Saturday, 31 July 2010

Hornblower closes again

The Hornblower pub on Commercial Street, Newport has closed again after a brief period being open. The Admiral Taverns-owned pub was once famed for its good real ales but after a succession of bad landlords, most of whom had problems with their own personal hygiene, let alone managing to keep their pub clean; customers drank elsewhere. Although according to a regular in the pub this time the closure was due to the tenants buying drinks from companies other than Admiral Taverns. So another closed pub in Newport City Centre. The City Centre is looking quite dire at the moment with the Windsor Castle closed for most of the time and the freehold up for sale. Close to the Hornblower, the Prince of Wales is also closed as is the King Billy (William IV). The shops are empty and being used as art installations and the local council seem to be counting on the forthcoming Ryder Cup to boost the City when it comes to the Celtic Manor Hotel later in the year, although given the state of the City Centre I cannot see any tourists wanting to spend much time here.

Not that you would want tourists spending time in the Hornblower,where staff had the greatest difficulty in keeping glasses clean and even told a customer to F off when he asked for a clean glass. Nice.
Right: The boarded up King William IV

 Below: High standards of hygiene were always present in the Hornblower

  And that mould-ridden area was behind the bar.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Historic pub closes for refurbishment

Above: The Hanbury Arms, Caerleon as it is this week. Below: a few years ago
One of Caerleon's most historic pubs has closed, only for a much needed refurbishment though, the Hanbury Arms on the River Usk has been closed by brewers SA Brain for a major refurbishment ahead of the Ryder Cup which is being held nearby later this year. In recent years I have taken a liking to Brains pubs refurbishments - the Halfway, Pontcanna and the Maltings, Llandaff, both in Cardiff along with the Greenhouse, Llantarnam, are all stunning examples of what can happen if the effort and money is put into refurbishing a pub. So I look forward to a trip to Caerleon in the near future to check out the newly refurbished Hanbury Arms.

Goat Major, High Street, Cardiff

Situated close to the entrance gate of Cardiff Castle, the Goat Major is a three-story building decorated with black timber beams and white plaster in the style known as Brewers' Tudor. In the summer hanging baskets bloom above the pub name and help make this part of the High Street look attractive.
The pub was originally known as the Bluebell and dates from 1813, it was renamed the Goat Major in 1995. The name is taken from the corporal in charge of the mascot of the Royal Welsh Regiment, formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Royal Regiment of Wales in 2006. The tradition of having a goat as a regimental mascot occurred during the Crimea War.
The central doorway leads to an entrance hall and a long, curving bar room leads off here. The bar is impressive with dark wood and gleaming brass foot and hand rails contrasting nicely. This is matched by an equally impressive tilled floor with red, black and cream vitreous tiles shining in the light. The Goat Major is wood-panelled throughout, with dark-green leather seating arranged along the sides of the pub. Photos of the Regimental mascot adorn the walls.

Being a Brains pub, the beer range is Dark, SA, Bitter and SA Gold as well as a guest beer such as Timothy Taylor Landlord or Fullers. The previous guest beers have their pumpclips displayed behind the bar and include Brewdog, Brewster's, Springhead and Cameron's, to name a few. It comes as no surprise that the Goat Major is in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and has also achieved the Cask Marque award. Bottled cider from Gwynt Y Ddraig is also available. The pub is shortly to have fitted a stillage behind the bar so customers can have a pint served straight from the barrel if they wish.
The pub has an innovative and changing menu, with homemade food available 12-6 Monday-Saturday and 12-4 on Sunday. Last year the Goat Major pub won an award during British Pie Week for one of its pies. Other items on the menu include rustic cobs with Welsh cheese, wild game pie and homemade lamb cawl.
The Goat Major is well worth rediscovering, a centuries-old city centre pub that offers a good choice of real ales and good pub food, in a traditional atmosphere. 
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Cider Festival hits Cardiff

An 11-day cider Festival is being hosted by the Buffalo Bar in Cardiff. The Festival will carry on until Sunday 8th August. The festival will be held in the bar's garden witha mini village fete including an outdoor bar and bandstand, stocked with organic and locally sourced Welsh cider including Gwynt y Ddraig, Seidr Dai and Blaengawney Farm. More details are in the booklet above.

Buffalo Bar
11 Windsor Place
CF10 3BY
029 2031 0312

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Maesteg gets a brewery!

