Friday, 31 July 2009

Gwent Pub in Finals of National Competition

The current Gwent CAMRA Town Pub of the Year, the Commercial Inn in Risca, is the regional winner in two categories in the Morning Advertiser Great British Pub Awards 2009. The Commercial has won the Welsh titles for 'Best Community Pub' and 'Best Managed Inn' and will now face other pubs from across the UK in the national championships before the announcement of the winning pubs on September 9th. The Commercial Inn is a former Gwent CAMRA Pub of the Year and is owned by local pub company Dragon Inns.

Above and below, 2 photographs of the Commercial in Pontymister, Risca,

Other Welsh Winners:

The Wales Region winner in the 'Best Cask Beer Pub' category is another CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular, the Waun Wyllt Inn at Five Roads, near Llanelli in Carmarthenshire. Owned by Great Old Inns, this pub offers an ever-changing selection of real ales and is a former Carmarthenshire CAMRA Pub of the Year. The name of the pub translates as 'Wild moor/meadow' and refers to the location of the pub in the Sylen Hills.

The 'Best Cellar' winner for Wales is the Britannia Inn at Horseshoe Pass, Llangollen.

The 'Best Entertainment Pub' winner for Wales is the Carne Park Hotel, Abercynon. Another Dragon Inns pub.

The 'Best Freehouse' winner is the Red Lion at Llangadog, the Carmarthenshire CAMRA Pub of the Year 2008.

The 'Best Gastropub' winner for Wales is the Pen-y-Cae Inn, Brecon Road, Pen Y Cae, Swansea Valley, Powys.

'Best Live Music' award went to O' Neil's in Cardiff. Well enough said about that.

According to Paul Charity, editor of the Morning Advertiser, said, "It is heartening to find such a wonderful success story when there has been little good news about pubs recently. This is proof that talented, hard-working landlords and landladies can still attract customers wanting to experience the unique atmosphere of the Great British Pub. They thoroughly deserve this public recognition of their achievement."

More details of the winners and the final can be found on the Morning Advertiser site here.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Lets have rollers!

The other night, as Brew Wales was making his way home after a night of research in the Capitol, he could not help to notice the roller shutters that have been fitted to the front of the Godfrey Morgan, a JD Wetherspoons chav-palace situated in Maindee, Newport. Now I realise the building was derelict before 'Spoons moved in, but roller shutters, on a former cinema built in the 1930s? Hardly in keeping with the Art-noveau decor of the building or fitting into the surroundings.
Now a JDW insider (yes there are some who still speak to me) tells Brew Wales that the shutters were fitted because of burglaries at the pub, only the perpetrators of said break-ins actually forced the fire door at the rear of the pub, not at the front. So another building in Newport gets desecrated in the name of security.
Still look on the bright side, the shutters only come down when the 'Spoons is shut, so the hours they are down are quite few. Another bit of character to add to the 'Port.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Tredegar Arms Beer Festival

Just on the outskirts of Newport in Bassaleg, the Tredegar Arms will be holding a beerfestival this weekend. It's good to see a Greene King owned-pub such as the Tredegar Arms put on a beer festival at all, so if you are around Newport this weekend it may be a good place to stop off at.
The Tredegar Arms is on a regular bus route, Service 50 Newport-Caerphilly-Bargoed and there is also an car park at the pub.
Google Map:

View Larger Map

July 31st – August 2nd. Beers are:

Greene King LBW
Greene King Old Speckled Hen
Hydes You're Bard
JW Lees Scorcher
Saltaire Bavarian Gold
Celt Experience Gold (Local Beer!)
Exmoor Silver Stallion
Brains Rev James (Local Beer)
Hook Norton Haymaker
Newmans Last Lion of Britain (Local Beer!)
Thwaites Original

Thatchers Medium and Dry
Moles Black Rat
Palmers Rubber Chicken and Bitch (Local Cidermaker!)

Good to see the local cidermaker and local breweries being supported at the festival.

Welsh Cider Invades France

It will be 'Happy Daze' on the Brittany Coast next week as Gwynt Y Ddraig, the award-winning Welsh Cider and Perry company have sent some of their products over to the 39th Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Brittany. Along with beers from Felinfoel Brewery, festival goers will have the chance of Happy Daze and Old Timer Ciders, as well as Two Trees and Malvern Hills Perry. The Welsh Assembly Government are supporting the Welsh prescence at the festival this year and there will be a number of Welsh bands appearing.
Heritage Minister Alun Ffred Jones said: "I wish performers and artists from Wales all the best at this year’s Lorient Inter-Celtic festival. This is a great opportunity for them to show their talents to a wide-ranging audience and will hopefully give festival visitors a taste of what Wales is all about so that they come and see our beautiful country for themselves."

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Daley Dozen - 12 favourite draught beers

An occasional series devoted to the 12 things best in the brewing world, part 4, 12 favourite draught beers (British).

The Brew Wales 12 favourite draught real ale beers. Beers with strong, hoppy flavours do tend to dominate, but then life is too short to drink bland beer.

  1. Fullers ESB A fantastic strong ale at 5.5% ABV with a most complex hoppy nose. The beer is dry-hopped in the cask and this can produce flavour changes in the cask as it is served, a two-day opened cask has a more hoppy aroma than a fresh cask. This beer benefits from exceptional cellar skills and is one of the beers that persuaded Brew Wales to start drinking real ales but then that's another story!
  2. Otley O1 Light-coloured, hoppy beer with a wonderful thirst-quenching taste. The Otley boys really like their hops and this beer is no exception.
  3. Wye Valley HPA An outstanding pale ale, always a favourite at local beer festivals. Light and hoppy this is always on favourite on a hot sunny day, or a cold wet day in Hereford.
  4. Fullers Chiswick Another dry-hopped ale from Fullers. Unfortunately it is rarely seen in the free trade in Wales and Brew Wales has the difficult decision in Fullers pubs whether to have an ESB or a Chiswick.
  5. Fullers London porter. Stunning but rarely available on draught, London Drinker Beer festival can usually manage to get a 9 or two. Even the bottled, pasteurised version packs a powerful flavour.
  6. Brains Dark An old favourite, the dark and delicious flavours of Brains Dark always go down well on a visit to Cardiff.
  7. Oakham JHB at 3.8% ABV, this is proof that beer and real ale in particular does not have to have high ABVs to be packed full of flavour. Citrus flavours and floral notes appear in this light-coloured thirst quenching ale.
  8. Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 5.9% ABV. Probably the closest thing to a real IPA, not the bland dishwater that Charington used to knock out in London under that name. Jaipur IPA is hoppy and very easy to drink, the strength is deceptive and according to the Cynical Dragon “It does make a good chaser for Otley O8”.
  9. Rhymney Dark 4% ABV. Roast flavours dominate in this beer, the 'mild' or 'dark' style as it was known throughout South Wales once dominated the pubs throughout the industrial heartlands. Good to see that Rhymney Brewery resurrected this style and packed full of flavour.
  10. Otley Columb-O. Experimenting with the fantastic Columbus hop from America, the Otley boys came up with this wonderful, light-coloured hoppy ale. Otley brewery have now bought the entire UK supply of this hop. The latest version of Columb-O Brew Wales had the fortune to try had also been dry-hopped in the cask for a month. Naturally it sold out down Cardiff Bay International Food Festival. And some brewers in Wales still insist that bland beers are what the public wants to drink.
  11. Otley O8. 8% ABV. At this strength it is hardly what one would call a session ale but Brew Wales and the Lone Voice did manage a session on it the day that Peter Hain MP resigned over dodgy donations to his Leadership Campaign. The hoppy, floral tones of this golden ale mellowed with the satisfaction of seeing the perma-tanned twit having to resign in disgrace.
  12. Purple Moose Snowdonia Ale 3.6%. Another example of a real ale that does not have to have a strong ABV to win awards. Light, hoppy and full of flavour, the Snowdonia is always a favourite at local festivals.

