The UK pub market is valued at £22bn* and despite the current economic headwinds it is an exciting and vibrant sector. From the craft beer revolution to the proliferations of gins and outlandish cocktails there is more to today’s pubs than the humble pint.

From escape rooms to shuffle board, table tennis to day time work spaces, pubs are turning their hand to almost anything these days. Of course, as we know, food is a huge opportunity for pubs with the line between restaurants and pubs blurring across the casual dining world. So it is little wonder that this week Olympia was buzzing with the great and the good of the pub industry at Pub18 – the only dedicated show for the pub industry.

With 200 suppliers, 30 talks and workshops, a pub garden, new brew area and wine and spirit lounge there was something for everyone, with highlights including an interview with arguably the most high profile of pub chef’s, Tom Kerridge and a lock in with actor turned publican Neil Morrissey. Over the two day event visitors could network with other industry contacts, see and try the latest products on offer from exhibitors and listen to industry leaders share pearls of wisdom and practical advice.

My personal highlight of the show… Futura’s Halloumi Fries – which have to be tasted to be believed. But on a more serious note, as the pub industry continues to fight for its share in the ever competitive casual dining arena, those who made it along to Pub18 are surely better placed to thrive in 2018. So well done to the team at Fresh Montgomery on another great show, we look forward to Hotelympia in March where the bean team will be in residence running the press office and social media across what is sure to be a busy 4 days, as the industry comes together for the UK’s market leading hospitality and foodservice event.

*MCA Insight Pub Report 2017