Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Metla Honey Beer in Zero Degrees

A new beer for me in Cardiff's City Centre micro-brewery, Zero Degrees. Metla is a 6% honey beer that has been matured for 3 months, a golden bitter-sweet beer with a dry, moreish aftertaste, the honey has been added to the fermenter, not to the copper which can create some odd flavours. Why 'Metla', well it derives from the German for 'mead' according to the German brewster who has brewed this beer.

Minimum Pricing - a vote

Do you support minimum pricing for alcohol?
Regular readers of this blog know my views so I have decided to run a poll on my readers' views. Head over to the right-hand column to click if you support the Government policy or not?

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Wales gets its first beer sommelier

Wales First Beer Sommelier – Ready For International Commitment To Beer!

From SIBA News

After starting his employed life with Butcombe Brewery as a cask washer and general worker some 20 years ago, Tom Newman left and set upon his new career as a water engineer. 10 years later after achieving a post graduate and chartership in water engineering, Tom decided take a U-turn by returning to his passion and past-time of brewing. In 2003, after persuading his Welsh father to allow him to construct a brewery in his garage the business set off. Now, nearly a decade on, after 2 expansions Tom is back in his family land of Caerphilly receiving a number of National and International awards for his flavoursome high-end organic beers with his Brewery ‘The Celt Experience’. Now as a newly qualified Beer Academy Sommelier (first in Wales!), Tom intends to travel both locally to his Welsh accounts and globally to his importers to encourage the fusion of a fantastic range of beers with flavoursome food dishes.

When asked on what his new qualifiction meant to him Tom replied “its simply a qualification of responsibility (to educate). Not only does this demonstrate a commitment of the sommelier to understand and respect differing flavours and styles of beers, but more importantly enables us to convey this information in an exciting way to the growing world of beer drinkers wishing to explore!”

Beer Academy Director, Simon Jackson said,

“There is an enormous public thirst to find out more about beer. How different raw materials and brewing techniques are used to produce a dazzling array of flavors and styles. And which beers go best with which foods. The public are looking with for people who combine technical knowledge about beer with the knack of being able to communicate simply and clearly. This is what Beer Academy Sommeliers are all about.

It’s great that Wales now has its first Beer Sommelier to spread the word about beer. But it’s a big country and hopefully Tom will be the first of many!”

Locally, Tom is planning to run a beer academy event at his brewery in Caerphilly, which is currently expanding. “We are going to run a free event for Caerphilly, which will demonstrate how exciting a variety of Welsh beers can be when drank the correct way ot matched with delicious local dishes”, he said.

The explosion of craft beer is an international movement and The Beer Academy provide a fantastic ground to nurture talent to educate drinkers in the most exciting manner.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Welsh Brewery celebrates 175 doggy years of brewing

2012 is, of course Jubilee year and the Royalty of brewing (well years of hanging out in the Royal Hotel in Penarth must count for something) in South Wales, Bullmastiff Brewery are celebrating after brewing for 175 Doggy years or 25 human years!

Brewing brother Bob & Paul Jenkins will be celebrating their first 25 years running a brewery with a meet the brewer night this Wednesday (28.03.12) in their local Wetherspoons, the Bear's Head in Penarth, from 6pm.

They have also brewed a one-off special beer, Bullmastiff Brewery Jubilee Ale, 4.3% ABV, .


Tasting Notes: This amber-coloured ale is brewed with Maris Otter malt and features a very fruity aroma with hints of blackcurrant from the Willamette Hops which added late to the brewing copper to impart this aroma. An initial biscuity sweetness in the flavour leads to a dry, bitter aftertaste with moderate astringency and rich, dark fruit flavours. Challenger hops are also used in this brew to provide the bitterness.

Time to dig out some photos from the archives, all taken with the old Canon A1 in the days before digital photography:

Above: Bob pouring a pint in the Royal Hotel, Penarth
Below: Bob drinking a pint!!
 
Above: Bob recieving a one of his many awards from me in my designer stubble days!

Pen and Swig Beer Festival


Newport's best pub will be holding another one of their beer festivals this week, the Pen & Wig on Stow Hill will become the Pen & Swig as award-winning beers from across Wales are served straight from the barrels at the pub. The Festival kicks off at midday on Friday 30 March and continues throughout the weekend with a special 'Meet the brewer' session on Friday at 3pm with Ian from the Kite Brewery.

The beer festival will also see the launch on draught of the new Crystal wheat beer from Untapped and the launch of an aged porter from Brecon Brewing.

Beer list, subject to availability etc:
Purple Moose:

Cwrw Eryri/Snowdonia Ale, 3.6% - A delightfully refreshing pale ale brewed with Pale and Crystal malt with a delicate combination of Pioneer, Styrian Goldings and Lubelski hops.

Cwrw Madog 3.7% - A delicious dark ale with a deep malt flavour from roasted barley and a fruity bitterness from Bramling Cross hops.


Cwrw Easter Ale 4.2% -This is an easy drinking golden session bitter with a fruity hop finish.



Ochr Tywyll y Mws/Dark Side of the Moose 4.6% -A delicious dark ale with a deep malt flavour from roasted barley and a fruity bitterness from Bramling Cross hops.


Kingstone Brewery:


Tewdrics Tipple 3.8% -This smooth, honey-coloured ale celebrates the audacity of Tewdric (also known asTewdrig), a onetime King of Gwent and self-imposed hermit. The combination of Fuggles and Northern Brewer Hops with blended pale and crystal malted barley produces an ale with a dry bitter character and tangy core

Challenger 4% - Challenger is fruity, almost scented, with a hint of spice and it produces a fine backbone of bitterness to any ale. To create this quenching brew we mix barley and wheat malts and add generous amounts of Wye Challenger hops for both the bittering and flavouring. Challenger is a smooth and richly hoppy well-balanced ale with a malted nose and toffee undertones.

