Thursday, 21 October 2010

Chilean Miners get Pride

From Brew Wales

Well done to the PM David Cameron for presenting the Chilean President Sebastián Piñera with 33 bottles and glasses of Fullers London Pride for him to pass onto to the rescued miners. It's good to see politicians supporting our national drink and dishing it out around the world.
However, this little gem popped up on my RSS feed from CAMRA:
19 October 2010
By Louise Ashworth

How gratifying was it to see that David Cameron presented the Chilean President Sebastian Piñera yesterday with 33 bottles of real ale? Mr Piñera on his visit to the UK had given the Prime Minister a piece of rock from the collapsed Chilean mine. In return Mr Cameron provided bottles of real ale for each of the miners to enjoy as a gift from the UK.

For years CAMRA has been calling on both local and national politicians to use our national drink for celebrations and we've usually been ignored so it was great news to see Mr Cameron taking some pride in real ale and presenting it to Mr Piñera. Well done Mr Cameron, you've finally got the message. 

Now as any real ale drinker or Fullers fan will tell you, bottled London Pride is not a real ale as it contains no yeast in the bottle and is brewery-conditioned, ie, filtered and pasteurised. Still, let's not have facts get in the way of a good story!

The Grauniad refer to 'Bottles of British beer'.
El Beebo refer to 'Bottles of London Pride'

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Big brewery with a good idea

It's not often that I find myself agreeing with the boss of Molson Coors but here he is quoted in the Morning Advertiser calling for pubs to provide beer menus.
Addressing fellow brewery bosses at the 2010 International Brewing Convention, Mark Hunter, UK
gave an impassioned plea for “beer champions” to breathe new life into a sector that has declined by 18% between 2005 and 2010. He also said that Britain’s love affair with beer is in “serious jeopardy”.

“Today I call on all of those in leadership positions within the beer industry to step up to their obligation to lead for the growth of our category.
“I put it to you that we are at a watershed, a real tipping point for our industry and the need to champion our industry with one voice has never been clearer.”
Hunter called for the whole industry to “unite and educate by celebrating the diversity of beers available”.

Crucial to this is beer menus, he said, citing the impact that these have had in Spain.

“Today I invite the Beer Academy to lay down a clear and consistent set of beer descriptors with universal appeal and which talk to drinkers in an engaging, motivating way. At Molson Coors we will adopt these and I would challenge everyone here today to commit to the use of consistent language and the introduction of beer menus into every on premise outlet across the UK.”
He added: “How many restaurants ask their customers to guess what’s available when they are seated?”

Okay, beer menus may be a bit too much work for pubs such as the Rake where I seem to spend ages just looking at the selection, lost in a dreamy beery haze and spoilt for choice but for other pubs why not?
Last year, a landlord of a local pub I drink regularly in, asked me what he could do to get more people drrinking real ale in the pub. I suggested using the chalkboards to advertise the beers on and those waiting to come on. The pub has plenty of chalkboards about the place, most of them advertising drinks that have not been on sale for over 5 years! Landlord thought this was a good idea but well over a year later nothing has changed. One of the problems with the trade at the moment is their lack of willingness to get anything done. In countless pubs I hear the landlord moan about the lack of customers yet small things like this and basic cleanliness will get the customers drinking more and telling others what a great boozer it is. Little things can make a difference so why not give them a go?

Crown Inn, Llantwit Fardre

Photo courtesy of Dave Jones from RATS

Crown Inn, Main Road, Llantwit Fardre, CF38 2HL
open 11-11
The Crown is large and imposing corner pub on the A473 between Treforest and Talbot Green. With a bus stop outside, numbers 100 and 400, this is an easy pub to reach, alternatively there is a large car park to the rear. The Crown Inn dates from at least 1851 and the new owners have improved the pub no end with an attractive refurbishment of the interior, the addition of a quality menu and by being adventurous in their beer range.
The interior of the Crown is open-plan for the most part with a dinning area to the left and a more traditional pub seating area to the right with wall-backed bench seating. Towards the rear is a wooden-beamed area with comfortable couches and there is also a separate function room. Outside, adjacent to the car park is a patio area for when the weather becomes a bit warmer.
The large bar area has 4 handpumps mounted on it, serving real ales such as Hancock's HB and guest beers from local breweries such as the Otley Brewery. Behind the bar are a collection of pumpclips this pub has served recently with breweries from across the country being well-represented including Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf, Fuller's London Pride, Brain's Rev James and Hook Norton. Also on handpump is Happy Daze, a local cider made by Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company, whose farm is situated on the hill behind the pub. The Crown also offers some bottles ciders from Gwynt y Ddraig including their Autumn Magic – a cider blended with blackcurrants and Orchard Gold.
A good range of food is available 12-2 and 6-9, the menu featuring lasagne, chilli, omelettes made with free-range eggs and hand-cut chips. In addition to the menu on the tables there is also a separate specials board.
The Crown features regular live music on Friday nights as well as quiz nights on Sundays, all help to make this a real community pub, along with the signs saying “Families Welcome”. The welcome even extends to well behaved dogs on leads in this pub.

Latest on the bar:
Wickwar Coopers 3.5%
Box Steam Brewery Chuffin Ale 4%
Gwynt y Ddraig Happy Daze 4.5%
In the cellar:
Wickwar Long John Silver    4.2%
20p off a pint for card-carrying CAMRA members!

