Friday, 20 January 2017

Now and Then, former Gelli PH, Abergwynfi

The former Gelli pub, Commercial Street, Abergwynfi, A former Buchan's Brewery pub, shown here after the take-over of Rhymney Brewery by Whitbread.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Now and Then, former Traveller's Rest, Aberbargoed

The former Travellers' Rest pub, Bedwellty Road, Aberbargoed, a former Rhymney Brewery pub. Originally owned by Buchan's Brewery

Now and Then, former Greyhound PH, Aberbargoed

Another former Rhymney pub, this time, the former Greyhound pub, Bedwellty Road, Aberbargoed. Now demolished along with the railway viaduct behind it. Originally owned by Buchan's Brewery

Raglan Cider Wassail

Raglan Cider Mill will be holding a Wassail on Saturday 28th January, with dancing, singing and music. Cider bar all evening and a hog roast. £5 entry (£4 to Welsh Perry & Cider Society Members, U16s free.
Address is Tynewydd Farm, Llanarth, Usk, NP15 2LU

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Now and Then, former Horse & Groom, Maesteg

The former Horse & Groom, 128 Commercial Street, Maesteg, as it was, above, as a Rhymney Brewery pub and below on Google Street View as it is today, split into 2, a pizza take-away and an optician. The modern Rhymney Brewery today has a bar in Maesteg, The Federation Bar, which is almost opposite this former pub.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Brecon pub to improve

A run-down hotel and bar in the centre of Brecon is set to get a new lease of life next year when it reopens as a Wetherspoons pub in February 2017. The George Hotel, once a regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide shut in January this year and was in such a bad state of repair the refurbishment works will take over a year before the building is once again suitable for use. The hotel was dropped from the Good Beer Guide after the dramatic drop in beer quality when the hotel was purchased by the later disqualified company director and former gay nightclub owner, Simon Buckley.

Some of the reviews from Trip Advisor are worth repeating:

“Not recommended Terrible & rude customer service”
I would not recommend this pub or hotel as the staff are extremely rude and unhelpful and obviously do not need customers.

We had an 8 month old and an 11 month old with us who were excellently behaved throughout, which is more than can be said for the female member of staff there.

Everything seemed very disorganised and lots of people were moaning. I will not be going back there again. If this is the service you get for a meal, I dread to think what it would be like to be a guest at this hotel.

“Dreadful Sunday Lunch - Avoid this place!!!!”
Avoid this place at all costs or you will waste your money and be left disappointed, hungry and annoyed. So much so it has prompted me to deliver this critical but honest review for the benefit of others.

Visited on a Bank holiday. They were short staffed, waited hour and a half for our food which they had forgotten about!! Food very disappointing when it eventually arrived. Will Not be visiting again.

“Wetherspoons with bad service. ”
Service was short, snappy, rude and when the chef came out to tell the staff the wait was now 1hr I was neglected to be told (I merely overheard). My partner ordered a mixed grill and was laughed at in the face with no explanation. 
When another table came to sit near us they closed the kitchen clearly unable to cope with a medium busy Saturday night. 
And most of the food was obviously bought in frozen!

Although there are a few good reviews, it does raise suspicions when they are posted by staff members!

The George Hotel in Brecon scored so low because:
Compliance Food Hygiene and Safety 
Some major non-compliance with statutory obligations
"Repeat issue re fridge. High risk stored"  
Some major non-compliance with stat obligations
"Grease to walls. Cleaning issues" 
Confidence in Management Systems 
Poor track record of compliance, little or no technical knowledge. Little or no appreciation of hazards or quality control. 
"No food safety management".

Not the type of place you'd really want to eat in is it?

Still at least when Wetherspoons opens there the George will improve dramatically.

Elsewhere in Brecon, the Bull's Head pub is still shut and has been since 2010 apart from brief openings during Brecon Jazz Festival. Another pub owned by Simon Buckley, this was once a successful and thriving pub until he turned his reverse Midas touch to the premises and drove the customers away with his barely drinkable beer and attitude of the staff. So that's two former CAMRA Good Beer Guide pubs shut in the market town of Brecon. The Temperance Movement did not even manage that!

Oh and in a recent email from Buckley to the Brew Wales editor, he claims now that he is in communication with the dead! He is clearly bonkers!


Monday, 4 July 2016

Former Newport publican jailed for child abuse images

Continuing the long tradition of Newport publicans who get caught with obscene images, read this about the former landlord of the now defunct Hereford Arms in Maindee, a former manager of the Hornblower, Andrew Bates, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for having hundreds of images of child abuse on his laptop. Full story from the South Wales Argus here
A coincidence is that Bates frequented the Hereford Arms in Maindee.
Bates managed the Hornblower in Commercial Street when his father Ken was the leaseholder. Ken Bates also attracted the interest of the police whilst he was running the 'Blower for his ahem "interest in photography."

"Bates, who wore a blue jumper at his sentencing, had a further 211 category B images and videos and 108 that fell into category C." Blue jumper? Well he always was a scruffy bastard. At least wear a tie when you are up before the judge.