No 1 Premium Stout 4.4% - Warm aromas of the roasted, flaked and pale malted barley underpin the smooth richness of this stout, balanced by the pairing of Challenger and Target hops for a bitter finish.


Classic Bitter 4.5% - award-winning Classic Bitter - a balanced, disctinctively hoppy, dry ale with a floral nose and smooth well-balanced finish. Classic is brewed with pale and crystal malted barley, bittered with a quartet of hops - Northern Brewer, Cascade, Willamette (a Fuggles hybrid) and Brambling Cross.


Humpty's Fuddle IPA 5.8% - dangerously smooth at 5.8% ABV, is a warming, oaky-smoky tipple. Humpty has a slightly sweet floral nose, a balanced level of malt supporting the hops and finally a subtle but slightly citrusy finish.


Untapped Brewery:


UPA 4.5% - Designed to be an Indian Pale Ale style, the light straw colour of this beer belies its full and citrus fruit driven flavours. Distinctly hoppy, with wonderful aromas from Styrian Goldings hops, the finish is perfectly balanced and satisfying.


Eclipse 4.4% - High colour crystal malt gives this beer a darkly red hue and rich roasted flavours. Brewed with Northdown hops for both bitterness and aroma, which gives a clean counterpoint to the power of the malt and a balanced fruity finish.


Ember 5.2% - Three kinds of roasted malt produce the fabulously rich, dark colour and strong textures of this beer. First Gold hops give a tang of zesty fruit, whilst Cascade hops give a sweetly nutty aroma. Hugely flavourful and mouth filling, this ticks all the boxes for lovers of strong, old style ale.


Crystal 5% - An Untapped take on a classic beer. Traditionally strong, our wheat beer is triple filtered before bottling for a clean finish. Full to bursting with all the distinct flavours of this style, with a delicate hop texture and rich mouthfeel.


Brecon Brewing:


Bronze 3.9% - A light bronze pale ale. Full bodied, with plenty of hop flavours – Cara and Oat malts provide the foretaste, with Cluster and Northdown hops providing the refreshing bitterness

Gold 4.2% - Deep golden ale brewed with Progress and Pioneer hops for a soft yet well defined bitterness, which balances the blend of malts


Bright Beacons 4.5% - A straw coloured best bitter, packed with a multitude of hops for full, satisfying drinking experience.


Wandering Beacon 5% - This is a dark chestnut hued strong best bitter – full bodied and well balanced.


Profit Porter 5.6% - Aged Porter brewed last November


Tiny Rebel Brewery:


Fubar 4.4% - A straw-coloured beer brewed with both American and German hops.


Urban IPA 5.5% - Golden-brown in colour and brewed with an intercomntinental blend of hops.

Pen & Wig
22-24 Stow Hill
Newport
NP20 1JD
 The Pen & Wig is situated in the centre of NewportGoogle Map:

View Larger Map

Friday, 23 March 2012

Boost for Welsh Pubs

Above: Malcolm Harrison, Director of Pub is The Hub, Alun Davies AM and John Longden, Chief Executive for Pub is The Hub

Pub is The Hub Announces £1.3m Local Services Initiative for Welsh Pubs

Alun Davies, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Food, Fisheries and European Programmes announced yesterday a £1.3m package of support for local services in rural pubs in Wales through a joint co-operation initiative between Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd (the Regional Development Agency for Denbighshire and Flintshire).

The co-operation project for Wales will be managed by Cadwyn Clywd on behalf of the Welsh Assembly and is funded through the Rural Development Plan for Wales 2007-2013 which, in turn, is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Pub is The Hub will support the administration, funding applications and national advisory service provided for each pub project.

Initiated through Pub is The Hub with support provided by The Prince's Countryside Fund, the project aims to engage with over 90 pubs, with financial support for around 60 that choose to diversify into new services for their communities across eight rural counties; Bridgend, Vale of Glamorgan, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire and Flintshire. The funding is available until the end of 2013 and Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd will be working with the Local Action Groups (LAGs) in each area to draw down the capital project funding for schemes approved in their areas.

The deputy minister was speaking at a launch event at The Royal Oak in Betws y Coed in North Wales on 22nd March 2012 hosted by Pub is The Hub and Cadwyn Clwyd, attended by licensees, local authorities and pub companies. He said: “I know how successful the Pub is The Hub initiative has been in bringing many important social, economic and environmental benefits to rural communities.

“Pubs, like many small rural businesses can struggle to trade profitably through providing only the pub functions. The training, advice and guidance being offered to pubs and communities through this project will, I am sure, inspire actions to create new income streams to help sustain pubs for the future. These pubs in turn will benefit their local communities by providing essential basic services.”

John Longden, Chief Executive of Pub is The Hub commented: “Whilst the levels of funding for each pub will depend on the type of project and community need, this is the first time that government has worked on a national scale to support an initiative of this kind. We are immensely grateful to The Prince’s Countryside Fund which has allowed us to operate in Wales and to initiate the project on a national scale.”

He went on to say: “The closure of a business in a rural community adversely impacts on the viability of many other businesses leading to a domino-like effect on the collapse of further local services and amenities. Often a rural pub is now the only socially significant business still running in many rural communities. Pub is The Hub is not directly about saving pubs but about supporting them and encouraging them to diversify and support local services in this rapidly changing world.”

Also speaking at the launch was Martin Boardman from the Salisbury Arms in Tremeirchion in Clwyd who has set up a community playground for the village; Colin Garner from the Golden Lion in Llangynhafal in Denbighshire who runs a monthly cinema club; and Steve Marquis from The Blue Bell in Halkyn in Flintshire who is in the process of re-opening the village post office in his pub. Steve Marquis also pointed out that once a village loses its last remaining service, which can often be the pub, it can lose its status as a village and even as a hamlet which then has implications for future planning applications in the area.

