Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Vulcan Saved for 3 years

From Brew Wales

Vulcan Saved
Thursday 25th saw the celebrations at the Vulcan in Cardiff as the pub has been granted a reprieve from demolition, albeit for only 3 years. The campaign to save the pub is not over yet and the campaigners are trying to work out a way of saving the unique atmosphere of this famous Cardiff watering-hole for another 156 years.

More on the story from the BBC here.

And at Wales Online here

Save the Vulcan website here

Monday, 29 June 2009

Wither Bass?

Bass was once the most popular real ale in Britain with over 2 million barrels a year being brewed but today it is rumoured that only around 100,000 barrels are produced a year, probably a lot less. It is owned by the worldwide brewer InBev, makers of Stella and Budweiser but brewed by Marston's in Burton-upon-Trent. Recently Brew Wales had the opportunity to question an Inbev Executive and on asking how much the marketing budget was for Bass, was told zero. That's correct, the marketing budget for Bass is zero, zilch, nothing. So Inbev own the name of one of the most iconic beers in the world, yet have no interest in marketing the product what so ever. Hardly surprising as we live in a world of where the mega-breweries are controlled by accountants and not brewers and Bass is a beer that benefits from good cellar work, not something a keyboard-puncher at a mega-brewer is interested in. A stable brewery-conditioned product is all that these people are interested in.

The Bass Red Triangle was the first trade mark ever registered in the UK in 1876 and by 1882 bottles with the red triangle on them were immortalised in Manet's Bar at the Folies-Bergère. The pale ale from Burton had achieved world-wide fame.

Bass used to have legendary status, not least for the Vesuvial effects of drinking copious quantities of the said beer that has been brewed with the gypsum-rich waters of Burton-Upon-Trent. The effect of calcium sulphate on the digestive system of the human body cannot be understated but the production of hydrogen sulphide gas as a result of the digestion of Bass has been known to make the staff toilets of many an office unusable by fellow workers until the sulphurous volcanic aromas have dissipated.

Pubs in Newport were once renowned for the quality of their Bass; the Lord Raglan on Commercial Street (demolished in the 1970s), followed by Conti's, the Royal Albert and the Queens Hotel were all popular Bass pubs. Conti's and the Queens were not even owned by Bass but served their beer. Nowadays only the Pen & Wig serves Bass in the City Centre. A few may say that the quality of Bass went down hill in the 1970s when, in a cost-cutting measure, the beer was fermented in giant conical fermenters rather than the traditional Burton Union sets, a method of production unique to Burton which involved wooden barrels linked together and helped produce the unique flavour that made Bass the famous beer it was.

Above:the Burton Union System in the 19th Century

Bass is still a good beer but one that benefits from good cellar work. Bass even tastes better served gravity than on a handpump – go to the Star in Bath or Bessie's (Dyffryn Arms) at Pontfaen if you don't believe me. So what is the future of Bass, as the owner Inbev does not have an interest in promoting it as a brand? Well if they were to sell the brand, which has to be brewed in Burton, would it not be better to see this beer being owned by Marston's and perhaps even being brewed in the union system again as it was before the 1970s? A better future than slowly dying out through lack of promotion by a multi-national mega-brewery.

More on Bass at Wikipedia here

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Hall of Shame - Watneys Starlight

Hall of Shame, part 2

An occasional series devoted to what Brew Wales considers the worst in the world of brewing and drinking

Watney's Starlight - this beer was so weak in strength that a 1971 Sunday Mirror investigation discovered that it could have been legally sold in the United States during Prohibition.

Luckily it died a death along with the Watney Empire some time ago. Not even tickers want to see this return.

Planet Rock to sponsor beer festival

This year at the Great British Beer Festival, the entertainment will be sponsored by Brew Wales favourite radio station, Planet Rock.
Now Brew Wales is not expecting to see Alice Cooper doing his morning show from the festival as Earls Court is a bit too far away from a golf course for him, but there is some great music lined up for the festival and no, it's not all rock.

Chaminade String Quartet

Tuesday 4 August 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

The Acoustic Strawbs

Wednesday 5 August 2009, 1pm and 2.30pm

Feast of Fiddles

Wednesday 5 August 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

Beatles, Blues and Blue Violin

Thursday 6 August 2009, 1pm and 2.30pm


Thursday 6 August 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

Peter Knight's Gigspanner

Friday 7th August 2009, 1pm and 2.30pm

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Friday 7th August 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

Denham Hendon brass band

Saturday 8th August 2009, throughout the afternoon

The Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court, Britain's biggest beer festival, brings together a wide range of real ales, ciders, perries and international beers.

At least 450 beers available throughout, including golden ales, fruit beers, stouts, bitters and some international real lagers. As well as beer there is also cider and perry, all available in pint, half pint and third pint measures.