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The end-of-the raliway line town of Maesteg finally has a destination worth going to as the Cross Inn has started brewing beer. This is this first brewery in the area since 1898 and landlord Dai Morgan has built the brewery on land adjacent to his pub.The first brew has been named Maiden Ale.

More here frrom the Glamorgan Gazette

Cross Inn
Maesteg Road
Mid Glamorgan 
CF34 9LB

The Cross Inn is hosting a real ale festival on August 27-28

Scottish brewery brews beer made from dead people

In an attempt to brew the world's strongest beer, Scottish brewers, the Soylent Corporation have announced that they will be harvesting the dead of Glasgow to use in their new beer, Soylent Green, a 60% ABV limited edition brew.
Dickie Martin, spokesman for the brewers said, “We are attempting to push the boundaries for this beer far beyond what anyone else has done before or will attempt ever again. The brewing will be done on the night of a full moon and we have ensured both the malt and hops were also harvested over the period of the full moon so Soylent Green will be a truly bio-dynamic beer. We have chosen Glasgow as our area to source the bodies from as they have an abundance of unwanted dead junkies on the streets and no one will miss a corpse or ten. Also body snatching is still frowned upon in Edinburgh after Burke and Hare attempted to popularise it a couple of hundred years ago.  The bodies will be boiled for 40 hours in order to rid them of the flavour of Buckfast and heroin, the resulting sludge or mush as we prefer to call it in brewing terms will then be mixed with a full grain mash and then returned to the copper for a 15 hour boil with organic hops hand-picked by virgins on the Himalayan Plateau. The resulting brew will then be fermented with a special yeast and put into wooden barrels sourced from ancient bog oak which will then be taken into the Atlantic Ocean by coracle and sunk at the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where they will undergo a secondary fermentation. After six months the barnacle-encrusted barrels will be brought to the surface and the resulting Soylent Green beer will be put into bottle which will then be placed inside the stuffed cadaver of a Glaswegian down-and-out.
The Soylent Green will then be sold at the price of £15,000 each with a limited edition of 6 bottles only ever being made. That is until we brew Soylent Red or some other gimmick.”

Tasting Notes: Soylent Green 60% has a somewhat pretentious nose and tastes faintly of pork. Serve chilled if you have access to a morgue. Goes well with a deep fried Mars bar.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Welsh Winners in Great Taste Awards 2010

Welsh producers have done well again at the Great Taste Awards 2010 with both brewers and a cidermaker being recognised for their products.

For the listings below the * (asterisk) represents  stars awarded by the judges.

 Bottled Beer Category:   
** Otley Brewery O6
** Tudor Brewery Abergavenny Blorenge Golden Ale
** Breconshire Brewery Ramblers Ruin
** Hurns Brewing Company Tomos Watkin Magic Lagyr
* Breconshire Brewery Golden Valley

Bottled Perry Category:
* Wernddu Organic Vineyard Over the Hedge

Full list of winners is available at the Great Taste Awards 2010 site.

Gwynt Cider Launches Cider in a Box

Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse Scrumpy, 5.3% ABV, £5.98/3 litre box in Tesco.

Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh cider and perry company, have won many awards including best cider at the International Cider Competition in Hereford earlier this year. There bottles are already available in Tesco and now their draught cider is also available. There will also be an open weekend at the farm in Llantwit Fardre over 7th and 8th August.
Farmhouse Scrumpy is deep golden yellow in colour with a rich aroma of apples and a smooth puckering flavour that mellows to a sweet aftertaste that lingers around the mouth for some time. Made from a blend of apples including Browns, Breakwell Seedling and Dabinett, this is an easy drinking cider and at 5.3% ABV not too strong, this Scrumpy will be no doubt be flying off the shelves this summer as it is the perfect accompaniment to all barbecues.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Price War hits Newport Pubs