Well there we have it, the Brew Wales top 12 of real ales, I'm sure my readers have their favourites as well.

Hall of Shame part 3 - Watneys Red Barrel

An occasional series devoted to the worst in the brewing world.

Watney's Red Barrel

In the film Quatermass and the Pit, there is a frightening scene where our heroes seek shelter from the monster in an East End pub, now the interior of this pub has a long bar which is totally empty apart from one solitary keg dispense font – a Red Barrel. That bit of the film still scares me today. But it is an insight into 1950s Britain where sometimes the only beer available was, in the words of Monty Python, 'bleeding Watney's Red Barrel'. It was a beer that no one ever had a good word to say about it, a mass-marketed, mass-produced and fizzy excuse for a beer that gave rise to the joke that, “Drinking Red Barrel was like making love in a boat – f***ing close to water!”

In the 1970s the 'beer' was relaunched as Watney's Red, with an over £1million advertising campaign which even involved painting pub interiors red. However according to the Penguin Guide to Real Draught Beer (Mike Dunn, 1979) “the new chilled, filtered, pasteurized, carbonated and pressure dispensed beer failed to sell at all well”. Keg beer was slowly on it's way out as customers once again discovered real ales again. The last time I saw Watney's Red was in the 1990s when it was being brewed by Usher's of Trowbridge for export to the USA! Not sure if it was in revenge for the American rice beer they have supplied the world with, but it was a good way to get back at them. That brewery has now been sold to North Korea, where it is no doubt producing beers of similar quality to help wash down the family pet after lunch.

Monday, 27 July 2009

London to get Brains

Wales' biggest real ale brewery will be running a bar at the Great British Beer Festival in Earl's Court next week. This will be the second year running that the famous Welsh company of SA Brain have decided to promote their real ales at the premier beer event in the UK and their Bitter, Dark, SA, SA Gold and Rev James beers will be available on their bar. Brains will be joining other regional brewers such as Fullers, Shepherd Neame and Hook Norton in supporting the Great British Beer Festival by having their own bars at this showcase event.

Photo above, the Brains Brewery bar at the Great British Beer Festival in 2008.

SA Brains has recruited Welsh rugby legend Rob Jones to serve up its beer at the Great British Beer Festival.

Former Wales and Lions scrum-half Jones will be serving up brews and chatting to customers on 4 August from 12-3pm as part of his ambassadorial role for the company.
“Brains is synonymous with Wales so working with them in this capactity has been a source of great pride and excitement. It’s great to see increased demand for Brains outside of Wales and I will be encouraging anyone who hasn’t yet tried a pint to sample Wales’ finest,” said Jones


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

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)

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Ralph's Cider

Well Caerphilly Big Cheese is turning out to be a great day. One of the other cidermakers here is Ralph Owen, who has been making cider for, well a good few years. With a good choice of ciders and perries available here at the show, if you cannot make it here try his cidermaking weekend on the Sat & Sun 10th-11th October at the farm near New Radnor in Powys.

Old Rats Tale

There is the old story about farmhouse cider being made with rats. Well Denis Gwatkin takes the story one step further with his Old Rats Tale cider. If customers ask if it is made from rats, the reply usually is "Only organic ones!" In truth this is an orange-red cider, made with Kingstone black apples and a whisky cask aroma. A very dry cider with plenty of tannins creating the aftertaste. If you like dry, then this is the cider for you. If you dont then try one of the sweeter ciders. Live blogged from Caerphilly Big Cheese Festival.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Orange Tree, Newport

Whilst on the subject of Pub closures, I'd thought I'd publish this old photo of the former Orange Tree pub in Pill, Newport. The building was demolished shortly after this photo was taken and as you can see it had seen better days. Housing now occupies the site.
I would take another photo of the site, but being seen with a camera in that part of the City is likely to gain attention from the locals, that is when they are not fighting the British Army in Afghanistan.
What made the Orange Tree special to CAMRA members though, was that in the bleak keg days of the 1980s, the Orange Tree was one of the few pubs in Newport to offer interesting real ales on the bar. Unfortunately the editor was too young to ever venture into the pub during those days and besides that his tastebuds had not yet matured to appreciate real ale as he much preferred the taste of apple juice.
Still it was a regular in the Good Beer Guide for years and all the pubs in Pill are now keg. Not a drop of real ale to be found in any of the few pubs that are still left in that part of the City.

Newport Pub Closures - update

From Brew Wales

Well what a difference a year makes in Newport, the former Lliswerry pub, renamed the Seven Styles (pictured above), has now been demiloshed, yet another building site awaiting development in Newport (pictured below).

There have been a few pub reopenings in Newport of late:
Friendship, Ringland has become Harveys of Ringland

Hornblower, Commercial St. Admiral Taverns

Engineers Arms, Baneswell, Admiral Taverns

Church House, Pill, Harveys

Maindee Hotel, Maindee, S & N Pub Enterprises (though Freehold is for sale)

Queens Hotel, Baneswell/City Centre, JDW

Of course this hardly makes up for the 52 pub closures a week mentioned by the British Beer & Pub Association earlier this week.
Here is a list of Newport pubs that have closed since 1997, a few may reopen but 44 is still a shocking number.

