Thursday, 31 May 2012

Gwynt Cider open this weekend

Okay if you are not heading to the Clytha Arms this weekend then there is another big cider festival on just outside of Pontypridd. Just remember the Unisthee Rugby Club bash was cancelled so don't head there!
This weekend will see the return of the popular Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider open weekend, postponed due to bad weather last month. This time the weather will not get the better of the Gwynt boys as a giant marquee has been erected at the farm in case the sun does not shine.

It's that time of year again when Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider throw open their doors again to the public and entertain us with a weekend of cider, good food and music.

The perfect place to try the multi-award-winning ciders and perries, these open days have proved extremely popular in the past, although the Sunday does tend to be a quieter day.

Above: Llest Farm is set in glorious countryside just a short drive from Cardiff

Music Lineup:
Saturday 2nd June

Sick Note Steve & the Jug Band

Cutting the Beef

M.S.&N Band


Sunday 3rd June

The Whole Hog

Three Day Binge

Garth Mountain Boys

Hello Camero


As well as the music there is also face painting for children (and of course the adults!)

 Some of the cider lovers at the festival last year

Food will also be available with local award-winning pigs on the hog roast and crepes.

So why not support a great Welsh company by coming along to their open weekend?


Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider
Llest Farm, Pontypridd, RCT, CF38 2PW
Saturday 11:00 til 21:00

Sunday 11:00 til 19:30

Google Map:

View Larger Map

Traveline Cymru Information:

The farm is a short walk uphill from the stops in-between the Crown and the Bush

If you miss this one, the next one is on the 4th/5th August

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Jubilee Beer & Cider Festival Roundup

A roundup of where the beer and cider festivals in and around South Wales are this weekend.

Cider lovers should head for the Clytha Arms near Raglan in Monmouthshire this weekend and also the Gwynt Y Ddraig Open Weekend in Llantwit Fardre. Don't forget the Welsh Perry & Cider Society bash at Unisthee Rugby Club has been cancelled so don't head up there (as if anyone ever would?)

Brynffynon at Llanwonno, 1st-3rd June also on Facebook

Coach & Horses, Chepstow, 1st-3rd June, live music on Fri/Sat nights, Facebook site here

Boar's Head, Tyla Garw, 2nd-4th, over 30 real ales and ciders, Facebook Site here

Carne Arms, Llysworney, Vale of Glamorgan, local ales & ciders, hog roast, Facebook site here

Vale of Glamorgan ph, Cowbridge, beers out the back as at the beerex at the Food Festival

Mountain Hare, Brynna, 'Best of British mini-Festival'  Facebook here

Artisan Brewery Bar Open, Saturday 2nd June only, details on Facebook here

West Cross Inn, Mumbles Road, Swansea,  June 2nd-4th

Old Swan, Llantwit Major, June 1st

Kings Head, Llantwit Major

City Arms, Cardiff, 3rd-9th June, 'All Welsh Beer Festival', Facebook

And don't forget the event in Cardiff the following week, the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, 7th-9th June at the Motorpoint Arena!

Festivals also happening at the following venues:
Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Greenhouse, Llantarnam, Cwmbran, Torfaen

Golden Lion Magor, Monmouthshire

Goose & Cuckoo, Upper Llanover, Monmouthshire

 Star, Llanfihangel Tor-y-Mynydd, nr Llansoy, Monmouthshire

Monday, 28 May 2012

Biggest pub in Wales returns to Cardiff next week

The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival will be returning to Cardiff Motorpoint Arena this June for the fifth consecutive year next week, transforming the interior of the arena into Wales' biggest pub for three days. Organised by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival will feature the largest selection of real ales, ciders and perries under one roof in the country, together with a range of specially imported beers from the Czech Republic.

Real Ales from across Britain will feature in this three-day event, with a focus on Welsh-brewed beers and award-winning beers from Yorkshire, as well as ciders and perries from Wales and even as far as Cumbria.
According to Festival Organiser, Arfur Daley, “After the sell-out success of last year we have made this festival the biggest ever, not just by increasing the beer and cider range but by also increasing the amount of individual beers and ciders ordered so that favourite casks should not run out too soon. We also have more Welsh breweries than ever before bringing their own bars to the event with old favourites such as Brains lining up alongside new breweries such as Tiny Rebel of Newport”.

The best breweries in Wales will be battling it out on the Friday at the Festival for the title of Champion Beer of Wales, with the winners announced at 3pm.

Live music will be at the festival on Friday and Saturday nights and hot and cold food will be available at all times.

