Thursday, 5 January 2012

Sam's Again!


For a man that shuns publicity, Humphrey Smith, Managing Director of Sam Smith's Tadcaster Brewery, doesn't half manage to attract it. Some will recall his spat over the use of the Yorkshire Rose with Cropton Brewery and others may remember another ding dong with a licensee who was locked in the accommodation part of his pub following a dispute with the brewery and had to hire scaffolding to exit and enter via his bedroom window. All great knockabout stuff.

I am grateful to one of my CAMRA members for alerting me to yet another exhibition of oddballery. It seems Humphrey himself, to quote the dear old Oldham Chronicle turned up at a local Royton pub on New Year's Eve and closed it down pronto. "Staff and customers were stunned when one of the multi-millionaire owners of Samuel Smith’s Brewery (Humphrey) walked in and shut down Royton’s Junction Inn at 8.30pm on New Year’s Eve." According to the Chron, this was the culmination of a row over full measure pints. That is serving them, not for not doing so.  Sam's, (as I observed last night by reading the brewery signs on the wall in a different Sam's pub,) have a policy of serving 95% liquid and a creamy head and offer requests for a top up only  if spillage over the glass can be avoided. Given that most Sam's pubs offer nitrokeg beer, that might be tricky. In my case I was given a pint of Dark Mild with an inch and a half of head and a half pint glass with a smidgin of beer which I could then use to top up at my leisure. I won't name the pub though, in case Humph takes the hump and knocks on their door too.

It seems though this is the nub of the problem in the Junction, though of course there may be more to it than meets the eye. Things aren't always what they seem. I can't put Sam's side of the story though. The Chron obligingly tells you why: "The Chronicle contacted Mr Smith yesterday who said “we have nothing to say” before hanging up.

The wonderful Oldham Chronicle has the story in full.

 My pint of 3% smooth mild cost me £1.19 last night. Yes. £1.19.  If that is being achieved though by causing ructions with licensees, I'd rather pay a few pence more. Just a thought. 

14 comments:

Melissa Cole said...

It's astounding, are we living in the middle ages? The man should be committed!

And your comment at the end is absolutely bob on, it should be in a bigger font!

Curmudgeon said...

If you look closely at the font, the dark mild (and the light mild, and the Alpine Lager) has now been reduced to 2.8%, to take advantage of the low strength duty relief.

You can't say they're not moving with the times on that front...

Ghost Drinker said...

What a loser. When have Smith's toys ever been in the pram. They obviously have no concern for any actual people but themselves and their cash lined pockets.

Matt said...

Someone I know who drinks in one of their pubs in Manchester told me that Sam Smith's draught stout is a result of one of the brothers having a row on the golf course with the Guinness rep for the North of England.

TIW said...

I wish I could find the link, but somewhere on the interwebs there's an account of a talk that Humphrey's son (also called Samuel) gave to a group of 'craft' beer drinkers in Ameriky. He seems a perfectly well balanced individual and very knowledgeable about the business he'll inherit (if his dad hasn't killed it off).

Ian Cann said...

Humphrey Smith is indeed apparently a very rum cove indeed, I'm glad to hear his son is a good egg as he's going to be left a basket-case of an inheritance - one story i've hear is that old Humph is trying to leave the firm for him in the same state his father left it.

I totally agree though, if that sort of incident is the payoff for cheap stout, I'll stick to pricer fare.

Leigh said...

When I first scanned this story on twitter yesterday, I thought it was an update on an urban legend...but no, It's true. Astounded. Really. I mean,the effort to go do that on one of the busiest nights of the year is phenomonenal.

Tandleman said...

Ian. Basket case? You wish, but it isn't so.

Tandleman said...

PS. I understand the Sam's Guinness thing was over price. Pure and simple. Though it may have been on the golf course that it was discussed of course.

Barm said...

The version I heard was that in the course of Guinness trying to convince Humphrey that yes, he would have to pay the new increased price for Guinness and no, there was no room for negotiation, the rep made the fatal mistake of saying "You need Guinness more than Guinness needs you." Whereupon Humphrey put the phone down, called his head brewer and told him to start brewing stout.

Tandleman said...

Barm - Just as possible.

Curmudgeon said...

It's now made it to the Daily Mail

Anonymous said...

I think the guy is a legend! He dose what he likes and no one will do anything apart from post comments on the Internet. If people really didn't like the way he runs his company that would stop drinking in his pubs, but they don't and they probably never will.

Sam is taking over the company at the end of 2013 so for anyone who is not a fan of smith senior, they don't have long to wait till he takes a back seat. How much power he will really give up on the other hand is anyone's guess but my gut is telling me not a lot!

J Mark Dodds said...

When it comes to the bulk of the Great British Pub sector Melissa, YES! We're living in the Middle Ages.