Newport Pub Closures since 1997:

  1. Simpsons, High St, Closed – empty building
  2. Chartist Arms, High St – closed – premises converted into a restaurant
  3. Carpenters Arms, High Street – closed – freehold for sale
  4. Lloyds, Cambrian Rd, became Jarcals, then Tesco Extra. Beer quality has improved!
  5. Breeze, Cambrian Rd, closed, lying empty
  6. Newport Brewhouse, Market St, now a nightclub
  7. Trout, Market St, became Can-Cans, closed, building derelict
  8. Ale House, ex-Sovereign, John Frost Square, closed and demolished
  9. Welsh Prince, Commercial St, closed – premises converted into a Thai restaurant. Freehold for sale.
  10. Langtons, Charles St, closed – premises auctioned 11.08
  11. King William IV, Commercial St, closed – derelict building
  12. Scrum Half, Commercial St, closed, retail premises
  13. Westgate Hotel, Commercial St, closed, part retail premises
  14. Royal Exchange, became Harveys in Pill, Commercial Rd. Closed, building derelict
  15. Mariners Hotel, Commercial Rd, closed
  16. Welcome Home, Commercial Rd, closed, residential accommodation
  17. Black Horse, formerly Celtic Bar/Falcon, Commercial Rd
  18. Waterloo Inn, Alexander Rd, closed and re-opened as a restaurant and hotel
  19. Cumberland house, Courtybella Tce, - closed -residential
  20. Orange Tree, St Michael St, - closed and demolished
  21. White Hart, Tredegar St, closed, business unit
  22. Old Rising Sun, Malpas Rd, closed, building derelict
  23. Pentwyn House, Bettws – closed
  24. Chaplins, Caerleon, demolished, residential development
  25. Cotton Club, Cambrian rd
  26. Three Salmons, Rogerstone, now an Indian Restaurant
  27. Jolly Roger, Rogerstone, now an Indian restaurant
  28. Old Globe, Rogerstone , now an Indian/Chinese restaurant
  29. Dolphin, Dolphin St, Pill, closed residential
  30. Seven, was Yates Wine Lodge, converted from the Tredegar Arms, High Street. Closed
  31. Victoria, Corporation Rd, closed – converted into restaurant
  32. Crown Inn, Albert Avenue, closed
  33. Seven Styles, was Lliswerry Hotel, closed and demolished, residential development
  34. King, Somerton, closed, awaiting demolition, residential development
  35. Black Horse, Somerton, closed, awaiting demolition, Tesco Extra
  36. Pullmans, Spytty, demolished, KFC on site. Food improved.
  37. New Inn, Bishton, now residential
  38. Globe, Maindee Enterprise Inns, closed
  39. King's Arms Belmont Hill, Enterprise Inns
  40. Waterloo, Pill, converted to restaurant and hotel
  41. O'Reilleys, Baneswell, became Ryans Bar, then Xit, closed
  42. Golden Hart, Cardiff Rd, closed
  43. Gladiator, Malpas, closed
  44. Merry Miller, Bettws, closed. Punch taverns

New Pubs since 1997

Dragonfly, Cardiff Rd, M & B

1995 Wetherspoons, became John Wallace Linton, JDW

1999 Godfrey Morgan, Maindee, JDW

2002 Tom Toya Lewis, Commercial St, JDW

Banc, Maindee

Page, High St

With the exception of the Dragonfly they are all superpubs.

Hardly surprising the Murenger has a sign up announcing it is the "Haven in a Superpub ghetto".

CAMRA launches 'super-complaint' on Beer Tie

From a CAMRA Press Release:

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today exercised its ‘super-complaint’ power to require the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to fast-track consideration of anti-competitive practices in the UK pub market which are resulting in high prices in pubs, lower amenity, restricted choice and pub closures.

CAMRA’s ‘super-complaint’, ‘A Fair Share for the Consumer’, highlights that high rents and ‘tied’ beer prices are driving many good pub landlords out of business and contributing to the destruction of Britain’s pubs through pub closures and chronic under investment in pub facilities. Currently more than seven pubs close every day.

Mike Benner, Chief Executive, said, “Exploitation of ‘beer tie’ agreements and the unfair method of setting pub rents are harming consumers and society as a whole. It is enshrined in EU law that consumers must get a fair share of the benefits arising from exclusive purchasing deals such as the ‘beer tie’, but this is often not the case. We hope that the OFT will act to deliver a fair share for Britain’s 14 million regular pub goers. Reform of the ‘beer tie’ along with a framework of support from Government is urgently required to save the pub from extinction.”

‘Tied’ Beer Prices

More than half of the pubs in the UK are run under ‘tie’ arrangements which prevent pub landlords buying beer and other products on the open market meaning many pub landlords are forced to pay over the odds by around 50 pence a pint.

Mr Benner said, “The ‘tied’ model works best when it is a true partnership, where the risks and benefits are shared equally between pub owning company and the pub landlord. Unfortunately, this is not the current reality. Pub-owning companies are able to earn excessive profits by increasing the cost of beer to their ‘tied’ pub landlords who have no choice but to accept high prices and pass them onto the consumer. This practice has led to higher prices in pubs and has widened the gap between pub and supermarket prices encouraging people to shun the pub for their armchair.”

Pub rents; a flawed system

CAMRA is calling for the OFT to review the way in which pub rents are set as excessive rents translate into higher prices for pub-goers. The current system is open to abuse as it is based on a whole range of entirely hypothetical assumptions and specifically ignores the fact that ‘tied’ pub landlords have to pay above market prices for beer and other products.

Mike Benner said, “Pub landlords should not be denied access to the information and assumptions used to calculate a rent figure. An independent and affordable rent dispute system is urgently needed to avoid pub landlords being forced into agreeing excessive rents because they cannot afford to contest it. The rent charged to ‘tied’ pub landlords must fully take into account the financial penalty they face as a result of being unable to purchase beer and other products on the open market. The current system is seriously flawed and is leading to higher prices in pubs and contributing to the high rate of pub closures.”

Beer Choice; securing access to market for small brewers

Mike Benner said, “There is enormous consumer interest in local produce and it is crazy that local brewers are prevented from selling their beers to local pubs. We believe a ‘guest beer’ regulation, so that ‘tied’ pub landlords can buy a guest real ale from a brewer of their choice, should be introduced to overcome this. This alone would boost consumer choice and have the impact of driving down pub beer prices through competition.”

Pub Closures; stamp out restrictive covenants

CAMRA is calling for regulation to prevent pubs being sold with ‘restrictive covenants’ preventing them from being used as licensed premises in the future.

