Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Otley Oct-O-Bar Fest

The Otley Arms in Trefforest will be holding their annual beer festival this week. The Oct-O-Bar Fest, now in it's 3rd year, will feature the current Champion Beer of Wales, Otley O8, alongside other 5 Otley beers as well as 24 real ales from other breweries including Breconshire, Isle of Purbeck, Teignworthy, Skinners, Keltek, RCH, Cotleigh and others.
Cider, perry and pyder will also be available, no doubt from the local cider maker Gwynt y Ddraig.

Entertainment throughout
Thursday (acoustic night):
Ceri Collins
Jam with RoBina
Britt Roberts

Friday Night:

Saturday evening:
Beer themed quiz
Isca Morrismen

Sunday night:
The Otley's Not Got Talent!

For more information check out the Facebook site
Otley Arms
Forest Road
CF37 1SY

View Larger Map
The pub is close to Trefforest railway station and there is a bus stop outside the pub (Pontypridd-Talbot Green service)
Otley-Oct-O-Bar Fest Thursday 23rd - Sunday 26th October 2008.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival

Smaller than Abergavenny Food Festival which can get too crowded at times, the historic town of Cowbridge is home to a very good food & drink festival this weekend. The full range of exhibitors can be found here but here are a few of Brew Wales' favourites:

Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Cider Ltd
Warcop Ales
Rhymney Brewery
Penderyn Welsh Whisky
Handmade Scotch Eggs Co - try the chilli and dark chocolate Scotch egg - absolutely stunning!
Celtic Spirit Company Ltd
Gwatkin Cider
Welsh Brew Tea
Penlon Cottage Brewery
The Garlic Farm

Admission is only £2.50 for the day and it's a great day out.
Whilst in Cowbridge why not check out the historic pubs as well?
The Duke of Wellington will be hosting a cider and perry festival in the rear hall. This historic pub features a well dating from Roman times in what is now the lounge. The pub was named in honour of the Duke after he stayed here on his way to visit the mother of General Picton who died at Waterloo.

The Vale of Glamorgan, once the brewery tap for the brewery of the same name, now offers a beer festival the same time as the Food & Drink Festival.

More information
Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival
If you enjoy the pubs of the Vale of Glamorgan then there is a leaflet avaialable as a pdf here

Monday, 20 October 2008

Prime Minister Asked to Act on Short Beer Measures

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, visited our teetotal , allegedly homosexual, bible-bashing hypocrite, one-eyed incompetent Prime Minister the other day to hand in a petition calling for an end to short beer measures. Naturally Cyclops could not drag himself from the clutches of Baron Sleaze of Hartlepool and Foy, to actually accept the petition in person so I doubt if we will see a good outcome for this.

CAMRA has today (16th October) visited 10 Downing Street to hand in a 23,361 name petition calling for an end to short beer measures in pubs and other licensed premises. CAMRA launched the full pint petition last year in response to research showing that:

- One in four pints are short measure by over 5%

- Short beer measures cost consumers a staggering £481 million a year

- 81% of all adults support new legislation to ensure pub goers are served a full pint every time

During the 1997 General Election the current Government promised that if elected they would “guarantee drinkers a full pint” and that under Labour, drinkers would get what they pay for. Eleven years on pub goers are waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, during which time consumers have been short changed to the tune of over £5 billion.

Speaking at the Downing Street petition handover, Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive said:
“We urge the Prime Minister to take notice of the 23,361 people who have signed this petition calling for an end to short beer measures. It is unlawful for consumers to be short measured when buying petrol and it should be unlawful for consumers to be short measured when buying a pint of beer. The Prime Minister has a responsibility to stick to his party’s promise that under Labour, drinkers will get what they pay for.”

“The Government takes over 80 pence in tax for every pint sold in a pub. It is about time that instead of simply taking money from the pockets of the pub-going public the Government gives something back by ensuring that consumers are served with a full pint and not 90% or 95% of a pint.”
During the last 18 months petition signatures were collected at CAMRA beer festivals and through an online campaign site.

For further information-

CAMRA Press Office: 01727 798443
Mike Benner - CAMRA Chief Executive: 01727 798441 or 07971 591224
Jonathan Mail - CAMRA Head of Policy and Public Affairs: 01727 798448 or 07720 724733
Iain Loe - CAMRA Research & Information Manager: 01727 798449 or 07801 706607

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Drinks watchdog "bonkers"

The Portman Group, who are funded by multi-national alcoholic drink producers and make up the industry guidlines for alcoholic drink sales, have finally gone bonkers with their attack on a beer named after a Viking King. Rather than go after a multi-national who funds them and makes a lager commonly known as "wife beater", the Portman Group have decided to attack an award-winning beer called Skull Splitter made by the Orkney brewery as the name "implied violence". I'm pretty sure that when some chav goes into the supermarket for his daily 10 cans of super strength lager at 20p a can or whatever the chain is flogging it out at this week, their choice of drink is going to depend on whether or not the beer is named after a Viking. Skull Splitter has be brewed for at least 17 years, as Brew Wales can remember buying bottles of it from the Beer Shop in Pitfield Street in London when he lived there. It was a fantastic beer then and has gone on to win many CAMRA awards since.
Where will this end? Brains SA is commonly known as "Skull Attack", so that obviously implies violence. Gwynt Y Ddraig cider produce a cider called "Barnstormer" which may well encourage pilots to engage in low-level flying!
Bent Bike Cider, made in Monmouthshire, well with a name like that it could be construed as encouraging people to ride bikes after drinking their cider.
And as for Toloja Cider with their Drunk Dewi - obviously encouraging Dragons who may be underage to drink.

