Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Beer, Cheese and Hay

For those of you anywhere near Hay-on-Wye on Wednesday 1st June, can I suggest heading over to Kilverts for a beer and cheese tutored tasting in the company of award-winning brewers.

Buster Grant of Breconshire, Nick Otley of Otley and Tucker from Wye Valley will be pitching their ales as the perfect accompaniment to a local and Welsh Cheeseboard. Tickets £6 in advance, £8 on the night, include tasters of all the ales and cheeses.

Beer List:

Otley: Saison Obscura (5.5%) and mOtley Brew (7.5%)
Wye Valley: Butty Bach (4.5%) and DG's Wholesome Stout (4.6%)
Breconshire: Ysprid Y Ddraig (6.5%) and Red Dragon (4.7%)

The cheeses are Mature Welsh Cheddar, Stilton & Smoked Applewood

Well done to Ed from Kilverts for putting this together, unfortunately the Brew Wales editorial team will be at Tredegar House for most of the day setting up the beer festival for the weekend so we are unable to make it!
Facebook page here

Newport beer festival this weekend!

A little later in the year than usual, but Gwent CAMRA are set to return to the historic setting of Tredegar House this weekend for the 22nd annual  Folk Festival.

Beers have been arriving today, though not all the ones we hoped for. Still at least the fantastic Neath Ales are up on the stillage!

For those of you on Twitter I shall be using  #THFF for updates about the Festival. Should be amusing on Thursday when I taste all the beers!

Bar opens Friday 3rd June at 1800 hrs and continues until 2330, then Saturday all day 1100-2330 and Sunday 12-2230.

The beer list, subject to availability:

Celt Experience Brewery
Based in Caerphilly.
Golden 4.2% ABV
A golden organic ale with a spicy aroma and a taste of citrus fruits.

Dark Age 4.0% ABV
A new beer, no tasting notes yet!

Native Storm 4.4% ABV
A robust mid-brown ale full of spicy hop and biscuit flavours.

Hereford Brewery
Originally called the 'Spinning Dog Brewery', based in the Victory pub in Hereford.
Owd Bull 3.9% ABV
A light copper-coloured session ale with an initial bitteness and a hoppy aftertaste.

Hereford Best Bitter 4.2% ABV
A full-bodied amber-coloured best bitter, rich in malt undertones with a fresh and fruity aroma.

Celtic Gold 4.5% ABV. In the Brewhouse Bar
A crisp golden beer with a well-rounded malt/hop bitterness.

Kingstone Brewery
Based on a farm in Tintern.
Gold 3.8% ABV
A rich, golden-coloured hoppy ale.

Classic 4.5% ABV
A well-balanced hoppy, dry ale.

Neath Ales
A new brewery, established last year and has already gained a reputation for imaginative and hoppy beers.

Eazy Peazyn 3.7% ABV
A very pale and extremely refreshing session beer.

Gold 5.0% ABV
Neath Ales Gold is a deep amber colour and has a rich aroma of citrus fruits and orange marmalade, caused by the First Gold hops used to brew this beer. A smooth bitter initial taste leads on to a very complex aftertaste with the true bitterness coming through a good few minutes after drinking.

Green Bullet 6.2% ABV
Green Bullet is the name given to a variety of hop grown in New Zealand and this beer is an amber coloured beer with a complex aroma of sharp, fruity citrus flavours from the hops matched with the biscuity aroma of the Maris Otter Malt used to brew this beer. The sweet,malty biscuity flavour is also present in the taste before the unique flavour of the hops provides the bitterness at the end. This is surprisingly drinkable for a 6% beer, a wonderful example of a traditional Indian Pale Ale beer style.

Otley Brewery
Current Champion Brewers of Wales, based in Pontypridd.

O2 4.0% ABV
A light copper coloured ale with citrus and floral aromas and a satisfying bitter aftertaste.
O-Garden 5.0% ABV
O-Garden contains coriander, cloves and orange peel. This pale amber, cloudy wheat beer has a rich aroma of coriander with a slight aroma of citrus. The coriander flavour continues into the taste and is a matched by a sharp bitterness caused by the hops used to brew this award-winning beer. This results in a pleasant dryness in the mouth and the aftertaste is of hops and coriander.

O5 5.0% ABV
A golden-coloured ale brewed with American hops.

Purple Moose
An award-winning brewery based in Porthmadog.

Snowdonia 3.6% ABV
A refreshing pale ale brewed with Pale and Crystal malts and 4 different hop varities.

Dark Side of the Moose 4.6% ABV
A dark and delicious ale with a deep malt flavour from roasted barley and a fruity bitterness from Bramling Cross hops.

Rhymney Brewery
Based in Merthyr Tydfil, this family-run brewery will be moving to a purpose-built site in Blaenavon later this year.

