Wednesday, 15 April 2015

There's a Beer Revolution in Hay!

Popped into Hay-on-Wye the other morning, not somewhere I visit often, the last time I was there was June last year, according to Swarm. A lot has changed since then with a new manager in Kilverts who is eager to bring in the changes with different ales and local cider hitting the pumps shortly.

The biggest surprise was the new off-licence, Beer Revolution, based on the cobbled yard of the castle, a bit difficult to find at first but well worth the effort. This shop is packed with beers from the best breweries from Wales and beyond, Waen, Tiny Rebel, Celt Experience, Mad Dog to name just a few. A couple of surprises were two new Welsh breweries Radnorshire Ales from New Radnor and the Lucky 7 Beer Co who are based in Hay-on-Wye,
Local ciders and perries from Gwatkins are also available
A welcome outlet for good and unusual beers in this part of the world!

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Mumbles Ale House

Whilst down the Mumbles the other day, we popped into the Mumbles Ale House, the newest addition to the Mumbles Mile and just a short walk off the main road. The pub opened last year in what was an art studio.

 Certainly it's one of the smallest micro-pubs I've been into but size does not matter here when you look at the range of real ales and ciders they have on sale.

 Although whether or not if it's the first micropub in Wales is debatable as the Waen-brewery owned Gravity Station opened in Cardiff earlier in the year. First micropub that's a freehouse in Wales to be more exact.

A visit to the Pilot in Mumbles

Popped into the CAMRA award-winning pub The Pilot in the Mumbles the other day to do some filming with Simon Martin

We got to review their Black Storm Stout with Richard the brewer

One of their beers I particularly enjoyed was Revolver which features the same recipe every time it is brewed with the only difference being a change in the hops used.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Best pubs in Wales

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, have announced their list of the best pubs in Wales.

North Wales
Abercolwyn Branch

Chester & South Clwyd  Branch


Gwynedd a Mon  Branch

Vale of Clwyd  Branch

West Wales

Bae Ceredigion


Cresselly Arms 
Cresswell Quay

South Wales



Cardiff (City)

Cardiff (Country)

Gwent (City)


Gwent (Country)


Mid Glamorgan

Neath Port Talbot

No Sign Bar

Vale of Glamorgan & Bridgend


Saturday, 28 March 2015

A visit to the Pilot Brewery in Mumbles

(4K) Pilot Brewery Tour Mumbles Swansea (Brewpub):

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Flemish Sours review

Met up with Simon Martin to review a couple of Flemish sours, Rodenbach Grand Cru and Duchesse de Bourgogne

Rodenbach came out on top!

Monday, 2 March 2015

March Pub Auction

March Pub Auction

First major pub auction of the year will be on Wednesday 11th March 1430hrs at Puckrup Hall Hotel, near Tewkesbury, Gloucs, GL20 6EL, with 10 pubs going under the hammer. Subject to change, check out the Sidney Phillips website for more details.

Let's have a look at what is going under the hammer:

Cross Keys Hotel, Nantgarw, GP £175,000
Open plan bars and restaurant, two-ensuite letting rooms, three-bedroom owners accommodation, gardens.
Often been passed this pub as it's on the bus route from the Otley Arms to Fagin's so there are some good pubs nearby. Always seemed a bit run-down but you expect that with pub-co pubs. Could do well in the right hands, conversion to housing unlikely as it faces a busy main road.

Royal Head Inn, Llanidloes, Powys GP £160,000
16th-century black and white inn with lounge bar and restaurant, public bar and games room, 3 letting rooms and 4 bedroom flat.
Historic pub which has been let down by Enterprise ownership over the years.

Wain Y Clare, Mamhilad, Torfaen GP £150,000
Main road pub and dining venue, open-plan bar areas, four bedroom owners accommodation, gardens and car park.
Situated on the main Pontypool-Abergavenny road this used to be an extremely busy pub, as the large car park used to be quite full. Been shut and boarded up for a while, another pub-co success story.

Riverside, Brewery Lane, Bridgend GP £225,000
Attractive Gerorgian ph, 0.37 acre, 2 bars, 4 bedroom owners accommodation, large car park
Huge pub, just off the town-centre, again has been run-down over the years.
Was once known as 'The Jolly Brewer' and dates to 1795 and was the family residence of the owner of the nearby brewery, the Stiles, it became a pub in the 1920s and was known as the 'Brewery House' until renamed by owners Courage in the 1970s.
A lot of potential here, despite being in Bridgend, although the nearby cinema was demolished a few years ago so the council might look favourably to demolish this historic pub.

Falcon Inn, Hinstock, Market Drayton, Salop GP £250,000
Village inn with 3 interconnecting trade areas, 6 en-suite letting rooms, separate 2-bed owners cottage, set in 0.47 acres
 Another Enterprise Inns disposal

Red Lion, Aston, Oxon GP £245,000
18th century Cotswold pub, 2 interconnecting bars, 3 bedroomed owners accommodation, village green location
Not a pub I know, or want to know after reading this description from 'The Endless British Pub Crawl' blog.