David Willis from the community-run pub called The Raven in Llanarmon, Denbighshire was also there to talk about how important it is to keep pubs and businesses open in rural areas. At The Raven they have also diversified to offer a peripatetic post office service each Thursday, OAP lunches, accommodation, films and even Welsh lessons every week.
Pub is The Hub will be running a series of workshops for pub owners and licensees over the next twelve months in each county and are asking that anyone interested in undertaking such a scheme should get in touch with Pub is The Hub by calling 01 423 546165 or emailing enquiries@pubisthehub.org.uk.

Minimum Pricing and why Cameron is not a Tory

The fake charities such as Alcohol Concern and their bastard offspring Alcohol Concern Cymru were no doubt drooling over their lattes this morning as the Government's Alcohol Strategy was announced in the press. For the first time since the Second World War the Government is planning to interfere with free trade and set a minimum price for alcohol, all in the name of stopping late-night alcohol abuse, pre-loading and other such things such as making sure beer is not cheaper than water - it never has been - this was one reported very obscure study which no one can actually verify. Still that does not stop the Fake Charities getting their hyperbole in, step forward  Eric Appleby, chief executive of Fake Charity Alcohol Concern, who said,
 "This is a victory for common sense.
"We cannot carry on with a situation where it's cheaper to buy a can of lager than a can of Coke."
"We fully support the Government in taking action to clamp down on booze at pocket money prices and protect the health of our children and young people.
"All the research shows there is a link between price and consumption and we know that lives can be saved if a minimum price is introduced."
A can of lager cheaper than a can of coke! That's a new one Eric, please publish on your taxpayer-funded website where cans of lager are cheaper than cans of coke? 'Pocket-money prices' which means of course 'won't someone think of the chiiiildren', er they should not be buying cans of lager in the first place as its illegal. Do you seriously believe that raising the price of an item that is already illegal for them to buy is going to have any effect on their consumption of said items? If you do you are already seriously misguided.

Alcohol consumption has fallen by 14% in the UK since 2014 (Source BBPA)


There that is a fact, not a made-up story about lager cans cheaper than coke.

The extra cost to members of the public is said to be between £23-£100+ over the course of the year. Yes, that's right YOU will be paying more at the end of the day for the same product you buy now. Do you really think that selling a can of beer at 80p will make any difference to saving pubs who are selling beer at £3.00/pint? Of course not but as soon as this bit of legislation is on the statute book we shall see mission creep coming in with the fake charities demanding increases in the minimum price.

These proposals are nothing but a boost for the illegal manufacturers of dodgy drinks and the booze cruisers to Calais and Cherbourg.

An apologist for Alcohol Concern was on Sky News earlier, debating with Bridget Simmons of the BBPA, when confronted about minimum pricing and alcohol consumption referred to a rather obscure study down in British Columbia which suggests that a 10% increase in the minimum price of any given alcoholic product reduced its consumption by between 14.6%. And that's where we get to the reason for minimum pricing - its about reducing consumption in an already shrinking market. Hence the reason why the prohibitionists were jumping for joy this morning on the television coverage. Watching Sky News this morning I saw one fake charity after another being paraded onto our screens, as they were on a roll they started to announce other things such as increasing the minimum price, banning alcohol advertising and just generally showing their true colours of banstubation and prohibition.


As well as a minimum unit price, the government is banning the sale of multi-buy discount deals, increasing powers to stop the selling of alcohol to anyone who is drunk, introducing 'zero tolerance' of drunken behaviour in hospital Accident & Emergency departments, and bringing in a late-night levy so that pubs and clubs have to help pay for policing.
It is already illegal to sell alcohol to someone who is drunk - just how can you legislate to make something more illegal than it already is? This is one law that the police continually fail to to uphold - visiting City Centre 'venue' pubs to prevent drunks being served would be a start, rather than waiting in a van eating doughnuts for when the disorders happen a few hours later - yes Gwent Constabulary we are all familiar with your City Centre policing habits.
The late-night levy is also mentioned - already Newport Council have hinted that they will be charging premises the full £4000+ a year. This is in addition to rates which are supposed to already cover policing. Smaller venues will be charged the same as the larger ones as well - an inappropriate way of collecting any revenue.

I was looking for a comment to rubbish these proposals put forward by the Government today and came across this from, Dr Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance:



“These measures, if adopted, amount to an attack on the poor. The ruling class politicians who continually whine about alcohol will not be affected by minimum pricing or the abolition of special offers. I might add that none of them can be affected by such laws. Income aside, anyone who lies his way into Parliament can look forward to round the clock drinking in the Palace of Westminster of untaxed alcohol.


“But the measures will hurt poor people, for whom alcohol will become cripplingly expensive and hard to find. They have the same right to drink as the rest of us. Bearing in mind the problems willed on them by our exploitative ruling class, they often have a greater need to drink.


“The claim that drinking ’causes’ public disorder is nonsense. Alcohol does not run about the streets. People do. If people are making nuisances of themselves, the police should be instructed to stop behaving like some equivalent of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and to start protecting life and property again.


“The claim that drinking makes people unhealthy is irrelevant, where not a lie. People must be regarded as responsible for their own mistakes. Anyone who bleats about increased cost to the National Health Service should consider that drinkers already pay more in taxes than the alleged cost of treating their specific illnesses.


“We oppose all controls on the availability of alcohol to adults. Better England free than England sober.”

The Libertarian Alliance believes:

* That all the licensing laws should be repealed;
* That all controls on the marketing of alcohol should be repealed;
* That alcohol taxes should be reduced to the same level as the lowest in the European Union, and that there should be no increase in other taxes;
* That not a penny of the taxpayers’ money should be given to any organisation arguing against the above.