In a battle in which the consumer will be a winner, the pubs of Newport appear to be having a price war between themselves with the Carpenters, run by the JW Bassett Pub Company clearly in the lead for the cheapest pint at £1.75 for Felinfoel beer.
Cheaper than both the JD Chaverspoons pub, the John Wallace Linton and the Page, the dreadful offering from Barracuda Pub Company who seem to have a policy of employing staff who were so bad they were given the push by 'Spoons, the Carpenters has uplifted the pub scene in Newport since it reopened this year after being closed for a couple of years. Also the WiFi in the Carps' is faster and better than the Cloud offering in 'Spoons though a friend of mine did see someone watching what was described as a jiggy jiggy movie on a laptop in the 'Spoons the other day.
Elsewhere in Newport the best pub in the City, the Murenger has Sam Smiths OBB on for £1.99 a pint whilst on Stow Hill, the Pen & Wig is doing guest beers for a promotional price of £2.00 a pint, with Ruddles County and Wadworth 6X being seen on the bar recently.
So all in all it's a good time for the consumer with all this price cutting, just wondering how many pubs will be putting up their prices for the Ryder Cup when it is hosted in Newport later this year?

For those of you not familiar with Newport, here is a promotional video of the City (Cheers Mr Raybould for the link):

Monday, 19 July 2010

Pub is the Hub to help Welsh Pubs

A charity set up be Prince Charles is set to help up to 50 Welsh rural pubs. Pub is the Hub is looking to set up a Welsh office, possibly in an existing brewery (Brains? Felinfoel?) and support from the Prince will fund two employees in Wales for two years allowing the organisation to identify 50 pubs to be regenerated.

The Prince will announce details of the grants to be awarded under his new Countryside Fund on Thursday.

John Longden from Pub is the Hub said, “It's great news for Wales,” he said. “We will use our expertise to lobby government and local authorities for grants to be made available. We will have two part-time project managers that will build up a shopping list of projects and once a “priority list” of 50 pubs was compiled, Pub is the Hub would turn to the Welsh Assembly Government and local authorities to fund the projects". He estimated each pub would require around £10,000 to regenerate it.

“This is a positive step forward in seeing if rural pubs in Wales can support community services in a really strong way,”he continued, “It's great to get continued support form the Prince often our funding is patchy.”
Pub is the Hub has undertaken three projects so far in Wales, all of which have been in the Denbighshire area in conjunction with the local authorities.

Elsewhere, in Scouseland, PM David Cameron has launched his 'Big Society' plans which includes giving local communities the chance to save their threatened pub. No more details at the moment and it looks like this will only be trialled in England.

Greenhouse, Llantarnam

Popped into one of my former regular old haunts for the first time in years and what a change for the better since SA Brain have taken this pub over. I used to work on a nearby business park a few years ago and regularly popped in here for a pint or two afterwards. In those days Greene King owned the pub and the real ale was often hit and miss - too often miss. Luckily Brains bought the pub and have done wonders for it. A refurbishment has knocked the two bars into through into one but this has improved the pub, exposing the old wooden beams and creating a bar servery more suited towards serving the customer. Previously the 2 bar layout did not work as the staff tended to congregate in one bar talking to their mates whilst the customers were in the lounge. The bar was also a bit tatty and I would rather drink in the more comfortable lounge anyway.
The old wooden beams are matched by flagstone and dark wood floors with bar stools, settles and a dining area all giving a choice of seating. The pub is set in extensive grounds with a very large garden out to the rear of the building and a car park to the side. Easily reached by public transport as well as there is a bus stop outside.
There are three handpumps dispensing Brains beers - Brains have used their unique eye-level dispense pumps on this pub, something they reserve for their better quality outlets. Not a bad pint of Brains bitter as well, served in a branded glass. Gwynt Y Ddraig cider is also available in bottles. There are some old photographs of the pub on the walls, taken when it was owned by Phillips Brewery of Newport.
The Greenhouse is situated next to the parish church of St John and is an old building, though has been extended throughout the years.
On the outside is an unique stone pub sign, written in Welsh which says:
The Greenhouse
Good Beer
And Cider for You
Come in you shall taste it

Not a bad pub and a vast improvement on what it was like before.
Newport Road
NP44 3BP

Google Maps does not show the exact site of the pub so here is the adjacent bus stop:

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Saturday, 17 July 2010

Chinese Television interviews Welsh Brewery Boss!

Found this whilst browsing the internet, Tomos Watkin Brewery CEO, Connie Parry is interviewed by New Tang Dynasty Television to celebrate winning Welsh Woman of the Year Award.


Purple Moose Goes to Sea

The award-winning Purple Moose Brewery of Porthmadog has launched a series of monthly brews named after the ships that used to be built in the town.
This month the beer is named after the Evelyn, a brig built in Porthmadog in 1877. She served for many years taking slate from North Wales and picking up phosphates, sugar and cod from around the world. The Evelyn was sadly lost in 1913 after being caught in bad weather for the best part of a month.

