Thursday, 30 April 2009

Vulcan Videos

For those of you who have not seen the Vulcan pub in Cardiff, here are some videos.

There is a Facebook page to join as well

Save the Vulcan blog
Save the Vulcan on Twitter

Monday, 27 April 2009

Vulcan update

The Vulcan in Cardiff is now set to be demolished in June. The 25th is the date for the pub 'to walk the Green Mile'. This pub has been serving customers since 1853 and is the last surviving part of the Newtown area of the city, everything else having been bulldozed away in the name of progress. The Vulcan is to be demolished, not for being unsuccessful but to make way for 50 parking spaces! Any other city would be trying to keep their heritage, not destroy it. Save the Vulcan!
Dom has some excellent photos of the pub and the locals who drink there here.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Welsh Cidermaker holds open weekend

From Brew Wales

On the weekend of 25th / 26th April Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company, will be holding an open day at Llest Farm, Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, CF38 2PW

The event will include the usual Cider Making demo's, fully stocked cider bar, plus freshly cooked food, a Welsh produce market, rural craft demo's, liquers for sale plus LIVE MUSIC from the Welsh Pipers, Plod and Panama Red.

Food will be available in the form of the mouth-watering and superb Wild Boar and Beef (Burgers & Sausages) from 'Cegin Crincae'.
Add to this the excellent and varied selection of Welsh liqueurs from 'Mosmar' ... plus Rural Crafts and Apple Pressing Demos (subject to fruit availability)

As well as the award winning Gwynt y Ddraig draught Ciders and Perries you all know and love, there will be two more this year.
These being an exceptional 'Kingston Black' Cider, along with a single varietal 'Stoke Red' Cider especially for your enjoyment.
Both these Ciders are fresh out of 'oak' from the 2008 production, and are a 'Medium' finish with addictive taste and aromas.
If you cannot make it to the open day, Gwynt Y Ddraig ciders and perries are widely available throughout Wales via Tesco or online

How to find Llest Farm:

View Larger Map

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Badger's Bodged Budget

Today badger haired Chancellor Darling failed in his chance to help save the British pub. Rather than freezing beer duty to help pubs, the silver-haired four-eyed hoon announced in his budget that alcohol duty would rise by 2%. So expect a few thousand more pub closures caused by this teetotal Jockocracy and be thankful a general election is looming in June 2010.
Cameron described the fiasco that runs this country as "A Government of the living dead" and the tax everything policy is a typical death throw of a labour government.
Elsewhere this budget has been described as "the shortest suicide note in history".
After the anti-pub budget last year, tax on beer increased by 18% and we saw 39 pubs close every week. This budget will do nothing to halt those closures but it will not effect Alastair Darling, as of last year he was banned from most pubs anyway, along with cigarettes and gypsies. Good company to keep Badger!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Music confirmed for Wales' biggest pub

The Cardiff International Arena will be home to the biggest pub in Wales in June, when the Campaign for Real Ale holds the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival there.
Alongside the beers and ciders the music for the for the largest beer festival in Wales has just been announced.

Thursday - quite day

Friday 12th afternoon 3.30pm Baggyrinkle

"Swansea Shantymen"

Baggyrinkle sing in three-part harmony with some of the songs accompanied by the concertina and their programme complemented by the occasional instrumental piece.
The group currently consists of nine members, (eight performing and one female to keep the boys in order!) who come from all walks of life and have been brought together by their love of folk music with the emphasis on maritime material, of course.
Most of the Baggies’ repertoire is traditional, although contemporary songs also feature – some of them penned by group members Dave Robinson & Andrew McKay – and Welsh language songs are also beginning to make an appearance.

Friday 12th 9pm Dansette
Dansette are a horn - driven eight piece band who play an authentic mix of 60's Soul standards from the Stax/Atlantic/Motwn stables. If you want to think Blues Brothers and Commitments you'll be half right, but we don't stop there, we'll take you on a Soul Journey through that golden era that you just won't want to end. Dancing shoes are optional but enjoyment is guaranteed.

Saturday 13th Early afternoon -Cardiff Blues Male Voice Choir

The 60-strong Cardiff Blues mixed voice choir is one born out of the S4/C series, Codi Canu. This successful TV series aimed to bring back singing to the rugby terraces through the medium of Welsh. Each of the 4 rugby regions had a choir and a list of songs to learn throughout the 2006-07 season. Each region competed against each other by singing pitchside at the Wales vs England 6Nations match in Cardiff in April 07. The Blues Choir were lucky enough to sing Rhyfelgyrch Gwyr Harlech(Men of Harlech) and although we came runners-up to the Dragons choir, we loved the whole experience.