Hobby Horse 3.8% ABV
Hobby Horse is a mid to light-brown coloured beer and has a slight biscuity aroma due to the Marris Otter malt used. Other malts used are Crystal and Caramalt. Hops are also present in the nose with Styrian and Fuggles varities providing the bitterness as well. Hobby Horse has a bitter-sweet taste followed by the distinctive biscuit flavour of the malt and some lasting bitterness and astringency in the aftertaste. A lot of flavour for a low-strength beer.

Bitter 4.5% ABV
Brewed using 4 different malt varieties together with 2 different hop varieties.

Premiere Lager 4.5% ABV
A new recipe for this year, brewed with Green Bullet hops.

Tomos Watkin Brewery
An award-winning family owned brewery from Swansea.
Cwrw Haf 4.2% ABV
A light-coloured ale packed with the citrusy flavour of hops.

OSB 4.5% ABV
A rich red premium cask ale with a fruity aroma and distinctive bitter flavour.

Wye Valley
The Wye Valley Brewery of Herefordshire was established 26 years ago and has gone on to win many awards since.
HPA 4.0% ABV
One of the greatest beers in the world. A pale ale with a citrus hop aroma, just the right amount of bitterness and a dry finish.

Butty Bach 4.5% ABV
A copper-yellow, malty and fruity ale.

DG Wholesome Stout 4.6% ABV
An intense black colour and has a rich aroma of chocolate and roast flavours. Brewed with Maris Otter pale malt, the colour comes form the use of flaked and roasted barley with bitterness provided by using Northdown hops. The flavour is rich, smooth and chocolatey with some bitter roast flavours towards the finish. The bitter chocolate flavour lasts well into the aftertaste.

Ciders and perries will be from award-winning cidermakers Gwynt Y Ddraig.

An old article of mine about brewing at Tredegar House can be found here. 

Google Map:

View Larger Map
Tredegar House & Country Park,
NP10 8YW
South Wales

Tredegar House is easily reached by bus from the centre of Newport, number 36, or by bus from Cardiff and a short walk.
Journey Planner:

Thursday, 26 May 2011

A new Welsh Brewery

Carmarthenshire gets a new brewery with the opening of the Red Kite Brewery in Gorslas. Not much information on them at the moment but their beer are available throughout South Wales via the Glamorgan Beer Company.

Welsh Perry & Cider Festival 2011

It's that time of year again when when the great and the good of Welsh cidermakers get together for the annual cider competition at the Clytha Arms in Monmouthshire. One of my favourite pubs of all time, the Clytha is always worth a visit, even more so over this weekend of cider and perry.
Last year Llanblethian Orchards won an award for best dry perry at the festival, although this year the same perry has a completely different flavour - I tasted the blend last week and the slower fermentation due to the cold weather has caused the change. Still that's the fun of craft cidermaking! Also worth trying Seidr Dai's ciders and perries at the festival as I also help them during the autumn. Still it's always a big surprise who wins and the competition does get tougher every year.
I'm always spoilt for choice at the festival and it is staffed by the cidermakers themselves so I usually ask for a cider made by the person who serves me! A good way to keep on the side of the makers.

Google Map:

View Larger Map
The Clytha can be reached by bus from Abergavenny or Monmouth, although the service is a bit erratic and can involve a short walk from Pit Clytha at the rear of the pub. The last bus from the Clytha to Abergavenny leaves at 1839

Traveline Cymru:

The Clytha Arms
Near Abergavenny
South Wales
United Kingdom

Monday, 23 May 2011

Masons Arms, Caerphilly

Masons Arms, Mill Road, Caerphilly, CF83 3FE
Open all day,
Food served 1200-1430, 1800-2130 Monday-Thursday, 1200-2130 Friday & Saturday, 12-1600 Sunday

The Masons is situated in a residential area of Caerphilly, just to the North of the historic castle, with Aber being the closest railway station to the pub.
The Masons is a two-story building, built around the early years of the twentieth century for Andrew Buchan's Rhymney Brewery, today the pub is owned by Enterprise Inns. The pub is slightly set back from the road and built of brick with a slate roof. Today the brickwork is painted in a light green and the contrasting plasterwork is cream. The pub sign features a stonemason working on a piece of carved stone and there is a Norman-style arched window in the background, perhaps alluding to the building of the nearby Caerphilly Castle.
There is car parking to the side and front of the pub, with the main entrance being on the right hand side of the building. This leads to a lobby, with a door to the left leading to the public bar and the corridor straight ahead leading to the lounge at the rear of the pub. The Masons Arms is one of the few pubs in the area to retain this original layout of separate bar and lounge, most of the other pubs have had walls knocked through to create open-plan drinking areas.
The front bar is large, well-lit and spacious with half-panelled wooden walls, ,darts, a pool table and a flat-screen television. This bar is more popular with the younger clientèle and those into pub games, the handpumps serving the real ales are only in the rear lounge.
The lounge of the pub also doubles as the restaurant area and a set of double doors leads to a patio area with seating. Three gleaming brass handpumps are mounted on the bar in the lounge, serving Brains Bitter and two guest ales from microbreweries such as Cottage from Somerset and the more local Celt Experience Brewery based less than a mile away at the Pontygwindy Industrial Estate; a rare local outlet for this brewery.
The food consists of pub favourites featured in the menus on the tables and chalkboard specials on the walls and bar counter, advertising 'Curry of the Week' and the 'Bad Boy Mixed Grill' which features steak, chicken, lamb chops, sausage and chips. The more standard menu features dishes such as chicken with feta cheese, chorizo and pine kernels.
The Masons Arms is decorated throughout with old prints and rugby memorabilia on the walls, as well as with some of the awards this pub has won over the years. This is a real community local with events such as a charity quiz night being held on the last Sunday of every month.