At 3.6% ABV this is a deep copper coloured bitter with a full malty body and a slightly dry bitter finish.

These seasonal ales were launched last month with  4.3% ABV Fleetwing,  an amber coloured best bitter with a refreshing bitter finish and citrus aroma.

The Fleetwing was a brig built in Borth-y-Gest in 1874. Working from Porthmadog she sailed to many ports around the world with various cargoes. In 1911 Fleetwing was sold to a company in the Falkland Islands where she spent the rest of her life. Latterly used for storage her remains were only recently destroyed.

Friday, 16 July 2010

More Positive thinking from SA Brain

This picture has been doing the rounds on the internet recently. Somehow I don't think it has official sanction from Wales' largest cask ale brewer but it's good for a laugh!

Locals cry out over pub improvement

From Brew Wales

There was much angst in the Twittersphere and on Facebook last week when pub company Mitchells and Butlers announced that the Pen & Wig in Cardiff was to be refurbished. Knee jerk reactions were in place along with petitions and a statement from a CAMRA source in Cardiff that the current Cardiif CAMRA pub of the year had been sold to a wine bar chain.
Rather than listen to the gossip, Brew Wales decided to do some research and can confirm the Pen & Wig has not been sold but is merely transferring from one division of Mitchells and Butlers to another. At the moment the pub is in the Town Pub portfolio and the plan, after a refurbishment is to transfer it into the Nicholson's chain. Now having been a fan of Nicholson's for years - they run some of the best pub company-owned pubs in London - historic pubs with excellent quality beers - this can only be an improvement for Cardiff. However the NIMBYists disagree and without looking to the facts have all started to sign petitions to stop the improvements to the pub. Don't take my word as to how good Nicholson's are, His Worshipfulness the Official Ale Taster of London also agrees.
Latest word on the improvements to the Pen & Wig is that they are to be delayed for a year due to the outcry of a bunch of small-minded ill-informed customers. In Newport we would welcome any of our pubs being improved in this way, Cardiffians open your eyes and be grateful companies are willing to spend money improving their pubs in your city.

Has anyone seen the Presidents Brains?

From Great British Beer Festival 2009

Swansea-born Member of Parliament for Ribble Valley, former Vice-Chair of the All Party Beer Group and Deputy Commons Speaker, Nigel Evans MP has been voted in as the new Honourary President of the All Party Beer Group. Having already made the joke about the Commons electing a Deputy Speaker with Brains I shall merely point out there is now a President with Brains as well.

Merthyr's Heritage gets Demolished

Above: The former site of the Giles & Harrap Brewery today.
Below: The site last year

So farewell then to the former Giles & Harrap Brewery on Brecon Road in Merthyr. Although this had not been used as a brewery since 1936, the substantial premises, which covered 2 acres, were a distinctive landmark on Brecon Road, with their 250 foot frontage.
 Above and below: the site from the North end of Brecon Road

 Above: the extensive site of the former brewery

Above and below: the rear of the premises before demoilition
The first brewery on this was back in 1830 when Watkin Davies was brewing here, the location being described as 'Tydfil Well', other owners were:
1835 Rowland Hopkins
1844 Merthyr Tydfil Brewing Company
1848 James Penny
1852 John Giles
1871 Giles &  Harrap
1936 Hancocks of Cardiff bought and closed the brewery together with 62 pubs. Premises were used as a depot by the brewery.
The buildings were later used as a depot and yard by the former Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council but for the last 25 years have lain empty and dereliction crept in. About 10 years ago there was a plan to sell the site to developers who were going to convert and renovate the original building for use as offices, unfortunately objections from, among others, the Georgian Group meant that this deal fell through and the buildings stood empty, with the purple weed budlea growing rampant amongst the brickwork and vandals stripping the slates off the roof, this unwanted building fell further and further into disrepair before finally being demolished a few weeks ago. Another part of the industrial heritage of the Taff Valley destroyed. Well done to the Georgian Group for objecting to a plan to save the buildings, this has now resulted in the total demolition of the historic buildings on the site. CADW also deserve a mention for their inability to save these buildings. Once again this useless QUANGO shows that it has no interest in protecting our heritage.