Saturday 13th 1400 hrs -Isca Morris Men

The Isca Morrismen were formed in 1976 by three experienced dancers taking their name from the Roman Fortress of the Second Augustan Legion which once stood on the site of the town of Caerleon in the old county of Gwent in South East Wales, UK.

Saturday 13th Late afternoon- The Booze Brothers

“The Booze Brothers - Playing well known party hits and drinking songs on tuned beer bottles and glasses".

Saturday 13th 8.30pm The Jug Band

"The Jug Band was once referred to as the Drinking man's Pink Floyd"

The Jug Band is a band that is going forward in no particular direction and backwards in both. They are the only band to give you stereo washboards. So, if you like your bands a bit rough around the edges (to say the least), not even the tiniest bit politically correct with a hint of Mungo Jerry thrown in. A bit rude and a bloody good laugh then come and see us.

All through the Festival Balloon Platoon will be entertaining the customers and staff.

Festival Facts

  • 6000 thirsty drinkers are expected at the 3 day event
  • 24,000 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 4000 pints of cider and perry will be available
  • Over 250 different real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers will be available at the Great Welsh
  • 2000 pints of German beer will be specially imported for the Great Welsh
  • Over 120 CAMRA members will be volunteering to work at the festival
  • The bar is 70 metres long!
  • The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 2009 is the 9th annual festival, the 2nd at the CIA, the previous 7 having been held at Cardiff City Hall
  • CAMRA outgrew Cardiff City Hall and with help from the Welsh Assembly Government relocated to the CIA last year
  • Pub games, stalls and food will be available at the Festival

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, Cardiff International Arena, CIA, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff CF10 2EQ

Open: Thursday 11th June 11-11, Friday 12th & Saturday 13th June 11-11

Entrance £5 (£4 for Under 26s and CAMRA members), includes souvenir glass and festival programme. For more information log onto:, tel:07807 609712

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival Facebook site here

View Larger Map

Monday, 20 April 2009

Wales has second cheapest pint in the UK

In a survey conducted by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, Wales was found to have the second cheapest pint of real ale in the country, with an average price of £2.29 a pint as compared to the UK average of £2.59 a pint. In addition, Wales saw the smallest percentage change in the price of real ale over the year - a 1.8% increase as opposed to the 5.5% increase seen nationally. The cheapest place for a pint of real ale was the North West of England.

CAMRA's 2009 Prices Survey shows that:
  • The pub price of a pint of real ale has increased by 5.5% since February 2008
  • The East Midlands has been hardest hit, with real ale prices increasing by 9.1% since February 2008
  • Britain's independent freehouse pubs are the worst suffering pubs, increasing real ale prices by 6.2% in the last year

The full details of CAMRA's Annual Prices Survey- conducted between January 19th and February 23rd 2009 in a variety of public houses can be accessed here.

In addition:
  • 18% beer tax increase by Government in 2008 has forced publicans to up real ale prices by an inflation-busting 5.5%, new research from CAMRA shows
  • Britain's drinkers have paid over 3 billion pounds in beer excise duty since March 2008 Budget
  • 70,000 people sign up to Axe the Beer Tax campaign. 25,000 have contacted their MP to call for a freeze in beer taxation and abandonment of plans for annual above inflation beer tax hike.
Slightly off topic but customers can still find a pint for less than £2 in Newport and in Cardiff.
Ye Olde Murenger House, High Street, Newport sells Sam Smith's OBB at below £2 a pint and the Queens Vaults, Westgate Street, Cardiff, sells Felinfoel Bitter at a very competitive price, £1.49 the last time Brew Wales visited!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Man of Gwent pub - not a freehouse

The nearest pub to the Brew Wales headquarters is the Man of Gwent, Chepstow Road, Newport. Now it's not a pub Brew Wales particularly likes and the Murenger House is a more favoured haunt but one thing intrigues us - the sign clearly announces it is a 'Free House'. Now a Free House is one that is not tied to any brewer or pub company and can in theory buy beer and cider etc from any supplier. In practise a Free House will have a part tie with a brewer in order to achieve a good deal on their products. But the Man of Gwent has always been tied. It was opened as a pub in 1966 by the brewers Courage and remained with them for years until Scot-co and eventually Punch took it over. It has never been a Free House and has always been tied. A flagrant example of false advertising here. Whilst on the subject, how many true free houses are there are in Newport? The answer is suprisingly few. The Pen & Wig, Stow Hill is one, are there any others?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Independent criticises Champion Beer of Wales winner