Google Map:

View Larger Map

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Gwynt launches new ciders

 Above: Gwynt Y Ddraig Directors Bill George and Andrew Gronnow with their new ciders

Award-winning Welsh Cidermaker Gwynt Y Ddraig has launched two new bottled ciders; Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy and Farmhouse Cloudy Scrumpy.
NB Tasting notes below are my own.

Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy 500ml bottle/ 5.3% ABV 
Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy is a slightly sparkling golden-coloured cider with an aroma of fresh-cut grass, oak and rich fruit flavours. Made from a blend of cider apples, including Dabinnette, that were pressed in the Autumn of 2009, this medium cider has been maturing at the farm since then.
An initial sweet taste is quickly followed by a rich fruity smoothness with some tannins coming through and a pleasant estery mouthfeel. The finish is again smooth but with a distinctive apple flavour which lingers in the throat and provides the rich aftertaste. An easy-drinking cider with a not-too strong alcohol content.

Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse Cloudy Scrumpy, 500ml bottle/ 5.3% ABV 

Farmhouse Cloudy Scrumpy is light orange-yellow in colour and as the name suggests is cloudy; this cider has not been filtered to remove the sediment that naturally occurs when cider is made. A complex aroma of oak, tannins and fresh-baked bread leads to a dry, rich flavour with a sharp appley finish. This dry cider is the perfect accompaniment to strong cheddar. 

Both ciders are available online from the Gwynt Cider Shop. 

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Locals' launch campaign to save historic pub

Save the Cherry Treehttp://www.cherrytreefriends.org.uk/

The Cherry Tree pub in Tintern, Monmouthshire, has been closed since just before Christmas, but the owners have just now put in planning permission for a residential conversion. Naturally the locals do not want to see this happen and have started a campaign to save the pub. I suggest popping over to their website to see why they want to keep their pub. 

I've even filmed in the pub with ITV Wales in the past 

I've copied and pasted the following paragraphs from the save the pub website: 

The Cherry - a failing pub!?

Through the mid-noughties The Cherry was undeniably a thriving establishment. Unfortunately a degree of animosity has developed in recent years between the current owners and many in the village. We refuse to editorialise on these matters however it is of great significance to our case that the management have not enjoyed the support of the majority in Tintern since 2008/9.

Having said that, the extensive string of vehicles parked every Sunday along the road outside revealed the extent to which the pub's reputation still pulled in a reliable trade from outside the village to supplement the hardcore of locals who chose to focus on the venue rather than controversies concerning the hosts.

The pub was by no means failing. Not providing sufficient income for its self-proclaimed 'debt-ridden' owners in a recessionary climate after losing much of its local trade? - maybe. Failing to the extent that we and future generations should be deprived of its hospitality in order to alleviate short-term financial difficulties? - definitely not!
Attempts to sell the Pub as a going-concern have been.. well ..rather lacklustre.

Sadly, pubs are generally worth more as flat-fodder than the life-enhancing centres of social cohesion that we believe them to be. Fortunately, this is recognised by local planning authorities who insist on evidence of a serious attempt to sell a 'failing' pub as a business and at a fair market price.

We have found no evidence to suggest that The Cherry has been appropriately marketed as a going concern. We know that the pub was on the market as a commercial property with a local estate agent but bizarrely seems to have been taken off the market at some time before the abandonment of the pub on 06/12/2010.

We can find no evidence that the pub has been advertised through standard trade publications such as The Morning Advertiser or The Publican. Although anecdotal, we believe it to be extremely telling the fact that another local publican, a regular reader of the trade magazines, was in December 2010 unaware that the pub had even been on the market.
Editors Note: As someone who follows the property sections of the trade magazines as well as visiting pub auctions I was not aware the pub was, or had been up for sale.

We suspect the £400,000 asking price to be excessive and are convinced that a more focussed advertising approach, together with a willingness to negotiate a realistic sale price in the current economic climate could lead to a relatively straightforward change of ownership of this famous pub.