For a reminder of Giles & Harrap Brewery in their heyday, visit the Royal Oak in Ystrad Mynach, a stunning Brewers' Tudor style pub with etched windows built in 1914.

More information and photographs of Merthyr Tydfil can be found here:

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Another Rhymney Please

Was in the Winchester in Merthyr Tydfil earlier in the week and saw this bit of breweriana mounted on the piano, yes the Winchester really does have its own piano. It's from the original Rhymney Brewery so probably about 40 years old now. I do like the handle glass now, although today the marketing agency would insist on a full glass rather than showing an empty one.

Cider Festival in pretentious Arts Centre

That most pretentious of Cardiff bars, Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, will be holding a cider festival over the next few days. Based in a former school and just recovering from a major refit, Chapter still offers the most uncomfortable seating in the City, expensive prices and food served by "Staff who look like they are on day release from an open prison", as a friend of mine recently described them. We were going to eat there but the constant scratching and sweating of the catering staff put us off so we went for a very enjoyable meal in the Mochyn Ddu instead. So expect some good ciders and perries from the Welsh Perry and Cider Society at Chapter and try and find a comfortable seat, I've never found one in all the years I've been going there.

Market Road 
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Golden Ales at the Bunch

The Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd will this weekend be holding a golden ales festival, starting on Friday and finishing on Sunday (or earlier if the beer runs out sooner).

Nick Otley, managing director of the Otley Brewing Company, said, “This is the first time we’ve hosted a Golden Ales Festival and we’re looking forward to offering such a top selection of quality ales.

“Golden ales are a fairly new style of lighter beer and they tend to be very hoppy and are particularly good for summer drinking as they go with barbeque food very well.  This style of beer is a great introduction to real ale, particularly for lager drinkers who enjoy something light. 

“The fact that golden ales are growing in popularity demonstrates how the brewing industry is catering for changing tastes.  We stock a golden ales crate through our Real Beer Box website which has been a popular choice so far this summer.”

Live entertainment Friday night with Côr Meibion Pontypridd, and Saturday night sees the return of The BlackHawk Big Band.

Bar meals available all day every day, BBQ Saturday, and traditional Lunch on Sunday

Beers on, subject to availability:
Otley O1 
Otley Colombo
Otley O5 
Otley Thai Bo
Otley O-GardenBrecon - Cribyn
Crouch Vale – Brewers Gold
Dark Star - Hophead
Dark Star APA
Exmoor - Gold

Hop Back - Summer Lightning
Kelham - Pale Rider
Milk St - Beer
Oakham - JHB
Bishop's Farewell
O'Hanlons - Yellow Hammer
Otter - Bright
RCH - Pitchfork
Salopian - Hop Twister
Saltaire - Summer Ale
Skinners - Cornish Knocker
St Peters - Golden Ale
Thornbridge - Kipling
Titanic - Iceberg
Titanic - Inferno
Wye Valley - HPA
Brew Dog Trashy Blonde 

Bunch of Grapes
Ynysangharad Road

CF37 4DA 

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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

A couple of now demolished Cardiff pubs

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Sorting through some old photographs the other day, I came across these couple which I must have taken back in the 1990s. Both on opposite ends of the same street, the above photograph shows the infamous Custom House, a local pub popular with the certain sections of the community who would ply their trade along the length of the street and in the pub itself. In one of Dave Mathews Guide to Cardiff Pubs books, the landlord is quoted as saying, "We do not have a condom machine in the toilets as we give them away for free!" Have embedded a photo from Google Street View as to what the area looks like today.
The Glendower was the other end of the street and was another Brains pub, though slightly smarter than the Custom House, the ladies of the night would often change clothing in the toilets, bustling their way through the amused customers who would often be at a CAMRA meeting. This area was only redeveloped about 10 years ago but it seems like so long ago that Cardiff had such characterful pubs and customers to match. The City Centre is now almost totally devoid of small pubs and the ladies of the night have retreated to the massage parlours of City Road and even the Trumpet of Truth has stopped printing their 'personal adverts'. How much has changed in the last 15 years!

Onanist Joins CAMRA

Onanist joins CAMRA*
"Makes a change from tugging yourself Timney!"