Mr Benner said, “At a time of accelerating pub closures it is disgraceful that companies are allowed to sell pubs and deliberately prevent them ever being reopened. Pubs are at the heart of so many of our communities and it is for the market and the community to decide if a pub is a viable and sustainable business.”

The Way Forward

Mr Benner added, “In parallel to its ‘super-complaint’ CAMRA, along with the Fair Pint Campaign and the Federation of Small Businesses, are participating in efforts to achieve an industry-wide mediated settlement to overcome the current unfairness of the ‘beer tie’ and pub rents. If mediation is successful then it is possible the OFT would decide to use its powers to make the outcome of the mediation legally binding as an alternative to further action including reference to the Competition Commission for a lengthy market investigation.”

“Total abolition of the ‘beer tie’ would be a grave error and would be likely to turn the current storm of pub closures into a hurricane and lead to increased domination of the beer market by global brewers. Abolishing the ‘tie’ would be the classic example of ‘chucking the baby out with the bath water.”

“Our ‘super-complaint’ will give the OFT the opportunity to take swift action to ensure the ‘beer tie’ works fairly in future. Clearly there are a number of reasons why Britain’s pubs are under pressure, not least the recession and our punitive beer tax regime, but the evidence is clear that the ‘tie’ must be reformed if these valuable small businesses are to survive and thrive. In response to the BEC report, some companies have taken some positive steps to improve matters and we welcome that progress, but legally-binding reform is still required to ensure a fair deal for consumers.”

“EU competition rules demand that exclusive supply agreements between pub owning companies and pub landlords must result in a fair share of the benefit for consumers. The ‘tie’ is a restrictive agreement, but it should work through countervailing benefits for pub landlords to enable them to run a viable and sustainable pub providing good value and quality to their customers. With increasing pub prices, failing pub businesses and unprecedented pub closures, the model is faltering and must be reformed as a matter of urgency.”

- CAMRA is a designated consumer body within the Enterprise Act 2002. A ‘super-complaint’ may submit views on ‘any feature, or combination of features, of a market in the UK for goods or services is or appears to be significantly harming the interests of consumers’.

- The ‘super-complaint’ process is intended to be a fast-track system for designated consumer bodies. The OFT has 90 days to respond to the ‘super-complaint’ and, if upheld, has the option of carrying out a market study, agreeing legally binding undertakings or a direct referral to the Competition Commission.

Nanny State to Force more Pubs to Close

Government plans to save the pub with more bureaucracy!

This week the British Beer & Pub Association realised figures that 52 pubs are closing every week. The reasons for the closures are varied but include the recession and record tax rises, courtesy of the unelected teetotal Son of the Manse who presides over the country in the style of Stalin.

So what have the Government announced this week to help the industry? Plans to introduce a “mandatory code” for the drinks industry at an estimated cost of £58million for the first year and £38million in subsequent years. Just what an industry needs, more bureaucracy from this Government which has attempted to regulate, control and spy on our lives in ways that would make the totalitarian regime of Honecker in the former East Germany hang its head in shame. Of course the Home Office say the code is needed to tackle anti-social disorder, but then why should the majority of pub-goers and publicans have to pay for the actions of the few?

The mandatory code is currently passing through Parliament as part of the Policing and Crime Bill. Another Law and Order bill by this authoritarian government.

This proposed law is waited against the on-trade, i.e., licensed pubs and clubs, with 4 out of the 6 national conditions in the code aimed at the on-trade, whilst 15 out of 16 of the local conditions that can be imposed by councils relate to pubs and clubs. For some reason, the Government is ignoring the problem with cheap supermarket alcohol. Are the supermarkets just better at lobbying the Government for legislation in their favour than the pub industry? The answer to that is yes.

Outlaw the Happy Hour?

One of the proposals of the Nanny state is to ban the happy hour. Hardly surprising coming from a leader who has never cracked a joke in his life. Although he did smile on during his press conference on TV earlier this week when lying about helicopter deployments in Afghanistan. The Clunking Fist has clearly lost the plot. Other proposals in this 'consultation document' would be to outlaw promotions such as, 'all you can drink for £10'. At the moment the police and local authorities via their licensing departments have the power to stop these. However they very rarely choose not to. The last thing the pub industry needs is more legislation.

We already have the plastic pint in areas where the senior police officer believe that responsible drinkers need to be served in polycarbonates. In an average city centre you could buy anything from cocaine to LSD on a Friday night, but the police only have the resources and the inclination to stop responsible drinkers from enjoying themselves.

Other proposals will force pubs to offer smaller wine and spirit measures and display point of sale information on alcohol units. The Government admitted earlier this year that the 'unit' measure of alcohol was made up – now they want our pubs to publicise this as a 'fact'. Newspeak in action.

HMG get your figures correct

The Government claims this code is needed as, in their words 'Alcohol is a key contributor to crime and disorder, which costs the country between £8-£13 billion every year'. Not sure where they got those figures from, probably via one of their fake charities such as Alcohol Concern. A discrepancy of £5 billion is a lot and throws doubt into the validity of their sums. However a fact, according to the House of Commons Library is that the alcohol industry contributes £14.79 billion to the economy every year. So the supposed cost to the country is more than paid for by the contribution made by the industry. This industry does not need more regulation, that will result in more pub closures. This is an idiotic piece of legislation that will only result in more pub closures, more job losses and subsequent loss of revenue for the Government. Unfortunately the unelected, monocular, teetotal Son of the Manse is too stupid to realise this.

The voters of Norwich have today given this Government a bloody nose, so now it's the turn of the drinkers of Britain to tell the Teetotal Jockocracy that is ruining our country where to go and please respond to this Government consultation below:

where you can also download the consultation itself. Alternatively you can visit the Axe the Beer Tax Campaign and leave your response there.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Marks & Spencer Gathers the Honey Ale

Cowny Brewer Brings Real Ale Drinking To The Masses

Conwy based beer brewer Gwynne Thomas is introducing real ale to the mainstream with his popular Welsh Honey Bitter, produced exclusively for Marks & Spencer.

A keen brewer since his days as a chemistry student at Newcastle University, Gwynne, 40, opened the Conwy Brewery in 2003 brewing a range of real ales using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Welsh Honey Bitter is made using 100 per cent Welsh honey sourced from Ceredigion, South Wales, creating a delicate beer with sweet honey aromas and a clean, dry finish.The unique blend of pale malts used to brew this particular bitter gives the brew a smooth texture with a light, fresh taste - perfect for those who may be taking their first steps into real ale drinking.

Research shows that whilst there are around seven million regular real ale drinkers in the UK, a huge 85 per cent of these are men with 63 per cent aged over 45.