Festival Facts:
 Over 6000 thirsty drinkers are expected at the 3 day event.
  • 25,000 pints of real ale, cider and perry will be consumed during the Great Welsh.
  • Over 10 pints a minute will be served during the festival.
  • Almost 4500 pints of cider and perry will be available.
  • Over 240 different real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers will be available at the Great Welsh.
  •  Over 150 CAMRA members will be volunteering to work at the Festival.
  •  The bar is over 80 metres long! Making it the longest bar in Wales.
  •  The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 2012 is the 12th annual Festival, the 5th at the CIA, the previous 7 having been held at Cardiff City Hall.
  •  Pub games, stalls and food will be available at the Festival

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena (formerly Cardiff International Arena), Mary Ann Street, Cardiff CF10 2EQ

Open: Thursday 7th June, Friday 8th & Saturday 9th June 11-11 all days

Entrance £6 (£5 for Under 26s and CAMRA members), includes souvenir glass and festival programme.

Beer List:
All subject to availability
Abbeydale Absolution 5.3

Abbeydale Moonshine 4.3

Acorn Barnsley Bitter 3.8
Acorn Gorlovka Imperial Stout 6.0
Acorn IPA 5.0

Big Bog Swampy 4.7

Brains Craft Brewery All at Sea 5.2
Brains British Summer 4.1
Brains Dark 3.5
Brains SA 4.2
Brains SA Gold 4.7
Brains Strong Ale 6.5
Brains Craft Brewery Barry Island IPA 6.0
Brains Jack Black 4.3
Brains Organ Morgan 4.0

Brecon Beacons to the sea 4.1
Brecon Bright Beacons 4.5
Brecon Bronze Beacons 3.9
Brecon Diamond Beacons 4.3
Brecon Genesis 1.ii The Prophet's Porter 5.6
Brecon Gold Beacons 4.2
Brecon Twilight Brecon 4.0
Brecon Wandering Beacons 5.0

Breconshire Ramblers Ruin 5.0

Bryncelyn Buddy Marvellous 4.0
Bryncelyn Holly Hop 3.9
Bryncelyn Oh Boy 4.5

Bullmastiff Son of a Bitch 6.0
Bullmastiff Welsh Red 4.8

Celt Experience Bleddyn 5.6
Celt Experience Bronze 4.5
Celt Experience Golden 4.2
Celt Experience Native Storm 4.4
Celt Experience Silures 4.6

 Cerddin Cascade 4.8

Conwy Beechcomber Blonde 4.2
Conwy Cwrw Mel 4.5

Copper Dragon Black Gold 3.7
Copper Dragon Challenger 4.0
Copper Dragon Golden Pippin 3.9

Elland 1872 Porter 6.5
Elland Bargee 3.8
Elland Nettlethrasher 4.4

Facer's Clwyd Gold 3.5
Facer's Dave's Hoppy Beer 4.3
Facer's Landslide 4.9

Felinfoel Double Dragon 4.2

Gloucester Dockside Dark 5.2
Gloucester Gloucester Gold 3.9
Gloucester Mariner 4.2

 Gower Gold 4.5

Great Orme Celtica 4.5
Great Orme Welsh Black 4.0

 Grey Trees Rechabites Bitter 4.0

Heart of Wales Aur Cymru 3.8
Heart of Wales High as a Kite 9.5
Heart of Wales Irfon Valley 3.6
Heart of Wales Welsh Black 4.4

Ilkley Best 4.0
Ilkley Black 3.7
Ilkley Mary Jane 3.5

Jacobi Light Ale 3.8
Jacobi Red Squirrel 4.0

Kelham Island Kelham Best 3.8
Kelham Island Pale Rider 5.2
Kelham Island Riders on the Storm 4.5

Kingstone 1503 4.8
Kingstone Stout 4.4

Kite Cwrw Haf 4.1
Kite Gold Wing 4.2
Kite Thunderbird 4.5

Leeds Leeds Best 4.3
Leeds Midnight Bell 4.8
Leeds Yorkshire Gold 4.2

Llangollen Grange No1 3.2

Monty's Midnight Stout 4.0
Monty's Mischief 5.0
Monty's Sunshine 4.2

Nant Mwnci Nell 5.5

Neath Black 5.5
Neath Gold 5.0

Ossett Silver King 4.3
Ossett Yorkshire Blond 3.9

Otley Croeso 4.2
Otley Motley Brew 7.5
Otley O Garden 4.8
Otley O1 4.0
Otley O3 Boss 4.4
Otley O4 Columbo 4.1
Otley O5 Gold 5.0
Otley O6 Porter 6.6
Otley O7 Weissen 5.0
Otley O8 8.0
Otley Oxymoron Black IPA 5.5
Otley Thai Bo 4.6

Pixie Spring Deliverance APA 4.5
Pixie Spring Prince of Bengal IPA 5.5

Plassey Mild 4.2

Preseli Baggywrinkle 4.5

Purple Moose Dark Side of the Moose 4.6
Purple Moose Glaslyn 4.2
Purple Moose Snowdonia 3.6