As an aside, if you think you might be interested in buying and running the Cherry - please get in touch. We'd be delighted to hear from you and would do everything in our powers to facilitate negotiations with the current owners.
The Cherry is unique and of national importance

It is rather depressing to think that The Cherry has now lost its perennial status as a much celebrated CAMRA 'Good Beer Guide' entry. Our pub had been the only pub in Wales to have appeared in every edition of the guide since its inception in 1974 and, in 2008, was described by CAMRA as a 'superpub' being one of only 10 pubs across England and Wales to have achieved membership of this elite club.

Of course what really marks out a special local is not national recognition but something rather more intangible: its 'spirit'. The Cherry does atmosphere, history and location in spades. Surrounded by ancient woodland, next to a babbling brook in a quiet Monmouthshire valley; there is no finer place to delight in a beautifully crafter local ale or cider.

Untapped/discarded business opportunities:

A few years ago The Cherry was not a pub: it was a pub/village shop/Post Office/B&B. There probably wasn't much that could be done to save the Post Office when the unpopular 'restructuring' of the service took place a few years ago but we are not convinced that the demise of the shop and B&B business were quite so inevitable.

Officially The Cherry did not stop providing B&B facilities but a growing reluctance to accept bookings in recent years has been quite evident. The number of annual visitors drawn to Tintern by its ancient Cistercian abbey alone has been estimated at 500,000. The Cherry has four rooms available, is situated some 800 meters from the Abbey and thus ideally positioned to benefit from the provision of year round accommodation in a tourist village with surprisingly few B&B options. Few, if any, B&B bookings were accepted by The Cherry in 2010.

The permanent population of Tintern is about 750 and the transient population is far greater yet the village is without a shop selling anything other than the most basic commodities such as newspapers. Even without the financial crutch of Post Office status, it seems to us that the reopening of a carefully managed village shop in the basement of The Cherry is a viable proposition.

Tourist attractions such as the Abbey aside, The Lower Wye Valley is an extremely popular destination for outdoor pursuits enthusiasts. And we believe that a large untapped market exists to provide food/drink/accommodation to visitors drawn to Tintern by its spectacular local natural resources.

Some of the most important rock climbing destinations in Southern Britain lie within a five mile radius of Tintern, two long distance footpaths pass either through or close to the village, The River Wye is a Mecca for canoeists and thousands of Land's End/John o' Groats cyclists pass through the village every year. No attempt has been made to engage with these potential markets via targeted advertising though specialist magazines and websites.

The newly designated Lower Wireworks Car park is situated approximately 200 meters from the pub. The car park has been designed to accommodate in excess of 40 cars, is free to use and is signposted from the main A466 road passing through the village. This will surely bring more visitors into The Angiddy valley and almost to the doorstep of The Cherry. It is also worth noting that if the proposed Chepstow - Tintern shared-use path is built then the Lower Wireworks car park will be a principal access point and there is scope for the provision of tailored services (walkers/cyclists lunch deals, spare inner-tubes, lockable bike stands etc.) to encourage path users to visit the pub.

The issue of signage in Tintern has been somewhat contentious over the years. For those interested in some of the ugly details - Google is your friend. Being rather tucked away and slightly off the beaten tourist path, a well considered sign on the main road alerting passing trade to the existence of a lovely little pub a few hundred yards up the Angiddy valley would no doubt give The Cherry a great boost. In 2005 planning permission was sought for such a sign (MCC planning application M11879). It seems that on 27/8/09 a decision on this application had still not been reached and its current status is not known. However it seems reasonable to assume that reopened negotiations with the council on the matter could result in a solution to the satisfaction of all.
Editor's Note: the signage that was removed from the main road by Monmouthshire County Council featured the Hancock's Toastmaster and was well over 40 years old, the trademark being used up to the late 1960s when Hancocks were taken over by Bass.
 According to a civil engineer I know if the sign was up before 1st April 1974 then it has deemed consent under the Town & Country Planning Act (Control of Advertisements) Regulations 1992 Class 13. Monmouthshire council clearly acted illegally in removing that sign.
What to do:
1.Send an email to Monmouthshire County Council Planning department informing them of your feelings on the proposals: planning@Monmouthshire.gov.uk. Quote reference DC/2011/00356.

To see the plans before commenting on them visit UK Planning, click 'Search Applications' and enter application number DC/2011/00356

2.Tell your friends to do the same! Post on Facebook. Spread the word.

We've lost enough good pubs in Monmouthshire, it's time to say no to pub closures!


Beer List for Wales' Biggest Pub

Great Welsh Beer &; Cider Festival - Beer list.
Please note this list is provisional and subject to change/alteration.
 The festival will be held between the 16-18th June, at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (ex CIA).