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Hop and Apple Festival at the White Cross

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The White Cross Inn at Groeswen, Caerphilly will be holding a 'Hop and Apple Festival' this weekend (October 23rd-24th). With ciders from Gwynt Y Ddraig and Blaengawny and the following list of beers it looks like a good weekend.
Moors (Somerset)
Revival 3.8%
A hoppy and refreshing bitter, light in colour but not in flavour

Woodlands (Nantwich)
Bees Knees 4.5%
A nutty, tan coloured beer influenced by the taste of Acacia honey

Vale of Glamorgan (Barry)
Wheats Occurring 5%
Refreshingly dry clear wheat beer, delicately flavoured with fine saaz hops

Box Steam (Wiltshire)
Chuffin Ale 4%
A traditional best, dark amber in colour light fragrant nose and pleasing hoppy character

Bullmastiff (Cardiff)
Special reserve 6.5%
A powerful ruby strong ale, well hopped with after taste of Butterscotch

Heart of Wales (Llanwrtyd Wells)
Welsh Black 4.4%
A fine Champion stout, full of liquorice flavour

Cotswold Spring (Gloucester)
Honey Bear 5.2%
A honey Wheat beer, smooth finish with honey aroma and taste

Goffs (Cheltenham)
Merlin 4.3%
Straw coloured hoppy ale

White Cross Inn
CF15 7UT
From 12 Noon Till Late
Journey Planner:

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Wife-beater goes tres froid

 That famous Belgium brand Steal-a-Tortoise, though marketed as French and brewed here in Wales is now available in a choice of cold or extra cold. Commonly referred to as wife-beater by the chavs who drink it in Newport, the great unwashed now have a choice of which lager to drink, Froid (cold) or if that has too much flavour for them, Tres Froid (very cold). The new fonts even feature thermometers on them to show the temperature.
For years the members of Gwent CAMRA have paid respect to the lager factory in Magor when returning home on the train from Bristol or London by making a donation in the train toilet and flushing it whilst the train goes through the Severn Tunnel. The Magor factory is supplied by water taken from the Severn Tunnel. I think you can work out the rest for yourself.
So if you want to drink the results of my imbibing Fullers in London or Bristol then I suggest Tres Froid may be the best one to go for.
Good to see the extra cold lager put in a pub just in time for the winter.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Catching up with the Moose

For those readers in North Wales, Purple Moose Brewery will be at the Conwy Beer tent later this month as part of the Conwy Feast. This will  see the appearance of the Myrtle Stout.

23-24 October - Conwy Feast (Plus Friday night for the Beer Festival)

Other chances to get your hands on their award-winning beers will be:

26-28 November - Glynllifon, near Caernarfon

27-28 November - Craflwyn, near Beddgelert

11 December - The first Porthmadog Farmer's Market (In the Ganolfan)

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Ode to Brains SA

From Welsh Icons News site where their Art Director Norris Nuvo has penned this piece of pintly prose:

Ode to Brains SA

I like drinking beer; it makes me feel a man
From barrels bottles and glasses, even from a can
It wets more than my whistle, it puts my brain in gear
I get so very horny when I think of beer

When I say beer I mean bitter, not girly larger brew
And not that black and inky stuff that tastes like Irish stew.
Brains SA’s my favourite, made here in the ‘diff
Poured straight from the barrel and necked down in a jiff

Years ago there was little choice, and most beer was appalling
As fizz and keg became the norm, the standard kept on falling
Double-bloody-Diamond and Worthington bloody E
Tasted like old scrotum sweat laced with stagnant pee

Now my da he liked ‘Albright’, but it left you feeling foul
There was no taste and it was weak, and it turned my bowel
Now Dark is fine for old men or blokes with beards and pipe
And as for Welsh Bitter, well it just tastes like rancid tripe

There are now a lot of ‘real ale’ brews all across the land
With silly names like Badgers Snout or Vicar’s Shaky Hand
Or Bishops Cock and Benders Fudge and even Bowel Thunder.
But they don’t agree with me and make me want to chunder

I tried a larger once, it made me sad for it was devoid of flavour
For I like a pint to have some taste, something I can savour
So, Brains SA is the beer for me, It’s my favourite tipple
Brought up on it I was, on tap from my mam’s nipple

If you want to listen to the poem - check out this link to the Welsh Icon's site where it is available to download and be used as a ringtone if you wish! 

Buster and Breconshire Brewery go Baroque!

Award-winning brewer Justin 'Buster' Grant of Breconshire Brewery has taken a look back into the history books with his latest seasonal brew for the Autumn.

Baroque Ale is a 4.0% abv dark tawny-brown ale brewed in the style of the table ales that would have graced Georgian Britain. Sweet juicy malt flavours and a complex pallet are complimented by the gentle floral bitterness of Goldings hops, with Fuggles (both being some of the earliest cultivated hop varieties in the UK) providing a soft, grassy almost minty aroma.
This rich, dark ale is brewed with water drawn from under the hills of the surrounding Brecon Beacons National Park, and blend of pale, wheat and chocolate malts, all from Warminster’s traditional Floor Maltings, which give this beer its dark tawny-brown colouring and sweet malty flavours. Goldings and Fuggles provide the counterpoint of this extravagantly complex brew, which would have been one of the safest and most nutritious food sources of its time.
Brecon as a town is rightly famed for its beautiful selection of Georgian architecture, which has also inspired a highly acclaimed annual musicfestival, which takes place every October. During the Baroque period, (roughly 1600 - 1750 AD), European culture developed some of its most extravagant and complex expressions - in music, art, dance, architecture and some might even say politics.
Casks of this beer will be available throughout the Autumn, either direct from the brewery, from selected wholesalers or by telephoning the Brewery on 01874 623 731.