Sentencing him, Judge Daniel Williams said: “Behind the photographs is a real child and a real crime. The suffering of the children could only be greater by them knowing that their abuse has been watched by you for your own sexual gratification.”
Bates was given a 12-month sentence for possessing category A images and videos. He was also handed a further six months, to be served concurrently, for the category B images and movies, and another three months for the category C pictures and videos. That will also be served concurrently.
He is also subject to a sexual harm prevention order, under which he is barred from living with any child unless their parent or guardian has knowledge of his crimes. He will also be included on the sexual offenders' register.
All photos stolen from his Facebook profile, which has now been taken down as Facebook don't allow nonces on there.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Caerphilly Food Festival this Saturday

Yes the blog is back!
This Saturday, the 7th May sees the return of Caerphilly Food Festival, a one-day spectacular in the centre of the town with the main street shut down from opposite Wetherspoons to the Tommy Cooper statue, with market stalls all the way down.
Caerphilly Food Festival is back in town
Back for its fifth year and after the success of last year’s, thousands of people are expected to descend onto the town centre. The Festival will run from 10am-5pm, with a day packed full of fun for the whole family to embark upon. Over 70 stall holders will tempt visitor’s taste buds with samples of their delicious goods, along with a range of unique crafts to admire. This year the event will feature an exciting new demonstration area by Broil King BBQ Theatre, where workshops will be held between 11am and 3:30pm in the Twyn car park. Not forgetting the children, numerous activities will be held throughout the day including, puppet shows, animal displays, craft workshops, along with interactive cooking workshops at Children’s Cookery Corner held hourly between 11am and 3pm. Amongst the demonstrations and workshops, walkabout acts and street shows will be parading the town, entertaining the crowds, as well as RecRock Music who will offer live performances from local singers and groups. Cadw is also kindly offering two for one entry into Caerphilly Castle, during the Festival. The cheapest entrant will go free. This is sure to be a great day out for all ages, make sure you don’t miss out! For more information about the Caerphilly Food Festival, please call the Visit Caerphilly Centre on 029 20 880011 or visit the website .

Beers and ciders from Jacobi, Gwynt and Gwatkin Cider will be there.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Brewdog Jet Black Heart review

Last week I popped into Brewdog Cardiff with Simon Martin to review some beers and their Jet Black Heart Oatmeal Stout was one of the ones we tried

Swansea Brewery goes from Gower to Power!

A Gower ale has won a seat in parliament after being picked as one of two guest beers on rotation in Westminster.     
Gower Brewery’s Brew One ale will be stocked in Strangers’ Bar, a favourite watering hole for Members of Parliament attending political meetings and debates in the capital.
MPs who drink in the bar are encouraged to recommend beers from their constituency, giving political punters a taste of lesser known brews from across the UK.
MP for Gower, Byron Davies, chose Brew One, a honey coloured ale, from award-winning Gower Brewery, based in Crofty Gower.
Mr Davies said: “The quality of the brewery’s beer is exemplified by the taste and high standard contained in Brew One, which goes on sale at the Palace of Westminster this week.
“Gower Brewery is a local business success story. What started as a small behind the pub in Oldwalls, Gower, enterprise, has flourished into a major brewing concern with global reach. It is now expanding with the addition of a bottling plant and employing more local people. I chose the Brew One beer to give the other Members of Parliament a true taste of the Gower. 
One of the brewery’s original ales, Brew One was created four years ago in a small micro-brewery located at the back of the Greyhound Inn in Oldwalls.
Since then, the brewery, established by four friends Matt Joslin, Chris Mabbett, Paul Chiverton and Chris Stevens in 2011, has expanded rapidly, moving to a 15,000 sq ft premises and increasing from five to a 20-barrel capacity.
Owners Chris Mabbett, Chris Stevens and Matt Joslin travelled from Gower - labelled the UK’s first Area of Outstanding National Beauty - to London and poured the first pint.
He said: “It is a bit surreal to pour a pint of your own beer amidst some of the most influential people in the country. When Bryon Davies got in touch to let us know he had chosen Brew One as his favourite beer we were so excited.
“It’s great to receive support from our local community and this is another way of us getting our beers out there.
“We’re already speaking to suppliers over the bridge, in Bristol and Birmingham. We’ve also got some exciting export plans, and are looking overseas to Austria and even as far as China.

“We’re also having positive conversations with major supermarkets. Hopefully 2016 will be the year customers can go into their local shop and buy our bottles from the shelves.”