Naturally the Government proposals today only apply to England, the Welsh Government do want the powers to raise a minimum price in Wales, as being socialists they jump at the chance of another stealth tax to fit in with their bag tax.
With these proposals Cameron has finally proved that he is no longer a Tory and no longer holds any views of that the free-market Conservative Party once held.  As Philip Davies MP said yesterday in Parliament
"May I propose a change for the Government when they are considering their legislative programme for the next Session? Will they bear it in mind, just for a change, that they are in coalition with the Conservative party?"

(H/T Dick Puddlecoat)

As usual when it comes to these matters I suggest you have a read of Chris Snowdon's Velvet Glove Iron Fist Blog.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Nanny tells you not to drink at home!

I recently saw this article over at the South Wales Evening Post (that's a Swansea paper for those of you outside of Wales):
Campaign puts spotlight on having drink at home
Oh what now!
Yes the Nanny State is back and having driven smokers out of pubs and into their homes to enjoy themselves with the supermarkets laughing all the way to the bank, Chief Nanny Dr Tony Jewell now says that we are drinking too much at home!

Nanny Jewell said 60 per cent of people between 45 and 64 years old drink above the recommended level in Wales.
Well that's got nothing to do with you or the Government!

"It costs the NHS in Wales £70 million a year," he said.
But how are those figures worked out and how much do we as taxpayers contribute to the NHS and Nanny Jewell's salary? All of it of course!

"Drinking at home has increased, in the past people would say they are going to the pub later for a drink, now they drink at home. If you drink at home there is a pressure that if you open a bottle of wine, you finish it.
And, why do people drink at home? Because you have forced them out of the pub where they used to go for a drink and a smoke.

"I think all of us underestimate the number of units we drink."
Alcohol units are meaningless. Don't believe me? Then check this out:
Liver specialist Dr Nick Sheron, of the Alcohol Health Alliance UK, says these limits were devised by civil servants with "no good evidence" for doing so.

This part of the Welsh Government, ie taxpayer funded, Change4Life nannying. There is an interesting little unit checker on the website in which you input what you have to drink and it tells you the amount of units you have drunk, with an option to share the result on Facebook and Twitter, unfortunately the Facebook plugin is not working, still its only a Government IT project, it's not as if they have to worry about spending our money is it?
There is a good comment on the piece by an award-winning South Wales brewer:
“What an absolute load of tripe, there is no proven medical evidence to support the recommended daily units of alcohol, in fact as a leading deputy editor of the British medical journal and a member of the working party that established the new safe limits in 1987, which were reduced from fifty one units, to twenty one units said when asked why, " we just pulled them out of the air"

There was no reason given and no medical proof given to back up this decision.
As for the costs to the NHS these figures are seemingly plucked from the air also, with no balancing figures for the beneficial contribution alcohol makes by keeping most people who drink it less stressed out with modern life and its demands.
Imagine working all the hours you do have to work these days with no release at all other than less than a pint of beer a day?
I think stress related costs to the NHS and to society would be far greater. Not to mention also that costs are more widely reported in modern days that before and I wonder if any individual source of cost has been reduced to the NHS in the last 20 years?
Its time to say enough!
Its a modern world and we live in a modern democracy, damn it we are even grown up tax paying adults, leave us alone to enjoy a simple natural product.
For far too,long the minority have had the biggest voice in this issue, I say enough is enough!”

Well said Nick!

In other news today, the Government Propaganda from the BBC has been identified by Chris Snowdon and picked up by Pete Brown as well, both posts are well worth reading.

Welsh Rugby Union uses Brains

News from Brains:
After a third Grand Slam victory at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, the Welsh Rugby Union has announced a significant new partnership with Welsh brewer Brains and the UK’s leading brewer and cider producer Heineken.



Heineken will be installed as Official Lager and Cider Partner to the WRU and Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, whilst Brains will remain as the official ale of the WRU until 2016.The deal follows Wales’ hugely successful Six Nations campaign which saw the team crowned Grand Slam Champions for the third time in seven years.

The new agreement, which will commence in June 2012 and will run until 2016, will see Brains beers, including SA, on sale in stadium bars alongside leading lager and cider brands Heineken, Foster’s and Strongbow and will include a comprehensive rights package enabling both brands to engage with the Welsh public as of the commencement date.

Brains began working with the WRU in 2004, when their ale became the first Welsh brand to sponsor the senior team jersey – and has since become one of the WRU’s key partners. The Brains’ name was emblazoned on shirts during a period in which Wales won two Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008. In 2010 Brains switched its sponsorship, becoming ‘official ale of the WRU’.

WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said: "The partnership with Brains has always been strong and this new, complete deal with Brains and Heineken combined, further cements that relationship.

"These brands are both extremely strong and therefore amalgamate effectively with the WRU brand and we are delighted to be able to continue to grow this relationship over the next four years.

"We have experienced three Grand Slam victories in the time Brains have been one of our partners and the four Heineken Cup matches hosted at the Millennium Stadium have all been commercially successful for both the WRU and Heineken and we look forward to more successes in the future."

Scott Waddington, Chief Executive at Brains, said: "Since 2004 more than a million pints of Brains have been sold in the Millennium Stadium and countless more in Brains pubs on match days. We’re delighted that the strong relationship we’ve established with the WRU will continue and look forward to starting a new marketing partnership in the UK with HEINEKEN, who are one of world sport’s foremost sponsors.

"It is fantastic to have been able to celebrate the Welsh rugby team’s achievements over the last eight years and we’re predicting more of the same for the next four years. With a bit of Brains’ positive thinking, here’s to becoming the ‘official ale of World Cup winners 2015’."

Lawson Mountstevens, Managing Director, UK On Trade at HEINEKEN, said: "Heineken and Foster’s are both showing strong growth in Wales and the new agreement signals our commitment to maintaining this brand momentum to drive sales still further in the country. Strongbow has long been the most popular cider in Wales and the new partnership will bring the nation’s favourite cider brand back to the Millennium Stadium.

