Thursday, 31 December 2009

Otley O-Ho-Ho


At last a seasonal ale with a decent strength, 5%, and made with an unusual ingredients. Last year blueberrys were used in this beer and I think the same has been used this year, the dry, fruity aftertaste and distinctive nose give it away. This is an unusual beer but very drinkable, as all Otley beers are. Mid-brown in colour and bitter, this is a perfect accompaniment to watching the Dragons vs the Scarlets in the Pen & Wig, Newport.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas and a happy new year to all my readers. And to the Llandeilo Village Idiot, photos on this website are copyrighted so stop stealing them!

Another boring christmas ale


Step forward Wickwar Brewery of Gloucestershire today for today's boring christmas ale. Nothing wrong with it but a 4% ale for the season is a bit boring. A mid-brown ale with malt and fruit flavours and a dry finish. Nothing wrong with it, but it is just a standard bitter with the only seasonal thing about it being the colourful pumpclip. Stil one good thing is that there is some Otley O Ho Ho in the cellar of the Pen and Wig to come on later.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Brains Iechyd Da


Welsh for cheers, this is the seasonal offering from SA Brain. A sweet, malty red-brown bitter. Not half as good as the Revs Cracker, a previous christmas ale. Why are so many breweries producing bland beers?

Zero Degrees Christmas Punch


Popped into Zero Degrees, Cardiff to try their Xmas offering, a 4.2% beer. Flavoured with apples and cinamon so there is a christmas theme to this ale. Lots of fruit on in the aroma and in the taste. A bit cloying and sweet but at least they have made the effort to produce a christmas ale. Hat tip to Keith Flett for telling Brew Wales about this beer.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Red Lion, Caerleon


A two-roomed pub, bar and lounge are still strictly segregated here. Another good boozer, The separation of both bars is such that it seems like two different pubs! No surprise the editor goes for a pint of Fullers LP here - favourite brewery in a good pub. Another pub to revisit and write a lot about. Gleaming copper pipes and well-tilled gents, worth a look for a 1930s throwback.

Bull, Caerleon


Brew Wales was not expecting to find Vale of Glamorgan brewery Light Headed 4% in this pub. Another pub that deserves a book about it rather than a quick blog done on the mobile. This 15th Century pub is rather good despite the interior has been knocked around over the years. Medieval beams mingle with salved Roman worked stones and nineteenth century brickwork to create this archetectural smorgesbord of a pub. Still the beer is good.

White Hart, Caerleon


A bit of a surprise to see Everards Tiger in this pub but it turns out to be a permanent fixture on the bar of this 1920s built pub. Again in Caerleon this is another pub to revisit and write about the history of the site. Wood-panelled throughout, from the 1920s it is unfortunate that the internal partitions were taken down to create the island bar we see today. Built on the site of the former Roman gatehouse this is not a bad pub.

Hanbury Arms, Caerleon


I've always liked this pub. Tennyson stayed and wrote here, the pub was used as a courthouse years ago and now it is owned by Brains. The photo shows the Norman tower and the 16th Century river facing side of the pub. Beers on tonight are Brains Bitter, SA, Rev James and Abbott. Average pint of Rev here, a malty mid-range beer. A pub where the history is more interesting than the beer. Still one to make another visit to and write about another time. I can remember this pub having a dog wheel in one section. This was where a dog used to run a wheel to turn a spit in the kitchen. Think it all stopped in the 19th Century but the wheel (and stuffed dog named Alma) used to be on display here.

Rhymney Gift Horse


The seasonal offering from Rhymney Brewery is the 4.5% Gift Horse. Not a Christmassy strength, something other blogs have picked up, but good to see a local brewery at least making the effort. Great pumpclip, with the old Rhymney Brewery hobbyhorse having a seasonal makeover. The present Rhymney Brewery have bought the original hobby horse trademark so are able to use it as they see fit. Anyway back to the beer, Gift Horse is a mid-brown beer with a subtle but distinct hop/fruit aroma. Plenty of malt on the tongue with an astringent finish. Not quite hoppy enough for Brew Wales but drinkable. Beer was drunk in the Pen & Wig, Newport.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Untapped Brewery


Found these bottles at Caerphilly Medieval Fayre last week. All from the Untapped Brewery, the owners are from Cardiff but currently brew just across the border at Whittington's Brewery at the Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire. Only 3 beers produced at the moment and only available at Farmers Markets around South Wales at the moment, Roath, Riverside and Newport Farmers Markets. Competively priced at £2/bottle with discounts for bulk buying such as 6 for £10, these hand-crafted ales are far better to stock up on for the holidays than the mass-marketed stuff piled high in supermarkets. The beers: Eclipse, 4.4%. A well-balanced dark mild. Ember, 5.2%, a dark winter ale with lots of chocolate flavours. Sundown, 4%, a deep golden coloured ale with plenty of citrus aromas and a sharp, bitter flavour with a dry aftertaste. Now the Brew Wales editor is very partial to golden ales and the Sundown is, in his opinion, the best beer they make. Very moreish and drinkable!

