A record number of pubs have won Best in Glass in 2023. What do you do during a Best in Glass audit?

We check all the beers. For the cask we make sure its tapped and vented correctly following industry standards. We also make sure the pub has enough pegs, taps etc, but the correct processes being followed is our main priority. We also check all equipment is to spec and in good order. I’ll also check the cooler since I’m in the cellar anyway, but that isn’t part of the assessment criteria. We’ll also pour two products to make sure it looks and tastes as the customer would expect and is pouring correctly. The cellar is also assessed for its cleanliness and good order, things like checking the paintwork. The team will always remind our pubs they can order paint from the brewery if they need it too and advise if it is needed.

Line cleaning is a big part of the quality assurance checks. We use digital networks to monitor how the beers are dispensed and from this we can see line cleaning activity. We also carry out a visual check. Pubs get a rating of green, amber and red for the length of time between cleans. A green rating means the pub are cleaning the lines to industry standards.

Other things we check are that cask taps are clean and are all stored correctly. Glassware and the Glasswasher is really important for quality so we check both are clean, a daily cleaning regime is being followed and the correct chemicals are being used. At the end of the audit, we always let the pub know what we’ve done. We give the pub the opportunity to discuss the audit and their score out of a possible 100 points.

A gold award is awarded for pubs who score 90% or above, and you’ll spot them with a window sticker and certificate.  The best outcome is licensees listening to what we say and implementing the changes, so next year they can improve. It’s a good system to have, licensees seem to like it.

I’ve never known a brewery to do anything like this. If you’re a cask drinker, or part of CAMRA, you’ll walk in and know your pint in this place is going to be great, this is a great place to drink cask. That’s what we’re after really isn’t it. It’s good for the licensee to know too. That they’re doing everything right. We’re here to help at the end of the day. We’ll come whenever you need us. We’ll bob in now and again, come and have a look at your coolers, and at the bar.

What’s your favourite bit of the job?

I like all aspects of the job from breakdowns to minor and major installs. Since working for Robinsons I’ve done a lot more driving. We’ve got lots of pubs in Wales, the Lakes and now even more in Yorkshire.

In the last job, at my Dad’s company, I covered a smaller area, so this is a bit different. But, I like meeting our customers and doing different things from one day to the next. It’s the added value bit that we offer that differs from anywhere else I’ve worked. Get a brew, have a chit chat, get to know our customers. I enjoy doing the refurbs, I like seeing the pub go from scratch to something spectacular. It might take a few weeks but it’s always worth it.

We usually strip out the existing equipment first. We’ll put all the pipe work in in the first day or so, dependant on how easy it is. So, we’re out of the way in the cellar while other trades get on with their work. Once the pipe work is in, we’ll usually complete the cellar work until the builders are ready for us in the bar. We’re in constant communication with the builders, project management team and Allen & Jon so everyone knows where we’re up to in the process. It can take quite a few trips, but it does go so fast.

So, do you do everything?

Yeh, we strip out everything – all the pipe work from the cellar to the bar. We remove everything- the cooler, everything that connects to the kegs. Then we put in all new pipe works through the ducts. Some of these ducts can be pretty long, I think the Tempest was the longest one I’ve done – that took us a day and a half just to get the pipework in.

Is there a few of you doing that then?

Usually there is two of us, but there was three of us on the Tempest Arms. Someone in the bar, someone in the cellar. It’s a bit physical but after that is done, it’s a little easier. It’s nice to see it from taking everything out in the bar and cellar to this completed new bar a few weeks later. I get a real satisfaction from things being neat too. If things aren’t neat, it does my head in. So when I do a new job, I think, this has got to be spotless.

How does the reactive day to day work go?

All calls are emailed to the team throughout the day, people ring Cellar Services and speak to Nicola. She’ll get all the information and pass it on. We’ll get an email which will say what’s wrong and the whole team will see the email. Whoever is closest is the one that will go to the issue. We’ll say ‘I’ll go to that’. We’ll constantly talk to each other and know who’s going where.

How many are there in your team?

There are 7 members of the team in total. When I first started I was quite surprised, as I’m used to a much larger team. But, we make it work to be fair. It’s great to be in with a small team. Aswell as working on my own its  nice to be able to do things as a team. I think we’re all quite close, we know that we needn’t worry about workload, things will just get done.

So do Robinsons cellar services look after all the beers?

Yes, we do all the installs for any draught product in our pubs and then continue to maintain all Robinsons products. If there is an issue with another brewers product the account will need to contact the brand owner directly as often the issue will then need their support.