RCH East St Cream 5.0
RCH PG Steam 3.9
RCH Pitchfork 4.2

Rhymney Export 5.0
Rhymney Gold
Rhymney Hobby Horse 3.8

Rudgate Battleaxe 4.2
Rudgate Ruby Mild 4.4
Rudgate Viking 3.8

Saltire Raspberry Blond 4.0
Saltire Triple Chocoholic 4.8

Sandstone Edge 3.8

Snowdonia Carmen Sutra 4.4

Swansea Deep Slade Dark 4.0

Timothy Taylor Dark Mild 3.5
Timothy Taylor Landlord 4.3

Tiny Rebel Cwtch 4.6
Tiny Rebel Dirty Stop Out 5.0
Tiny Rebel Doc Brown 3.8
Tiny Rebel Fubar 4.4
Tiny Rebel Full Nelson 4.8
Tiny Rebel Hadouken IPA 7.4
Tiny Rebel Urban IPA 5.5

Tomos Watkin Brewery Bitter 4.0
Tomos Watkin Chwarae Teg 4.1
Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf 4.2
Tomos Watkin OSB 4.5
Tomos Watkin

VoG Cwrw Dewi
VoG Wheats Occurrin 5.0

Waen Blackberry Stout 3.8
Waen Chilli Plum Porter 6.1
Waen First of the Summer Waen 3.9

Wentworth Bumble Beer 4.3
Wentworth Oatmeal Stout 4.8
Wentworth Rampant Gryphon 6.2

Wye Valley DG Lager 4.2
Wye Valley DG Stout 4.2
Wye Valley HPA 4.0

York Centurion's Ghost 5.4
York Guzzler 3.6
York Yorkshire Terrier 4.2

 Zero Degrees Mango 4.5
 Zero Degrees Pilsner 4.8

Clytha Arms Cider Festival this weekend

The award-winning Clytha Arms in Monmouthshire will be playing host to their very own cider and perry festival this weekend, from the 1st to the 5th of June, Friday to Tuesday. With the cancellation of the Welsh Perry & Cider Festival at Unisthee Rugby Club, the Clytha will be THE place to head for to sample the best range of cider and perry in the area. With over 5000 pints being served over the holiday weekend the Clytha is a must visit destination for the cider lover. Beer lovers are not forgotton either as there will be a range of real ales on the bar as well. Around 70 different ciders will be there from makers from across Wales and the borders.
Live music as well, throughout the weekend, presented by Club Ifor Bach, together with trade stands, a tutored cider tasting on the Sunday by Dave Mathews and a display of birds of prey throughout the weekend this is looking to be the cider event of the year!
More details on the their Facebook Group here

Cider list, subject to availabilty etc:
Bragdy Brodyr, Glynneath, Neath
Black Beauty (Medium)
Welsh Marches Magic (Medium)

Ciderfect, Tidenham Chase, Monmouth
Muggled Up (Dry)
Brown Snout (Dry)

Ciderniks Kintbury, Berkshire
Coombe Raider (Dry)
Dab Hand (Dry)
Kingston Black (Dry)

CJs Cider, Usk, Monmouthshire
Wench (Medium)
Surprise (Sweet)
CJs Perry

Gwatkins Cider, Abbey Dore, Herefordshire
Norman (Medium)
Yarlington Mill (Medium)
Foxwhelp (Dry)
Stoke Red (Sweet)
Gamecock (Sweet)
Farmhouse Perry
Squeal Pig Perry
Silly Ewe Perry

Gwynt Y Ddraig, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff
Farmhouse Scrumpy (Medium)
Black Dragon (medium)
Happy Daze (Medium)
Haymaker (Medium)
Dog Dancer (Medium)
Fiery Fox (Medium)
Pyder (Medium)
Farmhouse Medium
Farmhouse Dry
Two Trees Perry

Llanblethian Orchards, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan
Vilberie (Dry)
Kingston Black Mix (Medium)
Bens Mix (Dry)
May Day (Sweet)
Yellow Huffcap Perry

Olivers Cider & Perry, Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire
Herefordshire Draught (Dry)
Herefordshire draught (Sweet)
Yarlington Mill (Medium Dry)
Herefordshire Draught Perry (Dry)
Herefordshire Draught Perry (Sweet)

Raglan Cider Mill, Raglan, Monmouthshire
Boris’ Brainbender (Medium)
Tiddly Um Tum (Medium)
Hanky Panky (Medium)
RCM Medium (Medium)
Kingston Black (Dry)
Barn owl Perry (Dry)
Snowy owl Perry (Sweet)

Rosie’s Triple D, Llandegla,Wrexham
Triple D (Dry)
Wicked Wasp (Medium)
Triple D (Medium)
Black Bart (Sweet)
Triple D (Sweet)

Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry, Peterstow, Herefordshire
Various ciders and perries

Seidr Dai, Cyncoed, Cardiff
Painted Lady Perry (Sweet)

Severn Cider, Awre, Gloucestershire
Kingston Black (Medium)
Yarlington Mill (Medium)
Farmhouse (Sweet)
Farmhouse Perry (Medium)