Friday, 18 December 2009

How journalism works - alcohol studies part 2

Following on from the post yesterday entitled 'How journalism works - alcohol studies' there is another pile of seasonal rubbish from the Neo-Prohibitionists today.
Step forward the Western Mail today who have swallowed the fake charity line hook line and sinker.
Here are some real facts courtesy of the Office of National Statistics and not made up by a fake charity such as Alcohol Concern.
Shamelessly stolen from the Devil's Kitchen
The graph below shows the percentage of men and women drinking more than their 21/14 unit weekly 'limit.

Clearly it shows people are drinking less, a fact borne out by falling alcohol sales in the industry.
Of course the neo-prohibitionists don't like this so they reinvented the 'unit' of alcohol

Since 2007, the Office of National Statistics has assumed larger glasses are being used and stronger alcohol is being consumed. They now assume that a glass of wine contains 2 units, rather than 1, as it did before. With beer, what used be counted as 1 unit is now counted as 1.5, what used to be 1.5 units is now assumed to be 2 units and what used to be 2.3 units (a large can) is now counted as 3 units.
The term 'unit' was made up anyway.
So according to the revised data, people are drinking more and of course this is the type of misinformation that the fake charities thrive on - they are dependent on their funding from the Government. They have to keep up the scare stories in order to have the Government continue funding them.

Also in the Western Mail article:
And it follows figures published earlier this week which show that the number of people admitted to Welsh hospitals with alcohol-related problems – including alcohol poisoning – has increased by 30% in the past five years.
Not surprising as changes to data collection — which now include secondary diagnoses, such as alcohol-related injuries — have contributed to the surge in cases.
Once again the data has been changed and manipulated in order to give a false impression.

The whole post on the Devil's Kitchen site is well worth reading.


Merry X-Moose!

The current Champion Beer of Wales winner has a new beer out in North Wales this Christmas. Purple Moose Brewery of Porthmadoc have launched X-Mŵs Llawen/Merry X-Moose - a rich 5%, winter warmer with a full flavour and body, subtle bitterness and a rich ruby colour. Available across North Wales this festive season.
Think owner Lawrence Washington also deserves a pint or two for coming up with a name such as Merry X-Moose - definitely the funniest name of the season.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

How journalism works – alcohol studies



Photo nabbed from Constantly Furious


A media studies graduate sitting on the newsdesk gets email from either a Government Department or a fake charity with an alcohol-related scare story. The journalist then repeats this as fact without checking any of the figures quoted in the press release. Needs a quote so calls fake charity Alcohol Concern or other Government spokesperson to provide one. Story goes to sub-editor who chooses a picture from in stock, normally showing beer drinking/pint glass of beer etc. Press release is printed verbatim and reported as 'fact' by the news agency/broadcaster concerned.

Again this has happened today where the Government Chief Health Officer Liam "Do people hate me 'cos I'm ginger" Donaldson spouted his shite that was picked up and reported in full by the Government funded BBC and used a quote from Government-funded fake charity Alcohol Concern and one from Professor Ian Gilmore who Chairs the Government-funded fake charity the Alcohol Health Alliance. Can readers see a trend here?

The scare story today is headlined “Parents giving children alcohol 'fuels binge drinking'”
What the story fails to address is why is it in mainland Europe, where children are on the whole a lot better well-behaved in pubs and restaurants and where alcohol is available to these children at an earlier age, is there no under-age binge-drinking problem there?