Failing dead tree press member, 'The Independent' has criticised the current Champion Beer of Wales, Otley O8, for encouraging binge drinking and calling it an 'extreme beer'. Brew Dog Brewery was also criticised, along with Dark Star and Thornbridge Breweries . The full article can be read here
Now events this week have proved that the national newspapers take their orders and even articles from the Government, so was this anti-beer post instigated by the teetotal one-eyed Prime Mentalist whose policies are closing 39 pubs a week? Or by one of his lackies in the Downing Street Bunker?
A quote from the fake charity Alcohol Concern, who are funded by the Government, is also included in the biased "Independent" article.
Last paragraph from the Indy was given over to common sense:

BrewDog's head brewer, Martin Dickie, denied encouraging irresponsible drinking, pointing out that some of his bottles cost £4 each. "There's no way someone can drink 20 a night. It's probably the least economic way of buying alcohol. You can get a bottle of vodka for £5."

His products were meant to be enjoyed by friends in their own homes, he added. "You can sit down with two or three friends and open two or three bottles. It's much more relaxed and you are able to savour the beer."

Pete Brown takes the article apart in an excellent rebuttal here

The Daley Dozen

An occasional series devoted to a dozen good things in the world of pubs/beer/cider/brewing.

12 best beer/pub books, personal choice from the Brew Wales library

  1. Good Beer Guide, Editor Roger Protz. The Campaign for Real Ale's flagship publication makes its annual appearance every Autumn with the best of British pubs and details of British breweries. The brewery section is indispensable especially when you can't remember who owns/brews Bass at the moment – it is brewed by Marstons but the brand is owned by In-bev. Useful to remember for the pub quiz!
  2. The English Pub, Michael Jackson 1976. The late Mr Jacksons' books quite deservedly take pride of place on a Brew Wales bookcase but this is the book that launched him onto the beer scene. An excellent history of the pub, packed with photographs.
  3. Death of the English Pub, Christopher Hutt 1973. Pubs are under threat today but in the 1970s they were under threat for different reasons. Chris Hutt takes a look at the brewing industry that over the years led up to this crisis.
  4. Prince of Ales, History of Brewing in Wales, Brian Glover 1993. Indispensable for anyone researching or just interested in the history of Welsh brewing.
  5. Pub Names of Britain, Dunkling & Wright 1987. 10,000 different pub names with descriptions about them all. My only gripe is Ye Olde Murenger House is not featured! Does need updating to a new edition.
  6. The Faber Book of Drink, Drinkers and Drinking, ed Simon Rae 1991.Over 500 pages of anecdotes and snippets from literature from Burns, Orwell, Hardy, Byron etc. Well worth delving into for a good quote.
  7. The Beer Book, editor Tim Hampson 2008. Described elsewhere as 'Beer Porn' this is a guide to the world of beer with full colour photographs and tasting notes, written by experts from the countries involved. Excellent reference manual for beer in the 21st Century. Reviewed by Brew Wales last year.
  8. Licensed to Sell, History and Heritage of the Public House, Geoff Brandwood, Andrew Davison & Mick Slaughter, 2004. An excellent, fully illustrated book on the history, development and architecture of the pub. Mythbusting section at the back deserves a book to itself.
  9. Rough Pub Guide, Paul Moody & Robin Turner, 2008. 50 of the most extraordinary drinking experiences in the UK. Packed full of pubs Brew Wales knows and loves and others waiting to be discovered. Reviewed by Brew Wales last year.
  10. The Guinness Drinking Companion, Leslie Dunkling 1992, an anthology and guide to 5000 years of drinking, covering beer, cider, wine, spirits etc.
  11. The Brewing Industry 1950-1990, Anthony Avis 1995. A collection of essays on the British brewing industry, written by someone who was an insider throughout these times. In-depth knowledge that is often missing from other books.
  12. A Century of British Brewers 1890-1990, Norman Barber 1994. Indispensable A4 booklet listing old breweries in their towns. Brew Wales copy is now looking very haggard with the cover falling off and packed full of handwritten notes.

Monmouthshire MP "Pub is essential part of the community"

Some News from Monmouthshire MP and Parliamentary Skipping Champion David Davies

MP in save the British Pub Plea

Monmouth MP David Davies has come out in support of the save the British pub campaign. The movement to help the struggling pub industry survive the recession is running an “Axe the Beer Tax” campaign aimed at helping Pub landlords compete with the supermarkets on a more even footing. At present a third of the price of every pint pulled in Britain’s pubs goes straight into the Government’s coffers.