There's plenty to occupy you at the festival, you can play on some traditional pub games, enjoy live music, sample some food, including good traditional pub snacks, and also attend tutored beer tastings. The tutored tastings usually sell out in advance so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Open times

Tue 4th
5.00pm to 10.30pm

Wed 5th to Fri 7th
12noon to 10.30pm

Sat 8th
11.00am to 7.00pm

More details here

Daley Dozen - 12 South Wales Pubs

Daley Dozen, part 3
An occasional series devoted to a dozen best things in the beer world.

12 favourite pubs in South Wales

  1. Clytha Arms, Monmouthshire. Set in its own grounds, the Clytha has won countless awards over the years for its real ales and food. It is even on a bus route, though a somewhat irregular one.
  2. Joiners, Bishopston, Swansea. Home of the Swansea Brewing Company, the Joiners offers good beer and good food in a pleasant setting a short bus ride from the city centre. Brew Wales has heard that all the beers are good here, though Three Cliffs Gold is the only one ever imbibed by him here.
  3. Boars Head, Tyla Garw, Glamorgan. Great pub, about 10 minutes walk from Pontyclun Railway Station. The management actively support local breweries here.
  4. Ye Olde Murenger House, Newport. The Brew Wales local, despite their being around other 15 pubs between home and this pub. A haven in a superpub ghetto. Dates back to the 1520s with ghosts and Sam Smiths OBB, although Brew Wales avoids the spirits!
  5. Green Dragon, Monmouth, Monmouthshire. The Brew Wales regular hangout in Monmouth, situated close to the now pedestrianised medieval bridge. A fine 2-bar boozer with good beer, Fullers London Pride is a regular on the bar here.
  6. Winchester, Merthyr. Well anywhere named after Arthur Daley's preferred drinking establishment has to be good and this is no exception. Four real ales on, that's often three more than the nearby chav palace, all from the local Rhymney Brewery.
  7. Goat Major, Cardiff. I like the beer, the 1920s décor and even the food is interesting. Despite being on the busy St Mary Street and close to the castle, the Goat Major is often quite, a good place to hide away from the busy streets of the capitol.
  8. Bell, Caerleon. A cider pub, with often up to 20 different ciders and perries on. Excellent food and real ales as well. Hidden away in a back street of Caerleon.
  9. Otley Arms, Trefforest. One of Brew Wales favourite pubs for years, the Otley offers everything that is needed in a good pub, good beer, good conversation and good food. Oh and did I mention the beer? O1 for Brew Wales, unless Columbo is on.
  10. Boar's Head, Brecon. Situated by the river, the Boar's offers the full range of Breconshire Beers and is one of the best pubs in Brecon.
  11. Vulcan, Cardiff. Well, Brains Bitter and SA on here, the famous brown urinals have been saved for 3 years, let us just hope that a more secure future can be made for this wonderful pub.
  12. Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd. Yes I know it's a gastopub and my feelings on such pubs are mixed but the beer is superb and the food is as well.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Newport pub reopens

The Engineers in Baneswell has reopened after closing earlier this year. The Admiral Taverns pub featured on the BBC Wales current affairs programme Wales this Week (or was it Week in Week out?) that highlighted pub closures in Wales. Anyway good to see a pub reopen when many of us thought the Engineers Arms would never see another beer poured again. The pub is owned by Admiral Taverns and serves HB, it was after all a former Welsh Brewers pub. Looking forward to visiting the pub again and not just for the interesting clothing the barmaid was wearing (shorts and bikini top) but for the live music as well. Score 8/10 for #pubtotty!

Monday, 22 June 2009

Old Swan, Llantwit Major

Found myself down the Vale of Glamorgan and of course had to pop into the Old Swan in Llantwit Major. A fantastic medieval building with varied arches and windows dating to that era. Oh and the beer is an ever changing selection of up to 4 different ales, today RCH East Street Cream, Wye Valley HPA and Newmans Snowdonia are all available. Bottled Tomos Watkin and Gwynt y Draig cider also available.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Artisan Brewery Beer Festival

After drinking my first bottles of Artisan Beer at Gwdihw the other week, Brew Wales is looking forward to this little beer festival in Cardiff.

MicroBEER Festival 2009

27th & 28th June

Artisan Brewing Co.in conjunction with the Kings Road Art Studios is pleased to announce the very first MicroBEER Festival

Starting 10am Saturday (12noon Sun)

Market Stalls, Open Studios, Live Music, BBQ and specialty beers on tap.

Sunday is a little more relaxed with beer flowing music all day and the hot food from the BBQ.