Springfield, Llangovan, Monmouthshire
Red Dragon (Medium Sweet)
Wobbly Munk (Medium)
Sledgehammer (Medium Dry)
Hard Core (Medium)
Three Saints, Usk, Monmouthshire
Bit of Rough (Dry)
Scrumpthos (Medium)
Scrum (Medium Sweet)
Blush Perry (Sweet)
Divine Perry (Medium)
Nice Boys Perry (Dry)
Laughing Juice Perry (Sweet)
Tutts Clump Cider, Bradfield, Berkshire
Farmhouse (Dry)

Ty Bryn, Grosmont, Monmouthshire
Vintage Oak (Dry)
Sunset (Sweet)
Blakeney Red Perry (Sweet)
Lazy Days Perry (Dry)

Ty Gwyn, Newcastle, Monmouthshire
Naughty Horsey (Medium)
Very Naughty Horsey (Medium Dry)’

Upper House Cider, Wormelow, Herefordshire
Upper House Dry
Upper House Medium

Clytha Arms

Near Abergavenny
South Wales
United Kingdom

Google Map:

View Larger Map

West Cross Beerex

The West Cross Inn in Swansea will be holding a beer festival over the Diamond Jubilee Weekend. This will be third successive year this pub has held a beer festival. Free entry and live music as well!

West Cross Inn
43 Mumbles Road

Friday, 25 May 2012

Brains celebrates as profits up

Above: Brains Directors Scott Waddington and John Rhys

Press release from Brains, not much else to say on it but good to see a Welsh brewery not afraid to put their  results out there, hey Simon!

  • Turnover was £113.6m, up 14% (£11.7m)
  • Operating profit was £4.5m, up by 6.2% 
  • EBITDA rose 7.8% to £11.6m
  • Managed house like-for-like sales up 3.6%
  • Leased and tenanted like-for-like sales up 2%
  • Cask ale volumes in Managed and Leased & Tenanted pubs have grown by 5% and 3% respectively
  • Take Home volumes have doubled in four years
Scott Waddington, Chief Executive of Brains said:
“Everyone in the company has worked extremely hard this year, providing momentum to take the business forward. The tough economic backdrop has been well documented, but despite these challenges the business’ performance was creditable, reflecting our underlying strengths.  We have grown sales in nearly every trading division, increased investment in our retail estate with positive results, and achieved our operating profit forecast.

“Sponsorship remains the key focal point of our marketing activity and we remain the official ale of the Welsh Rugby Union, the Football Association of Wales, and Glamorgan Cricket. 

“Shortly after the end of the financial year we acquired Coffee#1. At that time, the business comprised 15 high street coffee shops in South Wales and the South-West of England. To date trading has been ahead of expectation, we have opened three new Coffee#1 shops and have identified a number of further potential new sites.

“We have also invested in a new craft brewery, which is currently being installed alongside our existing brewery plant on the Cardiff Brewery site, and will allow us to produce a wider range of beers.”

Brains’ Chairman John Rhys added:
“Trading in the current financial year to date has been satisfactory and is broadly on plan despite the tough economic climate. Like-for-like sales are up 5% in our managed pub estate, with tenanted net sales also in growth. We remain cautious about the trading conditions that we expect to experience, and will therefore continue to focus on effectively delivering our customer service offers and also look for growth opportunities such as our diversification into the coffee market. Family shareholders are fully supportive of our continued long term strategy of investing in our brand, retail estate and people.

“We also remain concerned about the Government’s apparent lack of support for our industry in terms of the increasing tax burden that we face – in the case of Brains, our total tax bill was around £46m last year, from a business with a turnover of £113m.”

Monday, 21 May 2012

Clive Arms, Penarth

Clive Arms, 31 John Street, Penarth, CF64 1DN

Open all day

The Clive Arms is unique amongst the Victorian pubs of Cardiff as it is mid-terrace and not on a street corner as the other pubs are. The pub is situated on the Cardiff Bay side of Penarth, closer to the marina than the commercial centre of the town. The pub is named after the local landowners, the Clive family, and their coat of arms is featured on the pub sign. The Clive was owned by a pub company before two local residents bought the pub three years ago. Dating back to at least 1866, the Clive is the oldest pub in Penarth.

The pub is slightly set back from the road, which makes for a small outside smoking area with picnic tables and an awning. The doorway leads to the long cavernous interior of the pub with the dark wooden bar on the right-hand side. Red-leather seating dominates the pub with high stools around the bar. The bar area leads to a back room with more seating a pool room at the end. Downstairs is a skittle alley, notorious for being the smallest alley in the local league.

There are bricked up former windows on the left-hand side of the pub that reveal that this street was built at two different times and was not always a terrace.

The walls are decorated with an odd but interesting collection of items collected over the years from photographs of the docks and marina to old motorcycles and even a tarantula and a scorpion.