The campaign also calls on the Government to save pubs and safeguard jobs by cutting tax on low alcohol beer and cider, paid for by increasing tax on problem drinks, principally high strength Lagers, Ciders and Alcopops. This would target binge drinkers but ensure that responsible drinkers and traditional pubs are not penalised.

David says” I fully support the campaign to save the British Pub. I believe the pub is an essential part of the community just like the village shop or post office. This is especially true in rural areas like Monmouthshire”

“In the last three years seventeen Monmouthshire pubs have closed their doors for ever, I believe there are many more struggling to survive. Pub Landlords are being assailed from all sides, high rents, high business rates, high taxes coupled with the economic crises are driving their takings down”

“If the government can be persuaded to ease the tax burden it will be a great boost to the pub trade. Monmouth has many wonderful pubs, I’m determined to do all I can to ensure they survive and prosper”

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Six out of ten MPs oppose plans to increase Beer Tax in next week’s Budget

From a press release by Axe the Beer Tax:
From Brew Wales

Chancellor Alistair Darling will be defying the majority of MPs if he goes ahead with tax rises on beer in next week’s budget, according to a poll published today.

Fifty nine per cent of MPs want the Treasury to axe its plans to increase Beer Tax - and, with pubs closing at a record rate of nearly six a day, sixty one per cent of MPs want government action to support the pub as part of local communities.

The poll of MPs was released today a week ahead of the budget by the ‘Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub’ campaign, which is spearheaded by the British Beer and Pub Association and CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

  • ComRes poll shows 59% of all MPs oppose Chancellor’s plans to increase Beer Tax in next week’s Budget
  • 41% of all Labour Backbench MPs oppose Beer Tax increase
  • 61% of MPs want Government action to support the pub as part of local communities

More than 202 MPs, including 97 Labour backbenchers, have already signed a Parliamentary Motion (EDM 10) supporting the campaign after 25,000 members of the public emailed their MP. In a ComRes poll published last month, 70% of the public said they did not believe that an increase in Beer Tax above inflation was justified in current circumstances.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of brewer Shepherd Neame, told a Westminster press conference:

‘This poll shows the Chancellor will be over-riding the majority of the Commons if he increases beer tax – as well as the majority of voters and consumers.

‘The economic facts have changed dramatically for the worse since he announced last spring his intention to increase beer tax above inflation year by year. The case for beer tax increases – which we always contested – has been swept away by the recession. The beer and pubs trade has suffered one of its worst years ever.

‘Our message to the Chancellor is – don’t kick this great traditional industry when it is down. When the facts change, change your mind. And rarely have the economic facts changed so fast.’

Mike Benner, chief executive of CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), said:

‘It is clear that the majority of MPs are in the same place as the majority of consumers – they don’t want further damage done to pubs by further tax increases.

‘We are not asking for special favours, only for a reprieve from an unnecessary and unjustifiable tax rise.

‘The Chancellor needs to recognise the scale of the threat to the traditional pub as more and more close with every month of recession.’

The poll by ComRes shows that MPs agree by a margin of 6-1 that the government should take action to support the British pub as a vital part of social life in communities.

Dr Richard Muir, senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, and author of a recent study of community pubs, ‘The Social Value of Community Pubs’, said:

‘MPs realise that pubs are more than businesses, they have an important role to play in communities. The government should not under-estimate the value of what is lost to community life when the local pub closes.’

1. Key findings from the Com Res poll are:

  • The majority of MPs (59%) say that government plans to increase the tax on a pint of beer over and above the rate of inflation are not justified, while 32% say that they are justified. The vast majority of Conservative MPs (91%) say that this planned increase is not justified, compared to 41% of Labour MPs and 75% of Liberal Democrats. However, that over four in ten Labour MPs effectively say that they oppose the proposals of their party on the issue of beer tax is worthy of note.
  • The majority of MPs (83%) agree that the government should enforce existing laws to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers and premises before introducing new ones. Only 5% of MPs disagree with this statement.
  • A similar proportion of MPs (84%) agree that the government should take action to end irresponsible drinks promotions by alcohol retailers, with just 9% saying that they disagree. Labour MPs (93%) are considerably more likely to agree that the government should take action to end irresponsible drinks promotions by alcohol retailers than their Conservative counterparts (66%).
  • More than half of MPs (54%) agree that the government should trust adults to make informed choices about what they drink, not penalise them for the actions of an irresponsible minority, while 21% disagree with this statement. Again, a party split is evident, where considerably more Conservative MPs (81%) agree that the government should trust adults to make informed choices about what they drink, not penalise them for the actions of an irresponsible minority than Labour MPs (43%).
  • The majority of MPs (61%) agree that the government should take action to support the British pub as a vital part of social life in local communities. Just 11% disagree with this statement. Conservative MPs appear to have a more positive and favourable opinion of British pubs than their Labour and Liberal Democrat counterparts, with 76% agreeing that the government should take action to support the British pub as a vital part of social life in local communities, compared to 55% of Labour MPs and 65% of Lib Dems who say the same.