Amber Chocolate Orange Stout 4.0
Banktop Mild 4.0
Brains Bitter 3.7
Brains British Summer 4.0
Brains Dark 3.5
Brains IPA 3.4
Brains Rev James 4.5
Brains SA 4.2
Brains SA Gold 4.6
Brains Strong Ale
Breconshire Brecon County Ale 3.7
Breconshire Cribyn 4.5
Breconshire Golden Valley 4.2
Breconshire Ramblers Ruin 5
Breconshire Welsh Pale Ale 3.7
Breconshire Ysbrid y Ddraig 6.5
Bryncelyn Buddy Marvellous 4.0
Bryncelyn Holly Hop 3.9
Bryncelyn Oh Boy 4.5
Bullmastiff Brindle 5.0
Bullmastiff Son Of A Bitch 6.0
Bullmastiff Welsh Gold 3.8
Butcombe Bitter 4.0
Castle Rock Harvest Pale 3.8
Celt Experience Bronze 4.5
Celt Experience Castle cream 4.4
Celt Experience Gold 4.2
Cerddin Challenger 4.7
Conwy Cwrw Mel 4.5
Conwy Telford Porter 5.6
Crouch Vale Brewer's Gold 4.0
Dark Star American Pale Ale 4.5
Elgood's Cambridge Bitter 3.8
Elgood's Black Dog 3.6
Evan Evans Cwrw 4.2
Evan Evans Golden Hop 4.3
Evan Evans SPA 4.2
Facer's Dave's Hoppy Beer 4.3
Facer's Landslide 4.9
Felinfoel Double Dragon 4.2
Felinfoel seasonal
Fullers Chiswick 3.6
Fullers ESB 5.5
Great Orme Cambria 4.5
Great Orme Welsh Black 4.0
Gwaun Light Ale 4.0
Harvey's Sussex Best Bitter 4.0
Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted 3.8
Heart of Wales Aur Cymru 3.8
Heart of Wales High as a Kite 10.0
Heart of Wales Irfon Valley 3.6
Heart of Wales Welsh Black 4.4
Hobsons Mild 3.2
Hopback Entire Stout 4.5
Hopback Summer Lighting 5.0
Jacobi Light Ale 3.8
Jacobi Red Squirrel 4.0
Jarrow Rivet Catcher 4.0
Jolly Brewer Taid's Garden 4.5
Kelham Island Pale Rider 5.2
Kingstone 1503 4.8
Kingstone Stout 4.4
Llangollen Grange No1 3.2
Llantrisant ?
Loddon Ferryman's Gold 4.4
Marble Manchester Bitter 4.0
Mighty Oak Oscar Wilde Mild 3.8
Monty's Midnight Stout 4.0
Monty's Mojo 3.8
Monty's Sunshine 4.2
Moor Revival 3.8
Nant Mwnci Nell 5.3
Neath Green Bullet 6.0
Neath Black 5.5
Nethergate Umbel Magna 5.0
Newmans Last Lion of Britain 4.4
Oakham JHB 3.8
Oakleaf Hole Hearted 4.7
Orkney Raven 3.8
Otley Colombo 4.0
Otley Dark O 4.1
Otley O Garden 4.8
Otley O1 4.0
Otley O2 4.2
Otley O6 6.6
Otley O8 8.0
Plassey Border Mild
Plassey Cwrw Tudno 5.0
Plassey Owain Glyndwr
Preseli Baggywrinkle 4.5
Purple Moose Dark Side of the Moose 4.5
Purple Moose Glaslyn 4.2
Purple Moose Seasonal
Purple Moose Snowdonia 3.6
RCH PG Steam 3.9
RCH Pitchfork 4.2
RCH East St Cream 5.0
Rhymney Bevan's Bitter 4.2
Rhymney Dark 4.0
Rhymney Export 5.0
Rhymney Hobby Horse 3.8
Rotters Whipping Tree 3.6
Rudgate Ruby Mild 4.4
Sandstone Edge 3.8
Sandstone Postmistress 4.4
Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby 6.0
Skinner's Betty Stoggs 4.0
Skinner's Cornish Knocker 4.5
St Austell Proper Job 4.5
Swansea 3 Cliffs 4.7
Swansea Bishopswood 4.3
Swansea Deep Slade Dark 4.0
Thornbridge Lord Marples 4.0
Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 5.9
Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.2
Tomos Watkin Best Bitter
Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf 4.2
Tomos Watkin Cwrw Idris 5.2
Tomos Watkin OSB 4.5
Tomos Watkin Scrumage
Triple F Alton's Pride 3.8
VoG Glory Daze 4.5
VoG Grog y VOG 4.3
VoG Wheats Occurrin 5.0
Waen Landmark 4.2
Wentworth Bumble Beer 4.3
Wickwar Penny Black 5.0
Woodforde's Wherry 3.8
Wye Valley HPA 4.0
Wye Valley DG Stout 4.6
Wye Valley DG Golden Ale 4.2
Wye Valley Butty Bach 4.4
Wye Valley Ginger Pride 4.6
York Centurion's Ghost 5.4
Zero Degrees Mango 4.5
Zero Degrees Pilsner 4.8

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival
Opening hours Thursday June 16th 11am - 11pm
Friday June 17th 11am - 11pm
Saturday June 18th 11am - 11pm

Admission price
Admission costs £6 per person, which includes your limited edition glass and souvenir programme. CAMRA members and those under 26 will receive an allowance of beer tokens. There is no need to book tickets in advance, although you may be interested in our bulk ticket scheme.

