see taxis in full Tribute livery prowling the streets of central Lunnun, the UK's fourth largest city after Truro, Camborne and Penzance.

The "eye-catching purple exterior adverts", this particular press release says, "will stand out amongst the hustle and bustle of the city-centre traffic", while the interior tip seat adverts will "feature a handy map, directing passengers to their nearest thirst-quenching pint of Tribute".

As well as being "a traditional South West favourite", Tribute, it continues, is "one of the fastest growing premium cask ale brands throughout the rest of the UK", with its "unique purple-coloured branding and bottles" helping to "set it apart from the competition".

Indeed, St Austell beers "are now available in over 350 pubs and bars within the M25", which is apparently some kind of road a bit like the Sticker by-pass but smaller.

"We are extremely proud to be working alongside St Austell Brewery to help them promote their traditional Tribute Cornish pale ale to an ever-growing audience in Central London," says Lee Dentith, CEO of Media Agency Group, Transport Media's parent firm.

"Taxi advertising is a great way to promote a brand and I have no doubt that the campaign will be a huge success, hopefully leading to us working together in the future."

"London is a key market for our beers and it is very exciting to see Tribute being advertised on the iconic London taxis," adds the brewery's marketing and communications director, whose name doesn't appear on the press release.

"This campaign will help introduce Tribute to more consumers in the capital while also giving practical advice on where in London you can enjoy a pint of this Cornish classic."

tribute taxi
Room for another? A Tribute-liveried taxi outside the Grosvenor House Hotel. © St Austell Brewery

Judging from the photo that accompanied this next press release, it would appear that a total of 11 brewery representatives managed to fit inside one such taxi to get to the Publican's Morning Advertiser's 2015 Publican Awards at the plush Grosvenor House Hotel, also up Lunnun.

Whether this is a new world record remains to be established.

However, it is known that when they left the bash this past Monday (16/3/15), the brewery had bagged yet another gong, having just landed the Best Tenanted & Leased Pub Company (up to 200 sites) Award.

"I am absolutely delighted for our estate team," Staughton says.

"This award highlights the huge amount of work that they all do to support all our brilliant tenants and lessees across the region."

According to the press release, the "judges especially praised the brewery for the results of a recent industry-wide report conducted by Allegra Foodservice, which analysed tenants' relationships with their pub companies", or pubcos as many regular readers of the Rake & Herald are wont to call them.

In total, more than 1,500 pub tenants and lessees were interviewed for the report, "with St Austell Brewery coming out top overall" with a score of 8.4 against a study average of 6.8.

This, we assume, is a good thing as the press release then describes the high score as being "the result of a number of factors, including high average pub turnover, impressive ratings for the ordering process and strong performance in training and development".

The judges also praised the brewery's "unrivalled support for tenants and lessees and its excellent communication and marketing", while also noting the brewery's "strong innovation across the company, its outstanding levels of support for licensees joining the company and its high standards of staff training and development".

"On behalf of all the team, I would like to thank all our tenants and lessees for their dedication and hard work," says estate director Adam Luck.

"This award is for them as well."

"This recognition shows that the huge amount of work that we as a company put into supporting our tenants and lessees is helping them to deliver a consistently outstanding service."

"I know I might sound biased," that Rake bloke says, swigging HSD from a chipped St Austell Brewery mug he's had for ages but only washed about once, "but I've got to hand it to St Austell."

"Apart from HSD, I was never that keen on their beer as a kid."

"Now don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Cornwall's other many breweries, but St Austell have really upped their game since the late 90s."

"Proper Job is undoubtedly my favourite IPA; Trelawney's a great session beer; and that Christmas one they had on in the Rash, Jolly Holly, was a stonker that should be sold all year round."

"Given that the Moon has just taken a bite out of the Sun, it only seems right to point out that, for my taste buds at least, it all changed with Daylight Robbery."

"I couldn't give a toss about footballs normally but I just hope all these gongs and milestones bode well for AFC St Austell's FA Vase campaign."

"Tomorrow, they're playing Glossop North End at home in the first leg of the semi-finals on a pitch right opposite the brewery."

"I just hope St Austell go through to win the whole shebang as it's about time something decent happened to the town for a change."

"And then if Ozzell do win the FA Vase, I hope the brewery bring that Christmas beer back, rename it in the team's honour and flog it all year round."

"They'd make a killing."

"Plus, they could give me a few crates for free for coming up with idea in the first place."

"Either way, I hope St Austell win the Vase then fill it full of Big Job and neck the lot."

"I wouldn't mind some myself."

"C'mon, Ozzell!"

Founded in 1851 by Walter Hicks, St Austell Brewery "remains 100% independent and family owned".

With more than 1,000 full- and part-time staff, 300 of whom work in "brewing, distribution and head office functions" and the remainder in its 25 managed pubs, hotels and inns, St Austell Brewery is one of Cornwall's largest employers.

In addition to direct employees, its 145 tenanted pubs provide "employment to thousands more across the South West", it continues on its website.

It also operates "a local sourcing policy" by which it seeks "to work wherever [it] can with trades people, food suppliers, colleges and farms that are also within the local vicinity".

The visitor centre's also pretty good.

In fact, it's won awards.

You can also buy beer, T-shirts, mugs and fleeces there, can't you, Rakey?

Or did you twock them off a drunk like you did your shoes?

See also HSD scoops global beer gong, posted 3/8/12.

Sandi Toxic
was raised by wolves inside a disused clay pit near Lanjeth. You can befriend her on FaceBook here. She is still quite feral.

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