Join us... entry is free

View Larger Map

Travelodge supports real ale in a bottle

The annual Champion Bottled Beer of Britain Competition, held at the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court, will this year be sponsored by Travelodge. The Festival will be held between 4th and 8th of August and is the biggest beer festival in Britain.
The Champion
Bottled Beer of Britain competition is conventionally held the day before the 5-day Festival at Earls Court begins, with this year’s competition being judged on Monday August 3rd. Past winners of the prestigious bottled-beer accolade include
Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout, O‘Hanlon Port Stout and Worthington White Shield.

As a further commitment to bottle-conditioned beer, Travelodge have reacted to their own customer feedback by pledging to stock the winning beer in up to 100 of its hotel bars and cafes, giving the Champion brewer unrivalled access to the hotel chain’s thirsty customers.

Paul Harvey, Managing Director of Travelodge, said, "I am delighted that we will be selling the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain in our hotels. Our customers have told us that they want a real ale offer and what could be better than CAMRA’s winning drink?"

As part of their sponsorship, Travelodge will also be offering 2 lucky customers the chance to sit on the Champion Bottled Beer of Britain competition judging panel alongside some of the best palettes in the industry.

Louise Ashworth, CAMRA Head of Marketing, said, "It’s fantastic that Travelodge are backing this competition at the Great British Beer Festival in August, as well as actively promoting bottle-conditioned beer by agreeing to stock the winner in their many outlets. Recent market trends show the increasing consumer demand for real ale continues, therefore we’ve no doubt Travelodge customers will enjoy the best bottle-conditioned beer in Britain according to CAMRA!’

Great British Beer Festival 2009, Earls Court, London, August 4th-8th


Tue 4th August: 5.00pm to 10.30pm
Wed 5th, Thu 6th and Fri 7th: 12noon to 10.30pm
Sat 8th: 11.00am to 7.00pm


Tickets can be purchased from the See Tickets hotline (0844 412 4640) or from the GBBF website at gbbf.camra.org.uk/tickets

Advance Day Tickets, £6 (CAMRA members) / £8 (Non-CAMRA members)

Advance Season Tickets, £20 (CAMRA members) / £23 (Non-CAMRA members)

Tutored Tastings, £11 (CAMRA members) / £12 (Non-CAMRA members)

Day Tickets (on the door), £8 (CAMRA members) / £10 (Non-CAMRA members)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Hall of Shame

An occasional series devoted to what Brew Wales considers the worst in the world of brewing and drinking

Part 1

Ushers Welsh Pale Ale _ marketed as 'Cwrw Cymreig' or 'Welsh Ale' in the 1990's this con-trick of real ale was actually brewed by Ushers of Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England, for their extensive estate of pubs in Wales. Weighing in at 3.2% ABV, this real ale was short-lived, unpopular and bland. Complaints to Trading Standards went unheeded as there was no Protective Geographical Status (PGI, PGO etc) for Welsh beer, allowing any brewer in the world to brew and market a beer as 'Welsh'. It turned out to be unpopular with real ale drinkers due to being bland, tasteless and low in alcohol and so was soon dropped from Usher's pubs.

Would any ex-Ushers employee who reads this blog like to claim responsibility for trying to con Welsh drinkers?

Beer Group launched in Welsh Assembly

Pictured Above, Left to Right: Ian Hill (Cardiff CAMRA), Jeff Cuthbert AM (Caerphilly), Nick Bourne AM (Mid and West Wales), Justin Grant (AWIB and Breconshire Brewery), Arfur (Brew Wales)

Members of the Welsh Assembly have come together in their love of real ale and pubs to form a cross-party group. The Welsh Assembly Beer and Pub Group is jointly chaired by Jeff Cuthbert AM (Caerphilly) and Nick Bourne AM (Mid and West Wales) and has members of all political parties represented in the Assembly.

The Group has been established in order to: "To promote the wholesomeness and enjoyment of beer and the unique role of the pub in Welsh society; to increase understanding of the social, cultural and historic role of brewing and pubs in Wales, and their value to tourism; to broaden recognition of the contribution of brewing and pubs to employment and to Wales’ economy; to promote understanding of the social responsibility exercised by the brewing and pub industries; to support Wales’ brewing industry worldwide, and to promote a positive future for beer and the pub.

The first meeting was held in the Assembly building last week and was well attended by brewers, CAMRA members and of course by Assembly Members. Real ales from Breconshire, Otley and Purple Moose were enjoyed by all present before a decamp to the Terra Nova (though some headed to the Eli Jenkins) to support real ales from SA Brain. Other Assembly members present were Alun Cairns AM, Nick Ramsey AM, Mick Bates AM, Andrew RT Davies AM and Mark Isherwood AM.