Bay Horse, High Street, Bromyard GP £245,000
Black & white inn with two characterful trading areas, 5-en suite letting bedrooms
Another one I'm not familiar with but the Trip Advisor reviews aren't that good!

Bulls Head, Brecon GP £185,000
Riverside location, 2-section open bar, 8 bedrooms, development potential, currently closed
Once a popular pub and CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular when it was owned by Marlows who also owned Breconshire Brewery. It did go downhill after Evans Evans Brewery purchased it, no surprise there, and has been closed for a number of years.

Prince of Wales, Portland Street, Cheltenham GP £290,000
Regency town-centre property, 2 bars, 5 bed owners accommodation, trade garden, currently closed
Not a pub I know, then I always get lost n Cheltenham!

Rose & Crown, Goodwick, Fishguard GP £95,000
Two bars in a coastal village with 3 bedroom owners accommodation, beer patio and smoking solution
Next door to the Hope & Anchor pub which also appears to be closed.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Beer reviews with Simon Martin

Meet up with Simon Martin from Real Ale Guide recently to do some beer reviews for his You Tube Channel. Finally got around to embedding them here

First up was Fullers Past Masters Old Burton Extra:

We also did Fullers Imperial Stout:

Fuller's have always been one of my favourite breweries so I enjoyed tasting these with Simon, although the Imperial Stout was a bit heavy for lunchtime drinking! Visits to the Lansdowne, Chapter Arts Centre, Butchers Arms, The Cottage, Urban Tap House and Brewdog were made afterwards, luckily there is no footage of that available!

Friday, 23 January 2015

Cidermaker to appear on Great British Railway Journeys

An award-winning cider maker from Abbey Dore in Herefordshire will be appearing on BBC2's Great British Railway Journeys on Tuesday 27th January at 6.30pm. Denis Gwatkin, who makes cider at Moorhampton Park Farm was visited by Michael Portillo during the cider-making season in September last year, where they picked apples and used Denis' Victorian apple scratter and press to produce juice to ferment into cider. The visit to the farm and cider house will be shown as part of Episode 17, featuring a train journey from Swansea to Hereford, using the Bradshaw's Railway Guidebook.

According to Denis Gwatkin, “Michael was keen to be involved in all aspects of making the cider, from shaking the apples off the tree using the traditional panking pole, to collecting the apples and using my restored Victorian scratter and press. Afterwards, of course, we retired to the cider house for a refreshing cup or two of my award-winning cider, which he said that he enjoyed very much!”

Cider has been made at Moorhampton Park Farm for generations, with the orchards clearly marked on the 1833 map, a few years before Bradshaw began publishing his guides. Denis Gwatkin has been producing cider commercially now for almost a quarter of century and has won numerous awards from CAMRA  as well as International Cidermaker of the Year. Moorhampton Park Farm features a farm shop where the full range of ciders and perries produced on the farm may be sampled and purchased. The farm also plays host to an annual music festival in August.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Another new Cardiff Brewery

Popped into the Pen & Wig in Newport today and discovered they have a new beer on tap from a new Cardiff Brewery, the Surfing Monkey Brewery! I don't know anything about this brewery but from this brew, Off Shore Howler, a wheat beer brewed with orange and coriander I have high hopes of great beer from them.
Tasting Notes:
Off Shore Howler is a slightly hazy golden colour, which as a wheat beer should have a haze to it. Spicy aroma with cloves, coriander and orange zest present. Coriander and orange in the taste as well, the orange dominating towards the end along with some astringency. Dry, bitter-orange finish. A good thirst quencher!

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Now and then, Angel, Caerleon

 The former Angel ph, Caerleon is now a Sainsbury's Local Supermarket

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Buckley still acting as company director despite ban

Above is a screen shot taken from the Evan Evans website today which appears to show the MD is Simon Buckley, who since October has been banned from any directorships.
We all realise that  Simon's grasp of the law is similar to his grasp on reality but under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986

"where a person acts contrary to a disqualification order, undertaking or automatic disqualification without the leave of the court, he is guilty of an offence, and is subject on indictment to a sentence of up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine, or on summary conviction to a sentence of 6 months and/or a fine at the statutory maximum."

Hope you enjoy prison Simon, should bring back memories of your gay nightclub days!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Simon Buckley disqualified as a company director director for 3 years

Well, well, well, former gay nightclub boss and brewer of indifferent beer, Simon Buckley, has been banned from acting as a company director for 3 years. 