There is only one handpump on the bar and the real ale on the moment is Kite Thunderbird, from a Welsh brewery that started brewing just over a year ago. Other beers may replace this one in future. Budweiser Budvar is also available in bottles as are Vale of Glamorgan Brewery Rorke's Draught, Ringwood Old Thumper and Green King Old Speckled Hen.

Large screen televisions feature in the bar and are used for major sporting events with the friendly banter between the owners who are English and Welsh and between the pub manager who is Scottish. The Clive is very much a friendly back-street local where conversation dominates, although there is a jukebox with a good selection of heavy rock songs on it. The only food the pub does is rolls.

The Clive features a quiz night every Tuesday and the pub also offers free WiFi.

Google Map:

View Larger Map

NB. Its great to see a little pub like this flurishing once again, free from the hands of the pubcos, the locals have turned it into a success and installed real ale in the place in the first time in decades.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Bassett Pub Company expands whilst others decline

The South Wales-based JW Bassett Pub Company have announced a ninth pub to their estate which already covers pubs from Penarth to Kilburn. The freehold of the former bar YK in Elm Street, Roath, Cardiff has been aquired and the company is planning to revert the late-Victorian pub back to its original name, the Four Elms and to refurbish the pub in the same style as other JWB pubs such as Queen's Vaults and the Pantmawr.
Good to see a pub saved from the developers and not being turned into flats, if any company can make this pub a success its Jon Bassett and his team.

Elsewhere in Cardiff, the Bertram has closed and is now boarded up, the likelihood it will become flats and the Echo reports it. Interview with me in there where I blame the smoking ban and the duty rises as to reasons it closed.  Plus it had been run by Punch who seem to be getting out of the South Wales pub business.

Above: the Bertram, pictured last year

Friday, 18 May 2012

Welsh Perry and Cider Society Cancel Festival

The Welsh Perry and Cider Society has cancelled its proposed festival over the June Banck Holiday Jubilee weekend due to an objection by Caerphilly Council. Oh well them, no Cider Festival at Unisthee Rugby Club then.

No worries as the Clytha Arms, the Home of Welsh Cider, are holding their own festival that weekend with ciders and perries from Monmouthshire and beyond. The People's Front of Judea in the Welsh Perry & Society decided to break away from the traditional venue of the Clytha Arms and run their own festival, now that has had to be cancelled, where better to enjoy good cider and perry than in the Monmouthshire countryside?

Well there is somewhere as good as the Clytha, the rescheduled Gwynt Y Ddraig open weekend is on the Saturday & Sunday as well, 2nd & 3rd of June.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Busty Blonde Sells Beer!

Press release below from the Llangorse Brewery, a new brew pub based at the Red Lion in Llangorse and owned by Breconshire Brewery.
She may be Maid for Hay but the latest ale from Llangorse Brewery is produced at the Red Lion in Llangorse.

This delightful red coloured beer, with the smooth, hoppy and refreshing finish, is just one in a growing range of beers that we are producing for a town, city or county near you.

We started with Maid for Llangorse, just to see how it would be received, and within days we were asked by one of our suppliers to produce one for Nottingham--- so’ Maid for Nottingham’ was brewed, barrelled up and dispatched to the eager purveyors of fine tasting ales, in and around the Nottingham area.

With Maid for Brecon coming out soon and plans for a Maid for Cardiff, Swansea, Hereford and Abergavenny--- on top of the existing farm shops, gastro-pubs, restaurants and off licenses that want their own name on their cask ales and bottled beers---‘ Maid for ales’ is proving to be a big hit.
The idea for ‘Maid’ was the brainchild of Howard Marlow, the companies Managing Director--- having already built up the Breconshire Brewery from a successful wholesaler into a producer of CAMRA award winning ales, he decided to bring out a whole new range of beers with a view to creating ale with the personal touch.

‘Everywhere I go’ says Marketing Manager, Karl Dixon, ‘customers are fascinated by the idea of having a beer with their own pub and name on the clip, and having the image of a sultry young maiden doesn’t hurt either. In fact many of our constantly expanding range of pubs say that it’s the pump clip that first pulls them in, but once in, the wonderful flavours and tastes keep them coming back for more.

The process is really quite simple: The pub, club, restaurant, specialist shop or wholesaler asks us to supply their ale and we produce a pump clip, free of cost, with the name of their pub on it--- just like the one shown.
So far as the bottled beers are concerned, a label of your choice is designed, like the one shown, with close consultation with the customer, and then added to the bottling process at our factory.

So if there’s anyone out there who believes, like we do, that the personal touch is an important thing in today’s faceless globalisation of seemingly everything, then get in touch with Breconshire & Llangorse Breweries and let us personalise your pump clips and offer you the exceptional beer’s to go with it.

After all, what could be more local than your own beer.

So let's get this right, a brewery is producing a 'local' beer by rebadging the same brew time and time again? Reminds me of Ind Coope in the '80s and '90s with their 'local' brews, all produced in Burton to the same recipe with different pumpclip - Benskins in Hertfordshire, Ansells Best in South Wales and the Midlands etc.
Still let's not judge a beer by its pumpclip but by what it tastes like.

