Friday, 30 November 2012

Christmas beer festival at the Cross Inn

The Cross Inn at Cwmfelin near Maesteg will be holding a beer festival this weekend.
Have previously covered the pub here

At the bar :

Cerddin Brewery Beer :

Solar 4%

Cascade 4.8%

Cwrw Tri 4.5%

WPA 4%
Wye Valley
Butty Bach
Brecon Brewing Co - Cwrw-istmas 4.2%
Neath Ales - Deliverance 4.5%
Otley Brewing Co, - O HO HO 5%
Skinners of Cornwall - Christmas Fairy
Wye Valley - Christmas Whisker 4.5%

Ciders :
Old Rosie
Wyld Wood
Bounds Brand
1st Quality
Raspberry Twist
Cheddar Valley

The pub is a short walk uphill from Garth station on the Maesteg line.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Tiny Rebel Tap Room opens Friday!

The brewery that took the CAMRA Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival by storm earlier this year, Tiny Rebel, will be throwing their doors open to the public this Friday.

Beers on:

Baby’s Got A Temper! – This 8% Oak Ages 2xIPA has never been let loose on a hand pull ever before, and maybe never will!
Cwtch and Billabong –Wales Vs Australia. A dedication to teams that will be battling it out on the pitch the next day.
Baby’s Got A Temper – You choose which method of dispense you prefer
Hadouken! – Because you love it
Hot Box – The last keg on earth
Dirty Bong – This is billabong….unfiltered, unpasteurized etc etc etc. May never be done again.

The usual suspects
+ Many more in reserve

They will also be catering for the ladies on the night who prefer fruit based drinks…boo you! As well as snacks, board games, tours and an iPod juke box (so bring yours).

And finally they willl be serving all beer in brand spanking new glassware that you’ll also be able to purchase on the night.
So wrap up warm and bring some cash (because they do not have chip and pin) and come on down to the only place in South Wales worth coming to on Friday 30th

How to get there - the Number 35 bus stops on Docks way, a short walk from the brewery. Leaves from Stand 17. Suggest buying a £3 Day ticket (exact money only on Newport bus!) or if arriving via train a 'Plus Bus' ticket from your home station for only £2.50.     Google Map:
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Thursday, 22 November 2012

Tiny Rebel brew new beer for new Cardiff bar

 The former Glamorgan Councils Staff Club on the corner of Womanby Street/Westgate Street in Cardiff reopens this weekend as 'Fire Island' and Newport-based brewers Tiny Rebel have brewed a special beer for the venue, Beat Box - a 4.5% American Pale Ale. 11 other cask ales will also be available.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Are pub conversions to supermarkets always a bad idea?

Following on from the comments posted yesterday on this article here I'd thought I'd do another story on pub conversions to supermarkets.
Pictured above is the former Lloyds pub on Cambrian Road, Newport. Nothing to do with the faction of Chaverspoon that have the name today, this was a former Ansells pub that was named after a former brewery they took over and closed that stood opposite. Ansells also had their area offices above the pub. Now this was never a great pub, beer quality was appalling and in its final years the place was renamed Jarcals and appealed to the nighttime crowd of drinkers in the 'Port. When it did have real ale, the choice was Ansells Best and for a while Burton and eventually Tetleys, not a great choice and not a great pub. Its not that a pub on this road could not succeed, further up Cambrian Road Chaverspoons opened their first pub in Wales and the John Wallace Linton is still there to this day, with their indifferent staff being rude to customers and no doubt serving piss-poor beer etc. The blame for the failure of this pub was down to the brewery and later the pubco.

The building that was Lloyds today has been converted into a Tesco Express, so the beer quality and the range has improved drastically, along with the clientele. It only became a pub in the 1980s so no big loss to Newport. A not very good pub with poor quality beer and a limited range has been swapped for a shop and off-licence with a far better range of products - the consumer wins all around!

Below is the picture from Google Streetview, the building is in the process of being converted into a Tesco Express.