It was Mark Isherwood AM who asked a question in the Senedd a few years ago as to the lack of Welsh breweries in the members bar of at the Assembly, only to be told by the Minister responsible that the Assembly does not have a bar, it is a tea room that serves alcohol! The situation is now different and the “Tea Room” now serves Welsh produce. The Westminster Parliament has around 17 bars and restaurants with names such as Annies, Strangers, Press, Churchill etc and operate without a license (it is a royal palace after all). Is it not about time to rename the Assembly Tea Room after a prominent Welsh person, perhaps the Lloyd George bar after the teetotal former Prime Minister? Or in the least how about "Rhodri's"?

The Chair of AWIB, the Association of Welsh Independent Brewers, Justin Grant set a challenge to AMs present to encourage them to order beer from their own constituencies at official functions. Well we wait with interest to see what happens with that one.

This is the second time a beer group has been set up in the Assembly, the previous one a few years ago was set up by now former AMs Brian Hancock and David Davies and was once infamous for causing a plenary session of the Welsh Assembly to be disbanded by the Presiding Officer due to the “emotional state of members” after a lunchtime lobbying by brewers. Hardly a Bacchanalian Orgy but perhaps the closest the Assembly has ever got to one. Brew Wales has attended all these lobbying sessions and can confirm that the real ales that were consumed at these events were very good.

Assembly Members were also present at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival last week, where they were invited to pour a beer from their constituency and Nick Bourne AM, Jeff Cuthbert AM and Andrew RT Davies AM all pulled pints from breweries in their constituencies.

Above: Jeff Cuthbert AM supports his local brewery, Celt Experience with a pint

Above: Andrew RT Davies AM pulls some award-winning Otley O1

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Last week

Photo courtesy of Dom, Welsh Icons

Well it was a busy time last week, with 6500 customers drinking their way through the annual Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival at the CIA. Thanks go to Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider, Otley Brewery and Vale of Glamorgan Brewery for emergency beer and cider deliveries throughout Saturday.
Photos of the Festival by Welsh Icons can be found here.
Wales Online also did some photos and lots of coverage here.
Matt Otley has his facebook photos here.

Normal blogging will hopefully return to normal sometime soon.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

View from above

The view of the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival from the second floor of the CIA. Friday night was a huge success with hundreds of happy customers enjoying the beer, cider, perry and bands. More supplies of beer and cider are being brought in to cope with the hundreds of thirsty customers expected on Saturday. The Festival opens at 11 on Saturday so expect another day of good beer and music. Oh and the Morris Men are in as well...... and there's the "Save the Vulcan" celebrations so a busy day for all. Brew Wales may even find time to tweet a few beers or ciders?

Friday, 12 June 2009

Otley O de Friday night

Well the Cardiff International Arena is packed tonight with hundreds of thirsty customers flocking to the beer oasis of the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival rather than the gig in the stadium. More beer and cider has been ordered for Saturday. Great Festival, Great Beer, Great Welsh!

Champion Beer of Wales 2009

Pictured Above: Purple Moose brewer Laurence Washington celebrates winning the SIBA West award last year

The Purple Moose Brewery of Snowdonia has won the Champion Beer of Wales Competition with their 3.6% ale, Snowdonia. Pictured above is brewer Laurence Washington celebrating his win. Second place went the Otley Brewery with OG and third place also went to Otley Brewery with their Porter.

New Welsh Brewery

The Waen Brewery of Newtown in Powys has only just started brewing and their beer is at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival, a bitter, golden coloured beer with a lasting hoppy aftertaste. Good start for a new brewery.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Newport Festival

Another festival, this time a street festival in Newport open until Saturday. Good to see local cider from Wernddu and their fantastic 14 year old wine. Kingstone Brewery also at the Festival with their beers.

Best Pumpclip?

Looking through the real ales at the forthcoming Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival, Brew Wales is hugely impressed by this pumpclip from Great Orme Brewery of North Wales. A recognisable outline that is carried on through the rest of their range of beers and a really good logo on a pumpclip that stands out on the bar. The 4.5% beer is described as "a refreshing blonde ale bursting with citrus notes". Really looking forward to sampling it when the Festival opens on Thursday.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The longest bar in Wales

Okay the photo is a bit of cheat as the bar is rectangular but at 70 metres long the bar at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival is surely the longest bar in Wales. All the beers have now arrived and are on the stillage being cooled. Ciders and perries are in the fridge. We open on Thursday at 11.