"Having hosted four Heineken Cup finals in the last 10 years, we know the Millennium Stadium offers an outstanding showcase for our brands and, as an official sponsor and supplier to the London 2012 Games."

Brains Highlights:
•Two Grand Slams (2005 & 2008)

•Five victories over England (2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 & 2012)

•2005: ‘Brains’ famously replaced with ‘Brawn’ for France v Wales match in Paris

•2005: Brains wins Hollis Sponsorship Award, Western Mail Business Award, National Business Award, and Marketing Society Award

•2008: Shane Williams wins IRB Player of the Year

•2009: Brains wins second Hollis Sponsorship Award

•2011: Wales reaches the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup

Heineken and Sport:

•Heineken is the sponsor of European Club rugby’s premier competition, the Heineken Cup

•Heineken is the Official Beer Supplier and Worldwide Partner to the 2015 Rugby World Cup

•Heineken is an official sponsor of UEFA Champions’ League football

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Rozzers tell porkies to the press

Two great examples of churnalism from both the BBC and the South Wales Argus with virtually identical articles being published, although the Argus article is written in the present tense and the BBC is written in the future tense. Both articles come from the local beermat producer, Gwent Police and both the BBC and the South Wales Argus have failed to talk to any Newport publicans to actually discover if what the police are telling them is true or not.

From the Argus:
PUBS, bars and clubs in Newport are now glassfree zones on Friday and Saturday nights, Gwent Police said.

PC Rachael Honey has been working closely with local licensees over the past two years to roll out the use of polycarbonate glasses across the city.
Now all licensed premises across the city have made the switch – something the Argus has backed for five years.
In 2010, £5,000 worth of polycarbonate glasses were bought by the Safer Newport Partnership for licensed premises across the city centre and many licensees took up the offer.
All licensed premises, well that's apart from the Murenger, Pen & Wig. Infusion, and Carpenters to name but a few of the places I know still use them.

From the BBC:
Newport city centre will go glass-free on Friday and Saturday nights, Gwent Police has confirmed.
So its not glass free at the moment then? According to the Argus it is.

Now we all want to see a reduction in glass crime but what is the point of the local rozzers claiming that a complete ban will reduce crime? None. On the other hand there has been a reduction in the number of glass attacks in Newport:
27 in 2006/07,
32 in 2007/08,
31 in 2008/09,
16 in 2009/10,
11 in 2010/11
7 between April 2011 and December 2011

So what type of pubs are polycarbonates used in if the smaller pubs like the Murenger, Pen & Wig, Carpenters and Infusion do not use them? Well its the superpubs such as Chaverspoons, Greyhound and Revolution, so the use of polycarbonates has seen a reduction in glass attacks in those pubs that, shall we say are vertical drinking areas and the smaller pubs have carried on using glass and there has still been a reduction in attacks. This just goes to prove that blanket bans do not work and the rozzers should stick to policing, not giving out inaccurate information to the gullible press.


On another note, crime map of Newport is here, notice the correlation between superpubs and crime hotspots?

Budget blues for drinkers

Confusion reigned today in the media over the budget coverage when the Chancellor announced that there was to be no change in the alcohol duty set by his predecessor. The BBC took this to mean that alcohol duty was not going up, this is of course a falsehood as the Beer Duty Escalator, set up by 'Eyebrows' Darling, remains in place so Beer Duty is going up:
Inflation (4%) + Escalator (2%) = 6% increase on beer duty
Have just been informed that RPI not CPI inflation is used so its actually only 3.7% but we all know these things are rounded up

The South Wales Argus tweeted "No change to duty rates on alcohol", proving its not just the BBC who get these things wrong.

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said, ‘The fact Britons are forced to pay over 40% of the EU beer tax bill, but consume only 13% of the beer sold in Europe, is remarkable. British beer in a pub is so heavily hit with duty and VAT, the tax man’s whirlwind hikes translate to him guzzling a third of every pint served, a shadow cast over the beer drinker depriving people of an affordable night down their local.

‘Such high taxes on beer are totally unsustainable, and therefore CAMRA is launching a consumer fight back in a bid to make the Government see sense. We today urge all beer drinkers to visit this site to get behind this new industry-backed e-petition to help safeguard the future of the beer and pub industry.’

Before the budget announcement on Beer Duty, George Osborne mentioned that the Government has an alcohol review strategy coming out later this year - expect more Draconian price controls in that with the introduction of minimum pricing, favoured by the prohibitionists alcohol concern and other such fake charities.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Do Your Duty - sign the petition against the beer escalator

Tomorrow (Wed) is budget day, the one day of the year that all drinkers can guaranteed to get screwed by the Government. The horrendous beer tax calculator is still on the books, which adds 2% plus inflation to the price of beer. This makes a 45% tax rise on beer since 2008!


Below are some infographics from the British Beer & Pub Association
• 950,000 British jobs depend on the UK beer and pub sector – 34,000 fewer than last year 
• There are now 900 breweries in the UK – a vital part of Britain’s manufacturing mix
• £13 billion is paid in wages in the sector
• Brewing and pubs are worth £19.4 billion to the UK economy (Gross Value Added)
• The beer and pub sector contributes over £11 billion in tax revenues


  • 52,000 public houses in the UK
  •  2% of GDP is contributed by pubs
  • Almost 600,000 people are employed in full and part-time jobs






  • Over 80% of pubs (i.e. around 40,000 outlets) are small businesses which are independently managed or run by self-employed licensees. 
  • Beer represents 68% of all alcoholic drinks sold in pubs 
  • pub food market is currently estimated to be worth in the region of £6 billion per annum








Monday, 19 March 2012

Clytha Festival is on!