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December Pub Auction

The next local pub auction will be on Wednesday December 5th at 1430 in the Celtic Manor Hotel, Newport. Twelve pubs are up for auction as I write this, this may well change so check the Sidney Phillips website for updates. A couple of cheap ones on this list, with the guide prices starting at £75k – although as these pubs have been in pubco hands for a number of years the buildings will no doubt need a lot spending on them to bring them up to an acceptable standard.

Tredegar Arms, High Street, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, GP £145,000
Large pub on the road into Merthyr, formerly a Rhymney/Whitbread Brewery pub, quite large, car park, lounge, bar, letting rooms. The only let-down is the pub being on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil.

Four Bells, St Athan, Vale of Glamorgan, GP £175,000
One of only 2 pubs left in the village, the Four Bells is an ex-Hancocks/Welsh Brewers/Mercury Taverns pub, with a garden, car park and 2 bars. Since the closure of the RAF base at the village the custom has declined somewhat.

General Picton, Nantyfyllon, Maesteg, Mid-Glamorgan, GP £125,000
Large, end-of-terrace locals pub with lounge bar, public bar, restaurant and skittle alley/function room as well as a separate 3-bedroomed house. All that for a relatively low guide price, well it is near Maesteg and it looks like the only smoking solution is the street, not ideal.

Cross Keys, Cefn Hengoed, GP £160,000
A large-detached building with 2 bars and a function room, a trade patio supplies the smoking solution.
Gwyn Arms, Alltwen, Pontardawe, GP £75,000
Former Rhymney/Whitbread pub, 3-section open-plan bar. Surprisingly large, the building stretches back more than is apparent from looking at the frontage. Patio and garden serves as smoking solutions.
New Inn, Mountain Ash, GP £75,000
Large, open-plan pub with a trade garden. Quite a lot of building for this very low guide price.

Tradesmans Arms, Machen, Caerphilly, GP £165,000
Pub situated on the main road through Machen – there is a lot of competition locally, although the Ffwrwm Ishta was shut the last time I went past it. Described as 'Sought after residential area' so change of use may be on the cards here.

Royal Hotel, Treharris, GP £125,000
A substantial Victorian hotel dating from 1895 with 2 bars, snooker room and 9 bedrooms. Being sold as 'Development possibilities'.

Castell Y Bwch, Henllys, Cwmbran, GP £220,000
Situated in a rural location between Newport and Cwmbran, this pub once had a good reputation for food. A large plot, 0.73 acre so this may attract residential conversion.
Coity Castle, Bridgend, GP £160,000
Situated just off the town centre, near to the railway station. Looks like the only smoking solution is the street so a conversion to restaurant maybe on the cards.

Oddfellows Arms, Maindee, Newport GP £125,000
Dating back to 1854, this detached pub is set in the residential area of Maindee. Outside smoking area at the rear, two bars, the one thing letting this pub down is that there is a Chaverspoon's in the area. Other nearby pubs – the Star, the Globe, the Royal Albert are also closed at the moment.

Fusion, 1 Station Road, Gloucester GP £195,000
Formerly the Prince Albert pub, this street-corner local near the railway station looks like it has seen better days. Smoking area appears to be the street only.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Edmondes Arms, Cowbridge

Edmondes Arms, Cardiff Road, Cowbridge, CF71 7EP

Open 4-11 Monday-Friday, 1-11 Saturday, 4-10.30 Sunday

The Edmondes Arms is a stone and brick built pub on the eastern edge of the historic market town of Cowbridge, the stone is the local light-grey Jurassic limestone. The pub was built in 1899 and the date features on the outside of the building together with the coat of arms of the original owner, the Reverend Thomas Edmondes, a major landowner of the town in the nineteenth century. This building replaced two older pubs, one also called the Edmondes Arms and the other called the Red Lion, these were demolished after Hancock’s Brewery bought them in 1895. Both these pubs were in existence in 1835. The pub windows all feature a stained glass panel with ‘Bar’ and 'Smoke Room' on them. The corner doorway has been blocked up and is now called ‘Jack’s Corner’ after a dog that lived at the pub. The present-day doorway leads to a small entrance hall with the bar to the left and the lively games room to the right. The games room features a pool table, darts board and a newspaper cutting with photographs of why ‘Jack’s Corner’ was named. The games room and the rear yard were the site of the original Edmondes Arms.