Vulcan update. National Assembly Petitions Committee

Brew Wales attended the National Assembly Petitions Committee this morning where evidence was heard regarding the Campaign to Save the Vulcan pub. The heritage organisation CADW have consistantly refused to protect the Vulcan by listing it and the council have local listing powers but there do not protect a building against demolition. There is a Heritage Protection Bill floating in the ether of the Westminster Government which will give local authorities more power to protect old buildings, however it may be becoming law next year. However locallisting does not provide any inhanced powers to protect a building. Adding a building to a local list has not stopped a building from being demolished in at least the last 10 years. CADW see no national significance of the Vulcan and hence it falls to Cardiff Council to act to save the pub. Meanwhile reports on the front page of the South Wales Echo today suggest that the Vulcan may be saved amid rumours of meetings between brewers Brains and developers Rapport. The Vulcan was closed Monday due to flooding, preventing Brew Wales from his usual lunchtime Brains Bitter, but hopes to reopen today.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Brains Old Brewery Bitter

Well the beers are up and the bar is being built. Welsh brewers SA Brain have their own bar at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival and their new beer, Old Brewery Bitter will be on the bar when we open on Thursday. OBB? Thought Sam Smiths had the trademark on that one? Never mind yet another real ale to try at this event.

More Beer

The Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival is the high point of the brewing world in Wales. Real ales from across Wales are at this moment being racked up on the stillages. Above photo is of the name plate on a barrel from Purple Moose Brewery from Porthmadog, one of the many award-winning breweries at the Festival which opens on Thursday.

Beer Festival Setup

Building the bar and stillage for the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival is well underway at Cardiff International Arena. Beer deliveries arriving as well, including Iain Turnbull's Brewers Swansong, a 6.2% ale, brewed at Tryst Brewery in Scotland. Beers from Breconshire Brewery also here along with Brains. Other beers here are Golden Valley Ales, Spinning Dog and Jacobi. All on schedule at moment!

Friday, 5 June 2009

Blast from the past - Rhodri taps Brains at Beer Festival

Decided to dig out an old photograph and publish it on Brew Wales. The occasion was the Cardiff Beer and Cider Festival in the Star Centre in Splott about 10 years ago. Rhodri Morgan was Economic Development Minister at the time and had kindly agreed to open the Festival by tapping the first barrel of beer, which was, of Brains, his favourite brewery. The Festival was a huge success and went on to become the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival when it moved first to City Hall and then to the Cardiff International Arena. Don't forget the Great Welsh opens this year on Thursday 11th June at 1100. Caption competition - go on stick a comment on the blog as to what is being said. May have a prize for the best one.

Battle of the Welsh Brewers begins Next Week

Welsh brewers gear up for Champion Beer of Wales Award.
Brewers from across Wales will be heading to Cardiff next week for the Champion Beer of Wales Competition, to be held at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, Cardiff International Arena.
With nearly 40 breweries in Wales at the moment, it will be a tough job to decide which beer wins the coveted title of 'Champion Beer of Wales'.
If you want to see if your local Welsh brewery will be at the Festival, then click here for a map of Wales with the breweries shown. Thanks to Uncle Wilco at Media Wales for designing the map for us.

Welsh Beers at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival. All subject to availabilty.