Navigation, Abercynon

Navigation, Cardiff Road, Abercynon, CF45 4RR, 01443 741535

Open All Day

Situated on the outskirts of Abercynon, the Navigation, an unusually tall building for the valleys, has recently reopened after nearly 2 years of being closed. The pub is branded as a 'Celtic Carvery and Alehouse' and is owned by a brand new brewery, Tiny Rebel, from Newport.

Abercynon was originally known as Navigation and this pub was once the offices of the canal company as the canal used to run outside the pub where the road is today. As well as the canal, the first ever train journey, made by Trevithick in 1804 terminated here. There is a blue plaque on the exterior of the pub commemorating its historic significance and today the 'Taff Trail' passes outside the pub.

The Navigation encompasses various buildings of different dates but the three-storey central core appears to be the oldest part of the pub. The central porched doorway leads into the bar area with an impressively carved dark wooden bar taking up a quarter of the room. The bar back is equally impressive with more carving and an inset mirror, the interior of the Navigation has been completely refurbished with wooden panels on the walls and balustrades on the way to one of the side rooms. Three real ales are served from gleaming chrome handpumps, at least one of which will be from the Tiny Rebel Brewery as this is there 'Brewery Tap'. Other real ales can be Sharps Doombar or Arbor Ales Hunny Beer. The pub also features an extensive wine list, mounted on the wall to the side of the bar.To the right of the bar is a separate dining area which leads out to the outside area with bench tables. To the left of the bar the area is more for the drinker than the diner with sport on the flat screen television. This area stretches out to the back of the pub and is surprisingly spacious with a further raised area to the rear. The thickness of the old walls of the original building are evident in the passageways to the side rooms. A 'Fun Factory' area for children will be opening in the pub later on in the Summer, thankfully in a separate part of the pub from that used by those of us who wish to drink and dine.
Above: This is not a session beer, despite the attempt by the Brew Wales editor to prove otherwise
 Food is served all day from a carvery menu, that uses Welsh ingredients wherever possible. The Navigation features live music on Saturdays.

There is a bus stop close by to the Navigation and Abercynon train station is nearby, alternatively the pub has a large car park and is easily reached, being just off the A470 between Pontypridd and Merthyr.

Google Map:
Slightly location at moment, waiting for Google to change it!

View Larger Map

Traveline Information:

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Purple Moose and the Magnificent Seven!

A multi-award winning brewery won another seven awards at the SIBA Wales and West Awards last week with Purple Moose walking off with the overall Silver Award and another 6 medals.

Above: Owner Lawrence collects a trophy for Ysgawen

A stunning result at this year's Wales & West Regional Beer Competition in Ludlow, hosted by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) saw Purple Moose Brewery walk away with no less than seven awards, including three trophies.

Owner Lawrence Washington is particularly pleased as, aside from regular winners Snowdonia Ale and Dark Side of the Moose, four of the accolades were awarded to Ysgawen - Purple Moose Brewery's brand new elderflower beer, in its first competition.

The awards are:

Cwrw Eryri/Snowdonia Ale
Silver in category (cask)

Ochr Dywyll y Mŵs/Dark Side of the Moose
Silver in category (bottles)
Gold in category (cask)

Gold in category (bottles)
Bronze Overall (bottles)
Gold in category (cask)
Silver Overall

Lawrence commented, "I had a very good feeling about Ysgawen when we first brewed it. We have created another stunning beer and I had my fingers crossed for it in the competition. To win its category in both cask and bottle, and then claim silver overall is simply outstanding. Not a bad achievement really when, including the bottles, there were a record 250 entries in the competition from across Wales and the West of England. I am so pleased for all of us at the brewery. It really means a lot."

Monday, 14 May 2012

JPR launches Welsh Brewery

The official launch of the Grey Trees Brewery at the Mid-Glamorgan CAMRA Pub of the Year, the Red Cow at Llwydcoed in Aberdare will be on the evening of Thursday 17th May 2012 when Welsh rugby legend JPR Williams will be pouring the first pints of a special commemorative ale, JPR's Golden Ale, brewed especially for the event. This golden, hoppy ale of 4.6% ABV has been chosen by CAMRA member JPR himself and there will also be entertianment laid on in the pub.

Red Cow Inn
6 Merthyr Road
CF44 0YE

Google Map:

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Traveline Information:
There is a bus service, Service No 6 - Merthyr-Aberdare which stops outside the pub.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Boozy Beef pie wins Gold Award!

A pie made by a Newport-based pie company and using beer from Untapped Brewery has won a gold award at the British Pie Awards. The Boozy Beef Pie, made by Elm Tree Foods of Goldcliff uses organic British beef with potato and carrot cooked in Untapped Brewery Eclipse Dark Ale and is described as being rich and tasty with a hint of spiciness.