A copy of Pint Taken, the newsletter of Worcestershire CAMRA, recently found its way to a local beer festival and the photo on the front almost caused me to gag on my beer. Some idiot had thought it was newsworthy to print a photo of disgraced former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith and her husband Richard 'Tugger' Timney as they signed up to join CAMRA. Now I realise that CAMRA has a wide-range of members from all political parties but you do have to ask yourself what benefit does the organisation gain from promoting an MP (as she was at the time) who fiddled her expenses and claimed everything from a bath plug to porn films on expenses? As well as her slightly dodgy second-home claims for staying at her sister's house whilst husband Tugger Timney was stuck at home with nothing more than a box of kleenex and the remote control for the television to keep him company. I almost feel sorry for Tugger Timney, having to service the kebab munching old tart he is married to, he obviously needs a bit of extra help, no doubt to be found by entering a PIN number on the television screen to access his personal choice of films.
Jackboot Smith was the worst Home Secretary in living memory, someone who was only ever promoted to her job on the basis of her sex, not on her ability to do the job. Don't take my word for, this woman who needed police protection to visit a kebab shop admitted that she was not up to do the job in a recent interview. So why would anyone think that CAMRA being associated with this disgraced former Minister is a good thing?
 "Have you finished with those films my husband lent you?"

Jump forward to page 13 of this particular issue of Pint Taken to see CAMRA National Executive member Brett Laniosh grinning in his idiotic way as he is photographed with the expense-fiddling kebab-munching disgraced Member of Parliament (as she was at the time). Now those of us who have had dealings with Laniosh in the past realise that he is hardly the brightest spark in the National Executive but even an idiot of his magnitude should have thought twice before being photographed with this Trougher and then publishing that photograph. I did email Laniosh asking him to comment on his actions however he decided not to respond, obviously too embarrassed by his own stupidity to warrant justifying it. It does look like that by joining CAMRA at the Redditch Winter Ales Festival, it was just a cynical attempt by Smith and her monkey-spanking husband Timney to boost the popularity of herself, an attempt that failed despite the naiveté of the editor of Pint Taken.  
In the General Election, the expense-fiddling former Home Secretary was resoundingly and deservedly booted out of office by the electorate. Smith's face on that Friday morning was one of the best shots of the night, the electorate had spoken and Smith realised that the tax payer will never be forking out for her bath plugs or hubby Tugger's porn films ever again. Good riddance to bad rubbish I say, Smith should have been in the dock alongside her colleagues Morley, Devine and Chaytor, the Piggies in the Dock who fleeced the taxpayer with their expenses and are now going through the legal process. A good excuse to repost some footage I filmed of those now former MPs coming out of Westminster Magistrates Court in March:

and yes that is my voice shouting "Is the taxi on expenses?", which later got quoted in the Daily Mail.

Let's face it there're enough wankers in CAMRA without celebrating another one joining.

*Disclaimer: The title of this post has nothing to do with a certain brewer from West Wales.

My favourite fake charity is at it again

Hat Tip to Curmudgeon for this beauty from Fake Charity Alcohol Concern Cymru, who are funded by us the taxpayer to the tune of £250,000 for 2009/10.

Alcohol Concern Cymru have released a briefing paper to "stimulate wider public debate" about alcohol sales at petrol stations and garages.

Pointing out the bloody obvious, neo-prohibitionist Andrew Misell from the fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru says, "Petrol stations, by their very nature, are strongly associated with driving and attract significant trade from motorists”. No shit Sherlock, this guy must be a genius to make that connection and he wants to stop motorists buying drink, for instance, on their way home from work. Listen you sniveling public sector bansturbator, if I choose to buy a drink - I make that choice - not you or your friends in the Nanny State which you wish to become the Bully State. In the consultation paper, Fake Charity Alcohol Concern Cymru admit that the number of drink-driving accidents has substantially reduced over the last 20 years but still want to ban more outlets selling alcohol. Also they do not provide any data to make the connection between alcohol sales in garages and drink driving.
Above: An accident not caused by the driver buying alcohol in a petrol station.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Hay to get brewery after 75 years

Brewing in Hay-on-Wye
 The closure of Cwmbran brewery was a sad loss to the Torfaen area but the brewing plant has gone to a good home, namely Kilverts in Hay-on-Wye, though Ed Davies is yet to start brewing. Follow his journey to restart commercial brewing in Hay via the Hay Brewery website here and his blog here and follow him the pub Twitter as well as following Ed himself on Twitter
When brewing recommences in Hay it will be the first time in almost 75 years that beer has been brewed in the town, now famous for its books rather than its beer. In the nineteenth century almost every pub in the town would have brewed its own ales and two of them lasted into the twentieth century:
The Wine Vaults in Castle Street was brewing in 1906 under Thomas Stokoe, although the premises became a hotel, the Wye Hotel in 1910 and a café, the Wye Café later, but has now reopened as a pub once more.
The Swan Hotel in Church Street carried on brewing until at least 1935 under William Samuel Jones. This is one of the oldest pubs in Hay and although it has been rebuilt over the years has its roots stretching back to at least the 18th Century.