ComRes surveyed 150 MPs on the ComRes parliamentary panel between 23rd February

and 13th March 2008 by self-completion postal questionnaire. Data were weighted to

reflect the exact composition of the House of Commons in terms of party representation

and regional constituency distribution. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules (

Previous polling on this issue

A ComRes poll published on 3rd March 2009 showed that 70% of the public believe beer tax increases above inflation are not justified.

Previous publications

The IPPR paper, ‘The Social Value of Community Pubs’, was published on 31st March 2009.

2. Key industry statistics:

· Britain’s pubs and brewers directly employ 600,000 people and support a further 550,000 jobs. The sector generates £28 billion in economic activity.

· Total beer sales are down 9 million pints a day since the peak of 1979. Beer sales in pubs are down 16 million pints a day over the same period, and are now at their lowest level since the Great Depression of the 1930s – despite a 36 per cent increase in the UK population.

· Pub closures have continued to accelerate, with an unprecedented 2,000 closures in the last 12 months. This means that 39 pubs are closing a week or six every day. 20,000 jobs have been lost across the sector in the last year, with a further 59,000 projected to be lost in the next five years (Oxford Economics).

· In November 2008, the Government increased beer tax for the second time in nine months - a 17.8 per cent rise in total during 2008 placing an additional £520 million cost increase on the sector.

3. The Axe the Beer Tax - Save the Pub Campaign was launched in November by the British Beer & Pub Association, and beer consumer champion, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. For more information, please visit the campaign website at

Welsh Cider Company Sponsors CAMRA book

From Brew Wales

Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company, have given their support to CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, by sponsoring their new book, called 'Cider'.

Bill George, Operations Director at Gwynt Y Ddraig, said, “CAMRA have always supported us over the years and and it was a great opportunity for us to be asked by them to sponsor a book on cider and perry. Since Gwynt Y Ddraig first started back in 2001, our ciders and perries have been on the bars of hundreds of CAMRA beer festivals throughout the country and have won many awards, including Champion Cider and Perry of Britain.

‘Cider’ is a lovingly-crafted exploration into the world of apples and pears, celebrating some of the industry’s pioneering characters and events, whilst travelling the length and breadth of cider country to form one of the most comprehensive cider and perry publications to date.

‘Cider’ is written, compiled and visualised thanks to a collaboration of leading experts on the subject, bringing together freelance journalists, producers and even self-confessed enthusiasts from the CAMRA membership! Due to this panel of knowledge, no stone is left unturned for the reader, with information on where to find cider retailers at home or abroad, how to match cider with food, and, as a light-hearted aside, how to produce your own cider or perry!

Andrea Briers, Chair of the CAMRA National Cider and Perry Committee, said, "
This book is a lavishly illustrated, true insight into the world of cider and perry making, and one that captures some of the characteristics making this industry so treasured. The cider and perry world is simply brimming with diverse customs and history, and to a majority of people this element of Britishness remains undiscovered."

In homage to the work of European producers, ‘Cider’ also devotes attention to Spanish, French, Austrian and German producers that have influenced the industry. As the book notes, ‘the temperature climate of Europe’s Cider Belt gives rise to a landscape and a culture that’s all pastures and orchards.’

Domestically, cider is currently undergoing a revival in the noughties, and ‘Cider’ lovingly reports that, ‘In the past five years, the number of producers has blossomed and more real cider and perry is now being produced than 15 years ago. Most of these cidermakers are hobby producers, though several are reaching the tipping point where they are able to pack their day jobs in and produce full time.’

Briers continues:
"CAMRA’s National Cider and Perry Month in October has been a catalyst for change over the last few years and has really helped raise the reputation and renown of craft producers. The aim of this ‘Cider’ book is to make more consumers aware of one of Britain’s oldest drinks, and to champion the delights of fresh, well-crafted produce coming from some of the nation’s most innovative artisans."

‘Cider’ is published on Wednesday April 15th, and is available from all good retailers, as well as from the CAMRA shop (, priced £12.99 for CAMRA members, and £14.99 for non-members.