Other information
Hot and cold food is provided by the CIA and is available all sessions.
We are pleased to present live music on Friday afternoon & evening and Saturday afternoon. Thursday is reserved as a quiet day.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Pubs raise over £101million for charity in 2010

A good headline there from a press release issued today from Pub Aid. This makes a change from the negative and invented stories about drinking put about by the fake charities such as taxpayer -funded Alcohol Concern and their bastard offspring Alcohol Concern Cymru. I doubt if the tabloids will be running these positive facts about our pubs so lets see them here.

Results from the survey:

• Over three-quarters of British pubs carry out charitable activities during the year
• The most popular annual charity sum raised was £500 (24%)
• However, two thirds raised £1000 or above
• The top individual named charities are Help for Heroes and the Air Ambulance – accounting
for over half a million pounds of the money raised
• Projected estimates suggest that the Great British Pub raises over £100 million a year
for charitable causes
• Three quarters (74%) of respondents suggest that local charities have
benefitted specifically from their pubs donations
• Only 26% look to events on a national basis only - meaning community orientated
support is extremely important to the Great British Pub
•86% of pubs will be carrying out charitable activities in 2011
• The approx £101 million per year potentially raised by the Great British Puboffers a hugely positive story in the face of continued media pressure over ‘binge drinking’ and alcohol related violence
• The sense of community that the pub provides and the focus that charitable activities provide to this are sense as hugely important by many licensees

Community focused and charitable, isn't this what the 'Big Society' is supposed to be all about?

Following the announcement of the results at the British Institute of Innkeeping, Bob Neill MP commented:

"This survey clearly demonstrates the amazing support that many community pubs give to charities across the country.  It is particularly impressive to see that the average pub raises some £2,000 a year, highlighting a remarkably strong commitment on behalf of local people and landlords to help their chosen charities. It is also great to see that many of the fund raising activities that pubs have undertaken involve bringing local people together and sharing collective experiences through, for example, quiz nights, sports events and live music.  Creating a sense of community within pubs provides a number of benefits, not only allowing large sums of money to be raised for charity, but also providing important local social hubs and ensuring the popularity of this great British institution.
I would like to thank all those landlords and patrons that have helped to demonstrate, once again, the positive contribution that community pubs can make to life in this country."

Lets see our pubs get the support they need, both from their customers and from the Government.

On the lager

A lunchtime pint or two of Wye Valley Brewery's lager. As golden as the locks of Dorothy Goodbody's hair and as full-bodied as well, this gorgeous pint of Herefordshire heaven is on top form in the Golden Hart in Newport today. Lager for ale drinkers or ale for lager drinkers? Who cares as long as it's a good beer?

Originally published last week when Blogger was down - this post has only just reappeared!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival - Live bands announced

Only a month to go before the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival opens its doors to the thirsty public of South Wales.

The Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, formerly the Cardiff International Arena (CIA), will be transformed into Wales' biggest pub for this three-day event.

 Entertainment line up:
Thursday will be a quiet day.

Friday will see the Champion Beer of Wales announcement at 3pm, followed by Cardiff Morris Dancers.

Live music announced!

Thursday will be a quiet day.

Friday will see the Champion Beer of Wales announcement at 3pm, followed by Cardiff Morris Dancers.

Friday night
Dansette will be returning
"Dansette are a horn-driven eight piece band who play an authentic mix of 60's Soul standards from the Stax/Atlantic/Motown stables. If you want to think Blues Brothers and Commitments you'll be half right, but we don't stop there, we'll take you on a Soul Journey through that golden era that you just won't want to end. Dancing shoes are optional but enjoyment is guaranteed!"

iTunes get music onQuantcast


Cardiff Arms Park Male Voice Choir will be joining us in the afternoon.

In the night we will have Still got the Blues - a Four Piece band from Pontypool, formed in 2007 from members of the Borough Blues Club. They have played at Pontypool 'Jazz in the Park' and other local festivals.
"If you want a bit of Blues, with a bit of classic rock thrown in, then come and see us, and get a smile on your face, and some rhythm in your toes!"