The bar features wood panelling and rugby memorabilia and there is an original cast iron fireplace to one side. The bar is approximately the site of the former Red Lion pub. A door to the rear of the bar leads through to the lounge which, in turn leads to an outside area with seating. The lounge features a piano as well as more seating. Unusually, the Edmondes Arms still retains most of its original internal layout and has not had dividing walls knocked through to make the pub open-plan.

Wye Valley Hereford Pale Ale and Hancock’s HB are the two permanent real ales on the bar, with occasional guest beers such as Sharps Doombar making an appearance. Regular live music events are held at the pub.

Every week a pub is converted to a supermarket

Above: The Black Horse,Somerton, Newport which is to become a Tesco Express

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today urged the Government to change planning laws which are currently allowing the nation’s major supermarket chains and developers an easy route to ripping the hearts out of small communities, with new research showing that since January 2010, over 200 pubs across Britain have been converted into supermarket convenience stores.

CAMRA has been lobbying hard in recent years to persuade the Government to close arcane planning law loopholes in England and Wales which are allowing pubs - amenities which provide a community centre and a managed environment to consume alcohol - to be demolished or converted without the need for planning permission, and therefore rendering communities powerless in the fight to save their locals.

Based on a national pub conversion survey carried out by its members, CAMRA has found that since the beginning of 2010, a staggering 130 pubs have been converted into convenience stores by supermarket giant Tesco, and 22 by Sainsbury’s, with a further 54 by other companies such as The Co-Operative, Asda and Costcutter.

With a further 45 pubs reported to be under threat of conversion across Britain at present, Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said:

‘Weak and misguided planning laws and the predatory acquisition of valued pub sites by large supermarket chains, coupled with the willingness of pub owners to cash-in and sell for development, are some of the biggest threats to the future of Britain’s social fabric. For years, large supermarket chains have shown a disregard for the wellbeing of local communities, gutting much-loved former pubs in areas already bursting with supermarket stores.

‘Pubs are being targeted for development by supermarket chains due to non-existent planning controls allowing supermarkets to ride roughshod over the wishes of the local community. At a time when 18 pubs are closing every week this is damaging a great British institution. Unless action is taken by the Government to address obvious loopholes in planning legislation, more local communities will be forced to give up their local pub without a fight, and seeing the pub signs of Red Lions and Royal Oaks being corporately graffitied over by supermarket empires will become an all too common sight.’

John Denham, MP for Southampton Itchen, said:

‘Residents across the country are feeling powerless to intervene as local community pubs are being turned into convenience stores.

‘The Castle, a pub in my own constituency in Southampton, is the latest in a line of pubs being sold by large pub company Enterprise Inns to the giant supermarket chain Tesco. CAMRA’s new figures show that this kind of behaviour is rife around the country as around 1 pub a week is converted into a convenience store.

‘The Government needs to wake up to this looming crisis in the pub industry and look not only at planning laws that allow pubs to be converted so easily, but also at the cosy relationship between national retailers and large pub companies that so often leave local communities feeling left out in the cold.’

The Black Horse pub in Somerton, Newport which is pictured in this article is a former Ansells pub and planning permission was originally refused to demolish this pub and build a Tesco on the site. However the building has since been vandalised with roofing material removed - it seems Tesco are prepared to wait until this building has to be demolished for safety reasons rather than work with the existing structure.

Win a chance to brew beer with Otley Brewery

Leading South Wales microbrewery and former CAMRA Champion Beer of Wales brewer, Otley Brewing Company has launched a Real Beer Box with a difference.

Customers buying an Otley Real Beer Box this Christmas may get an extra surprise with their delivery.

In association with Real Beer Box, Otley Brewing Company has asked its customers to look out for a golden ticket hidden inside the box which could contain a chance to win a brew day at its new brewery in Pontypridd.

The winner will be invited to spend the day alongside the Otley brewers who will show them how the beer
Nick Otley, managing director of Otley Brewing Company, said: “Real Beer Box is a great way for people to sample our beers that may not have heard of us before. It makes us even more accessible to the market outside Wales and we hope that our golden ticket competition will not only inspire future beer enthusiasts, but also encourage customers to sample the different beers in our range.