Council Jobsworth threatens pub

 From Brew Wales
The King's Arms in Abergavenny is one of the best pubs in Wales. Rescued from near dereliction by new owner Ben Jones, the pub has been carefully restored and is once again one of the delights of visiting Abergavenny. At the recent food festival the beer was so good there and very reasonable at only £2 a pint that a few of us stayed sitting outside the pub, drinking their locally-brewed Tudor ales and watching the firework display rather than go for a pint elsewhere. An excellent pub which even features a cinema in the former Delafield's Brewery building towards the rear.
So what is wrong here?
Step forward a jobsworth employed by Monmouthshire Council........
.......who has decided the benches opposite the pub are a hazard and should be removed!
Well during the Abergavenny food festival which attracted around 40,000 people to the market town how many people were injured by this "hazard"? None. So instead of picking on local business why don't Monmouthshire Council actually get behind local businesses and support them!
Oh and if you are in Abergavenny get to the pub and sign the petition and have a pint or two of the local brew from Tudor Brewery!

Best new pub in Britain?

 A pub run by award-winning Welsh brewers SA Brain has been judged to be the best new pub in Britain by the Good Pub Guide 2011.
The Ship at Tresaith, Ceredigion is described as a ‘charming pub in a splendid setting’. Dating back to the early part of the last century, the traditional pub is blessed with stunning views of the beach on one side and cliffs, complete with waterfall, on the other side.
But it wasn’t only the views that won judges over. The entry talks in detail about the food offer. "Popular for its fresh fish and hot seafood platter, the menu here might include whitebait, sardines grilled with garlic and tomato, calamari, bream roasted with chilli and lime and plaice in breadcrumbs."

The decor also gets a mention: "Behind the dining room is a winter log fire, with some chunky pine tables, tub armchairs and sofas, in the carpeted part of the right, and large attractive local photographs.

"Two back rooms possibly a quieter escape in summer are appealing, especially the one on the right with its striking blue and red decor and bright floor tiles, old fashioned range stove, and snug alcove with boardgames."

The Ship also boasts four recently refurbished bedrooms, all with sea views.

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Good Pub Guide available to buy from Amazon:

Friday, 8 October 2010

Cayo Arms, Cardiff

Cayo Arms, 36 Cathedral Road, Riverside, Cardiff, CF11 9LL
Open all day.

Set in the Victorian tree-lined splendour of Cathedral Road, the Cayo Arms was originally built as a private residence before being converted to the Apollo Hotel and then renamed the Cayo Arms in 2001. The pub was renamed in honour of Julian Cayo-Evans, leader of the Free Wales Army and his picture adorns the pub sign outside. At the time of the name change the pub was owned by Tomos Watkin Brewery, then Celtic Inns and is now owned by Burton-upon-Trent brewers Marston's, who have recently refurbished the pub. The Cayo Arms has previously won the Cardiff CAMRA Pub of the Year Award.
 The Cayo is entered via a central doorway, with greetings in both Welsh and English and the bar servery is on the left hand side of the pub. Dark wooden floors and matching bar with an ornate back bar gantry fit in well with the original Victorian plaster mouldings on the ceilings. Some original stained glass windows are also still in place. Despite the original partition walls being removed, the Cayo offers a choice of seating and dining areas as well as a function room available to hire out. Raised seating to the right hand side and towards the rear provide separate areas of the pub to enjoy. Outside drinking areas to the rear and front provide a rare opportunity this close to the City Centre to enjoy an alfresco drink and meal. The Cayo Arms also does accommodation, with five bedrooms available.
Five real ales are always available via the gleaming brass handpumps. Beers from Marston's various  breweries such as Brakspear and Ringwood do dominate on the bar, although independent Welsh brewery Tomos Watkin has a presence with their golden, hoppy beer Cwrw Haf and occasionally their stronger bitter, OSB, making appearances on the bar. Bottled beers from Innis & Gunn and even the Czech lager Budvar and a Belgium bottled beer are also available as well as Franziskaner from Bavaria and Peroni from Italy available on draught. Beers are served in branded glassware with the real ales being served in an unique glass with etched beer quotations on it. An extensive wine list is also available and is chalked up on a large board in the seating/dining area. A good innovation is that Marston's Brewery supply a newsletter in the pub giving details of their guest beers and even suggesting which foods go well with what beers. Food is available all day from an extensive menu with beers occasionally being used in the food such as Peroni-battered cod.
The Cayo features regular live music on Sunday nights with a strong focus on traditional Welsh music.