The shite from Donaldson also goes on to say the “The idea of a watered-down wine for a child as a middle-class obsession.......across England 500,000 children between the ages of 11- to 15 years will have been drunk in the last four week”.
No attempt by the BBC is made to justify these figures, not even asking Donaldson where his evidence comes from. We have the Nanny State becoming the Bully State and the BBC is merely the mouthpiece of State, not questioning the validity of arguments or figures thrown at them by the Government.
Also a 'middle-class' problem? Surely the binge-drinking chavoffspring are the problem, hanging out around the City Centre and bus stops at night swigging super strength cider or cans of Special Brew?
Expect an advertising campaign in the New Year, paid for by the taxpayer of course and run to death on the BBC.
One piece of good news is that Sir Liam Donaldson is set to retire next year.

Rent-a-quote fake charities for hacks to lazy to investigate a story:
Alcohol Concern
Alcohol Health Alliance - an umbrella organisation for Fake Charities such as Alcohol Concern, Institute of Alcohol Studies, Alliance House Foundation (founded in 1853 as the UK Alliance for the Suppression of the Traffic in all Intoxicating Liquors) etc
Alcohol Focus Scotland
Parentline Plus

H/Ts to Dungeekin and Constantly Furious.
Woolpack Dave and Fido also have their own take on this story.
As does the ever excellent Daily Mash

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Wurzels need not apply






The Welsh Cider & Perry Society has a couple of job vacancies:

Development Officer
Job Description and Person Specification (1F/T or 2 PT posts)
The Welsh Perry and Cider Society December 2009
Development Officer: WPCS, the Welsh Perry and Cider Society, has an exciting opportunity for an experienced Development Officer(s) with excellent communication skills.
Specifically you will be responsible for the development and management of a number of projects which are designed to promote Welsh Cider and Perry in the UK and abroad. The projects include the development of an International Cider Festival and coordinating a series of training courses aimed at cider and perry producers to improve their technical skills as well as business management skills. This post is funded by Welsh Assembly Government’s Supply Chain Efficiency Scheme (EU)
This position represents an excellent opportunity for a Development Officer with proven experience in a comparative industry to extend their development and marketing expertise in a busy and successful not for‐profit organisation.
Salary: £30,000
Contract length: 12 months with possibility of extending for a further 24 months
Holiday: 25 days plus statutory holidays
The job will include occasional weekend and evening work which is not remunerated; a flexible
approach to working hours is therefore essential. Time in lieu will be offered.
Travel to meetings and events within Wales and possibly the UK will be required.
Job Title: Development Officer (Full Time or 2 Part Time)
Hours: 37.5 hours (or 18.75 hours x 2 job sharing)
Location: Based in South Wales
Responsible to: WPCS Directors

Not bad for £30k a year, though the ability to sing "I've got a brand new combine harvester" in Welsh is not a prerequisite. It appears this post is funded from the Welsh Assembly Government via European money. Good to see that after years of Johnny Foreigner and Bingo Bongo taking the piss with funds from Europe that the Welsh Assembly Government have decided to start following the bandwagon.

Deadline for applications is the Friday 8th January 2010.
Full Job description here
Also a job for an admin assistant here

Early Day Motion - Lets raise tax on cider

It's always a good laugh to read the Early Day Motions put down by Members of Parliament. Some EDMs give the members an opportunity to get a mention in the local paper for congratulating the local football team winning their 5th division match or stopping asteroids or tsunamis from hitting their constituencies. All joking aside, the last two were actual EDMs. However Brew Wales came across this beauty from Edward Tattysyrup impersonator Alan Meale MP.

EDM 389

DUTY ON CIDER 08.12.2009
That this House notes that duty paid on a pint of five per cent. alcohol cider is 29 pence less than is paid on a beer of equivalent strength; further notes that the UK Treasury could raise £400 million annually in additional revenue if cider duty were brought into line with beer duty; further notes that over 90 per cent. of UK cider is produced by three multinational companies; and calls on the Treasury to allow UK brewers to compete on equal terms by aligning cider and beer duty, whilst considering the introduction of some form of small producers' relief to protect and support traditional local cider makers.

Where do I start with this idiot?
Firstly the cider and beer markets are noticeably different, there is no "equal term" for them to compete on or either to aim for. The cider market is even more tied up than the beer market - you try being a medium-sized cidermaker and getting your cider into a the pubs of a pub company - the cidermaker stands no chance as the three multinationals can sell the cider cheaper, with full point of sale and marketing also available. For the small scale cidermaker the chances of getting into a pubco are even more remote. The Enterprise Inns pub, the Bell in Caerleon is a notable example though, but one pub out of their estate of thousands is unusual if not unique.
Clearly Meale fails to understand the market, being MP for Mansfield, not known as a great cider-producing area he has no first-hand knowledge of cider or cider production.