“In particular we are looking forward to working alongside the winner of the brewing day ticket, and you never know we might let them brew a beer of their own.

As well a day brewing, lucky customers who receive a golden ticket are also in with the chance of winning either one of six mini kegs or a six month RealBeerBox subscription.
Nick continued: “What could be a better present for any beer enthusiast to open on Christmas day than a box of Otley beer and discovering you will be brewing a beer with the Otley boys!”

Otley Brewing Company is based and manufactured on the Albion Industrial Estate in Cilfynydd. The brewery, which recently moved to the premises, manufactures 3,000 bottles each week and has just opened its new front of house shop alongside its brewery tours and tasting sessions.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Now and Then - former Hancocks Brewery Newport

A bit of a change with these photographs, thought I'd go for the former Hancock's Brewery in Newport which was demolished in the 1970s and Newport Central Police station built on the site in the late 1990s. Que jokes about where once hogsheads were rolled out, today the entire pig exits the building!
The view from Cardiff road looking towards George Street

Full frontal views, facing Gilligans Island/Mariners Green

Above and below: Around the back of the station in Mountjoy Road

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Now & Then - former Griffin pub, Cardiff

The Griffin, in St Mary Street, Cardiff, was demolished in the late 1970s and the space was used by the neighbouring Nat West Bank to expand in to.

Best pub in South Wales is the Red Cow!

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, have judged the Red Cow, Llwydcoed to be the best pub in South Wales after the winners from local branches were judged against each other.
The award-winning brewpub, home to the Grey Trees Brewery, has been transformed by landlord Ray Davies into a real ale Mecca and features beers from across Britain, as well as his own brews. Have previously written about the pub here.
The Red Cow also features Gwynt Y Ddraig cider and craft keg beers from Thornbridge as well.

The West Wales winner was The Talbot, Tregaron and the North Wales and overall Welsh winner was the Bridge End, Ruabon, which won UK Pub of the Year earlier this year.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Brains launch Barry Island IPA in Tesco

A beer brewed earlier this year for the CAMRA Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival has been relaunched today in bottle format in selected Tesco stores.

Created by Simon Martin, aka Mr Real Ale Guide, this India Pale Ale was inspired by the ‘IPA revolution’ across the pond. The boy from Barry has used a trio of hops from the US in this pale coloured ale, which is bursting with citrus aromas. A unique smooth malt taste upfront is finished off by a vigorous bitterness and a ‘tidy’ clout of citrus and berry hop flavours. At 6% its ideal as a breakfast beer (joke!)

Barry Island IPA is now available in selected Tesco stores nationwide:

Bridgend Extra, South Wales
Cardiff Extra, South Wales
Carmarthen Extra, West Wales
Haverfordwest Extra, West Wales
Llanelli Extra, West Wales
Newport Gwent Extra, South Wales
Pontypridd Extra, South Wales
Swansea Extra, South Wales
Swansea Marina, South Wales
Swansea Llansamlet Extra, South Wales
Talbot Green, Pontyclun, South Wales

Cambridge Bar Hill Extra, Cambridge
Brooklands Extra, Weybridge
Burgess Hill, West Sussex
Cheshunt Extra, Waltham Cross
Chelmsford, Essex
Elmers End, Beckenham
High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire
Martlesham Extra, Ipswich
New Malden Extra, Greater London
Purley Extra, Greater London
Royston Extra, Hertfordshire
Twickenham Extra, London
Watford Extra, London
Orpington Extra, Kent