Luckily in the midst of this rubbish being churned out by the Portman Group, Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, has tabled a Commons motion calling for a complaint against Orkney Brewery's 8.5 per cent ABV Skull Splitter ale to be rejected.

EDM 2199
Carmichael, Alistair

That this House notes with amazement that the Portman Group is considering a complaint against the name of the Orkney Brewery's Skull Splitter beer, a complaint that claims that the name could imply violence and that its Viking branded bottles have an aggressive theme; recognises that the name would be inappropriate if it were applied to a low price high alcohol content drink aimed at young drinkers; considers that Skull Splitter is not such a drink, but is instead a high quality premium beer, not sold in supermarkets, a past Champion Winter Ale of Britain, which is targeted at and bought by discerning drinkers who appreciate its quality and who drink it responsibly; further recognises the beer is named after Thorfinn Hausakluif, the seventh Viking Earl of Orkney nicknamed skull splitter; believes that the name is an entirely appropriate name for a beer brewed in Orkney with its strong Viking heritage; further believes that to lose the use of the name would be a serious setback to the brewery, undoing years of good work building a market share for Skull Splitter among connoisseurs of good beer; and calls on the Portman Group to reject the complaint.

So well done then to Alistair Carmichael MP for supporting his local brewery and telling the Portman Group to finally get some common sense.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Cidermaking in Monmouthshire

It's apple-picking time again so the entire staff of Llanblethian Orchards - well okay Alex, his flatmate John and myself 'cos I knew where the orchard was - all headed off to the wilds of Monmouthshire on sunday for some scrumping.

Alex shows us above how to get the apples from the tree - a process known as "Panking".
And of course a suitable tribute must be paid to the goddess of the orcahrd, using cider made from from the harvest last year.

This is to ensure a good crop for next year.

Thanks to Ben Jones from the Kings Arms in Abergavenny for letting us use his orchard for the second year running.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Beer cheaper than water!

Nigel Evans MP for Ribble Valley and Vice-chair of the Parliamentary Beer Group, has tabled an early day motion slamming supermarkets for selling beer cheaper than water.

EDM 2159

That this House notes with concern that Asda supermarkets are selling Skol lager at a price of £0.90 pence for 4x440ml cans which is the equivalent of 5.11 pence per 100ml; further notes that Asda supermarkets are selling Evian still water at 5.55 pence per 100ml; is appalled that any supermarket is selling beer cheaper than water; questions whether this is an example of loss leading sales; encourages all supermarkets to cease this practice immediately; recognises the negative effect that this has on the brewing and pub industries, with 36 pub closures a week; and calls on the Government to look at the pricing policy of beers in supermarkets as opposed to public houses.

According to Nigel Evans MP, "These are lunatic prices and are creating a high street booze war. If not checked, the problem will escalate and everybody will loose. Binge drinkers will fall ill, the NHS will see a rise in alcohol related cases and the pubs and brewing industries will be crippled. We need to act now before the situation gets any worse.I will also be writing to the Secretary of State for Health to make sure that he is aware of the situation.”

37 MPs have signed this motion so far by Friday 10th October check if your MP has signed the EDM here - if you want to help save local pubs then please write to your local MP asking them to sign EDM 2159
The address for MPs is
House of Commons

Brew Wales spotted beer from a local brewery available at a discounted price in Tesco earlier this year. A quick call to the brewery established that the beer was being sold by this major supermarket chain at a loss, ie, they were charging less than the purchase price for it. What seems to be happening is that major supermarkets are selling alcohol at a loss just to get customers in through the door. Bad news for pubs who are charged extortionate prices for their beers by pub companies. No wonder we have 36 pub closures a week!
Just spotted the latest ludicrous price for lager - Tescos doing 18 bottles of lager for £5! Down from £14.99.
Anyway I'm off to the pub to celebrate my birthday!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

New Labour - Destroying our pub heritage - crosspost from the Lone voice

From Brew Wales

Liked this so much that crossposted it from Fido the Dog at the Lone Voice

New Labour - Destroying our pub heritage.

First up we have this

Where the Morning Advertiser a pub trade magazine says that the number of pubs is in decline, due to taxes, paperwork and duties from the government.

They had this to say on the poor situation facing the nations publicans:
“The pub market embodies everything you could hope a successful business to be — it is competitive, innovative and delivers a great experience to British public in pubs up and down the country,” said ALMR chief executive Nick Bish. “But its very future is now being threatened.