Case details for SIMON BUCKLEY
Name: Welsh Estates Limited
Date of Birth: 1957-09-02 00:00:00.000
Date Order Starts: 2014-10-20 00:00:00.000
Disqualification Length: 3 Years 0 Month(s)
CRO Number: 05219412
Last Known Address: 2 Abbey Terrace, , , , Llandeilo, SA19 6BD
Conduct: (i) Mr Simon Buckley failed to ensure that Welsh Estates Limited (“Welsh Estates”) complied with its statutory obligations to HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) to file timely returns and make payments from at least 01 November 2007 to the date of liquidation on 26 January 2011. HMRC’s final Value Added Tax (“VAT”) claim at liquidation was £590,522. In particular: 

• VAT returns totalling £147,115 for 13 monthly periods from September 2007 to January 2008, March 2008 to August 2008 and November and December 2008, were not submitted until 2 and 3 April 2009. The oldest outstanding return for the period September 2007 was therefore filed 17 months late, with the earliest outstanding return for the period December 2008 filed 2 months late. HMRC were unaware of these liabilities until those dates, previously considered them to total £40,764 in central assessments.

 • According to HMRC's records no returns were submitted for the months January and February 2009, December 2009 and February 2010 to October 2010 leading to assessments of £325,810. • HMRC raised surcharges totalling £90,078 in respect of the late and non-filed returns of which £67,740 remains unpaid. • From 15 February 2008 to 07 October 2009 HMRC received payments from Welsh Estates totalling £115,750 in respect of VAT. Nothing was paid after 07 October 2009, although the company continued trading until October 2010, leading to estimated arrears before surcharges at liquidation of at least £354,162.

 • If all payments are set against the earliest VAT debt there is still £14,325 due for August 2008, payable in full by 30 September 2008.
 (ii) He caused Welsh Estates Limited (“Welsh Estates”) to trade to the detriment of HM Revenue & Customs (“HMRC”) from at least 01 January 2010 until cessation of trade on or around 31 October 2010 in respect of Value Added Tax (“VAT”) estimated at £156,031.

In particular:
 • On 31 December 2009 Welsh Estates had VAT arrears of £126,756. It subsequently incurred additional VAT liabilities of £156,031. The last payment made by Welsh Estates in respect of VAT was received on 07 October 2009. 

• Bank payments were made between 01 January 2010 and 31 October 2010 of £1,740,796 of which nothing was paid to HMRC in respect of VAT. • Company records show that trade creditors decreased by £256,171 from 01 January 2010 to 31 October 2010 whilst the outstanding VAT increased by £156,031 in the same period. 
This information is correct as at 2014-10-13 00:00:00.000

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Old Arcade has rugby makeover

One of Cardiff's most famous pubs has been given a makeover by owners Brains. The Old Arcade in the city centre, which dates from 1844, is now even more rugby themed with jerseys, photographs and other memorabilia adorning the walls. Have previously written about the pub here.
 As Brains Brewery says
Celebrating Wales’ national sport, walls will be adorned with match day programmes, exclusive signed and framed shirts, memorable newspaper front covers, and a feature WRU timeline.

RugbyBeers_SMLWayne Jones from Brains said: "There are few pubs in Cardiff with more sporting heritage than the Old Arcade. It has long been a favourite with sports fans but these changes mean it will become a true shrine to rugby. It’s the perfect place for rugby diehards and aficionados to gather, get their fix and be inspired by great rugby deeds of the past and present."

There’ll be a new menu, with an emphasis on hearty Welsh food, which includes a signature Celtic Pride ‘black and blue burger’ – created with 100 cap legend and lion, Martyn Williams. And when the pub opens you’ll find two limited-edition beers on the bar, brewed in collaboration with former Wales internationals Bob Norster and Rob Jones.

Powerhouse and Swift Half will go head-to-head and customers will get to decide which beer wins by voting in the pub or on Twitter, using the hashtag #BobsBeer and #RobsBeer.

Had a chance to visit the pub on the re-opening night and had to say my favourite beer was Swift Half, the American and New World hops made it for me.

Also ran into Simon Martin at the pub so we did a couple of interviews there with the rugby legends.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Brewdog Cardiff Celt Takeover

Popped into Brewdog in the 'Diff on one of my rare visits to Cardiff nowadays and discovered the Celt Experience Brewery had a bar takeover the night before. Eight Celt beers on, another eight beers from the Brewdog Collabfest and ten beers from Brewdog. oh and the myriad of bottles in the fridge.
Getting back to the Celt beers, Tom at the brewery has been experimenting with wild yeasts, planting traps for them around Wales and brewing beers from the captured organisms. Sounds mad? Yes but thinking outside of the box often works.
Three Saisons were on at the takeover including a dark IPA/Saison crossover The Black Book.
Hallstatt Deity another Saison but my favourite of the night was Home of the Fruit Cakes, a 6% sour but fruity ale.
The Campaign for Real Ale, CAMRA, may not agree with the method of dispense in Brewdog pubs but you cannot argue with the quality of the beer served. Surely quality of a product is more important than the way it is dispensed?
There are plenty of poor real ales out there, surely it's time to support good breweries and their beers regardless of their chosen method of dispense?


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