Dot Com stores – available to order via

Zummerzet and Dorzet visit

Had to pick up some cidermaking equipment the other day so the Disco was fired up for a trip across the Severn and to Somersetshire and Dorsetshire. Oh and it was a good excuse to visit a few pubs as well!
We managed to find a black-hole for Sat-Navs as well where the Nokia Maps did not work, neither did the Garmen - Yes we had two Sat-Nav systems for this journey as neither the driver or myself bothered bringing a decent map along. Still we saw some picturesque villages when we got lost! Bristol really needs a motorway on the East and South sides as well - driving along the M32 takes you straight into the centre of the City and the aromatic aroma of Cabot Circus but its all surburban roads heading South then.
First stop off was the Rose & Crown in Trent, a part-thatched multi-roomed pub in a village where Charles II took refuge after the Battle of Worcester. Now a gastro-pub but with a range of beers on from Wadworth and Hook Norton. Claims to date from the 14th Century but rather like the food prices this date was somewhat over-inflated!
After our pick-ups we found ourselves in the historic town of Sherborne and quickly found the only freehouse in town, the Digby Tap. And what a great find! Excellent range of beers in this former Regional Pub of the Year for CAMRA. Packed full of history, this multi-roomed pub is one of the best pubs I have been in for ages.
The type of wall that gives architectural historians nightmares

Some of the beers available at the Digby Tap
Wished we stopped here to eat rather than the gastro-pub!

With a couple of hours of daylight left we decided to visit a cider farm and after no answer from one maker we went to Burrow Hill, home of the Somerset Brandy Company.

Above: Gathering the apples, a bit more mechanised than the picking I'm normally used to!
The barn that houses the cider press, the corrugated roof hides an older, thatched roof and the apples are run into the barn via a water shoot below the ground. Cider has been made on this farm for at least 150 years.
A view of the apple tump, with the water chute leading to the milling and pressing barn.

Left: Apples being taken up to the milling area
Some of the old machinery in the barn. These wheels would have driven belts that supplied power to various bits of milling and pressing equipment.
Naturally any visit to a cider farm would include a taste of cider, although the staff were a bit surprised when we opted for the dry, apparently only the locals like it that dry!

Cider and perry is available both on draught and in bottles from the farm shop.
The products for sale are on show on an old cider press.
Burrow Hill Cider is also home to Somerset Brandy Company where the ciders are distilled into cider brandy. Available to buy online as well.
A good day out and best of all I was not the one doing the driving!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Czech out Brains new Pils

Brains’craft brewery team has taken inspiration from the Czech Republic for their latest cask beer.

A Pils from the Hills is a full-bodied pilsner-style beer, weighing in at 5% ABV and brewed with Pilsner Malt and hopped with Hallertau Tradition and Saaz this is a crisp, thirst-quenching beer with an elegant bitterness.
It’s the latest experimental brew from their craft brewery and follows a tropical Black IPA, a golden ale, and a green hop beer.
The beer will be available in 30 Brains pubs from today Wednesday 7th November. For a full list of stockists click here.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

New Brewery for North Wales

A new brewery has been started in Dolgellau by a husband and wife team who formerly worked as solicitors, Stephen and Jane Warner have set up Cwrw Cader Ales at the Marian Mawr Industrial Estate and are producing 2 1/2 barrels a week of beers called Idris Bitter and Cader Gold  for pubs and hotels in the area.

The brewery has been supported by the Welsh Government’s Trade Development Programme, managed by business development company Menter a Busnes,

“I’d decided I wanted to do something completely different after spending many years in the legal profession in Nottingham,” said Stephen, "Jane and I have had a home in this part of the world for over 15 years; starting the brewery has enabled us to live here full time. We have started in a modest way to test the market and refine our brewing skills while continuing to work part-time in the legal profession .Early signs are very positive and we hope to make a real contribution to the local community as we expand and take on staff.”

Cwrw Cader Ales was formally launched at an event held at Y Llew Coch public house in Dinas Mawddwy with Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM and guests from local businesses.

Sera Catrin Jones of Menter a Busnes, said: “There is a resurgence in micro-breweries in the UK and Cwrw Cader Ales is in a strong position to break into the market with some good quality products that they have developed through hard work and a passion for brewing.”
Full details from the Daily Post here.

Former Cardiff Staff Club to reopen as bar

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The former Glamorgan Council Staff Club on Westgate Street, Cardiff, is set to reopen as a bar. The Grade II listed building closed as a club in 2007 after 50 years as operating as a club. The building was built as the house for the treasurer of the council, on the site of the former town slaughterhouse!