Brains Dark, 3.5% ABV, Mild

Brains Bitter, 3.7% ABV, Bitter

Brains SA, 4.2% ABV, Best Bitter

Brains Reverend James. 4.5%ABV, Best Bitter

Brains SA Gold, 4.6% ABV, Golden Ale

Brains seasonal, 4.6% ABV, Best Bitter

Breconshire GVX, 6.00% Strong Bitter

Breconshire Welsh Pale Ale, 3.40% ABV, Mild

Breconshire Mountain Rescue Brew 4.4%

Breconshire Golden Valley, 4.2%ABV, Golden Ale

Breconshire Ramblers Ruin, 5% ABV, Strong Bitter

Breconshire Cribyn, 4.5% ABV, Best Bitter

Breconshire Spirit of the Dragon, 6.50% ABV, Barley Wine

Breconshire County, 3.70% ABV, Bitter

Bragdy'r Nant Special, 4.50% ABV, Best Bitter

Bryncelyn Holly Hop, 3.9% ABV, Bitter

Bryncelyn Buddy Marvellous, 4% ABV, Mild

Bryncelyn Oh Boy, 4.5% ABV, Best Bitter

Bullmastiff Welsh Gold, 3.8% ABV, Golden Ale

Bullmastiff Son of a Bitch, 6% ABV, Strong Bitter

Bullmastiff Welsh Black, 4.60% ABV, Speciality Ale

Celt Experience Native Storm, 4.4 ABV, Best Bitter

Celt Experience Golden, 4.2%ABV, Golden Ale

Newman's Red Castle Cream , 4.7%ABV, Speciality Ale

Coles Dewi Sant, 4.40%ABV, Best Bitter

Conwy Mulberry Mild, 3.80%ABV, Mild

Conwy Telford Porter, 4.50% ABV, Porter/Stout

Cwmbran Crow Valley Stout, 4.20% ABV, Porter/Stout

Cwmbran Pink Panther, 4.50% ABV . Speciality Ale

Cwmbran Double Hop, 4.00% ABV, Best Bitter

Dare Summer beer, 4.10% ABV, Golden Ale

Dare Falcon Flyer, 5.20% ABV Strong Bitter

Evan Evans Cwrw, 4.20% ABV, Best Bitter

Evan Evans, Best Bitter, 4.20% ABV, Best Bitter

Evan Evans Golden Hop, 4.20% ABV, Golden Ale

Facers Daves Hoppy Beer, 4.3% ABV, Best Bitter

Facers Flintshire Bitter, 3.80%ABV, Bitter

Facers Sunny Bitter, 4.20%ABV, Golden Ale

Ffos Y Ffin, 3 Arches , 4.80%ABV, Strong Bitter

Felinfoel Double Dragon, 4.2%ABV, Best Bitter

Great Orme Celtic Dragon, 4.40% ABV, Best Bitter

Great Orme Welsh Black, 4.50% ABV. Strong Mild

Jacobi Red Squirrel, 4.00% ABV, Bitter

Jacobi Light Ale, 3.80% ABV,

Kingstone Gatehouse, 5.10% ABV, Strong Bitter

Kingstone 3 castles, 3.80% ABV, Bitter

Kingstone Kinsons Gold, 4.00% ABV, Best Bitter

Miws Piws Snowdonia, 3.60% ABV, Golden Ale

Miws Piws Dark Side of the Moose 4.60% ABV, Old Ale

Miws Piws Cwrw Glaslyn 4.2% ABV, Best Bitter

Heart of Wales Aur Cymraeg , 4.10%ABV, Best Bitter

Heart of Wales, Welsh Black, Porter/Stout

Heart of Wales High as a Kite, 9.00% ABV, Barley Wine

Monteys Sunshine, 4.20%ABV, Golden Ale

Otley O1, 4.10% ABV, Golden Ale

Otley O Garden, 4.60% ABV, Speciality Ale

Otley Dark O, 4.10% ABV, Porter/Stout

Otley Porter, 6.00% ABV, Porter/Stout

Otley OG, 5.40% ABV, Strong Bitter

Otley O8, 8% ABV, Barley Wine

Otley New Brew to be confirmed

Plassey Welsh Border , 3.5% ABV, Mild

Plassey Bitter, 4% ABV, Best Bitter

Rhymney Dark, 3.9% ABV, Mild

Rhymney Export, 5% ABV, Strong Bitter

Rhymney Bitter, 4.5% ABV, Best Bitter

Rhymney Hobby Horse, 3.8% ABV, Bitter

Rhymney Lager, 5% ABV, Speciality Ale

Sandstone Postman Prat, 4.2% ABV, Best Bitter

Swansea Deep Slade Dark, 4% ABV, Mild

Swansea 3 Cliffs Gold, 4.7% ABV, Golden Ale

Tomos Watkin Chwarae Teg, 4.2% ABV, Best Bitter

Tomos Watkin Seasonal to be confirmed

Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf, 4.20% ABV, Golden Ale

Vale of Glamorgan Grog y Vog, 4.3% ABV, Best Bitter

Vale of Glamorgan Wheat's Occurring, 5% ABV, Speciality Ale

Vale of Glamorgan Best Bitter, 4.3% ABV, Best Bitter

Warcop to be confirmed

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: www.gwbcf.org.uk, tel:07807 609712

Bootliquor Beer Launched

The Welsh National Mountain Centre at Plas Y Brenin has launched its own ale, named 'Bootliquor'. The beer will only be available at the bar of the centre and is brewed exclusively for the Mountain Centre by the Nant Brewery of Llanrwst. More information on the beer is available on the pdf here.

Mountain Rescue at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival

The designated charity for the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival this year is the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team and to celebrate 40 years of mountain rescue, the Breconshire Brewery will be launching a special ale at the festival next week, with a donation going to the charity for every pint sold.
The 4.4% ABV beer is described by Breconshire Brewer 'Buster' Grant as "a bronze coloured ale, with smooth fruity flavour, and a building hoppiness that leaves a refreshing, long dry aftertaste".
The Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team bega
n 1959, when Jack Powell a Police Sergeant in Merthyr Tydfil, was asked to bring together some outdoor people to form a team. An increasing number of people were getting into trouble in the Brecon Beacons. By 1963 members included Civil Defence Corp thus was formed the Police Civil Defence Mountain Rescue Team.

One of the first incidents the team were called to, was for a Vulcan Bomber on a low flying sortie which hit the top of Fan Llia and crashed onto the mountain on the other side of the valley. This was an extensive search area conducted in poor conditions, which involved RAF Teams from England and Wales, volunteers from Brecon and our team. The remains of the Aircraft were located with the aid of a helicopter and the Team members had to assist in the recovery of the bodies.

The Aberfan Disaster struck in 1966 and members of the team who were part of the Civil Defence Corp were involved in this major operation, all played an important part with Jack as the Site Rescue Officer.

