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Newington Green pub owner banned from selling punters’ favourite

PUBLISHED: 17:48 17 October 2013 | UPDATED: 11:21 18 October 2013

Kirsty Valentine at the Alma Pub

Kirsty Valentine at the Alma Pub

Dieter Perry

Specialist ciders are off the menu at an award-winning pub after heavy-handed bosses banned them from serving their customer’s favoured tipple.

The Alma Pub in Newington Green recently received the accolade of North London’s cider pub of the year 2013 from CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale). But the company which owns the pub, Enterprise Inns, has said the pub cannot serve up their special ciders outside of their popular festival.

Landlady Kirsty Valentine, 46, who started running the pub in Newington Green Road 11 years ago, is frustrated at the company for sabotaging her profit-making efforts.

She said: “We’ve won an award for North London’s CAMRA cider pub of the year, and we’re being promoted as a great cider pub, but I’m not allowed to serve the ciders our customers want.”

During The Alma’s four-day festival, customers can sample around 20 different varieties of cider and perry from independent operators.

Mrs Valentine said: “This has brought great growth to our business, and has brought lots of new customers through the door. I’ve negotiated with Enterprise Inns so I can continue to offer the ciders during the festivals, but the rest of the year we have to sell the ciders they provide.

“There are hundreds of ciders out there, but they have only given me permission to serve two different varieties. It’s all very restrictive and short-sighted of them.

“They’re meant to be my business partner, and I’m not trying to take anything more then I’m allowed, I’m just trying to make my business a success.

“I would love the flexibility to offer my customers what they want, and at a reasonable price. But they’re making it very difficult for me to go down that path.

“A lot of pubs around the country are having similar problems – it’s a huge issue. People are losing their businesses and livelihoods because they can’t make money.”

Mick Lewis, from CAMRA’s National Cider Committee, said: “This is a nationwide problem for pubs – if customers want a certain drink, then the pub companies should be supplying it to them.

“Why should The Alma only be allowed to sell their selection of ciders once in a blue moon? As far as I can see there’s no logic to that at all. That sort of attitude from Enterprise Inns doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

“There’s a huge growing market for real cider in response to the growing demand. If enough pubs put enough pressure on the pub company, it might make a difference.”

Nobody from Enterprise Inns was available to comment.

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