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Sussex’s MEP met this week with European Economic Commissioner to make the case for Sussex’s small scale cider producers.

Anneliese, along with Clare Moody MEP, and representatives from the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) raised with the Commissioner the importance of keeping the current UK duty exemption for small scale cider producers. 80% of the UK’s cider makers are small scale producers, such as hobbyists or farm-gate producers.

The current EU Directive for Excise Duty on Alcohol does not include a duty exception for small cider producers but the EU is currently undertaking a study into the operation of the Directive with a view to bring forward revisions.

During the meeting, the Commissioner announced that the EU will include a case study about UK producers in the study. In addition to that, the Commissioner confirmed that there is no plan to start infringement proceedings against the UK for exempting producers, which some say the EU Directive requires.cider

Anneliese said “I’m really pleased that the European Commission is taking our concerns about the impact of removing the current duty exemption seriously. I have continuously worked to ensure that the voices of small cider producers are heard and that the UK can keep its duty exemption.  It is now time that the UK government steps up to the plate and does its bit in discussions about the revision of the directive to ensure that small cider producers are protected.”

She added “Small cider producing businesses in Sussex produce distinctive local ciders in an environmentally sustainable way. Real cider offers consumers a product that is totally different from mass-produced cider, and helps to sustain historic orchards that otherwise might not be maintained. It is an important rural tradition and we need to do everything in our power to support small local producers.”

Anneliese met with the Commissioner’s office last summer to discuss this issue, and the Commission has now agreed to review the Directive for Excise Duty on Alcohol. This is an opportunity to ensure better protection for the British cider industry and thereby guarantee that consumers can continue to enjoy a wide range of traditional, locally produced ciders.


Dolphin wins pub of the year

What better way to start an article than by sharing the news that the family-run Dolphin pub, at Rock-a-Nore, opposite the Net Huts in Hastings old town, has been named the South East Sussex CAMRA Pub of the Year for the second year in a row.

So, what does the Campaign for Real Ale know about pubs, other than whether they sell good cask-conditioned beers? Well, they do take into account how their champion integrates with the community.

In this respect, the Dolphin raises thousands of pounds every year for local charities, is closely connected to Hastings Fishermen’s Museum and has beendolphin instrumental in the refurbishment of the retired fishing boat that is sited opposite. Members of the RNLI regularly visit for social events, the pub gets involved in Old Town festivals such as Fat Tuesday and the Pram Race, and is the starting point of the Jack in The Green May Day procession, opening earlier than usual to provide refreshment for participants and observers. Do I need to go on?

There is a variety of live music performed here by local musicians three nights a week on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday evenings, and usually on the last Sunday afternoon of the month.

Food is served every afternoon, and on Mondays the kitchen reopens at 6pm for a special ‘Fish Supper’ deal. Of course, the Dolphin also sells liquid refreshments, soft drinks, wines, spirits, numerous keg beers, including three of the newer ‘trendy’ craft ales. And, of course, the thing I really love writing about… It sells 6 cask-conditioned ales – and what better way to start writing about finding such beer in Hastings than visiting the local champion public house?

The Dolphin sells three regular ales, 2two from East Sussex brewers, Harveys and Dark Star, and three regularly changing guest ales. On a very recent visit I found that two of the guests were also from East Sussex brewers, 1648 and Rother Valley.

All of this is why the Dolphin can be regarded as a fine example of a community pub, and why it won the CAMRA award again, and why I have commenced my search for beers of and in Hastings and East Sussex here. I trust I have caught your interest, because next I shall look to the local brewing industry, cheers!

By Steve the Beermeister. Article courtesy of the Hastings times