Welsh Assembly Government fails to support drinks industry

The Minister has spoken and his word is 'No'. That's after the expense the Assembly went to produce the report into the drinks industry in Wales. This report was published in July but the Minister has only just responded to it, no doubt busy with freebies at the Ryder Cup. Still at least this member of the Welsh Assembly Government was not so stupid as to miss their junket to India as they can not use the 24 hour clock.
At the time the report was published I wrote, some did say cynically,
"So it is now up to the Welsh Assembly Government to act on the recommendations made by the Rural Development Committee, something we can but look forward to, though don't hold your breath."
The response to the report has now been published and the Welsh Assembly Government has chosen to ignore most of the findings. No surprise from me there. The Association of Welsh Independent Brewers (AWIB) has responded to the Ministers reply and has described the attitude of the Minister as "particularly disappointing".
To make the full report easier reading it has been colour coded:
Recommendations in blue
Ministers response in green
AWIB response (where given) in red

Recommendations from the report:

1.The Welsh Government should support research into the potential of barley and hop cultivation in Wales, and work with the Welsh brewing industry to support the development of these crops in Wales with a view to giving Welsh beer products a stronger local provenance, and its contribution to Welsh agriculture.
Response: Accept in part.
Farmers wishing to grow alternative crops, which includes hops and malting barley can have access to up to five days of subsidised technical agronomy advice through the farm diversification element of the Whole Farm Plan mechanism delivered by Farming Connect. There is also an additional 3 days diversification advice available for a new business venture.
The Farming Connect Development Centre for alternative land uses (CALU), also provides technical advice to farmers on alternative crops in the form of demonstration events, articles for GWLAD and online advice.
There is currently no financial incentive available to support farmers who wish to grow these crops, however barley is eligible for single farm payment on land with current entitlements. Hops, on the other hand aren’t listed individually as a crop, can be classed as horticulture so can be entered under that code.
Production of Welsh hops and barley can only be stimulated by commercial demand, production and technical expertise for producing fodder barley is similar to that of malting barley – however farmers will need to be reassured of a guaranteed market, and require commitment to undertake change in production.
Financial Implications
Funding for this option is contained within the Farming Connect budget. 
AWIB Response to Recommendation 1.
 As we argued in our submission, we would greatly welcome all support made available to Farmers to grow malting barley and hops in Wales, and see a commercial value in being able to source our ingredients locally. We would like to see activity on behalf of the WAG to encourage and support welsh farmers to grow malting barley and hops, either by direct funding or by acting as a broker between farmers and maltsters. We do not believe that the current situation is specific enough for farmers, and that the information and contacts need to be actively disseminated. This will require both farmers and WAG officials to have the relevant information and understanding to be able to progress.

2. The Welsh Government should encourage maximum uptake by farmers of funding through the Glastir scheme to support the planting of orchards so that all Welsh cidermakers are able to source their apples from Wales. 
Response: Accept in principle.
The Glastir scheme contains provisions for the restoration of existing orchards and the development of new orchards. However, entry to the scheme is voluntary and it may be the case that farmers opt for other prescriptions that better suit their farm business. The technical guidance provided for the all-Wales element will spell out the environmental benefits of maintaining and enhancing orchards.
Financial Implications
Funding for this option is contained within the Glastir budget.

 3. The Welsh Government should examine examples elsewhere, such as the New Zealand wine industry where massive growth has been achieved over a short period of time, to learn lessons about how the sector in Wales can be developed to its full potential.

Response: Reject.
In considering its priorities the Welsh Assembly Government has to make decisions based on pragmatism and value for money. The industry is very small in Wales in part because the majority of our growing area does not have the same degree of suitable climate or soils for vines as New Zealand does. Wales is in general terms on the outer limits of the growing range.
Vines prefer calcareous soils, whereas the majority of Wales is on acid soils. Other factors such the length of our sunlight and our wet climate are important factors in grape ripening and disease control, which can makes grape production challenging.
The Welsh Assembly Government supports farmers looking into diversification. Farming Connect operates a number of fully subsidised Diversification Awareness Raising Seminars which provide businesses with a realistic overview of the essential elements of developing a farm or forestry diversification before embarking on the one to one mentoring through the Farming Connect Whole Farm Plan. Attendance at the Awareness Seminars is fully funded through Farming Connect for all eligible businesses. Any business expressing an interest in a diversification opportunity will be encouraged to attend the Awareness Seminars before undertaking any one to one Mentoring.
One to one mentoring is available through the Whole Farm Plan element of the Farming Connect service. Eligible farmers are able to access up to five days subsidised support in a variety of topics with an extra three days advice specifically looking at diversification.
The Centre for Alternative Land Use (CALU), one of the five fully funded sector specific development programmes covers wine production within its remit on horticulture. The aim of the programme that CALU are delivering on behalf of Farming Connect is to ensure that information is available to help producers in Wales adopt new practices, benchmark performance, share ideas, address market needs and encourage innovation. This in turn will help farming businesses become more sustainable.
Financial Implications:
4.The Welsh Government should ensure that it is fully involved in any discussions at the UK level regarding the potential introduction of a minimum price for alcohol. The Welsh Government should liaise with industry bodies in Wales and ensure that their views are taken into consideration by the UK Government.