SO WHY DOES MEALE NOT JUST TAKE HIS ILL-INFORMED AND ILL-JUDGED OPINIONS WITH HIM AND STAY OUT OF CIDER?

If he wants brewers to compete on equal terms then lets see them give up space on the bar for a cider served from the handpump. That's more of an equal term than aligning beer and cider duty.
The problem is that Meale cannot stay out of any business, being a member of the Labour Party, the Government which seeks to tax everyone and everything and control our lives in every way possible. The last line about "considering the introduction of some form of small producers' relief to protect and support traditional local cider makers", does not go far enough for me, as knowing this Government as soon as they decide to implement something like this, ie, a tax rise on cider everyone will be hit.
You would have thought that someone like Meale, a former environment minister, would have a love of countryside and associated agricultural activities. After all the troughing pig did spend £13,000 in 4 years on gardening, paid for by the taxpayer. Fido at the Lone Voice does, of course, have more on his expenses here. Some are printed below:
£4700 on a bathroom
£1300 on a "Garden cabinet" - That's a shed to us
£30 for 18th birthday cards
So a general trougher all round.
Early Day Motions have no chance of becoming law, they are merely a statement of opinion and as of today (16.12.09) only 14 MPs have signed EDM 389 including the self-confessed libelist and joker about farming suicides Paul Flynn MP. Nice company you keep Meale.

A view of Mansfield, constituency of Edward Tattysyrup MP

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

News of the Brews

A few little bits of news that have filtered our way over the past few weeks:

Ffos-y-ffin Brewery
in Carmarthenshire has stopped production. It seems that the farm is up for the sale and the outbuilding where the brewery was located has been converted back into agricultural use. It is doubtful that the brewery will continue under its present name as it was named after the local spring.

Further east in Torfaen, Cwmbran Brewery is looking to end production, the reasoning behind this is a change in the business rate valuation by Torfaen Council, who have decided that business rates are to be levied on all of the buildings, not just on the brewery building. So well done there to Torfaen Council for putting a successful brewery out of business in a failed attempt to raise income. Good to know that it's not only in Westminster but also in local town halls that incompetent politicians and their equally incompetent civil servants/local Government officials are screwing up the country.

And finally to Powys where Evan Evans brewery are flogging off the Bull's Head pub in Brecon for an asking price of £250, 000. This was formerly a CAMRA Good Beer Guide pub until taken over by Welsh Estates Ltd, the parent company of Evan Evans. A quick check at Companies House reveals their accounts to be overdue by over a year. The evidence does suggest some cashflow problems here, not helped by opening their flagship pub in Cardiff, situated just around the corner from the Ashes venue, a week after the match had finished. Still it's not a bad pub and the lack of customers at Y Cadno always guarantees you a seat. The price for the Brecon pub is considered a bit optimistic in this climate though, overinflated as one commentator said, just like the ego of the owner.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Book review - Favourite Watering Holes



Book Review
Favourite Watering Holes – featuring pubs in North and Mid-Wales
Ian Parri, £7.50, ISBN 978-1-84524-128-5, www.carreg-gwalch.com
Published around this time last year, a copy of this book has finally found its way to the Brew Wales Towers and the editor has finally found the time to read and review it. In fact it was about this time of year that the Brew Wales Editor was heading into BBC Radio Wales to drink some of Jamie and Louise's homebrew that Ian Parri was a guest on their show, plugging his book. However after drinking various beers in a live tasting on BBC Radio Wales, followed by some mulled wine, all before midday, the morning did become a bit of a blur and this book did get forgotten.
Any back to the book review, Ian Parri has been reviewing pubs in North Wales for the Daily Post, “For more years than he'll care to remember” according to the introduction. The book is a handy A5 size – ideal for packing in a bag to take to the area on a trip. All 50 pubs are listed with their full postal address and phone number as well as website if they have one. The pubs are set out alphabetically with an index at the front, unfortunately there is no map in the book which would have made it easier to visit some of these pubs. Some old favourites of mine are in here such as the Black Boy, Caernafon, and the Douglas Arms, Bethesda, an entry on the CAMRA National Inventory of historic interiors, as well as new ones such as the uniquely named Seven Eyes at Ruthin. The Seven Eyes is so named as it has seven dormer windows and was built by an architect who studied in Amsterdam. This little book is packed full of information such as this, each pub has two pages devoted to it and a photograph. The photographs could be a little bigger, but then again this book is not designed for fans of pub architecture. Ian Parri takes us on a very personal view of these pubs and though he mentions the beer range he nearly always settles on a pint of mass-produced fizzy cider, something that comes as a bit of a regret to him.
All in all a good little book on the neglected area of Welsh pubs. Not perfect, but well worth buying, now to find somewhere on a bookcase to fit it in.