The competition featured 900 entries from bakers and pie makers across the country undergoing a stringent criteria judged by a panel of 93 food experts and celebrity chefs, in Melton Mowbray.

As well as the Boozy Beef Pie, Elm Tree Foods also picked up the following awards:

Pork Pie: Gold
Boozy Beef (Pub Pie): Gold

Butternut Scrunchie (Vegetarian): Gold

Celebration Pie (Cold Meat Slicing): Silver

Minty Mutton (Lamb Class): Bronze

Above: The Boozy Beef Pie

According to Collette Crewe of Elm Tree Foods, "This is such an amazing result for us and we are so proud of the results our pies have achieved. "We put a lot of hard work into making the best pies possible to represent our City. As such a young family business it's an honour to be recognised and rewarded in Melton Mowbray, the home of pies and amongst such other excellent bakers! We are thrilled to have received these awards which will build upon our success of last year, and proves to us that we are still on the right track. We hope that this will help to grow our brand and encourage new customers to try our award winning pies."

For more detials of where to find their pies, look on the Elm Street Food website where you will find tham alongside most farmers markets that Untapped also attend.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Farewell to (Hereford) Arms

The Hereford Arms in Newport has finally closed for good and is awaiting conversion into flats. The popular pub, situated just off Chepstow Road in Maindee pulled its lasts pints last week and is now boarded up waiting for the inevitable fire to happen or for squatters to take hold . A great shame as this late-Victorian boozer was a popular pub and even had its own smoking solution in the yard at the rear. 
The pub was originally owned by local brewers Phillip's and then by Courage and Ushers Brewery. County Estates owned it in recent years and then Alderbourne Limited. None of the recent owners seemed that interested in the pub and it was sold at an auction in London last year in a not-too-well publicised event, ie, ot at the usual pub auction or via one of the usual agents such as Sidney Phillips or Fleurets.
Another Newport pub closure!

Friday, 4 May 2012

Vulcan Saved!

The historic Vulcan pub in Cardiff has been saved for the nation and will be rebuilt at St Fagans Musuem. As someone who has been involved in trying to save the pub for years this is great news that the pub will rebuilt at the national museum. In fact I can remember saying that in the Western Mail some 12 years ago that this pub should be preserved for the nation, now finally, just a few weeks before the threatened demolition of the pub, the Vulcan has been saved and will be rebuilt at St Fagans Museum for future generations to enjoy.

Historic Cardiff Pub Saved for the Nation

Following the decision to close the Vulcan Hotel, Cardiff, the property’s owners Marcol Asset Management Limited, have agreed to donate it to St Fagans: National History Museum in order to preserve the building for the Nation.

The Vulcan was built in 1853 to serve the new, mainly Irish, community in Adamsdown then known as New Town.  The exterior of the two storey building is virtually unchanged, the lower half of the façade being tiled in green and white and the upper floor faced in brick. 
With the agreement of Marcol and licensees Gwyn and Sandra Lewis, the tenants, SA Brain & Co Ltd, today (Friday 4th May) closed the Vulcan. St Fagans staff will now move in to measure, photograph and document the building, before dismantling and placing it in storage. 
Scott Waddington, Chief Executive at Brains said:
“It is with regret that we confirm that the Vulcan pub has closed as of today. As we have previously stated, and despite attempts to attract more customers, the pub is no longer commercially viable for either Brains or the tenant who operated the pub.

“We have found ourselves the target of negative publicity as a result of us having to sell a pub due to a compulsory purchase order to accommodate the St David’s 2 development some four years ago. In essence, we had no other option than to sell the pub. We have kept the pub trading over this period despite declining customer numbers and therefore income. The uncertainty surrounding the future of the premises has also made justifying any significant investment in the pub unrealistic.

“Brains continue to invest in the City, with some of the most recent refurbishments being Greenwood & Brown, The Duke of Wellington and The City Arms which has recently won CAMRA, Cardiff pub of the year.

“The Vulcan is an important part of our history, which is why we have been working with its owner, Marcol, and the National History Museum, to relocate the building to St Fagans and preserve the history of the pub for the future.”

Gwyn and Sandra Lewis, licensees, added:

“We, and our family, would like to thank all the customers who have supported the pub since we took over two years ago. We look forward to visiting St Fagans and will have good memories of the short time we were at the Vulcan.”

Mark Richards, Deputy Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said:

“The Vulcan hotel will be a welcome addition to the collection of historical buildings at St Fagans.  We are grateful to Marcol for donating the building and giving us the opportunity to save and preserve this important part of Cardiff’s heritage for the nation and to tell some of the area’s rich history.”

“We are also very grateful to Brains for their willingness to assist us as we ensure the historical accuracy of the fittings used in the Vulcan before we eventually rebuild at St Fagans.”

Due to current commitments, work on rebuilding the Vulcan is not expected to start for several years. In the meantime, Museum curators will work on an interpretation strategy to decide on how and which period to display the building.”
An appeal will be made for photographs, objects and stories relating to the Vulcan and its history.

