|From Brew Wales
The Rhymney Brewery Tap, the Winchester celebrated its third birthday in November.
The Winchester is situated between the 1930s built former Water Board offices, now home to Social Services, and the Castle Hotel. Only three years old, the Winchester is the brewery tap for the local Rhymney Brewery, based at the Pant Industrial Estate at Dowlais. The new Rhymney Brewery was established in 2005, using the name of a brewery that was once famous throughout South Wales before being closed by Whitbread in 1978. The Winchester is a modern two-story building but is built on the site of the Beehive pub that dated back to the 1840s but was demolished in 1967.
The new Rhymney brewery logo is prominently displayed on the outside of the pub and the doors leading into the pub feature the trademark of the new brewer – a red fire-breathing dragon. The pub was named after the Winchester Club in the television series Minder as Rhymney Brewery founders Steve and Marc Evans are both fans of the show.
On the inside, the Winchester features plenty of seating with low seats and tables along one side of the pub and high bar stools along the other. No food is sold, the Winchester is purely a drinkers pub, with 4 real ales served, all from the local Rhymney brewery. The brewery regularly brews around 7 different beers so the selection does vary but the award-winning Rhymney Export at 5%ABV is always to be found alongside Hobby Horse, a light, hoppy ale at 3.8% ABV. Other ales such as Dark, a former CAMRA Champion Beer of Wales, Bevan's Bitter and the seasonal brew Scrum V also feature on the bar. Rhymney Brewery even brew their own lager and this is a permanent feature on the bar. All the real ales are served in Rhymney Brewery branded glasses. Bottled beers from the brewery are also available in the Winchester.
The walls of the Winchester are decorated with old photos of Merthyr and souvenirs of the old Rhymney Brewery, including the famous 'Hobby Horse' signs. Steve Evans has purchased the old hobby horse trademark and it is once again roaming the valleys of South Wales as it is used on a label for their Hobby Horse beer, in fact their label won an award from the Labelogists Society for the best bottle label and the colourful certificate is proudly displayed on the bar, alongside awards from CAMRA.
The Winchester also features flat-screen televisions, showing sports but the pub also features a piano for more traditional pub entertainment, with free beer on offer for anyone playing it.
Behind the bar, a coat of arms of the Whitbread empire is proudly displayed, as if it were a hunting trophy, Whitbread may have closed down the old Rhymney Brewery but the new brewery is proudly brewing local beers once more, much to the enjoyment of the locals and those from further afield.
Winchester, Castle Street, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8BG
Open 12-12 Monday- Saturday, 12-10.30 Sunday
View Larger Map