Gwynne thinks this is set to change due to the growing popularity of real ale drinking amongst women and younger markets in recent years.

He said: "With the help of organised beer festivals and sampling opportunities across the UK, more and more people are getting the opportunity to try real ales and are enjoying the many varieties available. The fact that retailers like M&S are selling a selection of real ales from across the UK has also helped introduce the drink to different markets.

Gwynne continues, "The feedback we've received regarding the Welsh Honey Bitter is that this is an easy to drink real ale which is perfect with BBQ's or just a lazy day in the garden due to its crisp and refreshing taste."

As many rural areas in Wales are completely unspoilt and untouched by artificial fertilisers, the honey produced and then used during the brewing process at Conwy Brewery makes for a distinctive and truly natural flavour which differs slightly between seasons.

Gwynne continues: "Welsh Honey Bitter will taste subtly different depending on the time of year it is brewed. For example, it has a more floral influences earlier in the season as a result of the summer flowers, compared to later in the year when the heather gives the bitter more of a woody and rich flavour."

Marks & Spencer (real ale) specialist Sue Daniels said: "Welsh Honey Bitter is ideal for first time real ale drinkers as, unlike some beers, it doesn't have a particularly bitter taste which those dipping their toe into real ale drinking can be particularly sensitive to.

"Our locally sourced real ale range is very popular and we worked closely with Gwynne in producing a top quality honey beer for our customers to enjoy. Following a year long trial of the Welsh Honey Bitter in selected stores, we are now rolling it out to more than 200 stores across the UK."

Welsh Honey Bitter can be found at Marks & Spencer's food halls across the UK.

Brew Wales reviewed the beer some weeks ago for his newspaper column and reprints the review below:

Conwy Brewery Welsh Honey Bitter, 4.5% ABV, £1.99 500ml/bottle Marks & Spencer

Conwy Brewery first started brewing in 2003 and produces a range of real ales, both on draught and in bottles. All the beers are brewed with water from Snowdonia.

Honey Bitter is a golden ale, which on pouring into a glass, produces a large, rich, foamy head, so make sure you use an oversized glass to drink it out of! The aroma is of fruit, caused by the Challenger and Fuggles hops and of course the Welsh Honey used to brew this beer. There is a bitter, refreshing, almost biscuity flavour, followed by a sweetness in the aftertaste that leads to a satisfying, thirst-quenching finish. The flavour comes from the a combination of the Maris Otter malt, together with the hops and of course the honey. This produces a very drinkable, pleasant and refreshing beer. Altogether, Conwy Honey Bitter is a well-rounded beer, with the honey imparting an unique flavour to this beer which manages to encompass all the flavours of a long, hot Welsh Summer. The beer will match with food very well, for instance at a barbecue.

Welsh Brewers to hit London

The beer list is out for the forthcoming Great British Beer Festival and as well as the beers from across the world, Welsh brewers will be making an impact on the Capitol during the Festival.
The Welsh beers and breweries are listed below, along with tasting notes for the beers. Please note all the beers are subject to availability and not all may on at one time. In addition to the beers below, the biggest real ale brewers in Wales, SA Brain, will be having their own bar at Earl's Court. The Brew Wales tastebuds are aleady looking forward to trying the different real ales and ciders at the festival.

Breconshire Brewery

Cribyn (4.5%)

A very pale, straw-coloured aromatic best bitter brewed with Northdown, Challenger and Bramling Cross hops.

Golden Valley (4.2%)

A welcoming aroma of hops, fruit and malt leads to a similar, balanced flavour with a good building bitterness.

Bullmastiff Brewery

Son of a Bitch (6%)

A warming amber ale, easy-drinking for its strength. An aroma of hops, fruit and malt with a similar blend of flavours.

Conwy Brewery

Clogwyn Gold (3.6%)

A light quaffable golden ale with plenty of hop aroma and a long bitter finish.

Evan Evans Brewery

Cwrw (4.2%)

Welsh for "ale" this beer is fruity with good hop/malt balance.

Facers Brewery

Landslide (4.9%)

Golden in colour with a gentle malt introduction, the bitterness coming through later, enhanced by additional notes including resinous esters, full lemon and orange fruitiness with a hint of cherry and strong mouthfeel.

North Star Porter (4%)

A rich black porter with a strong palate of roasted malt and notes of chocolate, caramel, coffee and burnt toffee.

Great Orme Brewery

Cambria (3.8%)

Formerly called Welsh Mountain IPA this is a modern IPA with a full hop flavour and dry finish.

Celtica (4.5%)

Formerly called Celtic Dragon this beer is yellow in colour with a zesty taste full of citrus fruit flavours. Some initial sweetness followed by peppery hops and a bitter finish.

Kingstone Brewery

Kingstone Gold (4%)

Citrus aromas and clean crisp tasting golden beer.

Newmans Brewery (Celt Experiance)

Mt Snowdon Pale Ale (4%)

A tasty well-hopped bitter, with a mix of summerfruit aroma hops.The subtle blend of flavoursome malts with its dry, citrus and berryfruit finish, combines to produce this Welsh session ale for the summer.

Otley Brewery

O-Garden (4.8%)

A tongue in cheek take on wheat beer flavoured with roasted orange peel, corriander and cloves.

Purple Moose Brewery

Cwrw Eryri/Snowdonia Ale (3.6%)

Golden, refreshing bitter with citrus fruit hoppiness in aroma and taste. The full mouthfeel leads to a long-lasting, dry, bitter finish.

Cwrw Glaslyn (4.2%)

Refreshing light and malty amber-coloured ale. Plenty of hop in the aroma and taste. Good smooth mouthfeel leading to a slightly chewy finish.

Rhymney Brewery

Export Ale (5%)

A combination of six malts, give a heady flavour this full bodied, yet rounded, serious but eminently quaffable ale.

As well as sampling a few of the Welsh ales, Brew Wales will especially be looking forward to the cask version of Fullers 2009 Vintage Ale.