Under experienced Master Brewer, Dave Campbell, the brewery currently has five year-found ales, including its flagship, Gower Gold, and eight seasonal brews.
Now one of the fastest growing breweries in Wales, Gower Brewery has listings with Majestic Wines and CK Supermarkets in Wales. The brewery also has wholesale distribution through Molson Coors (in Wales) and Carlsberg (UK).
For more information about Gower Brewery, go to

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Cardiff Bay pub gets £1.25M makeover

Some news from SA Brain
Iconic venue to get £1.25M makeover
Terra Nova, the Brains-owned Mermaid Quay pub, has closed ahead of a major four month refurbishment.
After trading for 12 years as Terra Nova, the site closed on Sunday 13th December ahead of a major development program that will see one and a quarter million pounds invested in creating an iconic site.  An extensive period of guest research has informed the development of a modern new venue that is expected to open in late April 2016 and ready for the summer trading period.
Commenting on the development, Bruce Newman, Group Head of Marketing at Brains said, “Terra Nova has been a hugely successful business for Brains over the years, however, our guest research indicated the need for change.  It was very apparent that users of the Bay felt that Terra Nova had become dated and failed to make the most of its stunning waterside location.  We’ve tested a number of different ideas, with guests clamouring for a high quality, premium bar with a strong and unique food offer.  Our plans to meet that need are at an advanced stage and the team are confident that the new business will become a favourite of Bay visitors.”
The transformation will see new glazing to further expose views of Cardiff Bay and flood the internal space with natural light, a stunning new island bar and an internal scheme that will open up the ground and first floor space.  Upon completion, Brains expect to host at least 400 guests for casual dining in addition to those visiting to enjoy a re-launched premium drinks offer.
The venue will also carry a new name, The Dock, acknowledging the heritage and uniqueness of its Cardiff Bay location and the interior design scheme will tell guests the story of Cardiff Bay, with a modern eclectic twist.
Looking ahead to the opening Graham Wheatley, Manager of The Dock commented, “The Dock will without doubt be the go to venue within Cardiff Bay.  A superb range of food and drink and a stunning new interior are already progressed.  Critically, the highly skilled team required to make the guest experience truly exceptional is currently being recruited.  I can’t wait to get the doors open and welcome guests to the business next April.”
Follow progress on The Dock on Twitter @brainsbrewery and Facebook

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Champion Beers of Wales 2015

Below is the full list of the Champion Beers of Wales 2015, nothing from the Llandeilo Village Idiot on it so expect another hissy fit from the Old Dear

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Barry Brewery brews the best beer in Wales

Barry Brewery brews the best beer in Wales!

A brewery based in Cadoxton near Barry has been judged to brew the best beer in Wales at the Champion Beer of Wales Competition, held at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, Dumballs Road, Cardiff.
Dark Matter, a 4.4% porter brewed by the Vale of Glamorgan Brewery was judged against beers from across Wales and was found to be the best in a blind tasting by a panel of judges. Over 800 different ales are now brewed in Wales every year and CAMRA, The Campaign For Real Ale, have run a series of competitions throughout the year, with the final occurring in Cardiff today.
According to CAMRA spokesman, Arfur Daley, "Well done to Vale of Glamorgan Brewery, they faced strong competition this year to win this award, the brewery only changed hands earlier this year, with the previous owners staying on as consultants and to ensure consistency of the beers, so it's well done to both the old and new teams at the brewery".

Tasting Notes
Vale of Glamorgan Brewery Dark Matter is a 4.4% porter, pitch black in colour with a deep-red hue. Rich roast malts and blackcurrants are in the aroma with more blackcurrant and rich fruit in the taste. Bitter aftertaste with Autumn fruits dominating well into the finish.

The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival opened today and continues until Saturday.

Further information:
Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, Open 12-11 Thurday 5th ,11-11 Friday 6th and Saturday 7th November, The Depot, Dumballs Road, Cardiff, CF10 5FE
Admission £5, to include souvenir glass and Festival Programme
Festival Facts:

4000 thirsty drinkers are expected at the 3 day event
Over 20,000 pints of real ale, cider and perry will be consumed during the Great Welsh
Over 10 pints a minute will be served during the festival
Almost 2500 pints of cider and perry will be available
Over 180 different real ales, ciders, perries will be available at the Great Welsh
Over 140 CAMRA members and brewery staff will be volunteering to work at the festival
The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 2013 is the 15th annual festival, the first at the Depot, previous venues have been the Millennium Stadium, Motorpoint Arena and Cardiff City Hall.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival returns to Cardiff next week

The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, run by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, returns to Cardiff next week for a 'Back to Basics' beer festival where the quality of the real ales and ciders will be the most important matter, not the egos of brewers pushing out their beers.
Last year the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival was a financial disaster when it was held at the Millennium Stadium with the venue proving to be unpopular with hundreds of CAMRA members and the public who all complained about it. Well that's what happens when a bouncer is allowed to run a beer festival!
Well CAMRA listened to the complaints and decided that by moving to the Depot on Dumballs Road, about 10-15 minutes walk from Cardiff Central station we could address all of the complaints with a Back to Basics beer festival. So with that in mind, CAMRA will have

  • Souvenir glasses, no plastic at the Depot!
  • Readable signage on the barrels so customers can see what they order!
  • An excellent selection of street food, no overpriced poor quality stadium grub here!
  • An emphasis on the quality of real ale served, with no barrels being rolled out, tapped and served cloudy just because a brewer wants to sell their beer
  • No CAMRA stewards threatening to throw members of the press out when they rightfully complain about poor beer quality   
  • No beer from the Llandeilo Village Idiot who, according to reports supplied sub-standard beer late to the recent Carmarthen Beer Festival, then removed it as it had not settled!

5th-7th November
22 Dumballs Road
CF10 5FE

Google Map:

Wednesday, 30 September 2015


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