Response: Accept in principle.
The Welsh Assembly Government 10 year (2008-2018) Substance Misuse Strategy “Working Together to Reduce Harm” includes commitments to work with the UK Government to take stronger action to tackle alcohol related health harms and alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour, and we have consistently pressed UK Ministers on these issues. More recently we have supported calls for a minimum price.
The Health and Social Services Minister wrote to the new Secretary of State for Health in May re-stating the Welsh Assembly Governments position and Andrew Lansley, SoS(H) has agreed to keep us informed of any developments.
The views of industry will clearly be important in any consideration of the potential economic impact of a minimum price for alcohol, but they are also able to feed in views via trade bodies. It is also important to bear in mind that the evidence of the link between affordability, consumption and health harms in relation to alcohol is now very strong.
Financial Implications:
No financial implications for Welsh Assembly Government

AWIB Response to Recommendation 4.
 The AWIB does not support the concept of Minimum Pricing - not only do we feel that the setting of the price of our products by Government is a dangerous precedent, and commercial madness, but it also has no positive impact on the Treasury - only the retailers will gain.
 We also disagree strongly with the final statement in the response in this section :
“It is also important to bear in mind that the evidence of the link between affordability, consumption and health harms in relation to alcohol is now very strong.” The evidence as a whole shows no such thing, and there is plenty of evidence (for example the Swedish situation) that shows that higher pricing does not lead to lower consumption, and that people tend to drink in less moderation where very high pricing structures exist.
 We are also extremely concerned with the WAG’s perception that a minimum price should be introduced on health grounds - whilst there is undoubtedly a minority of people who drink to excess or even harm, the vast majority of people enjoy alcohol moderately, safely and responsibly.
We feel that other options should be investigated, such as a ban on below-cost selling by retailers, where the cost price includes the whole cost of production, transport, stocking and taxation, as opposed to the suggestions of certain interested parties. Other options could include a specific tax on bottles, cans, PET, etc or a specific tax paid on off-sales by licensees. This would both drive up the prices in shops and benefit the Treasury.

5.The Welsh Government should ensure that it is fully involved with the on-going discussions at the UK level regarding voluntary or statutory reform of the beer tie. The Welsh Government should make clear to the new UK Government that it supports the reforms announced by the previous Government, and push for their implementation. 
Response: Reject in part
Although competition policy is not devolved, the Welsh Assembly Government will ensure that it stays involved in ongoing discussions relating to the beer tie. The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has recently ruled that the beer tie is not anticompetitive and did not restrict competition.
Financial Implications

AWIB Response to Recommendation 5.
 This clearly shows the lack of knowledge and understanding by the author of this response. The OFT has yet to issue a final report, following on from CAMRA’s super complaint and subsequent appeal. The recommendation clearly states that the WAG should be fully involved with discussions at a UK level, and that it should be involved fully in any legislation drafting that takes place. This is neither an onerous nor unnecessary function for the WAG, as any legislation will have an impact on companies operating in Wales.

6. Should the UK Government not push through with the reforms, the Committee calls on the Welsh Government to investigate the possibility of bringing forward its own legislation to give every Welsh pub and retailer the right to stock at least one locally produced beer or cider.
Response: Reject.
As indicated in the response given at Recommendation 5, the Welsh Assembly Government does not have legislative competence in this area. In order to bring forward its own legislation in this area, the Assembly Government would need to seek the agreement and co operation from the UK government to obtain those additional powers. The likelihood is that if the UK government is not pushing through these reforms there may be potential difficulties in obtaining that agreement.
In addition, the idea of a 'right to stock locally produced beer or cider' may potentially pose legal difficulties because such a proposal may be considered to breach of EU law in terms of distortion of trade, anti competition and discrimination. Careful consideration of the legal issues would need to be carried out before such a recommendation could be accepted or rejected by Ministers.
Financial Implications
AWIB Response to Recommendation 6.
 We are extremely disappointed that this recommendation has been dismissed out of hand. Whilst the WAG may not yet have legislative competence in this area, it should be taking an active interest in the situation. The recommendation further calls on the WAG investigate the possibility of introducing a “guest beer” option for welsh retailers. We do not for an instant believe that allowing a provision for a locally produced and sourced beer or cider could in any shape or form be deemed to be anti-competitive - the retailer will still have the right to stock whatever products they normally do, just there will be an option to also stock a locally produced beer or cider that they normally may not be able to stock under the current terms of their business.

We feel that the WAG can actively look at what can be done to open the market place to welsh products, and indeed should be doing so to help promote welsh produce in Welsh retailers.

7. Specific guidance should be issued to local planning authorities, clarifying the manner in which the planning system should operate with regard to vineyards, brewers and pubs to ensure consistent application of guidelines throughout Wales.
Response: Reject.
It should be noted that vineyards, being an agricultural use, are generally outwith of the planning system which has no control over the agricultural uses carried out on land. However, planning permission may be required for wineries, breweries and public houses. Planning policy in Wales has recently been revised (Planning Policy Wales 2010) and this seeks to promote sustainable development, this policy is applicable across Wales. PPW 2010 also promotes rural diversification, and requires local planning authorities to take into account the role that public houses play in their local community, when exercising their functions. It is for local planning authorities to interpret national policy in their Local Development Plans reflecting local priorities and circumstances using locally appropriate evidence. The Assembly Government scrutinises development plans to ensure that they are in conformity with national policy.
Financial Implications

AWIB Response to Recommendation 7.
 Again, the author has completely missed the point of the recommendation. The call here is for consistency of application of the current legislation in all areas of Wales - this is not happening now, yet it is common sense to suggest that the laws should be applied equally and consistently in all areas of Wales. The WAG needs to investigate why this is not happening, and issue guidance where applicable.

8. The Welsh Government should follow the example of the UK Government in giving local authorities new powers to protect pubs from being demolished or from being sold with restrictions on use as a pub, including implementing the relevant sections of the Sustainable Communities Act.
Response: Reject.
Any new powers would be outwith of the planning system. Currently, pubs in Wales may be protected under the planning system if they are a listed building or in a conservation area. However, there are no powers under the planning system to protect a specific type of business. Applications for new pubs may have conditions attached to them limiting their future uses to ensure that they are not lost to other uses in the future.
Financial Implications
AWIB Response to Recommendation 8.