“What we have now is a perfect storm. On one side the industry is being hit by the credit crunch, just as everyone else is. There is little we can expect or do in this area. But on the other side it is being hit by the culmination of 11 years of unwanted and unwarranted attention from its own Government.

“Our figures provide the clearest evidence yet that the market is being restrained by a sea of red tape, whilst being hit with alcohol duty rises and pestered by unnecessary Government interference.

“Pubs are part of our way of life; a uniquely British institution. They make a hugely positive social and economic contribution to the nation. More needs to be done to remove the barriers on growth imposed on the sector by Whitehall. Our industry is willing but not able to grow.

“It’s time the Government sits up and listens to licensees. If adopted, our Pub Manifesto proposals would create an environment where pub and bar entrepreneurs can really prosper.”

I would also add that I have seen a lot of the pointless expenses at first hand, here in my home city we have some bizarre rules with regards glasses.

During the day one can stop off and have a drink in a proper glass, however come the evening and certain pubs at the top end of the city near the train station switch to polycarb glasses. Unless you choose wine or spirits as your tipple of choice in which case you still get a tradition glass to drink from, also should you like to drink from the bottle as many do then you still can.

Now note here that it is the pint glass that is seen as the danger, the weapon to be used by the so called "feral youth" and yet we are allowed such dangerous weapons during the day? How strange, a knee jerk reaction to binge drinking rather than promote responsible drinking the majority are punished for the actions of the few.

But you can not take the bottle outside of one of these polycarb pubs if you fancy a quick intake of lung cancer. Some places stop customers taking out even the polycarb glasses whilst others seem to have no idea if that is okay or not.

A quick pop to another pub finds that customers inside can still drink from a proper glass like a grown up, but you need a polycarb if going outside.

After all rules are rules, 'elf n safety Gov...

Walk a bit further outside this polycarb pc zone of hell and normality resumes. A pub a few hundred yards further away had customers outside smoking and holding the evil glass glasses.

Now all these polycarb and normal glasses have to be paid for and its another expense on the retailers, costs then passed onto the drinker.

Still that's what happens when the socialist brothers and sisters get involved...

Aside from the tax and state fuckwittery that under Labour that has buried pub owners/managers with a mountain of paperwork and reduced profits, there is another cost and one that is started very slowly to be noticed - the cost to our culture.

Pubs used to be the heart of a town, city or village yet look around our towns today. More and more of them are closing down and where pubs are opening we are seeing ever more of them as part of corporate chains.

Every JD Wetherspoon is almost the same, minor differences but you could transport one from London and one from Aberdeen and the customers would hardly notice the difference.

If the small pub owner is not support, given some form of help then we will have a desert on the high street filled only with corporate chains and nite-clubs selling major brand name drinks only & designed to part the chav from his fortnightly benefits as fast as possible.

Now nite-clubs have a place - hell sounds like a good spot - but for social interaction other than a fight or random sexual encounter they fail.

The pub is a meeting place, a place of social events a bond to the local community and for all their talk of communities Labour fail to see the pub in any other aspect than that of "cash cow".

Each time a "local" closes the nation is that bit poorer as a result, the Communities minister Sadiq Khan talks of "Ensuring social cohesion" but talk is cheap and action costs money. I am actually amazed when one considers the money they make through the assorted taxes that Labour have not worked this out yet, after all its only been eleven years in power.

We have heard much of the "binge drinking culture" and in part there has always been an aspect of that to our culture, yet previous generations survived the odd binge weekend(or longer) and learned their drinking habits down local boozers.

Much the same can be said of social interaction, young people learn from their peers and get to meet new people outside of their small social circle of people their own age.

There loss will make the perceived problem of binge drinkers a lot worse as the youth will have no pub to go to at the age of 18(or a bit younger in many cases) and learn from their peers. The supermarkets and corner shops will sell booze with little care as to the results and the costs to society as a whole will be huge.

Add to that the loss of meeting places, many a back room is opened for clubs and suchlike, darts teams, snooker teams, chess clubs, even the old chaps playing domino's in the corner find they have no place to go.

Oh and just look at the money raised through raffles, pub quizes and such like for charities/local causes. Another thing that vanishes with the pub.

I would also add that I picked up my knowledge of darts, snooker, even chess and domino's down at the local with folk I would most likely have never met or spoken to in any other place.

Last point is that of real ales, largers, porters, ciders etc which this nation produces in large amounts, the less pubs we have the more difficult it gets for the smaller brands to edge their way in and we all lose out as a result.

Labour will leave this land a much much socially poorer nation than they found it, if all we have are the uber-chains we will have lost the clubs, skills and traditions passed down through generations.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

ITV Wales Food Show

The Food Show at

New series of the ITV Wales Food Show will be showing on sundays. Join Hywel James as he samples the best of Welsh food and drink as well as visiting the Great British Beer Festival in Earl's Court earlier this year.
From Brew Wales


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