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival
Opening hours
Thursday June 16th 11am - 11pm
Friday June 17th 11am - 11pm
Saturday June 18th 11am - 11pm
Admission price
Admission costs £6 per person, which includes your limited edition glass and souvenir programme. CAMRA members and those under 26 will receive an allowance of beer tokens. There is no need to book tickets in advance, although you may be interested in our bulk ticket scheme.
Other information
Hot and cold food is provided by the CIA and is available all sessions.
We are pleased to present live music on Friday afternoon & evening and Saturday afternoon. Thursday is reserved as a quiet day.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Monty's Brewery sweeps the boards at Ludlow

Some news from SIBA:

Monty’s Brewery Is Firmly On The Map at the SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) Wales and West competition at Ludlow Castle on 6th May 2011, Monty’s Brewery, of Powys in Mid Wales, walked away with a hoard of 5 awards.
‘Ding Dong’, which is the brewery’s Christmas beer, won Bronze in the bottled golden beer category,
‘Mischief’, which is a fabulous golden bitter’ won Bronze in the strong bitter category.
‘Sunshine’, which is the first recipe that Monty’s Brewery made, won Silver in the Best Bitters category.
‘Midnight’ won GOLD in the Porters, strong milds, old ales and stouts category.
All GOLD winners from each category then went on to be judged for Champion Beer of the competition, where Monty’s ‘Midnight’ won Silver.
These are not the first awards for Monty’s ‘Midnight’, which is a dark, smooth stout packed with rich dark flavours. In 2009 it won Silver in the Stout and Porter category at the Winter Beer of Wales competition and in 2010 it won Bronze at the Wales True Taste Awards in the Beer, Cider and Perry under 10 per cent category.
This young brewery is now firmly on the map and is receiving orders for beer from all over the UK. Enquiries for visits and tastings at their pub, the ‘Sportsman’ in Newtown, are at an all time high, as are orders for home delivery of bottled beers.
Monty’s owner and head brewer Pam Honeyman is one of only a handful of female brewers in the UK. She said:
“The team have always strived to create quality real ales that are consistently full of flavour and these awards will be proudly displayed. Our thanks go out to SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) for organising a fantastic event, the people at Ludlow Castle who provided the perfect back drop for the festival, all the judges that voted for our beers and to all our customers for supporting us throughout the last two years.”
Article taken from Welsh Country

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Foursquare Fun

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Have been having some fun with Foursquare today. If you are not familiar with Foursquare it's a geolocation application for mobiles where you can put where you visit in, a tweet and Facebook update are then created with a link to the map showing your location. If you visit a venue often enough then you become 'Mayor' of that location, with JD Chaverspoons giving a discount on food for mayors of their particular pub.
Anyway today I took my RSS feed from Foursquare and put it into Google Maps to produce a map of some of the pubs, bus and train stations that I have visited recently. The map is embedded above. Feel free to zoom in and check it out!

Find me on Foursquare

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Bassett Goes for Gravity

The Carpenter's Arms in Newport has had a refurbishment. A bit surprising that any pub company would want to spend money on a Newport pub, but this pub is run by the local JW Bassett Pub Company. Being a South Wales-based company they know their market and run pubs from Penarth to Kilburn with the historic Queens Vaults in Cardiff being their most well-known outlet.
Well how has the refurbishment gone? New carpet, wallpaper etc, brass foot rail along the length of the bar and 4 beers on gravity in the centre of the bar. Yes, chilled casks from SA Brain with SA, SA Gold, Rev James and Buckleys Best served straight from gravity with Felinfoel Double Dragon and Celtic Pride on handpump as well. Onlly tried the SA Gold so far and its far superior to when it is served by a swan neck handpump, the tight, creamy head suits beers like Dark but not SA Gold. The bottled version of SA Gold is even better and retains more hop character than the cask version does, any that's a digression for another post! Back to the Carps!
Some good bits of art on the walls with local rugby and football legends featured, even the legendary Arthur Gould from the nineteenth century gets a portrait on the wall!
Pubs before in Newport have tried beer straight from the cask, though not in recent years. The Ale House (ex-Sovereign Bar) in John Frost Square had a cooled stillage but that place has been demolished, JD Chaverspoons occasionally had some stillage up in their pubs during their festivals but have stopped doing that since our falling out.

Hopefully this will get the real ale drinkers of Newport back into pubs, the Carpenters refurbishment is an example of what can be done if someone has an ambition or idea to try something different in a City Centre pub.
The pub also does WiFi and this post was live blogged with the help of SA Gold!

Carpenter's Arms
9 High Street
NP20 1FQ

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Moose Celebrates Railway

Some news from Purple Moose Brewery in Porthmadog:

Purple Moose Brewery is very proud to announce the arrival of a new special brew commissioned by the Talyllyn Railway. Currently celebrating 60 years in preservation the railway now has its own beer to mark the event.
At 3.9% Arloeswr Talyllyn/Talyllyn Pioneer is a delicious and refreshing pale yellow session bitter. This beer is available in bottles at selected outlets including Wharf Station on the Talyllyn Railway and our brewery shop in Porthmadog. A cask version will be on sale at the Talyllyn Railway over the weekend of 14th and 15th May, marking the exact date of the anniversary.

The Purple Moose Brewery have also announced this week that they have done their 1000th brew:
It all began with 'No.1', brewed on 14th June 2005. The 500th brew, 'Cnicht' was produced on 27th May 2009.