Background on The Vulcan pub:

1853                 The Vulcan opens.Named after the Roman god of fire, the name referred to the nearby iron works.

1914 Vulcan was altered by Cardiff architect Fred Veall, who is normally associated with the Ebbw Vale steelworks general offices
1956 The Vulcan was purchased by Cardiff brewers SA Brain, from wine merchants Greenwood & Brown, together with 4 other pubs for around £100,000. The other pubs were the York Hotel on Canal Wharf (Still standing but has been closed for 20 years and is awaiting demolition), Model Inn (still open but as Greenwood & Brown Restaurant), Ship Hotel (closed), Cross Inn on Newport Road, Rumney (still open)
1957 It was around this time that a refurbishment occurred, with the pub attaining its present layout. The lounge to the rear was created by converting the landlords' private accomodation.
1967 Nearby pubs such as The Crichton Arms, the Cambridge and The Duke of Edinburgh were demolished as the Little Ireland area of Newtown was 'improved'.
1997 The Vulcan is awarded 'Pub of the Year' by the Cardiff Branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.
2005: Brains given compulsory purchase order for the Vulcan so land could be used as a car park while St David’s 2 is built. Compulsory Purchase Order was made by the Welsh Development Agency on beh
2007: The South Wales Echo reveals it was not sold to St David’s 2, but bought by businessman Derek Rapport (Marcol Asset Management) for £500,000.
2008: Cadw rejects attempts to list property.
2008                 Brains sells The Vulcan to Marcol (Compulsory Purchase Order as part of the St David’s 2 development plans)

2009 January. Over 150 people attend a public meeting at the Atrium to try and Save the Vulcan.

 2009 February: Campaigners give 5,000-name petition to the Assembly Petitions Committee.

2009 March: Cadw urged to step in after campaigners offer new evidence of historical worth.
2009 March. The Vulcan is awarded 'Pub of the Year' by the Cardiff Branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

2009 April: Drinkers were told the pub would stay open for at least another three years after being given a reprieve.
2009                 Brains agreed to operate the pub until May 2012
2010 February: A Welsh Assembly Government report calls for a change in legislation to give more powers to local authorities to safeguard the future of “culturally significant” buildings like The Vulcan.
2009 – 2012      Marcol, National Museum Wales & Brains discuss the relocation of the Vulcan to St Fagans Museum.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

May Bank Holiday Beer Festival roundup

First to Cardiff, where Artisan Brewery are hosting one of their regular open days on Saturday 5th May 12-9.30pm at their Kings, Road, Pontcanna site.
Details on their Facebook site here. but their new American IPA will be launched alongside their usual beers such as Helles Lager, Bavarian Wheat and Chocolate Wheat.

Next to Caerleon where the Bell Inn will be hosting their annual Festival with music beer, cider and perry, the full list is available here.

Further East in Tintern, the Kingstone Brewery will be holding their monthly 'Real Ale and Pizza Event' at Meadow Farm on Saturday 5th May 11-2030. Traditional hand-made breads will also be available.
Elsewhere in nearby Chepstow, the Chepstow Castle Inn will be holding a small festival on Sunday 6th May with 5 beers and 3 ciders on. Its more of a May Fayre than a beer festival and there will be craft stalls and barbecue on.

In Mid-Glamorgan the Capel at Gilfach Fargoed will be hosting their annual beer festival over the bank holiday weekend. Beer list here.

Elsewhere in Mid-Glamorgan the Temple Bar in Aberamen near Aberdare is also holding a festival over the bank holiday weekend. Six beers and twelve ciders together with live music will all be on throughout the weekend.

Further West the Cross Inn at Garth, Maesteg also has a Festival on, full details here.

On Sunday Tonyrefail Non-Political Club will be playing host to the Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Cider Bar at their Rock and Blues Festival in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust Charity. More details and a map on their Facebook page

Or if you don't fancy that Hooters Cardiff are having a swimsuit contest on the Sunday.

On Bank Holiday Monday why not try something alternative and healthy for a change? Okay instead of that  the Gwent CAMRA Pub of the Year, the Coach & Horses in Chepstow is holding a pie-eating contest in aid of Ty Hafren Children's Hospice. Facebook Event here.

Final Beer Festival at the Capel

The Capel in Gilfach Fargoed will be holding their 11th and final beer festival this May Day Weekend (4th-7th) as the current tenants Tudor and Joy will be leaving the pub later this year. A great shame as the Capel is the best pub for miles around and one of the few in the area that serves real ale. Hopefully Enterprise Inns will find new tenants with same dedication as has been shown by Joy's family who took out the original lease with Courage Brewery back in the 1960s.
Have previously written about the pub here.

Beer List:
RIPPER              8.5%
OSPREY            5.0%
IRON BREW     4.5%
LION HEART    4.4%
VULCAN                3.8%


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