Anyway I always enjoyed going into the club when I worked in Cardiff it sold the best real ale in the City at the time and was a regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide as well as a being a Club of the Year winner. The atmosphere can best be described as 'lively' in the Glammy, as these photos taken by Maciej show.

Beatboxbars Limited, who run the Buffalo Bar in Windsor Place and 10 Feet Tall in Church Street Cardiff, will shortly be reopening the former club as Fire Island, "an upmarket bar and eatery". Oh well the former imates of the staff club will be remaining in Chaverspoons next door then! Buffalo Bar already holds an annual cider festival and stocks a range of imported beers so hopefully we will see such a range at Fire Island.

Despite having planning permission approval for the last three years, disputes over opening times have delayed the project due to objections from local residents. The main entrance will now be via Womanby Street rather than Westgate Street.
Fire Island, plans to host accoustic music sessions.

The Plough, Whitchurch, Cardiff

The Plough, 1 Merthyr Road, Whitchurch, CF14 1DA

Open all day

The Plough occupies a street-corner location opposite the nineteenth-century parish church of Whitchurch. Although this Cardiff suburb has medieval origins, this part was only developed in the nineteenth century, due to the nearby tin plate works. The Plough dates from this time and the original building is the one on the corner with Old Church Road, this later expanded into an adjacent property and earlier this year underwent a complete refurbishment by owners SA Brain. It was more of a transformation than a refurbishment and the Plough is now described as featuring ‘contemporary dining’, though still has features that appeal to those who whish to use the pub for a drink rather than dine.

The whitewashed exterior of the Plough features hanging floral baskets and there is a small outside drinking area to the front. The entrance porch leads to a corridor with a bar to the right and small snug to the left, which features leather armchairs. The corridor continues to the rear of the pub and into a large dining room, which features another bar and doors leading out to a secluded patio area with climbing plants. Surprisingly the rear garden area is non-smoking.

The Plough is decorated throughout with pictures of old Whitchurch, one in the front bar, features the pub when it was a free house that served Bass and the photograph also features an early motor bus advertising false teeth. In the photo the pub can clearly be seen to be made up of two buildings that were originally separate. Another interesting item framed and mounted on the wall is an advert from the Echo in 1907, which says that the Plough serves Bass from the wood. Today the Plough is owned by SA Brain and the beer range is Brains Bitter, SA Gold, Rev James and SA, although seasonal ales from the brewery may also make an appearance. Budweiser Budvar from the Czech Republic is also available in bottles and there is also an extensive wine list.

The Plough has undergone a sympathetic refurbishment and has not been turned into a pub that excludes drinkers for the benefit of diners, in fact with its multiple rooms and bars there is room for everyone in this pub. The pub may have lost its skittle alley in the refurbishment but now appeals to a different clientele.

Food is served all day from an extensive menu with Welsh ingredients such as Carmarthenshire Ham, Celtic Pride 21-day matured beef and Welsh ice cream being featured.

Google Map:

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Monday, 5 November 2012

Pubs and shops face more tax rises next April

Business rates to pubs and city centre shops will have risen by almost 13% since 2011 after a 2.6% increase comes into force next April.

With pubs and shops already struggling the Taxpayers Alliance have launched a campaign against this increase, more details here.

Business rates went up by 4.6 per cent in 2011 and 5.6 per cent in 2012, and they are set to rise by a further 2.6 per cent next April.

Imposing a substantial rates hike for the third year running can only lead to more empty pubs and shops on high streets and fewer chances of work, especially for young people. That is why The Tax Payers Alliance are calling on the Government to freeze business rates. They are working with the British Retail Consortium and the magazine Retail Week, and we need your help too. They have produced a new website making it easy for you to urge your MP to back action to freeze business rates.