Gwatkin goes medieval in Caerphilly

Theis weekend will see the historic Caerphilly Castle hosting a medieval fayre.

Christmas fun and activities will fill the town centre where food lovers can savour the farmers market and continental market. Street entertainers, music, cookery demonstrations, children’s workshops and funfair rides provide a mixture of entertainment for the young and old.

The Caerphilly Medieval Market has a variety of festive entertainment with many of the activities being free of charge. Standard admission charges apply on entrance to the castle, one of the Great Medieval castles of Western Europe, although much of the entertainment around the town is free. There is also a selection of shops to browse in around the town centre.

Amongst the stallholders there will be Gwatkin Cider, Wernddu Vineyard and Ralphs Cider.

Caerphilly is easily reached from Cardiff via bus or train - journey planner below:


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Christmas Ale on draught


Have not seen too many local breweries doing a Christmas Ale this year. However popped into the always good Pen and Wig in Newport and found this Winter Hog Ale from Newmans/Celt Experience Brewery. A mid-brown beer with a biscuity aroma, full malt taste and a bitter, warming aftertaste, this 6% ale is quite drinkable. Blogging may be more entertaining later.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Visiting the Chapel


The pint and the pulpit have not always seen eye-to-eye, especially in the Valley communities in South Wales. However naming a pub, "The Capel", which is Welsh for chapel has a certain ironic twist to it. The Capel, situated just south of Bargoed at Gilfach Fargoed, is a rare local outlet for beers from Celt Experiance/Newmans Brewery, situated a bit further down the Valley in Caerphilly. Welsh cider from Gwynt YDdraig is also on here and rarest of all, perry is available on draught. Brains SA and Mayfields Ducking Stool are also on but I'm drinking local tonight. A good pub that is very easy to get to, the No 50 Newport-Caerphilly-Bargoed stops outside, or there is a train service (Rhymney line). Some old wood panelling, separate rooms and old etched glass windows give this pub some character. Sadly that is something that is missing from the chav palaces of today.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Think you're hard after a pint?


Gwent Police have decided to take out some advertising this year and on billboard close to Brew Wales Towers, the editor was greeted by this piece of propaganda. Quickly I took a photo before some PCSOs could stop me on a Section 44. The person who is on this advert appears to be drinking out of a can and there is a pub sign in the other half. Now am I not the only one who finds this condescending? Also the drinker concerned is white. Would Gwent Police consider doing a similar poster campaign on the streets of the ethnically diverse area of Newport called Pill on the dangers of illegal drugs? Of course they will not, a drawing of, for example, a Rasta with his herbal cigarette and warning of the dangers of smoking skunk would be construed as racist, yet the majority of the population can be demonised for enjoying a perfectly legal drink. If Gwent Police really want to do some policing this Christmas then they should get out of the queue of the kebab shop in Maindee and go into the pubs to prevent drunks being served. "Protecting and Reassuring" they say on the billboard. Nannying and condescending more like.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Hall of Shame, Whitbread Traditional Draught Bitter

Hall of Shame part 5


An occaisional series devoted to the worst in the world of brewing.


Whitbread Traditional Draught Bitter


Came across this advert from 1980 the other day. At the time Whitbread had just closed down the Ely and Rhymney Breweries and the keg only factory at Magor (sad to say it's the Editor's nearest beer factory) had opened. Something that got me thinking was the advert stating that this beer could be enjoyed in over 200 Welsh pubs. Not a claim that many breweries could make today, with the exception of Brain's. Also looking at the 1980 Good Beer Guide there are so few Whitbread pubs in there, the majority of pubs in the South Wales section of the GBG were either Brain's or Welsh Brewers (Hancock's). Even the rare free houses sold Brain's or occasionally Crown SBB (Otley Arms of course).

