We do however really dislike the way the general public are somewhat hoodwinked by the big pub companies creating more and more ‘brands’ that appear to be smaller independent chains of pubs. It is not surprising that a very successful inn is likely to be wanted in a portfolio of a big pubco, it is debatable whether that pubco has any interest in the history of the establishment or as some may believe purely wish to add to the portfolio because they make a profit. Whilst we have no doubt that many CEO’s, Chairmen or Owners have personal desires of quality or history, whether their interest makes any difference to the establishments that their company purchases, we’ll never know but we suspect some at least, really don’t care. Those of us who are older than your average Badger and who’s Sett is based in the Midlands will know the Name of Mitchells & Butlers Brewery. Founded in Smethwick in 1898 when William Butler's Brewery (also founded in Smethwick in 1866) merged with Henry Mitchell’s brewery which had moved to Cape Hill in 1879. M&B had its own railway, connected to the national railway system from 1907–1962, via the Harborne line which as most Midlanders will know, is situated behind West Bromwich Albion. No conclusions are being drawn on links to style of play and brewery fumes. M&B then merged with Bass Brewery from Burton upon Trent in 1961 which was subsequently bought by Belgian Interbrew in 2000. Interbrew then merged in 2004 with Brazilian brewer AmBev to form Inbev. In 2008 Inbev then merged with American company. Anheuser-Busch to form Anheuser-Busch InBev which now has around 630 beer brands in 150 countries. A descendent company Mitchells & Butlers PLC now owns and runs around 1,780 inns distributed around 17 different ‘brands’ - many of which, most people would never know were part of M&B, but they are not the only one and it’s not just pubs, it’s the same with beer - Fullers ales, Meantime London ales, Cornish Orchards, Dark Star Brewery, Italian ‘Peroni’, Dutch ‘Grolsh’, Czech ‘Pilsner Urquell’ and many others - all owned by Asahi Group in Japan. Whilst the ownership of a company may not matter, Fullers for instance although owned by the Japanese still brews its ales in Chiswick in London. Fullers does however still retain a Pubco and along with its own pubs also has The Stable and Bel & the Dragon. The Fat Badgers will list a good pub regardless of its ownership and we don’t really care who actually owns it (we do known that we list, well in to double figures, a number of Fullers pubs) but we would prefer it if these companies were a bit more transparent about it!

Tied Pubs

Most are aware that pubs owned by a brewery were ‘tied’ to only selling beer from that particular brewery (understandably). In 1989 the Monopolies and Mergers Commission ruled that the system was anti-competitive and the government decided to limit the number of pubs a brewery could own and then along came the Pubco’s that started buying up huge numbers of inns before leasing back to publicans and creaming off most of the profits leading to two companies Punch Taverns (now Patron Capital) and Enterprise Inns (now Ei Group PLC) owning more than a quarter of the UK’s pubs. The decline in pub numbers in total is not new, there were 99,000 pubs in 1905 but just 77,500 by 1935. By the mid 1970’s there were only four ‘Home Brew’ houses remaining, Ma Pardoe’s in Netherton, the All Nations in Madeley, Three Tuns in Bishops Castle and the Blue Anchor in Helston - we list all of them for that very reason and a ‘must visit’ on every true pub lovers menu. If every pub in the UK was as interesting as these four, it would become boring so there is a need for a real mixture of quality, quirky, interesting, spit & sawdust, rough, bland and downright horrible pubs - the horrible people need somewhere to drink as well ;-) The Fat Badgers believe that whilst we have our favoured eating and drinking establishments, we would prefer to make informed decisions on what places we visit unless of course we’ve been on the sauce all day long in which case we’ll go anywhere. We would prefer to find an independently owned inn with great character, however we have been known to occasionally enter a Wetherspoon usually when we’re with a group of other people, we’ll admit to having been in a Yates’s, we do indeed list some very fine Greene King pubs, we also list some excellent Nicholsons inns and Premium Country Pubs. You are very unlikely to ever see a Fat Badger in a Whitbread pub though if you exclude a Premier Inn purely for a comfy bed when ‘out on the lash’. 37 pub chains? - No just 4 companies!
Whitbread PLC
Mitchells & Butlers PLC
CKA Group
TDR Capital
Beefeater
Sizzling Pubs
Chef & Brewer
Yates's
Brewers Fayre
Vintage Inns
Farmhouse Inns
Slug and Lettuce
Premier Inn
Harvester
Hungry Horse
Walkabout
Table Table
Ember Inns
Greene King Local Pubs
Sports Bar & Grill
Cookhouse & Pub
Toby Carvery
Metropolitan Pub Company
Henry's Café Bar
Bar + Block
Crown Carveries
Wacky Warehouse
Castle
Greene King Inns
Nicholsons
Loch Fyne Seafood & Grill
Premium Country Pubs
Belhaven Pubs
O'Neills
Alex
All Bar One
Miller & Carter
Browns
Innkeeper's Lodge
Oak Tree
Orchid Pubs

Pubco’s

The Fat Badgers’ whole ethos is to recommend inns that are worth visiting regardless of ownership of the inn, however it would be wrong to say we wouldn’t prefer it if an inn was privately owned, serving home brewed ales and cooking home cooked food from fresh local ingredients. We do realise that many inns owned by big pub companies are very professionally run which is why we will list any inn we feel is worthy.