Gwynt Y Ddraig Facts:

  • Gwynt Y Ddraig was founded in 2001 by local farmer Bill George and his nephew Andrew Gronow
  • 450 tons of fruit were pressed last year
  • Orchard Gold Cider was commended in the True Taste Drink (Alcoholic) awards 2007/8
  • Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse Sweet was judged “Best Sweet Cider” at the Bath Cider Festival 2008
  • Gwynt Y Ddraig Perry was voted Champion Perry of Wales at the Welsh Cider Festival 2008
  • Gwynt Y Ddraig have previously won Champion Cider and Perry of Britain, as judged by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.
  • Gwynt Y Ddraig open days 2009: Saturday 25th (1100-2100) & Sunday 26th April (1100-1900)

Further Information:

Bill George, Operations Director, 0779 106 6240


Andy Gronow, Production Director, 0779 106 6257

Llest Farm, Llantwit Fardre, Pontypridd, RCT, CF38 2PW

Save the Vulcan – Bar Trek

Drink Long and Prosper

From Brew Wales

To celebrate the launch of the new Star Trek film, where better than to have a fancy dress party than at the Vulcan in Cardiff, a pub threatened with assimilation into a car park in the next few months? Now I don't think that Frosted Bajoran Ale, Synthahol or Klingon Blood Wine will be making an appearance alongside the excellent Brains Bitter and SA or that gach would appear on the menu instead of the filling rolls, but the bar of the Vulcan is more welcoming than Ten-Forward and the range of customers would not be out of place at Quark's.

Will the enterprising Save the Vulcan campaign be able to put up a strong defiance against the dominating developers who are already preparing their quantum torpedoes to level the site?

Will Liz be dressing up as Guinan for the night?

Will Brian make an appearance as Quark?

Will Yamok sauce make it as far as the kebab shops on Caroline Street?

To be continued.................

So lets not see the Vulcan disappear into the wormhole forever and support the Save the Vulcan campaign by dressing up as your favourite Star Trek character and coming along to the pub to celebrate the launch of the film. Prize for the best fancy dress outfit.


Vulcan Bar Trek fancy dress party 08.05.09. 2000 hrs

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Derek Draper spotted in South Wales pub

New Labour apologist and Kate Garroway's unshaven hoon Derek Draper was spotted having a pint in a Newport pub whilst his empire collapsed around him following Guidogate.

NB - due to legal requirements I am reliably informed that this is not Derek Draper, soon-to-be ex-editor of the dismal Labour Lost website but of Fido the Dog of the left-wing Lone Voice blog.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Mr Pinty goes to parliament

The Axe the Beer Tax campaign hit Westminster today with Mr Pinty and friends marching on Whitehall. All very well during Cask Ale Week, but Members of Parliament are on holiday because of Easter Recess! More chance of finding a MPs partner not watching porn paid for by the taxpayer than finding a MP in the House during recess, unless of course they have decided to use their offices for a 'quick one'. Perhaps it's not a good idea to go into Parliament at the moment, who knows what the MPs are getting up behind closed doors.

Have heard that the rent boys around Westminster have all changed their name to 'John Lewis' to enable Lib Dem MPs to claim them on expenses!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Pub closure video

Fido has done a pub crisis video with his typical level of political correctness and a lot of photos from Brew Wales.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Local rag up to date with the news

The news last week that the Walkabout bar (former Queens Hotel) in Newport was closing and had been bought by JD Wetherspoons finally made front page news in the South Wales Argus on Saturday morning. Hardly breaking news, this story first surfaced in the Morning Advertiser on Thursday, was covered by Fido the same day and appeared here, after researching a photo, on Friday. So why does the biggest selling local newspaper in and around Newport consider a 3-day old story to be front page news?

The reason is that the South Wales Argus is no longer printed in Newport but in Worcester and is now a morning paper, with the editions going to bed at 4pm the previous day. A few years ago a City-centre fire or car accident that happened before 9am could be in the later editions of the newspaper the same day. Today it appears in the edition the next day. Hardly newsworthy when we live in a world with 24 hours of rolling news on TV, radio and the web. Also the MSM are trying to compete with the online world and are failing abysmally, running newspapers with out of date news is not going to encourage more people to buy them.

The last time Newport was without a locally printed Newspaper was 200 or so years ago. So well-done to Newsquest (Gannet), the owners of the South Wales Argus for closing the printing department and taking a backwards step in getting the news to it's readers. Which should be the backbone of every newspaper, not flogging us holidays or receiving state funding by printing adverts from the local libelist Member of Parliament, paid for by us, the taxpayer.
It does raise the question of how long will the South Wales Argus survive as a local daily newspaper? If the parent company were unwilling to invest in new printing facilities then how big is their commitment in the long-term to the local paper? Even the typesetting is no longer carried out in Maesglas, having been outsourced to India! After all it is the Sub-continent and the spelling mistakes have dropped off since the move!