Results of a new survey of BRC members – with respondents representing nearly a third of the British retail market and employing 900,000 people – have sounded alarm bells about the impact of the planned rise. Released to coincide with the launch of the campaign, it finds that:
•70 per cent say another rates hike would force them to cut back on job creation and/or curtail investment in existing or new stores

•15 per cent say that they would be forced to close stores

According to Mathew Sinclair of the Tax Payers Alliance
“Britain’s high streets have been suffering in recent years and excessive business rates make it much harder for stores to survive and prosper. Businesses of all kinds struggle with rates as they are a major bill that they have to pay in good times and bad, whether or not they are making the money to pay it. Freezing business rates would be a great way of letting firms grow, prosper and create new jobs.
“At the TaxPayers’ Alliance, we are very excited to be working with the British Retail Consortium to make the case that business rates should be frozen. High taxes are getting in the way of economic growth and a freeze is a reasonable proposal to help companies fighting their way out of the recession. Hopefully direct pressure from their constituents will encourage MPs to back action for lower rates.
“If MPs want to show that they are on the side of small businesses in their area, backing a freeze in business rates is a great way to do it.”

Gwatkin Cider Christmas Fayre

A bit of advance notice here, the award-winning Gwatkin Cider Company of Abbey Dore in Herefordshire will be holding a Christmas Fayre on Saturday 22nd December 1200-1700 hrs.
Reindeer and Father Christmas (wonder who Denis persuaded to dress up for that?)

The perfect place to buy your last minute Christmas Gifts, Food and Drink and of course have a mulled cider or two in the ciderhouse!

Mulled Cider and Mince Pies
Hot Pork and Turkey Rolls
Craft Stalls
Gwatkin Cider Hampers
Christmas Puddings
Holly and Mistletoe and more
More details on the Facebook Event page here

Google Map:

View Gwatkin Cider in a larger map


Only 15 minutes from Hereford.
From Hereford take the A465 towards Abergavenny, after approximately 10 minutes turn right on the B4348 towards Peterchurch (just after Locks Garage).
After approximately 5 minutes, turn left on to the B4347 for Abbey Dore. We are just over a mile on the right hand side.

From Abergavenny take the A465 towards Hereford, ignore the first sign for Abbey Dore. Carry straight on until you see the sigh for Peterchurch (at Locks garage) and turn left on the B4348.
After approximately 5 minutes, turn left on to the B4347 for Abbey Dore. We are just over a mile on the right hand side

Gwatkin Cider
Moorhampton Park Farm
Abbey Dore

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Former Newport publicans celebrate diamond wedding anniversary

From the South Wales Argus, a Newport couple recently celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary. Eric and Sheila Read used to work for Ansells and ran the Castle Hotel, the Six Bells, Three Horseshoes and Victoria on Nash Road.

And a photograph from the 1970s of Eric Read and comedian Dick Emery in the Six Bells in Newport.
Their first pub was the Castle Hotel, pictured above from the railway bridge. The pub was directly opposite the castle and was demolished for the Old Green Crossing to be built.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Classic Fawlty Towers episode recreated in Aberdare pub

The Boot Hotel in Aberdare is one of those pubs that has definetly seen better days. I've never been in there, in fact it always appears to be closed when I've been past it. The pub did lose its alcohol licence and subsequent appeal back in 2011 "due to the unacceptable level of crime and disorder". That licensee was a certain Anthony Chidgey but his successor and no doubt relative Jason Chidgey has actually achieved more than his predecessor by being sent to prison for 15 months after admitting perverting the course of justice by not reporting the death of a customer at the pub for 4 days as he did not want to damage the weekend trade. The case only came to light when the cleaner went to the police the day of the funeral after her conscious got the better of her. An Aberdare version of the Kipper and the Corpse was played out for 4 days.
Now there is an old joke that there has never been a series of CSI Aberdare as no one there has any teeth and all the people are genitically the same but after reading about this case; a suspicious/unexplained death in a pub which no doubt involved the police and the police surgeon, questions need to be asked about the doctor who certified the death and how the hell a four-day old body was mistaken for one that had died recently? This did happen in late January 2012 so the cold would have slowed down the decomposition but even so 4 days?
More coverage:
Wales Online cover the story here
TNT Magazine
Daily Mail

Friday, 2 November 2012

Rhymney Brewery to open fifth pub

The award-winning Rhymney Brewery of Blaenavon have announced that they will be opening their fifth pub in time for Christmas. The location this time is the former RAFA Club on Oxford Street, Mountain Ash.