In 1968 the members of the Police Civil Defence team became the Morlais Mountain rescue team.

The team is a founder member of the South Wales Search and Rescue Association (SWSARA) and is an affiliated to the Mountain Rescue Council for England and Wales. By 1996 the team changed its name from Morlais to become the Central Beacons Mountain Rescue Team.

Above: Some of the team pictured outside the Cardiff International Arena Last Year

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Welsh Cidermaker Scoops Up Award in Stockport

Gwynt Y Ddraig Black Dragon Cider was voted 'Cider of the Festival', at the 23rd annual Stockport Beer and Cider Festival held recently. The cider was chosen from over 450 gallons of cider and perry from 35 different makers.
Described as

"A special reserve cider that has been hand crafted exclusively from cider apples grown by traditional methods in ageing orchards.
The juice pressed from these apples is fermented and matured in oak barrels to produce a cider rich in colour, body and flavour with a fresh fruity aroma.

This cider is available at various outlets throughout South Wales on draught and also a bottled version is available in Tesco and other leading supermarkets.

Gwynt Y Ddraig ciders and perries will be available next week at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival, Cardiff International Arena.

How much do pubs pay for our beer?

With prices almost hitting £3 a pint in some pubs, it would be interesting to see how much pubs actually buy there beer in at. Large pub companies such as Punch or Enterprise have huge buying in power, i.e., they can bulk buy beer in, unfortunately they then add a premium onto the barrel when they sell it on to their tenant in the pub. But how much do they actually pay to buy in the beer in the first place? Well brewers are naturally secretive about their wholesale prices with regards to pub companies and of course the pub companies themselves will not let on how much they buy beer in for. A friendly manager at a JD Wetherspoons (yes there are some Brew Wales still corresponds with) passed on their buying in prices which make interesting reading:

ABV Beer Price 9 Gallons

3.7% O'Hanlons Firefly £40.23

3.7% Caledonian Deuchars IPA £47.10

4.0% ABV Butcombe Bitter £43.50

4.4% Sharps Own £44.12

4.5% Brains Rev James £44.79

4.7% Exe Valley Devon Gold £47.50

4.8% Harviestoun Schiehallion £58.03

5.0% Stonehenge Danish Dynamite £50.00

There are a lot more on the price list but this gives you the idea of the amount a pub co such JD Wetherspoon pays brewers for their beers. Now JDW have around 700 pubs, pub companies such as Punch have around 9000 pubs and Enterprise have around 7000 so just imagine the discounts the pub companies are able to achieve from brewers with such large bulk buying power. A few months ago when JD Wetherspoon were selling Greene King IPA at 99p a pint, one Enterprise tenant told Brew Wales that that he could not even buy the beer in at that price so how was he supposed to compete with Wetherspoons? Which is the big problem. The only way for the pubs owned by the pub companies to compete with and even to survive against the alcohol warehouses filled with Chavs that dominate our city centres would be for a relaxation of the beer tie for pubs owned by the pub cos, which would allow these tied pubs to compete more fairly with other establishments. After all it is in the best interests of everyone to see pubs flourish, at the moment in Newport City Centre the company that puts metal gratings onto pub windows seems to be doing a very good trade! An empty, derelict building is doing nothing for the City, yet if that pub were allowed to compete in a fair and open market then it is highly unlikely it would have closed in the first place.

The Business and Enterprise Committee have recommended the Pub Co model be investigated by the Competition Commission and the Chief Executive of Punch Taverns, Giles Thorley, has written to Members of Parliament arguing that an investigation into the beer tie would be “a waste of time and resources”.

Well he would say that, wouldn't he.

The Publican have a few comments on the statement made by Giles Thorley here.

CAMRA have announced that they will be launching a 'super complaint' on the beer tie with the Office of Fair Trading by the end of June.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

New Pub for Pontypridd

Ambitious family-owned brewers, Rhymney Brewery, have opened their second pub, after the huge success of their first pub venture, the Winchester in Merthyr Tydfil. The Patriot, at 25 Taff Street, Pontypridd, offers up to 6 real ales and is a welcome boost for that end of town. Pontypridd already has the award-winning Bunch of Grapes and the Llanover Arms as good pubs so a third decent boozer won't go amiss, especially one so close to the bus station!

It is good to see in this time of 6 pub closures a day occuring, a family-run brewery still believes it is worth investing the money into opening a new pub. Good luck to this new venture.

Location of the Patriot

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Monday, 1 June 2009

UK has 3rd highest beer tax in Europe

British pay nine times more beer duty than Germans and seven times more than French

Graph and data from the British Beer & Pub Association.

