THE chain of ‘brew pubs’ which specialises in bringing disused licensed premises back to life has been rated among the best in the business.

Brewhouse & Kitchen, co-founded by Bournemouth man Kris Gumbrell, was named the best pub employer and the best-managed pub company of its size at the 2018 Publican Awards.

The company was founded after Mr Gumbrell, a graduate of the former Dorset Institute of Higher Education, hit upon the idea for a “disruptive” force in the industry.

Mr Gumbrell and co-founder Simon Bunn believed there was a role for pubs which brewed their own beers on the premises, and which did not offer televised sport and fruit machines.

The first pub, which opened in Portsmouth five years ago, was soon followed by the reopening of the former Malt & Hops in Mr Gumbrell’s own area of Southbourne.

Subsequent Brewhouse & Kitchens include the former Rising Sun at Poole and Branksome Arms at the Triangle.

It particularly targets pubs that are disused or derelict and aims to turn them back into busy community venues.

The company now has 19 sites nationwide – 15 of which have opened in the past two years – and 400 staff. It is the biggest brew pub chain in the UK and second largest in Europe.

More than 300 different beers are brewed on its site, with brews unique to each location.

Its Brewing Academy, the ‘experiential’ arm of the business, has hosted 8,000 brewery experience days and given 18,000 beer masterclasses in its pubs.

The company is leading the organisation of the first level four brewing apprenticeship in the UK.

Executive chairman Mr Gumbrell said: “Winning these awards is a massive testament to our incredible team and our amazing brew pubs.

“To get recognition not only as best pub company but more specifically best employer recognises our commitment to training and developing our team.”

Mr Gumbrell, who was raised in the industry and spent 20 years working for its big players, told the Daily Echo last year he was a “bit of a moralist in terms of pubs”.

He added then: “There are too many pubs out there who think ‘If I just switch the football on or buy a karaoke, I’ve done my job’. You’ve got to be more dynamic and creative.

“Guests are sharp. We talk to them a lot. We always take the time to find out whether people are happy.”