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The pub will no doubt follow similiar lines to the Winchester in Merthyr Tydfil, the Andrew Buchan in Cardiff, the Prince of Wales in Aberdare and 'The Wonky Bar' in Pontypridd.

Artisan Brewery open this Saturday

Some news from Simon at Artisan Brewery below:

Don your favourite winter-woolies, scarf, mittens and the lot. As we go where most others dare...

Behold - BAR OPEN 'NOV 3rd' our second-to-last open event of the year.

We'll have hot food and pints of:
Helles Lager, Bavarian Wheat, American IPA, ALTbeer, and if it seems fitting or gets any darker/colder - what the hell! Midnight IPA to keep things jolly.

We'll be serving wine and cider and soft-drinks too.
'Bare Naked Beer' T-Shirts will be available on the day. And we suggest everyone buys one of these bad-boys.

We'll be taking comment on what our next range of beers will be called. Of-course prizes for all those who's grand ideas come to fruition. Sound like a competition? I suppose it is.

Entry forms on the day, and online soon…

Bring your mates. Free entry & No outside booze please.

Artisan Brewery
183A Kings Road, Cardiff, CF11 9DF
And a bit of bad news regarding his battle with a cola company here.

Beer Duty Debate

Beer Duty debate
Yesterday in Parliament there was a debate on the beer duty escalator, full transcript can be read here on Hansard. Below is the Storify of the coverage:

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Pub closures reach 18 a week

New figures show that 18 pubs now close across the nation each week, up from 12 per week (September 2011 – March 2012).

- Debate on the beer duty escalator takes place in Parliament today as further figures show how over 5800 pubs have permanently closed since the beer duty escalator was introduced in 2008.

Published before today’s major Parliamentary debate on the beer duty escalator, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has revealed how Britain’s pub closure rate has increased to 18 a week, with over 450 pubs across the country having been lost since March.
The latest CGA-CAMRA Pub Tracker, covering the period of March-September 2012, reports an increase on previous findings (12 per week for the period September 2011 – March 2012), showing the extent to which Britain’s community pubs are ‘struggling against the burden of taxation, low supermarket pricing and poor consumer confidence.’
With Britain’s pub closure rate now back on the increase, CAMRA has warned that the industry is in vital need of a successful outcome at today’s Parliamentary debate calling for a review of the social and economic impact of the beer duty escalator before Budget 2013. Since the beer duty escalator was introduced in 2008 - a system which penalises Britain’s beer drinkers by automatically increasing duty by 2% above inflation every year - CAMRA reports that over 5,800 pubs have closed. Beer sales also continue to plummet, with the British Beer and Pub Association last week reporting that UK beer sales have fallen by 5.6% from July – September alone.
In late September the CAMRA-backed e-petition calling for the abandonment of the beer duty escalator became the twelfth of its kind to reach the 100,000 signature landmark. This has triggered a Parliamentary debate ahead of which over 3,000 beer drinkers have spoken out by urging their local MP to attend.
Speaking before this milestone debate for the beer and pub industry, Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said:
‘Surpassing the 100,000 signatures required to trigger a debate was a major consumer-led campaigning success, but the real hard work begins now.
‘For too long, Britain’s beer drinkers have been forced to endure inflation busting rates of tax on their pint, while the Treasury’s own projections show that these hikes will fail to bring in any additional revenue over the next three years.
‘As today’s pub closure figures show, the future of Britain’s valued community pubs remains in jeopardy. With pubs finding it ever harder to maintain consistent footfall at a time when prices are ever increasing, it is only hoped that Parliament will today take the first steps by voting to review punitive taxation policies on Britain’s National Drink.’
Matthew Sinclair, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:
‘An escalator means consistent tax hikes on alcohol, which hits those on low and middle incomes hardest. What's more, high taxes mean we run the risk of making black market booze even more profitable. This leaves us with a yawning tax gap, and again it's hard-pressed families making up the shortfall. To close the gap, and to give people a break, the Government must take on board CAMRA's proposal to scrap the duty escalator so a pint of beer doesn't cost taxpayers the earth.’


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