Given these laws already exist on the UK statute books, we are extremely disappointed with this response. Given that we understand that the WAG does have legislative competence in this area, we feel this is something that should be looked at.

9. The Welsh Government should review CADW’s approach to listing pubs of historical and cultural interest so as to ensure that buildings which are an important part of Welsh communities’ heritage are not lost forever. If necessary, the Welsh Government should introduce legislation to allow the protection of buildings such as public houses that are of importance for social and cultural reasons.
Response: Accept in Part
The Welsh Assembly Government in its response to the report of the National Assembly’s Petitions Committee Save the Vulcan: Protection of Historic Buildings has already given a commitment that Cadw, the Assembly Government’s historic environment service, will by autumn 2010 prepare advice on listing criteria and local lists and, within that, will include specific guidance on buildings with social and cultural interest.
The Welsh Assembly Government recognises the concern about the precipitate demolition of locally important buildings which do not reach the standard for national listing. It is open currently to local planning authorities to prepare lists of buildings of local interest if they so wish and to support them with policies in their Local Development Plan. However, the Welsh Assembly Government accepts that there is a need for discussion on ways locally important buildings might be better safeguarded and is considering how this might be taken forward in the light of current work aimed at promoting local distinctiveness in the historic environment.
It may be possible to provide safeguards against demolition for buildings on local lists through the land use planning system. This will be explored with the Minister for Environment, Sustainability and Housing and her Planning officials.
Financial Implications:
Any costs which arise will be accommodated within the Welsh Assembly Government’s budget. 

10. The Welsh Government should do everything in its power, including lobbying the UK Government, to ensure that the progressive beer duty which has been fundamental to the growth of small breweries in Wales over recent years is maintained. 
Response: Reject in Principle
We will press the UK Government on the issue of progressive beer duty and seek to influence a strategy of taxation which will both aid the development of the industry whilst balancing this with the Welsh Assembly Government’s substance misuse strategy. The Assembly Government has been calling for
an increase in taxation and linking levels of tax more closely to alcohol strength. We are particularly pushing for cider to be brought in to line with beer of equivalent strength. Proposals for the Assembly Government to lobby for the maintenance or introduction of relief on duty for alcohol could go against this.
Financial Implications:
None other than possibly for UK taxation revenues. 

AWIB Response to Recommendation 10.
 We are extremely disappointed with this response - it shows a total lack of understanding in both Progressive Beer Duty (PBD) and the nature of those that benefit from it. We are also extremely concerned that the author equates the provision of PBD with the substance misuse strategy.

Since the introduction of PBD in 2002 some 40 breweries have opened in Wales alone. If PBD was withdrawn, we would expect many of these businesses to struggle, and the knock on effect on the rest of the hospitality sector would be very pronounced. Currently on a UK level, the total volume of beer produced per year that benefits from the full 50% rate of relief under PBD is less than the annual production of Fuller’s Brewery in London. Given the nature of the small, craft brewers who benefit from PBD, it a nonsense to equate their products with the harmful effects of binge drinking and alcohol misuse - these producers mainly create cask beers that can only be consumed in the responsible, monitored environs of a public house.

We call upon the WAG to reconsider this recommendation and to support the Welsh Brewing industry and to lobby the UK government to seek to maintain or even extend PBD. We would also point out that the level of taxation on beer is already one of the highest rates in Europe, and evidence is suggesting now that the ever increasing taxation of beer is actually leading to declining revenue for the Treasury as pubs become ever more expensive whilst the multiple retailers continue to use beer as a loss-leader.

We would request that WAG re-evaluates its knowledge and understanding of the welsh brewing industry, and looks for ways of positive support as opposed to constant demonisation.

11. The Welsh Government should lobby the UK government to introduce a progressive duty for wine producers so as to give a boost to the development of small vineyards.
Response: Accept in part
This is a matter for HM Treasury to undertake, we are aware that there is some concern over the lack of consistency in the way that wine is currently taxed. The UK Government is committed to reviewing alcohol taxation and pricing. On 13 July the Home Office and HM Treasury jointly launched its review on this matter. The Home Office will lead the work on pricing and HM Treasury on taxation matters.
This is not a formal public consultation, but evidence from industry and all interested parties is being collated. These proposals will consider the rates and structure of duty on different products; the differential between duty rates on low and high strength products; and the interaction between tax and price potential options to increase the taxation of high-strength drinks; and other targeted measures that can impact on public order or public health outcomes.
Financial Implications:
AWIB Response to Recommendation 11.
Given that the previous response was suggesting a lack of support for PBD, here the WAG agrees to accept a proposal a progressive duty structure for wine! This shows, again, a lack of understanding of the welsh drinks industries, and the lack of consistency in WAG policy.