At the time Whitbread Traditional Draught Bitter was brewed at the Cheltenham Brewery and the beer had an original gravity of 1038. The Good Beer Guide described the beer as “Full-bodied and hoppy”, not a description many of us would recognise as being a Whitbread beer. Perhaps because the GBG descriptions were a bit vague in those days, for instance Tim Taylor's Landlord is merely described as “a distinctive and full-bodied bitter” back in 1980.

The beer did not have a long life – it was withdrawn as a real ale within a few years.

Nowadays Whitbread has all but gone, they are merely a restaurant-owning company. The Cheltenham Brewery has gone the way of Rhymney and Ely but unfortunately the Magor factory is still there, producing traditional Welsh beers such as Stella Artois and other such dishwater.



Purple Moose becomes an Ambassador

The current Champion Beer of Wales brewers, Purple Moose of Porthmadog have been awarded the title of Gwynedd Product Ambassador at the inaugural Gwynedd Taste & Talent Awards.

As part of a local initiative to promote the people behind the food, drink, arts and crafts throughout the County of Gwynedd, the Taste & Talent Awards 2009 recognise and reward the best of Gwynedd's success within the food, drink, art and crafts sectors.

Purple Moose Brewery was awarded Gwynedd Product Ambassador on the grounds of its commitment to relating products to the local area, bilingual labelling and of course the outstanding quality of the beer.

Names such as Cwrw Eryri (Snowdonia Ale), Cwrw Madog (Madog's Ale) and Cwrw Glaslyn (Glaslyn Ale), as well as our range of special brews named after local mountains, have all helped to keep some of the outstanding features of the County of Gwynedd in people's minds as they drink our beer across the UK.

Brewery owner Lawrence Washington was immensely proud to receive the award as it recognises everything he has striven to achieve with the business.

"My aim was not only to produce a high quality product but to create something which the local community can all be proud of ", said Lawrence.

"Not being from North Wales originally I am particularly aware of how sensitively you have to approach issues such as beer names, pump clips, bottle labels and other marketing material. From the outset I have ensured that Welsh comes first and that, on the whole, the names of our beers reflect the area in which they are created.

It is an honour to receive this kind of recognition from the local community. It also marks a great finish to a fantastic year for the brewery; a year in which sales have soared, we have been crowned Champion Beer of Wales and picked up our first International award."

Earlier this year Purple Moose Brewery won the Champion Beer of Wales Award with their Snowdonia Ale and Dark Side of the Moose went on to win a Gold medal at the International Beer Challenge 2009.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

BrewDog Punk IPA


Thursday night and need something to put me in the mood for Question Time and This Week later. In a recent newspaper review, I covered BrewDog Punk IPA and it left me with a bit of a taste for this fantastic beer. Golden coloured with amazing aromas of grapefruit and pineapple. It's one of the most bitter beers I have ever tried and this hop attack in a bottle swoops like a Tsunami of bitterness over the tongue, leaving the tastebuds numbed and dry. Aged cheese goes well with this beer, some Hafod Organic from Lampeter matches well. At 6% this is not a session beer, though the Brew Wales Editor has been known to call Fullers ESB and Otley O8 session beers! Fido from the Lone Voice was present at the O8 session when the resignation of a Government Minister, Pitch Ripper Hain, was celebrated. Anyway, back to the beer, Punk IPA is available in 330ml bottles in Sainsbury's and Tesco's in Wales and is recommended if you like hoppy beers. If you don't then the brewers tell you on the bottle to "Go back to drinking your mass marketed, bland, cheaply made watered down lager and close the door behind you!"

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Happy third birthday for the Winchester

From Brew Wales

The Rhymney Brewery Tap, the Winchester celebrated its third birthday in November.

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

Winchester, Castle Street, Merthyr Tydfil, CF47 8BG
Open 12-12 Monday- Saturday, 12-10.30 Sunday

View Larger Map

Cardiff Pub Closures

From Brew Wales


Following up from the occasional series on pub closures in the Newport, over the weekend the Brew Wales editorial team decided to take a similar look at Cardiff pubs. Needed a list of pubs to begin with, so the 1996 Complete Guide to Cardiff's Pubs was the starting point. This excellent booklet, written by Dave Matthews (Seidr Dai) is still useful today and was a follow-up to an edition published the previous year. Also used was the Cardiff Pubs foldaway booklet published in 2005 plus some local knowledge and of course the South Wales Echo.


