An award-winning micro brewery on the Llŷn peninsula is going from strength to strength thanks to support from the Rural Development Plan for Wales (RDP), which is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
Above: Members of the Cwrw Llŷn cooperative brewing the beer
The Cwrw Llŷn co-operative group, made up of 12 friends, who started brewing beer on a commercial scale in a converted cowshed last May, recently moved production to a larger unit at Nefyn, with assistance from the RDP. The group also hopes to open a brewing heritage centre to tell the story of what is thought to be the first Welsh beer, brewed in nearby Porth Neigwl during the Bronze Age.
The move has enabled Cwrw Llŷn to treble its production to 30 barrels of beer a week to meet a growing demand from local pubs and hotels. However this is just a stop-gap as the friends have major expansion plans which include opening the tourist attraction and growing their own barley to make a truly local pint. The group, which includes three farmers, currently source their malt barley from a company in Nottingham, but one of the farmers, who grows barley for animal feed, has had his crops tested and assessed as perfect for beer production.
One of the group, acclaimed poet Myrddin ap Dafydd, said that archaeologists have discovered that the oldest brewery in Wales was at Porth Neigwl - about 10 miles from his home at Llwyndyrys, where the friends started to make their beer. He said:
"There is a fascinating history to beer making in the area and we want to tell this at a heritage centre we are hoping to build, along with a new micro brewery, a kiln and a visitor centre where people can come and see the beer being made."
The Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Alun Davies said:
"Cwrw Llŷn is one of many small businesses in rural Wales that are being helped to prosper and grow by the RDP. The group’s plans to combine its brewing activity with a tourist attraction show how food and drink has been intertwined with our identity and culture for hundreds of years. Capitalising on these links to create an extra string to their bow is an excellent example of how we can make the most of our excellent produce to encourage food tourism in Wales. I wish them the very best of luck for the future.”
The first beer, a traditional bitter, made by the co-operative is named Brenin Enlli after Bardsey Island's last-known king. A second, a golden ale, is named Seithenyn, after one of the Three Immortal Drunkards of the Isle of Britain, who according to legend was responsible for the sea-defences of Cantre'r Gwaelod, but neglected them one night because of his drunkenness, allowing the sea to overrun them.
Cwrw Llyn, recent winner of the Group of the Year category in the 2011 Gwynedd Taste & Talent Awards, received funding to develop their Nefyn micro brewery from the RDP’s ‘Llwyddo yng Ngwynedd’ Local Products Scheme which is co-ordinated in Gwynedd by Gwynedd Council on behalf of Gwynedd Economic Partnership.They also received support from Cywain, another RDP-funded project, set up to add value to agricultural produce.