More information on pubs of Hay can be found in the book, “The pubs of Hay-on-Wye and the Golden Valley”, ISBN 1904396461, published by Logaston Press.

Meet the brewer at the Dic Penderyn

In an effort to educate the chavs of Merthyr away from pints of wife beater and similar drinks, the JD Wetherspoons outlet in Merthyr Tydifl, the Dic Penderyn will be holding a meet the brewer night on Wednesday 14th July with Celt Experience/Newmans Brewery.
 Now I realise drinking in Merthyr town centre at night is not everyones cup of tea, but this pub is relatively safe as they will not serve you unless you take your baseball cap off so that you can be recognized on the CCTV so its not a bad place for a drink, although the nearby Rhymney Brewery pub, the Winchesterdoes far better beers and almost every night is 'Meet the Brewer' night!

Monday, 12 July 2010

Thousands attend the Bay for Food & Drink Festival

Cardiff Bay International Food Festival

The food festival held over last weekend was definitely one of the best I have been to. This year saw more local brewers involved than ever before with Pen-Lon, Neath, Otley, Kingstone, Celt Experience and Untapped all selling their bottled beers. It was the first chance I had to try the beers from Neath Ales and tried one at the festival, Green Bullet; a 6% IPA brewed with New Zealand hops and named after them. Brewed with Maris Otter malt, the biscuity malt flavour combines with the heavily hopped ale to produce a stunning beer. Also chatted to the owner Jay Thomas whose enthusiasm and passion for brewing really shows through in his beers. I look forward to trying more of his beers in the future, especially in cask as Neath Ales will be taking delivery of casks in a few weeks time. In the meantime their beers are available via Realbeerbox.
 Above: Some bottles from the beer range of Neath Ales

Above: Celt Experience beers

Above: the Untapped Brewery range

The Norwegian Church was the venue of the Otley brewery bar and their new Weissen Beer quickly sold out there. A naturally cloudy wheat beer brewed with 6 different hop varieties this was another refreshing beer from the hop heads of the valleys. Alongside O1, O5 and O-Garden the Otley beers proved extremely popular and the Norwegian Church, set in its own grounds was the perfect place to chill out with a pint and listen to the bands playing at the venue. The church also offers great views across the harbour.
 Above: The Norwegian Church and Otley Bar

Cidermakers were also well represented at the festival with a new bottled drink, Pyder – a blend  of cider and perry, being launched by the Gwatkin cider company and a 3 litre bag-in-the-box of Scrumpy from Gwynt Y Ddraig which will also be available in Tesco's very soon.
 Above: the new 3 litre box of Gwynt scrumpy

Ralph's cider also made an appearance and the stunning perries and wines from Wernddu also went down very well.

 Above: Gwatkin cider bar staff

The festival was extremely popular and the weather for once perfect and well done for Cardiff Council for organising such a great event.  Having attended this event down the Bay for many years, I did think this year was the best ever and is even starting to rival the Abergavenny Food Festival in terms of quality and enjoyment. One problem with the Abergavenny Festival is the increasing prices, both for the stallholders and the customers, as the Festival now employs staff all year round. Cardiff Council have shown it is possible to put on a successful and extremely popular food and drink festival with free entrance for all. Any chance of Newport Council now showing some initiative and supporting our artisan food and drink producers?

I did find time to enjoy myself despite helping out on the Gwatkin stand, here is a photo taken by Dom at Welsh Icons of me at the Festival:
 NB: All photographs are copyright of me or of Dom/Welsh Icons. I realise that there is a common thief out there on the internet who enjoys stealing photographs from the site, along with empty barrels from Welsh brewers. It's okay I realise you are a sad, twisted old thief, you do not have to continue to prove it to me or the rest of the world.


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