12. The Welsh Government should encourage the UK government to introduce a graded duty structure for small cider producers, so as to remove the current disincentive to expand above 7,000 litres

Response: Accept in part
In line with the answer provided to recommendation 11, the UK Government is currently undertaking a joint review on this matter. The Home Office will lead the work on pricing and HM Treasury on taxation matters, evidence from industry and all interested parties is being collated.
Financial Implications:

13. The Welsh Government should draw up a distinct strategy for promoting and marketing the wine, beer, cider and spirits sectors. As well as cross-cutting activities, the strategy should include action plans tailored specifically to the needs of each sector. This strategy should link into the Welsh Government’s strategies for food promotion and for tourism.
Response: Reject
An overarching directional Food Strategy for Wales is currently out to consultation, Food for Wales, Food from Wales 2010-2020 looks to identify and address the issues to prepare for and meet the complex challenges ahead. It would be presumptive to make a commitment to undertake this recommendation before this consultation process comes to a conclusion. Once the Strategy is in place, a review will be undertaken by the Food & Drink Advisory Partnership and officials to ensure that existing sectoral action plans and sub-groups are fit for purpose and assess whether further action plans need to be put in place. This recommendation will be taken forward as a suggestion received in the Food Strategy for Wales consultation and considered during the consultation responses review.
As detailed in the response to recommendation 16, work is already being undertaken to promote the wine, beer, cider and spirits sectors.
Financial Implications:
AWIB Response to Recommendation 13.
 We believe that this recommendation should be accepted - whilst there is an ongoing consultation, that does not stop the WAG from observing and if necessary influencing this Food Strategy to ensure that the recommendation is followed 

14. The Welsh Government should work with Welsh brewers to design a marketing campaign to promote an image of Wales as a country of small breweries producing quality beer, making Welsh beer a recognised quality product both in Wales and across the UK. 
Response: Reject in part
The Welsh Assembly Government managed Wales the True Taste Awards provides the legal route for the promotion of all food and drink products produced in Wales including wine, beer cider and spirits. We co-ordinate an effective PR function for award winning businesses which provides profile not only in Wales but across the UK and further afield.
Under the Wales the True Taste banner we aim to promote the diversity of products available from Wales and the drinks industry offer is critical to that. The fact that products have been judged by a high profile and respected panel of judges also underlines the commitment we have to recognising quality food and drink.
I would recommend that the sector continue to work with my officials to develop their businesses and products and make use of the Wales the True Taste brand if they are successful in winning their category. I am confident that the sector can embrace the values of the True Taste brand and work with us to convey a message to the consumer that we are indeed a small country producing high quality food and drink.
Should the industry decide to work together on a joint marketing proposal, this could be facilitated by the Welsh Assembly Government.
Financial Implications:
The continuation of the Wales the True Taste Food and Drink Awards carry the financial implication. The awards provide the legal vehicle by which we undertake the vast majority of our industry support activities.

AWIB Response to Recommendation 14.
 The True Taste of Wales awards has one category for drinks, and only the winner receives direct promotional support - as they should. However, this recommendation was calling for a specific generic marketing campaign (distinct from True Taste) to help promote the welsh brewing industry, both within and outside of Wales. We would hope that the WAG can find a way to help, either through AWIB or some other organisation to help promote and market Wales’ excellent ales.

15.The Welsh Government should work with industry to investigate the benefits of introducing a recognisable emblem indicating that produce is a drink of Welsh origin. Combined with a campaign promoting the quality of Welsh drink produce, the emblem should become a guarantee of both origin and quality.
Response: Reject in part
In line with the answer provided to recommendation 14, the Welsh Assembly Government is committed to raising the profile of Welsh Food and Drink via the Wales the True Taste brand and associated marketing collateral.
We are also delivering a scheme to deliver European Protected Food Names status and would encourage drink producers to investigate this avenue which will allow their products protected status within the European Union. This will have advantages for companies particularly within the export market to the European continent where such designations have high consumer recognition.
Again, I would highlight the work that is being delivered by my officials within Food, Fisheries and Market Development Division and encourage the industry to engage in this process to raise the profile of its products.
Financial Implications:
The continuation of the Wales the True Taste Food and Drink Awards carry the financial implication and also the public relations function. The Awards event also benefits from commercial sponsorship from the private sector. Whilst this is the case, it is a much more effective campaign and marketing tool which would not be affordable to small brewing or drink businesses. 

AWIB Response to Recommendation 15.
 Again, the author has completely missed the point of the recommendation - there is a desire for an identifiable logo or emblem to signify welsh provenance. True Taste does not do this - it is an emblem for the winners, not all welsh beers.
With regard to the use of the EU’s Protected Food Names and PGI etc, these are extremely expensive and complicated to maintain - and are almost certainly beyond the scope of most welsh brewers - hence the desire for a WAG supported scheme to help promote and market Welsh beers.

16. The Welsh Government should improve its own expertise and capacity to support the Welsh wine, beer, cider and sprit industries by appointing an official within its Food and Market Development Division with dedicated responsibility for developing and promoting the sectors in Wales.
Response: Reject in part
A finite amount of resources are allocated to the market development of the food sector in Wales. The Assembly Government’s Food, Fisheries & Market Development Division’s (FFMDD) remit is to support the development and growth of food production, and food and drink processing industries in Wales. To make certain that this is achieved a broader approach has been taken to ensure that the division’s activity is all encompassing.
The Assembly Government is not in a position to take this recommendation forward due to limited resources, and the Assembly Government must prioritise its interventions. Despite this the Welsh Assembly Government at present supports four dedicated festivals for the drinks sector. Total support for these 4 festivals total £63,000 funded by the Food Festival Grant Funding Programme, part of the Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme, funded by the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which is financed by the Welsh Assembly Government and the European Union.
FFMDD also takes a lead role in coordinating ‘Welsh Wine Week’ which aims to spark interest in Wales’ wine producers and vineyards where producers across the country offer tastings, tours, and special promotions in order to show the quality of Welsh wine.
Producers also have an opportunity to enter into the annual True Taste Awards, managed by the Welsh Assembly Government with a category devoted to alcoholic drinks. To date 12 producers in the sector have benefited from the PR support under the True Taste banner as well as the opportunity to participate in a calendar of consumer and trade events.
Financial Implications:

AWIB Response to Recommendation 16.
 Given the lack of understanding and knowledge shown by the author of this report, we would call on the WAG to re-evaluate is response to this recommendation, and appoint or train someone with actual knowledge of our industry as a matter of urgency.
 Whilst there is some excellent support shown by the WAG, we feel that there is more that can, and should, be done to promote welsh drinks.