Welsh cidermakers will also be at the Great British Beer Festival including:

Dan Y Graig


Gwynt Y Ddraig,

cider and perry

O Sir




W.M Watkins


Along with many old favourites such as Gwatkin and Thatchers.
The full list of cider producers is here


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

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)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Queens Hotel, Newport

Popped into the newly refurbished Queens Hotel in Newport. Now a JDW Lloyds No1, Brew Wales has a particular attachment to the Queens Hotel as his first job from school was working for Belhaven Inns in this pub. No Bass on nowadays but the handpumps offer 7 different real ales, unfortunately only 2 of the handpumps were serving ales. Another case of Wethersoons advertising beers for sale that are not available. Yes, Brew Wales realises that Tim Martin said that it is not company policy to offer for sale beers that are not available, but the managers get marked down by their superiors for not putting on a full range. Still a just about drinkable pint of Old Hooky was enjoyed, even if the barman had to be asked to top the pint up as half an inch of head is not acceptable. Early days for the Queens but this latest incarnation as a Lloyds No1 is better than the Aussie theme bar it was before. Should keep the ghosts happy.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Wikio Rankings

Well Brew Wales had a nice surprise today when the Wikio rankings for Wine and Beer Blogs in the UK appeared.
Hardly expected to be in the top 10 but the editor was more than a little pleased at the number 2 ranking, behind a wine blog, Spittoon, at number 1, but ahead of other beer blogs the editor regularly reads. This is very likely only temporary blip as there were a lot of hits for the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival. Still not bad to be at number 2 for a month and in the top 400 of UK Bloggers.

Of course this blog attracts its fair share of nutters, one of whom attempted to run a blog called 'Sane Brewer Responds' in an attempt to use the internet to declare his sanity to the world. Unfortunately this blog is no longer in existence as the disturbed individual could not even find anything to write to prove his sanity. Instead he has commanded one of his catamites to attack me on a different blog. Now I'm not going to name the person concerned, but there is a link to his malicious lies on the right hand link section, if the 'Sane Brewer' chooses to click onto his brewery link he will be taken to his loony-tune website. Naturally the author of the attack site blog refuses to identify himself and the coward hides behind the anonymity of a pseudonym. Oh and he also has comments turned off, despite the fact Brew Wales have allowed his unedited ramblings to appear on this site.
The photo of me used for the attack blog was also used without the permission of the photographer. Still copyright theft is just another item to add to the long list of dodgy dealings by this person, who I understand is related to European Royalty. At least I'm sure I've heard other brewers refer to him as a 'Count', or did i mishear?

Great Taste Awards 2009

The Guild of Fine Food have announced the winners for the 2009 Great Taste Awards and Welsh Brewers and Cidermakers have again done well in the competition.
Gwynt Y Ddraig have walked away with 3 stars, the highest award, for their Vintage 06 bottled cider. They also received one star for their bottled Orchard Gold, as did Ty Bryn Cider with their Sweetened Sparkling Cider.
Vintage 06 is descibed by Operations Director Bill George as, "A blend of our very best cider apple varieties from the Autumn of 2006, fermented slowly and left to mature for twelve months before making its way to the bottle. A masterpiece of flavours to enjoy by itself, or as an accompaniment to any menu". The cider is fermented in oak and is described as medium-dry.
There is an open day coming up on the weekend of the 8th-9th August 2009, 1100-2100 Sat, 11-1900 Sun.

The Beers
Purple Moose Brewery achieved 2 stars with their Dark Side of the Moose whilst one star each was awarded to Otley Brewery O8 and O1, as well as to Kingstone Brewery Abbey Ale and Hurns Tomos Watkin OSB.

Two gold stars were also award to Danzy Jones Wysgi Licor from the Celtic Spirit Company.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Otley Arms

Travelling around the valleys with a £7 network rider, Brew Wales find themselves in the Otley Arms, Treforest, where the beer of choice is of course the wonderful light and hoppy Otley O1. Also on are OG, Shardlows Golden Ale and RCH Pitchfork. After a heavy day of research in the valleys and watching the chavs fight in Bargoed, Brew Wales may be having a few O1s.

Ponty's newest pub

Brew Wales have finally got around to visiting the Patriot in Pontypridd, the latest pub in the Rhymney Brewery stable. Its a bit of a shock as the pub serves 5 real ales, including cask conditioned mild, Rhymney Dark and cask conditioned lager. Alltogether the Patriot has 5 real ales on and what is surprising is that it is quite a small pub but was full on a Monday afternoon. This side of Ponty is short of a decent pub or two, the chavs and the customers of the probation office have their Wethersoons elsewhere and there is the wonderful Bunch of Grapes and the place where time has stood still, the Llanover, over the other side of the river. A good addition to the local beer scene and handy for the bus and train stations.

Brecon Beer Festival

Brecon Beer Festival
Well it's that time of year again when the local beer festivals all start happening at the same time. For those of you not going to the Plough & Harrow in Monknash this weekend there is the Brecon Beer Festival at their new venue, the Breconshire Brewery tap, the Boar's Head.
For those wishing to travel to Brecon, Sixty-six coaches run the X43 Abergaveny-Brecon- Merthyr-Cardiff (and return) service. Bus run every 2 hours so check with Traveline Cymru on the times or use the option box below:

On tap in the Boars':
Breconshire WPA 3.7 %ABV
Breconshire GV 4.2
Breconshire CBN 4.5%ABV
Breconshire BMR 4.4%ABV
Brains SA Gold 4.7
Oakham JHB 3.6 %ABV

Breconshire GV 4.2
Breconshire BCA 3.7%ABV
Breconshire RD 4.7 %ABV
Breconshire RR 5.0 %ABV
Breconshire WdB 4.4 %ABV
Kingstone Gold 4.0 %ABV
Tudor Skirrid 4.2 %ABV
Otley O-1 4.0 %ABV
Otley Ogarden 4.8 %ABV
Celt Native Storm 4.4 %ABV
Rhymney Silver Drum 4.3 %ABV
HoW Ifron Valley 3.6 %ABV
HoW Welsh Black 4.0 %ABV
PM Snowdonia 3.6 %ABV
Great Orme 3 Feathers 5.0 %ABV
Monty's tba
Hurns OSB 4.5 %ABV
Hogs Back Summer Ale 4.2 %ABV
Sharps Doom Bar 4.2 %ABV
Oakham Oblivion 5.7 %ABV
Corvedale Dark & Delicious 4.6 %ABV
TBA tba
Ringwood Boondoggle 4.0 %ABV
Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted 3.8%ABV

Friday, 17 July 2009

Artisan Brewery Beer Festival

Another beer festival at Artisan Brewery
MicroBEER Festival 2009
1st & 2nd August 2009
Artisan Brewing conjunction with the Kings Road Art Studios is pleased to announce the second follow-on 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 throughout the day, home made chilli beef burgers from the BBQ.
Join us... entry is free
Unfortunatly Brew Wales will be in London that weekend for a little festival at Earls Court

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Welsh Bloggers in the pub

Photo Courtesy of Dom At Welsh Icons

Well it was a successful evening in the Vulcan with bloggers from across the diverse Welsh Blogosphere attending. Although as the photo above shows we did not spend all night in the pub, the Welsh Bloggers did pop outside for a quick photoshoot and a cigarette for those who smoked. Bloggers in attendance were Arfur, Brew Wales and
David Raybould, Cynical Dragon

Marcus Warner- Sweet and Tender Hooligan

Uncle Wilco, Shed Blog

Clive Betts, Cambria Politico

Chris Jones

Denis Campbell, UK Progressive

David Taylor, Aneurin Glyndwr

Dom Stocqueler - Welsh Icons

Duncan Higgitt, Wales Home

Michael Corbett, Welsh Wired Web

Save The Vulcan team including Rachel Thomas.
The Lone Voice did send his apologies.
Sorry If I did not get everyones blog in, mail me if I missed out on anyone.