Clytha Festival 1st-5th June 2012

Despite rumours to the contrary, the annual festival at the award-winning Clytha Arms IS happening this year, although without the input from the Welsh Perry and Cider Society who have decided to hold their own rival festival in the middle of nowhere at the same time. After running up debts of, according to reports somewhere in the region of £30k, at their 'Middle of Nowhere International Cider Festival' at Nelson last year, the Welsh Perry and Cider Society are now holding their rival festival at Unisthee Rugby Club, a place that does not even see the sun after 3pm when it sets behind the mountains! Would put a link to the venue but even Google Maps can't find it!

According to the Welsh Perry & Cider Society  "We've moved because we've outgrown the venue. The Clytha Arms are still running a small cider festival at the pub"
This is not true, the WPCS have decided to go it alone and pulled out of the Clytha only a few weeks ago. I've seen the emails and the WPCS is putting out some rather negative and untrue comments about the Clytha. As the WPCS is funded by the taxpayer they should not be getting involved in negative petty personal disputes but should be supporting rural pubs like the Clytha; not engaging in petty little arguments like this. Also it will not be a 'small cider festival' as the WPCS but a larger festival with more stands, live music and ciders and perries from not just Wales but Herefordshire as well with Gwatkin, Olivers and Ross-on-Wye to name but a few.

The Clytha Arms is, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best pubs I have ever been in and their regular festivals are always very popular. They ran a cider festival before the WPCS was even in existence and will continue to do so when the Government (ie Taxpayer) funding for the WPCS finally runs dry and the WPCS is no more. The Clytha Cider Festival will be a great occasion to get out and support a rural pub and local cidermakers.

Where could be better to hold a cider festival but in the grounds of the fantastic Clytha Arms, watching the setting of the sun over the Brecon Beacons and enjoying great food and company?
Certainly not in a Welsh village such as Unisthee, set in a valley that has seen better days and one most people would not even consider going to at night!

More Information on the Clytha Festival Facebook Site
and on Twitter @ClythaCiderFestival

The Clytha Arms

Clytha
Near Abergavenny
Monmouthshire
South Wales
United Kingdom
NP7 9BW

Google Map:

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Traveline Cymru:
The Clytha is reachable by public transport, via the Abergavenny-Monmouth bus route

Sunday, 18 March 2012

MEP calls on Chancellor to call time on beer tax rise

A Welsh Member of the European Parliament, John Bufton has called on the Chancellor to back Britain’s beer and pub sector by calling time on expected tax increases in the forthcoming Budget.

He said: “I’m backing this campaign by the British Beer & Pub Association, the Society of Independent Brewers and the Campaign for Real Ale, calling for the Chancellor to abandon the planned 5% tax hike on beer. The alcohol sector brings £8.5m pounds to the Welsh economy and supports some 45,000 jobs.”

When challenged in the House of Commons on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP stressed the importance of supporting the role of local pubs.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Friday, 16 March 2012

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Top beer at an excellent price

The Pen & Wig in Newport is becoming my favourite pub at the moment, as well as a beer festival at the end of March (more details later!), the pub has recently installed Gorslas from the Kite Brewery and sells it a very reasonable £2/pint during the day and £2.15/pint after 7pm. Not a bad price considering its a City Centre pub.
Other beers on the bar are Bass with guests today Caledonian Over the Bar, Bakehouse Cupcake, Warwickshire Duck Soup with Troggi Seidr and Perry also.

Fake Charity wants to ban beer advertising

Another day and another drinks-industry bashing report from fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru.

"A new report from Alcohol Concern Cymru shows that children as young as 10 in Wales are more familiar with some leading alcohol brands and adverts than those for popular foods and snacks".

Well good, it shows that children are observant about everyday life and are familiar with a normal part of that life, ie, drinking alcoholic drinks. Oh but the fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru who are funded by the taxpayer (£250.000 in 2009/10) don't see it that way, reading between the lines it is clear they want a ban on the advertising of alcoholic drinks "Won't someone think of the children" is their cry and the idiots in the Welsh Government who fund these prohibitionists are likely to give in to their demands.


Mark Leyshon from Alcohol Concern said:


“It’s clear that more effective controls are needed to ensure alcohol marketing messages only reach adult audiences, and are not attractive to children. We need to look at the best practice from other countries that are seeking to tackle alcohol harm, and produce a regulatory framework that’s fit for purpose.”

No Mark, you and your organisation need to lose your charitable status and state-funding. The BBC refers to Alcohol Concern Cymru as 'A health campaign group', they are nothing of the sort, these are the neo-prohibitionists for the twenty-first century. They won't be satisfied until thousands of jobs are lost by the excellent drinks sector we have in Wales.

France already bans alcohol advertising, something that caused much amusement when, a few years ago Brains were sponsoring the Welsh rugby team and had 'Brawn' and 'Try Essai' printed on the shirts.

The full report is available to download here as a pdf. Read it to see where the idiots in the Cardiff Bay waste taxpayers money.

UPDATE: Chris Snowdon rips into fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru here

Whitcombe Inn, Aberdare

Whitcombe Inn, 11 Whitcombe Street, Aberdare, CF44 7DA
Open all day.

The Whitcombe Inn is situated on the junction of Whitcombe and Pembroke Street, in this mainly residential area of Aberdare in which the most of the street corners seem to have pubs built upon them. This area of terraced houses was built in the nineteenth-century. The Whitcombe features a decorative pub sign hanging outside of someone playing a violin and a bottle of wine beside his chair.