With the Welsh Highland Railway celebrating its recent completion, as well as the brewery reaching this significant point in its history, the 1000th beer will be called 'Milestone' and will be the festival special for the Rail Ale Festival at Dinas on the Welsh Highland Railway, as well as being available through our regular outlets, in cask only.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

An afternoon in Cardiff

In the tree-lined streets of Pontcanna, hidden behind the houses, the Artisan Brewery flourishes in the yard of the former Walpole Brewery that closed over a century ago. Four beers on today at their first Saturday of the month open day, despite the weather the customers are enjoying the range of beers from a Helles to an Alt with a Bavarian Wheat and even a Chocolate Wheat thrown in. The weather may not be with us today but with a horizontal sail as one of the shelters this just adds to the quirckiness of the event at the Kings Road Arts Studios.
Did I mention the art raffle? Only a pound a ticket to win some locally produced works of art.

Beer, art and barbecue, what more do you want in Cardiff?

Bar Open at Artisan Brewery today

If you are at a loose end in Cardiff this afternoon, why not support a local craft brewery at one of their monthly open days?

Chocolate Wheat is calling I think!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Golden Hart, Newport

Golden Hart, 38 Cardiff Road, Newport, NP20 2ED

Situated opposite Newport Central Police Station, once the site of Hancock's Brewery in Newport, the Golden Hart is a three-story building set in a Victorian terrace. There has been a pub on this site since 1872 but the present building dates from 1894 as the date and a Golden Hart appears in a niche on the front of the building. The pub was built on land owned by Lord Tredegar and the Morgans of Tredegar House had a stag or hart's head on their coat of arms. The pub was owned by local brewers Lloyd and Yorath, who sold out to Birmingham-based Ansells Brewery in 1951 but today the Golden Hart is a free house, despite the old Ansells sign on the front. The white-washed rough hewn stone-built upper stories of the pub contrast strongly with the black-painted woodwork surrounding the windows and doorway on the ground floor.
The Golden Hart is most likely the smallest pub in the City and the entrance doorway features two original etched glass panels with 'Bar' and an intricate pattern on them, rare survivors from the Victorian period. The cavernous interior stretches back to reveal a narrow but welcoming interior. To the right is a dark wood semicircular bar with tapering sides. Mounted on the bar are three gleaming handpumps, this being a true freehouse, the beer range varies and behind the bar, on the rear shelving or gantry as it is known are pumpclips from some of the breweries that have featured here in the past. Beers from Cairngorm Brewery of Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands have been on the bar, alongside Brains SA and Reverend James which are not seen too often in Newport. Recently the pub has become a rare and welcome outlet for beers from Wye Valley Brewery. Other rare drinks are draught perry and cider, made by award-winning Troggi Seidr in Shirenewton, Monmouthshire. The cidermaker is a retired pathologist from the nearby Royal Gwent Hospital, so expect the cider and perry to be full-bodied and bone-dry! The cider and perry are in containers behind the bar, served straight by gravity.  
Despite its small size, the Golden Hart has room for a dartboard at the front part of the pub and two fireplaces along the left-hand wall. Low leather-backed seating and gleaming copper topped tables also feature in this pub. Beaten copper table tops are also mounted on top of old whiskey barrels and provide extra space to put down a pint glass. The interior decoration of the pub has a traditional feel to the place with the collection of brassware, old books, old photographs, railway and rugby memorabilia having been accumulated over years rather than bought in one go from a salvage yard.
A recent addition to the pub is a doorway to the rear garden, creating a smoking solution and another rare feature in a City-Centre pub.
The Golden Hart only does meals on Sunday lunchtimes but freshly-made rolls are available at other times.

Google Map:

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Let's 'AV a beer

Saw this little gem doing the rounds today. A well illustrated point but misses the mark. We do not have to decide whether or not to visit a coffee shop and in the real world its doubtful any of us have a choice of pubs to attend any longer after all the closures we have witnessed.
I have noticed my own MP, the baby farmer Jessica Morden has been very quite on the AV issue, in contrast to her neighbouring MP, the decrepit old libelist and North Korea apologist Paul Flynn. Perhaps due to the fact that Morden would have lost her seat under AV to the Libdem Ed 'Turnip' Townsend, a local politician who has been known to 'treat' his prospective electorate to a drink during election time in one of the Maindee hostelries he often frequents.
There lies the problem, its not the voting system that needs changing but the people who stand as candidates. It matters not if politicians are voted in by First Past the Post, Alternative Vote or Proportional Representation when the politicians themselves are inheritantly corrupt.

That's why today I voted 'No to AV'.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Monty's Mischief in the Golden Hart

Newport has another decent boozer apart from the legendary Murenger. The Golden Hart on Cardiff Road offers 3 real ales and a cider/perry. Today the beer optiond are from Hereford Brewery: Knight's Templar and Celtic Gold together with a stunning beer from Monty's Brewery -Mischief - a 5% 'Golden Strong Bitter'. Well its golden strong and very, very drinkable. Not doing any flowery descriptions as on my 5th pint of this beer - downed the first one within 10 minutes of odering it! Golden hoppy heaven.


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