Brains announces ale sales only slightly down

Welsh brewer SA Brain have announced that sales of real ales have only dropped by only 1.9% , compared to the market average of 10%.
According to Company Chairman, Chris Brain, "“In volume terms, the national on-trade for all beers was down by over 9% during the financial year and in Wales the decline was considerably higher with the last quarter believed to be down by around 15%.
"The slowing economy, an accelerated decline in beer sales, severe cost base pressure and another poor summer were all factors. As late as the end of June, the business was performing to plan but we then experienced a significant deterioration in trading conditions within the final quarter of the year.
“However, the investment that we have continued to make in our brands, pubs and people has ensured that we have continued to outperform or at least perform in line with the market in most areas of the business"

The company saw turnover drop from £117m in 2007 to £113m in its latest year after the sale of its free trade business and some smaller managed pubs moving to the tenanted division.
There was a drop of £2.9 million in profits to £5.9 million in the year to September 2008.

The company saw turnover drop from £117m in 2007 to £113m in its latest year after the sale of its free trade business and some smaller managed pubs moving to the tenanted division.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Welsh Bloggers in the pub

Wednesday night will see the great and the good of the Welsh blogosphere descend upon the Vulcan Hotel in Cardiff for the inaugral get together of "Welsh bloggers in the pub". The Vulcan was recently saved from demolition so it is yet another excuse, if Brew Wales ever needs one, to visit this pub. A few pints of Brains may well be sunk tomorrow night.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Gwatkin Cider goes online

One of Brew Wales favourite cidermakers, Denis Gwatkin has gone online. Denis makes his multi-award winning cider and perry in Abbey Dore, Herefordshire but was born in Pontypool so there is a Welsh connection there. The ciders and perries they produce are usually available at CAMRA beer festivals, as well as from the farm shop.
There are also a number of shows across the country where you will find Gwatkin Ciders and Perries (and the Brew Wales editor occasionally propping up their bar!)

Dates for June. Welsh shows in red
14, 15, 16 Yorkshire Agricultural
20, 21, 22, 23 Royal Welsh Show Builth Wells
24, 25, 26 CLA Game Fayre Nottingham
25, 26 Caerphilly Cheese Fayre, the Big Cheese
28, 29, 30 New Forest County Show Hampshire
1 Gloucester Docks Food Fayre
1 Llantony Village Show
2 Hereford County Fair Ross-on-Wye
7, 8, 9 Gatcombe Park Gloucestershire
7 Bacton
6 Burwarton Show Shropshire
14, 15 Shrewsbury Flower Show
18, 19, 20 Pembroke County Show
22, 23 Builth Wells Game Fayre
27 Monmouth Show
30, 31 Salop Steam Fayre Shrewsbury
30, 31 Caerphilly Balloon Festival
3, 4, 5, 6 Burley Horse Trials Lincolnshire
5 Morton-in-Marsh Cotswolds
11, 12, 13 Ludlow Food and Drink
17 Thame & Oxford County Show
19, 20 Midland Game Fayre Weston Park, Staffs
19, 20 Abergavenny Food & Drink
25, 26, 27 British Cheese Festival Cardiff Castle
26, 27 Malvern Autumn Show Malvern
3 Brecon Food & Drink Brecon
4 Forest Food Festival
3, 4 Melton Mowbray
17, 18 Newark Game Fayre
17, 18 Cider Museum
17 Devon County Show
24, 25 Cowbridge Food & Drink
24, 25 Hereford Food Festival

For those wishing to visit the farm shop for some fantastic local produce there is a map here:

View Untitled in a larger map

Gwatkin Cider website here

Gwatkin Cider Facebook site here

Sunday, 12 July 2009


Sunday morning at the Cardiff International Food Festival and the rain yesterday did not put off the thousands of customers who descended on the Bay yesterday. The sun is shining today and the stalls have been restocked ready for the crowds today. The Festival is open until 7 tonight and features ciders, beers, wines, cheeses and quality produce from across the world. The lamb sausages from Llandeilo based butcher Dewi Roberts are gorgeous and Brew Wales will be going for some of his burgers today. Thats if the cheese, beer and other great foods dont get in the way.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Otley Brewery at the Norwegian Church.

Well the food Fest down the Bay may be getting a bit yet but the real ales are flowing in the Norwegian Church where Otley Brewery are serving O1 and Columb-O. Gift packs of beers from other Welsh breweries also available. Open on Sunday as well.

A different Brew Wales

Well its day 2 at the Cardiff International Food Festival and the producers have restocked and are awaiting the public. And the photo above? Well Brew Wales does not drink tea, but if we did it would have to be Welsh Tea!

Friday, 10 July 2009

Cardiff Bay International Food and Drink Festival

Well a good start to the first day, with Gwatkin cider well placed next to the Handmade Scotch Egg Company. Gwynt also here along with Ralph and beers from Penlon Cottage Brewery. Oh and Wern Du. Hog roasts and loads of food and varied music on.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

That pub in Torchwood

From Brew Wales

Been having a lot of hits recently for 'Hereford Arms, Cardiff' and why? Well a pub called the Hereford Arms has featured in some scenes in the current series of Torchwood. It is of course the Hereford Arms in Maindee in Newport. Real ale handpumps can be seen in the clips of the show and Crouch Vale Brewers Gold, Fullers ESB and Gales HSB pumpclips have all been spotted on the pumps.