The pub was originally owned by Rhymney and later Whitbread breweries but today it is a welcoming free house. The pub was first mentioned in 1861 when it was known as the 'Hen and Chickens Inn'. There is a village of Great Witcombe in Gloucestershire and a nearby pub is called the Gloucester Arms, the connection being that this area of Aberdare was built on the glebeland of the nearby St John's Church, founded around 1200, which was owned by the Dean and Chapter of Gloucester. The Gloucester location has dropped its 'h' in recent years.
The Whitcombe Inn has a traditional look to the interior of the pub with wooden fittings throughout, from the panelling around the door to the old bar counter with its intricate joinery and sloping panels. The front bar room also features an interesting collection of old photographs – across one beam are photographs of the old pubs of Aberdare – many have been demolished over the years – and another collection is of old mining photographs – a reminder of the main industry that used to serve this area years ago. The pub features a fireplace in one wall with exposed brickwork surrounding it whilst on the opposite wall a wooden frame surrounds what was once the fireplace there.

The wooden bar features three real ales, all served from gleaming chrome handpumps with Wychood Hobgoblin and Brains SA being the regular beers and the third pump being reserved for a guest ale, the most recent one being Dirty Tackle from Wychwood Brewery in Oxfordshire. Tomos Watkin Taffy Apples Cider and 1879 Lager are also available in this free house.

Either side of the bar are two passageways leading a couple of steps down to the games room with a pool table and a darts board. The pub has very successful teams as is shown by the display of cups and shields in the bar won by the locals over the years.

The pub features two big projector screens for use during major sporting events but usually it is conversation that dominates in this friendly locals' pub.

Free WiFi via The Cloud is also available at the Whitcombe.

Google Map:

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Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Happy No Smoking Day

Local History Society object to name change


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Brewers Marstons have managed to invoke the wrath of a local history society by renaming one of its pubs 'The Dormouse' instead of its original name of 'The Crown' after it has undergone a refurbishment. BBC have the full story here.
Marstons do have a bit of an animal theme running through their new builds/refurbishments as in South Wales we have a Bumble Bee (Pontlanfraith), an Otter (Newbridge) and a Sand Martin (Cardiff) whilst in North Wales they have a Running Hare (Ewloe) and a Little Owl (Chester). However what is the point of renaming a well-established pub on a crossroads that everyone knowns the name of?

Recently in Newport we have seen the renaming of the historic 'Six Bells', on Stow Hill, opposite the Cathedral. Although not owned by Marstons - it was owned Punch last time I checked but could be anyone given the state of their business at the moment - it was renamed 'The Church House', for no apparent reason than the Cathedral (not church!) is opposite. To add to the confusion there are also 2 other pubs called the Church House in the Newport area already - one in Pill and the other just outside the City in St Brides Wentlooge but with the same area code (01633). So a great way to cause confusion to all there!

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

All beers have heads - Only ours has Brains

Brains have launched a new advertising campaign featuring billboard posters across South Wales and in Newport, adverts on the back of buses. No photos of the buses as they do not stay still for long enough but a couple of pictures of their billboards here.
A good play on words there and a good simple eye-catching image.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Excellent film on a rural Welsh pub

Ever heard of the Railway Hotel in Nantgaredig? No well until today neither had I but filmaker Jamie Wright has decided to put the pub on the map with his excellent short film.
As he says, "A good life needs a good community, and a good community needs a good pub. This is the story of mine."
The pub is currently up for sale as the owners looking to retire.


The Railway from Jamie Wright on Vimeo.



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Rugby, beer and the Real Ale Guide

Met up with Simon from Real Ale Guide to watch the match on Saturday, courtesy of SA Brain. Anyway, video below of the days' action with an appearance by myself and ex-boxer Nicky Piper.



Thanks to SA Brain for the hospitality and the excellent SA Gold and Brains Black sampled there.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Landmark Cardiff pub faces conversion into shop


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A landmark Cardiff  pub, the Lansdowne Hotel in Canton, could be converted into a shop if the owners of the building have their way. The pub is owned by the Chameleon Group who also operate the North Star on North Road and a number of other venues and have told local residents of the area at a meeting that the options for the pub are:

1. To lease the space on a long term basis to a chain shop/supermarket such as Co-op or Spar


2. To lease/sell to an outside company to open a restaurant


3. To open the Lansdowne as a pub/restaurant along the lines of the other venues ran by Chameleon Group such as The North Star. 

Residents made their wishes clear at the meeting that they would like to see the pub reopen as a pub, run along the same lines as other Chameleon Group and not another shop that will compete with already well-established shops in the area.


Chameleon Group have already converted the upstairs of the pub into 13 flats and did have plans to reopen the pub, according to this Your Cardiff article from 2010

Brains launch Triple Crown Ale

TRIPLE CROWN ALE

Award-winning Welsh brewer SA Brain, the official ale of the Welsh Rugby Union, has crafted an ale in celebration of Wales’ Triple Crown triumph.

‘Triple Crown’ is part of Brains’ seasonal ale range, which also includes Bread of Heaven – the official ale of the 2005 and 2008 Grand Slam. The new golden ale will be on sales in Brains pubs from today (Friday 8th March).

Richard Davies, sales and marketing director, said: “We’re confident that the beer will prove popular, especially over the next two international weekends.”

TASTING NOTES
This golden ale combines a blend of two premium malts with a trio of winning hops, Cascade, Styrian Goldings and Fuggles, creating a refreshingly moreish beer.



Thursday, 8 March 2012

Save the Vulcan time again

Above: The Vulcan pictured in 2000

The Vulcan Hotel in Adamstown looks like it is going to close its doors for the last time at the end of May this year. Its 3 year stay-of-execution is over and the bulldozers will be demolishing this historic piece of Cardiff to build another car park. Media Wales announced the story today and also has some celebrity endorsements of the pub. The BBC also run the story on their website
We all realise that trade has dropped off since the UWIC building opposite built their own student union but everyone agrees this is a pub worth saving. Okay the effort could have been made by Cardiff Council and CADW over 10 years ago but the Council is more interested in car parks for the shopping centre than preserving the heritage of the City. CADW, the Welsh equivalent of English Heritage, have consistently ignored the pleas from people wishing to save this piece of heritage from the bulldozer, even saying that the Golden Cross nearby has been given Grade II listed status as its a better quality building, completely missing the point that this 160 tiled-frontage building is historic in hardly changing in all those years. The inside was refurbished in the 1950s and this is the layout that remains today, although the unique outside gents toilets with their brown porcelain urinals are no doubt older and possibly original to the 1850s building. Apparently a collector in the States is interested in buying this bit of Cardiff history but I would prefer it to stay where it is.