Now this is not an anti-Argus post, I still buy and read the local rag and will continue to do so as long as Mike Buckingham's Words of Wisdom still grace its pages every Wednesday.

Carmarthenshire Brewery doubles capacity

Ffos y Ffin Brewery of Capel Dewi, Carmarthenshire, have doubled their brewing capacity in order to cope with demand for their beers from their customers. The brewery, situated on a farm, will now be able to brew 5000 litres a week, all brewed with their own natural well water.

Pubs in Parliament

Thursday 26th March saw an Adjournment Debate in the House of Commons on pubs and only 5 members of the House could spare the time away from their subsidised bars and restaurants, shagging in their offices and tax-payer funded second homes to actually attend this debate. The teetotal Prime Minister was of course on his world tour, where he gave politicians in South America the chance to make fun of him in ways that are usually only reserved for Conservative MEPs.

Now Thursday afternoons are not the busiest times in Parliament as many MPs head off back to their constituencies on that day to be ready (sober) for Friday morning surgeries, but if the Members for Ribble Valley and Selby, hardly close to London, were able to attend then I would have hoped that other Members of Parliament would have been present in the Chamber.
The debate was launched by Laurence Robertson MP for Tewkesbury, who came up with some interesting facts:

  • The Drinks Industry contributes £14.79 billion a year to the economy (Source: House of Commons library)
  • Each pub contributes an average of about £90,000 in taxes
  • 84% of pubs are family-run businesses
  • 350,000 people are directly employed by pubs
  • On average, each pub contributes about £3,000 to charities in their areas
  • Since the last Budget, more than 2,000 pubs have closed, costing the Government £180 million in lost revenue, with the loss of 20,000 jobs
  • In the Tewkesbury Constituency 11 pubs have closed since June 2005
  • An increase in alcohol duty in the 2009 budget would result in an additional 75,000 jobs lost in the following two years. (Oxford Economics)
  • 39 pubs a week are closing

The MP for Tewkesbury also raised the problem of the pub companies that own the majority of the pubs in the UK. When the Monopolies and Mergers Commission investigated the Big Breweries, they recommended breaking up their empires. For instance, Bass as a brewer also had 7190 pubs, today Punch Taverns has 9095 pubs (although they sold 5 to Fullers recently). If Bass had a monopoly that was considered unfair then why is it that a pub company that owns more pubs not considered an unfair monopoly?

There has been a report by the Select Committee on Business and Enterprise on the monopoly of the pubcos, but this is yet to be published. Laurence Robertson MP also stated that only 14% of pub closures are of pubs owned by the top six pubcos, a figure which is wholly out of scale in South Wales, where the I estimate the number is closer to 80%.

John Grogan MP for Selby raised the possibility of extending rate relief, already available to rural pubs, to pubs in market towns and suburbs, in fact to any 'community pub'.
Nigel Evans MP for Ribble Valley raised the point of the high charges for Sky Sports channels for major sporting events.

The last two paragraphs of Laurence Robertson's speech I print in full from Hansard below:
“We would like to see, as all small businesses would, an end to the drip-drip regulation that affects all businesses, but small ones disproportionately. We need to allow diversification—perhaps post offices could be put in pubs—and we need a simplified planning system for smaller planning applications. I have said that mandatory rate relief should be considered, and there should not be any increase in business rates this year. As I said, the inflation figure is now nil anyway.
I stand to be corrected, but I understand that the Government have not yet responded to the excellent report on the community pub inquiry produced by my hon. Friend and his team. Perhaps they could respond to the excellent suggestions in it. I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say, and I thank him again for attending. Pubs are well worth saving, for the reasons that I have given—their economic value and their value to the community. To pinch a quotation from my hon. Friend’s excellent report, the writer and one-time MP Hilaire Belloc said:
“When you have lost your inns, drown your empty selves, for you will have lost the last of England.”
I think he had it about right”.

The Government response was given by Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who acknowledged that the ideas about the role community pubs can play are excellent.
In many cases, customers are put off going to pubs in town centres, for example, because of the violence that takes place”.
So the Minister accepts that town and city centres have become no-go areas and yet this Government has done nothing to halt the domination of town centres by superpubs where the majority of the problem lies. Even the police agree the problem lies with the superpubs as in Newport they have asked them to use plastic cups on Fridays and Saturdays. By ask of course, insist is meant and certain superpub operators were only to glad to suck up to the Gwent Constabulary, although one pub owned by an independent brewery told the police where to go as their company solicitor said, “The request has no basis in law”. Until a Government can address this issue with Prima Facie legislation, rather than the whims of the local Bobbies, then we will still have the problems in city centres.