Pubs closed since 1996


  1. Purple Dragon
  2. Angel Tavern
  3. Avondale
  4. Baltimore Arms
  5. Baroness of Windsor (SA Brain)
  6. Bel Air Cafe Bar
  7. Bird in Hand
  8. Bristol Hotel
  9. Bulldog Inn
  10. Bute Dock
  11. Carpenters Arms
  12. Comet
  13. Crown
  14. Crown Hotel
  15. Custom House, (SA Brain) demolished
  16. Eldon Arms
  17. Emporium
  18. Gio's Cafe Bar
  19. Glendower Hotel, (SA Brain) demolished
  20. Global Beer Co
  21. Green Parrot
  22. Grosvenor
  23. Guildhall Tavern, converted to Chinese Restaurant
  24. Gws
  25. Harvester
  26. Horse & Groom
  27. Inn on the River, demolished, (SA Brain)
  28. Jumpin' Jacks
  29. Locomotive
  30. Lord Windsor
  31. New Addie, was the Moira
  32. Moorlands Hotel
  33. New Dock Tavern (SA Brain)
  34. Old Airport Inn
  35. Orange kipper
  36. Paddle Steamer
  37. Park Vaults
  38. Pierhead Cafe Bar
  39. Plymouth
  40. Potter's Wheel
  41. Pump House Tavern
  42. Radyr Arms
  43. Rat & Carrot
  44. Red House
  45. Royal Exchange
  46. Rumpoles (SA Brain)
  47. Ruperra
  48. Tredegar Hotel
  49. Ty Glas
  50. Wells Hotel
  51. White Lion
  52. Yardarm

Almost the same number of pubs closed in Cardiff from 1996 as in Newport since 1997 comes as a bit of surprise, though Cardiff has a greater population and larger area. This is shown by more pubs being refurbished and changing their names since 1996, ie, more money being spent on the pubs.

Pubs renamed since 1996

  1. 42nd Street – Bar Billibong (SA Brain)
  2. Albert – Yard (SA Brain)
  3. The Anthonys – Caerau
  4. Apollo – Cayo Arms (Marstons)
  5. Canal Boat – Blackweir Tavern (SA Brain)
  6. Toucan Club – Callaghan's Irish Bar
  7. Clancy's – George
  8. Cross Inn – Aneurin Bevan (JDW)
  9. Exchange – Cornerstone
  10. Ferret & His Trouser Leg – Philharmonic
  11. Flyhalf and Firkin – Queens Vaults (JW Basset)
  12. Four Bars – Dempseys (SA Brain)
  13. Leather Bottle – Jug and Bottle
  14. Maindy Hotel – North Star
  15. Market Tavern – O'Neils
  16. Morgans – Buccaneer
  17. Mulligans – Kitty Flynns
  18. Murrayfield – Grand Slam
  19. Newt & Cucumber – Copa
  20. New Ely – the End
  21. O'Dwyer's Bar – Forester's
  22. Pennsylvania – New Penn
  23. Poacher's Lodge – Mochyn Du
  24. Rose & Crown – Barfly
  25. Rosie O'Brien's Pumphouse – Flares
  26. Royal Hotel – O'Neils
  27. Sam's Bar – Zinc
  28. Ship & Pilot – Mischief's Cafe Bar
  29. Yellow Kangaroo – Bar YK


Again the pub openings have been more than Newport, though there is still net loss of 29 pubs in 13 years for Cardiff, compared with a net loss of 43 Newport pubs in 12 years.



Pubs Opened Since 1996

  1. Central Bar (JDW)
  2. Crockerton (JDW)
  3. Prince of Wales (JDW)
  4. Ernest Willows(JDW)
  5. Ivor Davies (JDW)
  6. Gatekeeper (JDW)
  7. Terra Nova (SA Brain)
  8. Salt (SA Brain)
  9. Slug and Lettuce
  10. Red Cow
  11. Y Cadno (Evan Evans)
  12. 33 Windsor Place (SA Brain)
  13. Cardiff Gate
  14. Aneurin Bevan (JDW) was Cross Inn, Gabalfa
  15. Eli Jenkins (M & B)
  16. Hemingway
  17. Goscombe (Barracuda)
  18. Great Western (JDW)
  19. Inncognito (SA Brain)
  20. Varsity (Barracuda)
  21. Walkabout
  22. Watergaurd (Sam Smith's)
  23. Gwdihw

Admittedly some of those new openings are cafe bars and there are a that may be missed off the above list. Also the new hotel bars have not been included – very few of them are of interest to the average pub goer.

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