Above: the unique brown urinals

An idea put around a few years ago was for the pub to be removed to St Fagans Musuem, other heritage sites such as Ironbridge Gorge Museum have their own pubs and its been rumoured that St Fagans have been looking around for one for years. As the pub is no longer viable and the students opposite are not using the pub, surely the best option now is to see the building rebuilt at the museum where future generations may be able to experience it for themselves, rather than being just another demolished Cardiff pub?






Above: Guinness is Good For You sign on the side of the pub




Tuesday, 6 March 2012

New look for Rhymney Beers

A trip up the valleys last week gave me an excuse to visit Merthyr Tydfil's best pub, the Winchester, brewery tap for the current Champion Beer of Wales winners, Rhymney Brewery.

The Rhymney Brewery guys have been busy, along with the now completed move to Blaenavon from Dowlais, they have also redesigned their pumpclips with the Hobby Horse trademark taking a prominent place on the pumpclip, together with the original slogans of 'Best around here' and 'An easy winner' on them.
The Hobby Horse was the original symbol of the old Rhymney Brewery, taken over and closed by Whitbread, but originated at Pritchard's Brewery of Crumlin in the 1920s. For more information on the old Rhymney Brewery here is a link about a 1963 film of the brewery.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Use your Brains for British Pie Week!

Its British Pie Week again this week and what better goes with pies than a pint of beer or two. It's long been established that Brains Dark is the perfect accompaniment to a Clark's Pie but there's more to Cardiff pies than the Clarkies!

Pies in Brains pubs include:
1. Goat Major, Cardiff


The award winning Wye Valley pie (former chef Adam Pavey won ‘Pub Pie Champion in 2010), is a firm favourite at the city centre pub. The pie features buttered chicken in a rich creamy sauce, new potatoes, leeks and asparagus and is topped with Tintern Abbey cheese and a puff pastry lid. Available as part of a daily changing menu, if it’s not on you could always try one of the 15 others, including rabbit pot pie, lamb and mint, and mutton and rosemary pie.
A great little boozer in the heart of Cardiff, always serving excellent food and the pub does not smell of fish, unlike some other establishments on Cathedral Road. This is my favourite pub that serves food in Cardiff - only pies on the menu with weekly specials on the chalkboards - a recent pie featured 'black pudding mash'. An innovative and excellent menu.

2. Yard, Cardiff
One of the best sellers, the homemade beef, stilton & Brains Black pie is available on the £5 lunchtime menu. Part of the daily changing menu, so best to call before to check that it’s on.
Another pub that does not smell of fish.

3. The Duke of Wellington, Cardiff
Swap the cheese and order a pork pie instead with your ploughman’s. Served with salad, pickles, apple, Reverend James chutney and sour dough bread. N.B. The Ploughman’s is available on the lunchtime menu, or the pork pie is served on its own as part of the evening nibbles menu.
Always a popular pub, even for coffee in the morning, made even bettter as the pub does not smell of fish.

4. Wenvoe Arms
Try a ‘Proper Pie’ at the recently refurbished pub. Made with handmade short crust pastry, you can choose from steak and kidney, steak and ale, or chicken and ham.
Visited this pub for the first time a few weeks agao and there was not even the hint of smelly fish in the air.

5. Lamb and Flag, Abergavenny
The homemade luxury pie is filled with chicken, leeks, mushroom & smoked bacon, and topped with puff pastry.
Another pub that is free from the overpowering miasma of smelly fish.

6. The Bell, Glangrwyney
The venison shepherd’s pie is served with mashed potato and seasonal roasted roots.
Visited here for the first tme in years just last year, a great pub with fantastic real ales and a stunning menu. Did not smell of fish either.

7. Piercefield, Chepstow
Swap savoury for sweet with a bramley apple pie with apple & blackberry ice cream at the recently refurbished pub.
Situated on the road to Monmouth, the Piecefield is another pub in which the senses are not overpowered by the smell of fish.

Grey Trees Brewery, Llwydcoed, Aberdare



Last year the Red Cow at Llwydcoed, near Aberdare won the Mid-Glamorgan CAMRA Pub of the Year Award, a tribute to the hard work put into this pub by landlord Ray Davies. The Red Cow is the last pub in the village, a village that was once served by 8 pubs. Brew Wales have previously covered the pub here. The Red Cow is the winner of the Mid-Glamorgan Pub of the Year this year as well.
Last year Ray decided to start brewing his own beer at the pub and the Grey Trees Brewery was born, the name coming from the English translation of Llwydcoed.



Three regular beers are brewed by landlord Ray Davies in his one-barrel (280 pint) brew plant.



Rechabites Bitter, 4%

A bronze-coloured bitter brewed with Maris Otter Malt and Challenger and Golding Hops.

Named after a local society that uses the pub.













Diggers Gold, 4%,


Diggers Gold is a golden coloured pale ale with a subtle hop aroma and a brief biscuity flavour followed by a dry and astringent after-taste. The pleasant bitter and hoppy after-taste lingers for quite a while afterwards. Brewed with Maris Otter Malt and Goldings and Challenger hops, Diggers Gold is also dry-hopped with Challenger in the cask to give it its distinctive lasting bitterness.

Ray has said he is still experimenting with this brew and will be using American hops in future.









Ye Olde Drummer Boy, 4.2%

A dark, strong mild, named after former pub regular and Stereophonics drummer Stuart Cable.

Beers are only available at the pub for now, but expect to see some of them at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival in June.

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