The Under-Secretary also stated that the government will will give a response soon to the Parliamentary Beer Club inquiry, although he refused to say what the response would be! Great that should help reduce pub closures! He also stated that the enterprise credit guarantee scheme has been extended to all types of smaller pubs and will simplify the process for making minor variations to licenses as well as increasing the stakes and prizes for pub gaming machines. Now is the enterprise credit guarantee schemes one of those ideas from the teetotal one-eyed Jock in 10 Downing Street which is not working? Great another pointless promise from the Government.

An interesting quote from the Under-Secretary was that “a representative of Alcohol Concern said that the idea of community pubs was a good one”. So the state-funded fake charity Alcohol Concern now supports pubs? I somehow don't believe that the leaders of the new Temperance Movement will ever support pubs, but then I am more cynical than an Under-Secretary at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, a part of the Government with a title that reminds one more of a totalitarian state of Hitler or Stalin, than of an elected Government.

Gerry Sutcliffe MP summed up the debate with, The pub is a traditional part of life here in the United Kingdom, and we must do what we can to ensure that it continues. Pubs face many challenges, but I think we are all united in wanting to advance consistent arguments in favour of enabling as many as possible to survive......What we are talking about is responsible drinking, supervised drinking, and ensuring that people drink reasonably in a safe environment”.

So does that last sentence mean doormen for every pub? – already a fact in City Centres on Friday and Saturday nights – something that does not mean safer City Centres as the Under-Secretary already referred to. Or does it mean plastic cups in every pub? Or does it mean legislation to stop the dominance of the superpub in City Centres? Whatever it did mean, a Parliamentary debate on the pub that only attracts 5 MPs is not going to achieve any quick fixes for the industry, or for that matter any long term fixes. Halves of shandies all round for that I think.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Newport steps further into the Abyss

Just when you think the chav-ridden superpub-ghetto that is the City Centre of Newport, cannot get any worse, news reaches the Brew Wales bartop that JD Wetherspoons have bought the lease of Walkabout from Regent Inns. Now normally an Australian theme pub disappearing off the scene would be a cause for celebration, but Newport has seen 42 pub closures in the last 12 years so another get-them-in-cheap-pile-them-up superpub will do nothing for other smaller, often tied pubs which still exist in the City. Who knows, they may even rename the pub 'The Jade Goody' and allow the local pondlife who inhabit the City at weekends to drink out of their plastic cups rather than the cleaner glasses preferred by all except the local constabulary.

Now in a previous incarnation the Walkabout bar was known as the Queens Hotel and when it was owned by Belhaven Inns, the fledging Brew Wales editor had a summer job there. Now this was in the days when what would be described as slightly irregular cellar practises went on there. The pub served Bass, Brains Bitter and Dark and when the driptrays below the handpumps were full, they were emptied into buckets behind the bar. Of course some days there were not enough buckets to fill up, so industrial margarine tubs came to be used. The back bar, known as the Tudor Bar, or to the regulars as 'God's Waiting Room' or GWR, on the account of the age of its patrons, was so constructed that it did not have easy access to the cellar. Hence all this beer would hang around until late at night before being taken back to the cellar and filtered back into the cask. Now this did nothing for the beer quality but as it was the cheapest pint in town, excluding clubs, the members (yes they even made themselves membership cards!) of the GWR, still used to drink the swill.

“There's been a thunderstorm today which is why the beer is not too good”, was one of the excuses I remember hearing from a regular OAP in the GWR. That was the type of pub it was, the customers were the ones who came up with the excuses for the bad beer, not the staff!

The Queens was also a popular place for drinks after hours and the partying would sometimes last until the next morning. Thursday nights were 'over 30' nights at the nearby Ritzy nightclub, which meant that all the fossils/grannies used to pop into the Queens for a few shandies. The term palaeophillia was invented here to describe someone who enjoyed chasing such museum exhibits.

The Queens Hotel was built in 1863 and was purchased by local brewers Phillips in 1904, and by 1924 they were describing it as their flagship pub. Ownership went to Simonds Brewery in 1949, then Courage, Belhaven Inns and the delightfully named Happy Hotels. There may be a few names missing in the ownership list as towards the end the names changed frequently and the Queens was finally Aussified into Walkabout by Regent Inns in 2001. The pub is reputably haunted so any building work had better be sympathetic to those former members of Gods Waiting Room who still hang around the premises.

Below is an advert for the Queens Hotel from the 1950s

Of course Fido has his take on this story as well


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