The Axe the Tax Campaign – launched by the British Beer & Pub Association and the Campaign for Real Ale at the end of last year – is calling on the Government to reduce tax on beer, with six pubs closing every day. More than 70,000 people have joined or supported the campaign, including over 200 MPs.
Alcohol duty was increased by 2 per cent above inflation in the Budget last month following a massive 18 per cent increase in 2008. This year’s Budget increase is being debated in Parliament as part of the Finance Bill.
Commenting on the figures, David Long, the BBPA’s Chief Executive said
“These figures show that British beer drinkers are being taxed at rates far in excess of most of their European counterparts.
“The result is that pub closures are now running at six a day, with thousands of jobs being lost in the British beer and pub industry. A great British institution is under serious threat and yet the Government appears to be determined to ignore concerns expressed by consumers, the industry and politicians of all parties.”
“With elections to the European Parliament taking place next week, beer lovers will note the extent to which they are being taxed above and beyond other consumers in the rest of the EU.
“We hope that those MEPs elected as a result of these elections will stand up for British beer lovers and the great British pub.

Pence per pint, April 09























































Well, it seems the teetotal Prime Mentalist is hell bent on completing the plan of his bible-bashing anti-alcohol father and close as many pubs as possible. Since Labour have come to power in 1997, over 6000 pubs have closed, with the current rate of 6 pubs a day shutting and a new survey out today shows one of the reasons why; in the UK we have the third highest beer tax in Europe. Something that my local Member of Parliament Jessica Morden continually fails to understand. Still when you are a New Labour apparatchik anything will do so long as the Party line is taken.

From the graph above a direct correlation can be made between the sharp drop in pub numbers and hike in beer duty imposed by this government in the last few years. I know which party will NOT be getting my vote in the elections on Thursday.

Curse of Jonah Brown hits the Vulcan

Labour Party takes the piss to follow the “Save the Pub” bandwagon.

Above: The unique urinals of the Vulcan

Euro Election leaflets are dropping through the letter boxes of voters throughout the UK at the moment, but voters in Cardiff may be a bit surprised to see the spring edition of the Cardiff Mail, the local Labour Party rag, with a “Please support OUR campaign”caption, to Save the Vulcan. Hang on a bit, Brew Wales regularly drinks in the Vulcan and attended a public meeting to try and save the pub and this is the first time he has heard of widespread support for the Campaign from the Labour Party. Now the Save the Vulcan campaign is non-political, attracting a broad spectrum of political views, though the Chair of the Campaign to Save the Vulcan does work for the Liberal Democrats. Nothing wrong with that, Brew Wales has often been known to have the odd jar of ale with Lord Dholakia or the Member of Parliament for Montgomeryshire. What is annoying though is that when the original plans for the demolition of the Vulcan were passed by the Cardiff Council, it was being run by the Labour Party and not a word of disquiet was heard from those Labour Councillors on the Planning Committee. Suddenly, the Labour activists can see a popular Campaign to save a successful pub is winning public support and decide they are going to attempt to claim the Save the Vulcan Campaign as their own.

Now on another site, Guido has written about the “Curse of Jonah Brown”, where the Prime Mentalist has often come out supporting some cause or sports team which then go on to fail. Last week as issues of the Liebour-published Cardiff Mail were dropping onto the carpeted hallways of Cardiff voters, it was announced in the South Wales Echo that the Vulcan would be closing on the 25th June. So the Curse of Jonah Brown has now been extended to any cause to which his failing party attempts to support.

Meanwhile, the Culture Minister of the Welsh Assembly, Alun Ffred (so good they gave him 2 Fs) Jones, seems unable to come to a decision on whether to save the pub or not. No Doubt he is too busy window-licking at the view of Cardiff Bay and Penarth from his office, rather than trying to save an important part of Welsh cultural life.

Even failed UK politician and professional Euro gravy-train milker Lord Kinnock of Bedwetting has come out in support of the Vulcan. Mind you he once said that his favourite pub was the Fountain in Troedrhiwgwair, South of Tredegar, a pub which made the toilets facilities in the Vulcan seem the height of modernity.

Brew Wales does not often do politics any longer, despite, in a previous life, once working for a London MP, however the cynical, bandwagon-following attitude of the Cardiff Labour Party is something that deserves to be treated with contempt and hopefully on June 4th the voters will know where to put their X on the ballot paper.

Brew Wales will not be voting for the party that has a teetotal Scottish Presbyterian, pub-hatting, nail chewing, cyclopean, snot-gobbling, unelected, trouser-pissing, bisexual (References: Lords Mandelson and Levy), incompetent, bunker-dwelling troglodyte from the tundra beyond Hadrian's wall as a leader. Indeed any other party, with the exception of the BNP, who could not even make a Hornby train set run on time, would be worth voting for other than the disastrous Labour Party and their Son of the Manse.

With 6 pub closures a day now occurring, it's time for change, so let's all give Gordon the message on Thursday and don't vote Labour.


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