17. The Welsh Government should establish a forum bringing together producers and associations in the wine, beer and cider sectors to exchange ideas and identify priorities for collaborative working within their respective sectors.

Response: Reject in part.
An overarching directional Food Strategy for Wales is currently out to consultation, Food for Wales, Food from Wales 2010-2020 looks to identify and address the issues to prepare for and meet the complex challenges ahead. It would be presumptive to make a commitment to undertake this recommendation before this consultation process comes to a conclusion. Once the Strategy is in place, a review will be undertaken by the Food & Drink Advisory Partnership to ensure that existing sectoral action plans and sub-groups are fit for purpose and assess whether further action plans need to be put in place. This recommendation will be taken forward as a suggestion received in the Food Strategy for Wales consultation and considered during the consultation responses review.
Financial Implications:

18. The Welsh Government should proactively seek to support the AWIB and UKVA by funding supply chain efficiencies programmes along the same lines as it has done for the Welsh Perry and Cider Society.

Response: Accept in part
The Welsh Cider and Perry Society qualify for support because they are working with primary producers (orchard owners) who are adding value to their own produce and that kind of approach could be taken with the UK Vineyards Association if they were working exclusively with Welsh vineyards.
The same criteria would not apply to brewers who in the main are not growing barley and/or hops so while the aims of the support programme might be similar this group would be less likely to qualify for this kind of support.
The Supply Chain Efficiencies Scheme is now fully committed and so there is currently no opportunity for any new proposals to be developed but this will be reviewed before the end of the Rural Development Plan. Should additional funding become available then the UKVA would have the opportunity to discuss any project proposals they may have.
Financial Implications : None 

AWIB Response to Recommendation 18.
 We are delighted that the WAG accept that there is potential to support the AWIB, and although funding along the lines of the Cider & Perry Society may not be applicable, we would be delighted to enter dialogue with the WAG to see what can be done.

 I realise this post is a bit long but I thought it worth quoting all of the relevant information. I especially enjoyed the AWIB quote that the author of the report shows "A lack of understanding and knowledge". Hardly surprising to those of us who have witnessed the goings on in the Parish Council of Cardiff Bay.

Roast Ox and Cider!

The Roast Ox Inn at Painscastle, near Builth Wells will be holding their annual cider and perry festival this weekend and its a double celebration as the pub has been judged Brecknock CAMRA Cider Pub of the Year. The award will be presented by Nick Bourne AM.
 As well as the festival there will be:
Apple-pressing demonstration
Real Ciders & Perries to taste,
Traditional Cider & Beer Menu
FOLK SINGING from noon on Saturday October 9th with the
Cwmbach Quire

Roast Ox Inn, Painscastle, Builth Wells, Powys, LD2 3J

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Thursday, 7 October 2010

Welsh Rarebit Rules!

Hardly a big surprise here but a survey out from Cathedral City Cheese reveals that the Welsh, or at least those from Cardiff, prefer their cheese toasted as opposed to other areas of the UK how have their own favourite way of cooking and eating cheese:
· If you’re from Manchester, you’re more likely to enjoy a cheesy bake.

· Londoners prefer a cheese board.

· Those from Birmingham are fans of cheesy chips.

· The population of Cardiff are partial to cheese on toast.

· People from Belfast can’t get enough of cheesy mash.

· Norwich love cheesy fish cakes.

· Cheddar on crackers is the first choice for those from Newcastle

· Bristol opt for the Ploughman’s Lunch.

· Cheddar on top of Shepherd’s Pie warms the hearts of Scots

Welsh Rarebit is, of course the national dish of Wales and here is a slightly altered reciped from the late great Keith Floyd:
Welsh Rarebit
8oz mature cheese such as Cathedral City
1oz Butter
4 tablespoons beer such as Breconshire Golden Valley, drink the rest!
Salt, Anglesey Sea Salt of course
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dry mustard
4 slices of hot buttered toast

Put the cheese, butter and beer in a small pan and melt gently over alow heat, stirring in one direction only. Add salt and pepper to taste and the mustard and mix well. Spoon over the toast and brown under a preheated hot grill, Serve Immediately.

Taste Psychologist, Greg Tucker, an academic who analyses the emotions and responses that are triggered when we eat, explains in a new report that the reason cheese trumps chocolate is that cheese triggers the same reward emotions but because of its make-up and the way it breaks down in the mouth, cheese avoids triggering calorie and fat driven guilt emotions.

Greg explains; “After studying over 10,000 UK respondents, what we found was that when eating Cheddar people still felt the same enjoyment as they did when eating chocolate. They gained a feeling of reward and pleasure from the creamy, dairy, full flavour. However, the advantage cheese has, is that people felt that they had eaten real, quality food, and did not report back feelings of excess and guilt.”


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