As everyone seems to be commenting about this pub I'll post another photo of it
From Brew Wales

37 Hereford Street, Maindee, NP19 8DT
(01633) 262817
10-11 (12 Fri & Sat); Sun 12-10.30
There is a website but its not been updated for a while

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival

Brew Wales will be heading down to Cardiff Bay again this Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the International Food and Drink Festival. The festival opens on Friday 10th July at 1200 until 2100 (same Saturday) and 1200-1900 Sunday. Amongst the cider producers there will be Gwynt Y Ddraig and Denis Gwatkin. Brew Wales has become an expert at propping up Mr Gwatkin's excellent bar over the years and may well be giving them a hand this year.
Also on Saturday and Sunday there will be Otley Beer tasting seminars in the Norwegian Church at 1.00pm / 2.00pm / 3.00pm / 4.00pm
Tickets: £4 - includes a 30 min talk. There will also be a Real Welsh Beer bar in the Main room of the church.
Brew Wales is seriously considering turning up to heckle the Otleys and ask them why they don't produce any bland beers. Rumour has it they are looking for another pub as they have run out of wall space to hang their awards they have won for their fantastic beers.

To get to Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival:

By Cardiff Bus:
From central station, numbers 1, 2, Bay Car (6), 7, 8, 11 and 35 serve Cardiff Bay. Day tickets for all Cardiff buses are £3.00 or it's £2.00 return on the Bay Car (Bendy Bus)

By Arriva Trains:
services run to and from Cardiff Bay to Cardiff Queen Street.

By Car:
Follow signs to Cardiff Bay or National Assembly of Wales

Cycle routes, maps and cycle parking sites are
available from the Tourist Information Centre and
the New Library.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Packet Hotel, Cardiff Bay

Quite a nice pub with the old Brains windows and a fantastic wooden gantry behind the bar. Brains Bitter and SA on here and the pub is a lot cleaner and friendlier than the unclean Eli across the road. A nautical theme to this Victorian pub but why not? It's been here longer than most of the buildings in the Bay. Seems to be the forgoton pub of Cardiff Bay.

Eli Jenkins, Cardiff Bay

As one of the closest pubs to the Welsh Assembly and Torchwood Headquarters you would expect this to be a good pub. Unfortunately or perhaps because of those reasons, Brew Wales found the place a bit of a shit hole. Only 2 real ales on; Brains Bitter and a very warm Caledonian Deuchars IPA. Infiderent staff, all 5 of them, who could have been better employed cleaning the sticky tables than hanging around the bar chatting. Brasswork on the handpumps could also do with a clean, won't even risk the food here due to general uncleaniness. Tatty seat coverings and the staff laughing at but not refusing to serve drunk customers add to the ambiance of this establishment. This pub could be a lot better if the owners tried a little bit.

Terra Nova, Cardiff Bay

Lets face it, there are few architectually stunning modern pubs in Wales. The SA Brain owned Terra Nova on Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay is however an exception. With its frontage resembling the prow of a ship, this split-level bar offers views of the bay and the Norwegian Church. The beers are served with Brains unique eye-level handpump, only used in their flagship pubs. The real ales are Bitter, SA, Dark and the seasonal ale, at the moment it is Land of My Fathers, a light-coloured 4% ale with a floral aroma and a pleasant, sweetish aftertaste with hints of vanilla. From those tasting notes you may guess there is something unusual in that beer and the special ingredient is Welsh honey. Perfect for a summer day down the bay.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Brains outsources deliveries to Tradeteam

Wales' largest real ale brewer SA Brain has signed an 8 year contract, worth an estimated £12 million, with Tradeteam. Under the agreement Tradeteam, part of DHL, will be responsible for delivering products, including beers, soft drinks and wine, to 'trade outlets' (Ed- they mean 'pubs') and also for managing stock levels throughout the tied pub estate of around 260 pubs. Localy Tradeteam operates out of Ebbw Vale and Swansea in South Wales.
The deal comes after SA Brain sold their free trade business to Scottish and Newcastle (Heineken) earlier this year and before the retirement of Company Chairman Chris Brain this autumn. He will be replaced as Chair by another member of the family, John Rhys, who is a direct descendent of Samuel Arthur Brain.

Friday, 3 July 2009

125 pints a minute!

The Great British Beer Festival this year will be better than ever with over 450 beers and a wide selection of real cider and perry await thirsty Festival-goers this year!

- 14 UK regional beer bars serving beers from some of the nation’s best loved small, micro and family brewers

- Bottled-conditioned beer bar- sample some of the best bottled beers from around the world, all conditioned to ensure maximum flavour and taste!

- Bieres San Frontieres bar- a showcase of the best beers from around the world, including brews from Germany, Belgium, Italy, USA, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. The bar also plays host to the winners of the American cask-conditioned beer competition, judged each year at the Festival.

- Bar UnusuALE- presents organically produced beers, as well as vegetarian and coeliac-friendly brews.

- Real cider and perry- an essential stand for lovers of apples and pears with up to 100 different varieties of the UK’s best produce.

- Champion Beer of Britain – Final judging of the most prestigious beer competition in the UK takes place on Tuesday August 4th 2009. After success in 2008 for the Triple fff brewery from Alton, Hampshire, who will walk away this year with the most coveted accolade in the beer industry today?

- Tutored Tastings – Beer lovers at GBBF this year will rejoice as beer tutors such as Roger Protz, Jeff Evans, Melissa Cole and Tim Webb return to the Festival to amaze drinkers with their heady knowledge of beer. CAMRA is also offering drinkers the chance to come face to face with brewers in tasting sessions where all the secrets of their favourite tipples are revealed.

- Interactive brewing exhibition- Britain’s oldest brewery, Shepherd Neame, are this year introducing an novel way of showing consumers how to brew. Guided by staff from Shepherd Neame's visitor centre, Festival-goers will be able to touch, taste and smell the raw ingredients which go into beer, and learn all about a pint of beer’s journey to the pub bar.

- A feast of food- Festival-goers can try anything from Bratwurst to Biltong, a perfect complement to a beer from the same nation.

- Live music/entertainment sponsored by Planet Rock Radio

Chaminade String Quartet

Tuesday August 4th 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

The Acoustic Strawbs

Wednesday August 5th 2009, 1pm and 2.30pm

Feast of Fiddles

Wednesday August 5th 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

Beatles, Blues and Blue Violin

Thursday August 6th 2009, 1pm and 2.30pm


Thursday August 6th 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

Peter Knight's Gigspanner

Friday August 7th 2009, 1pm and 2.30pm

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Friday August 7th 2009, 7.15pm and 9pm

Denham Hendon brass band

Saturday August 8th 2009, throughout the afternoon

Festival Facts

- More than 340,000 pints were ordered in for last year’s Festival, with over 125 pints poured to the public per minute!

- Over 1,000 volunteers give up their time to staff the Festival over the 5 days.

- In order to serve the beer, approximately 5 kilometres of beer tubing is needed to connect the barrels to the taps.


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

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)


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