Friday, 30 May 2014

Hornblower closes again

Once again, the Hornblower pub in Newport has shut. This time around it managed to stay open for about 10 months, something of a record given the recent history of the pub. The last owners failed to get things right from the very start with poor quality beer and indifferent staff who were more interested in stuffing their faces with crisps behind the bar than in making sure customers had decent pints of beer to drink. The pub was also competing with a nearby Wetherspoons and the Talisman pub, the latter has successfully cornered the market for the pond-life of the 'Port who are not catered for elsewhere.
So what's the future for the Hornblower? Not a good one as I doubt anyone would be stupid enough to take this once-popular bikers pub on. It's heyday was in the early 1990s when it boasted 5 real ales and was the spiritual home of Reckless Eric's Brewery. Although after that the pub went down hill with a succession of bad tenants including one alcoholic and one who had an interest in photography which raised the interest of the local rozzers. Hardly the type of people to attract customers to the pub?
The building to the right of the pub is also empty but this being Newport it is doubtful if any store will move in, especially with the new shopping centre under construction elsewhere in the city centre. So more dereliction for Newport.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cider Festival at the Clytha Arms this weekend!

The place to go this weekend is the Clytha Arms in Monmouthshire as they hold their annual cider Festival!

Cider List

Llanblethian Orchards
Kingston Black Medium
Stoke Red Medium
Biglis Farm Sweet
Orchard Blend Medium Sweet
Mayday Sweet
Hendre Huffcap Perry

Raglan Cider Mill
Boris’ Brainbender Medium
Hanky Panky Spirit cask Medium K
ingston Black Dry
Eaters & Cookers Medium Dry
RCM Medium
Barn Owl Perry Dry
Snowy Owl Perry Medium

Three Saints
Bit of Rough Dry cider
Blush Sweet Perry
Divine Medium Perry
Nice Boys Dry Perry
Laughing Juice Perry
Sweet Burgundy Perry

CJs Cider
Wench Medium
Surprise Sweet
Rosie’s Triple D
Dry Scrumpy
Triple D medium
Wicked Wasp medium
Black Bart sweet

Skyborry Cider
Medium Dry

Ty Bryn
Twisted Oak Dry
Vintage Oak Dry
Sunset Medium sweet
Blakeney Red Perry Sweet

Ty Gwyn
Naughty Horsey medium
Very Naughty Horsey, medium dry

Williams Brothers Cider
Dry Cider
Medium Cider
Sweet Cider

Bartestree Cider
Fox Snout
Frome Valley
Harley Gum Perry Hellen's Early Perry
Oldfield Perry
Painted Lady Perry

Gwatkins Cider
Silly Ewe, Dry
Yarlington Mill,
Medium Norman,
Medium Rum Cask,
Medium Game Cock,
Sweet Stoke Red,
Squeal Pig Perry
Farmhouse Perry, Medium

Olivers Cider & Perry
Medium Making Hay,
Traditional Perry,
Dry Classic Perry,
Medium Classic Perry,

Monday, 19 May 2014

The Not So Tiny Rebel Beer Festival

The Tiny Rebel Brewery Tap, the Urban Tap House in Cardiff, will be playing host to their biggest ever beer festival from Thursday 5th to Sunday 6th June 2014 with over 240 beers and over 60 ciders available at Cardiff's Best Pub.
There will be special one-off brews available, including some that have been matured in wooden casks for a year and were not wanted at the bigger festival opposite!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Don of Brains Brewery retires

Brains’ Rev James creator to retire
One of Brains’ longest serving master brewers retires today after more than 40 years in the brewing industry - 26 of which have been spent with Brains. Don Jeffrey was recently presented with a special award by Cardiff CAMRA in the City Arms, he is pictured above together with Cardiff CAMRA Chair Rick Zaple.
Don’s brewing career began at Heriot Watt University in 1971, where he completed his brewing degree. His first job took him to Courage as a production trainee, moving across various sites including John Smith’s, Tadcaster and Simonds Brewery. He gained his master brewer qualification while working at the Courage bottling plant, London Bridge. In 1979 he joined Guinness, Park Royal, producing both Harp and Guinness, before relocating to the Isle of Man to become head brewer at Castletown Brewery, which later became Okell’s.
In 1988 Don took on a head brewer role at Buckley’s in Llanelli, which was later acquired by Brains. While there he created a new premium ale, The Rev. James, which was named after one of the brewery’s early owners, Methodist minister James Buckley, and has since become one of Brains’ most popular cask ales. Don’s last move was to Brains’ Crawshay Street site in 1999, becoming packaging manager.
Bill Dobson, head brewer at Brains, said: “Don has been a pivotal member of our production team for the last 15 years, supporting the growth of Brains brands, and more recently was part of the team to establish Brains Craft Brewery.”
Don added: “There have been many changes during my years in the industry – often challenging and demanding, but always stimulating. I’ll miss the day to day contact with my colleagues but I’m now looking to put a bit back by offering my skills as a brewing consultant and trainer, for both brewing apprentice programmes and formal qualifications for the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.”
To mark his retirement, Don has brewed his own Alt style beer in Brains’ craft brewery, with a name that plays on his other passion – magic. Don is a long-time member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians. Old Tricks uses Munich and Crystal malts, Hallertau and Saaz hops and Dusseldorf Alt yeast, resulting in a combination of sweet malt, caramel and rich raisin flavours, and a classic floral, spicy aroma from the noble hops.
Old Tricks will be available in 30 Brains pubs from May 14th. For more details visit

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

CAMRA says tied pubcos must be disarmed

Campaigners say the tied pubco model is a ticking time bomb the Government must disarm

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today mounted renewed pressure on the Government to act now to save Britain’s struggling pubs, with a petition delivered to Business Secretary Vince Cable calling for vital large pub company (pubco) reform. The petition gained over 30,000 signatures in just 5 days and surpassed the 42,000 mark ahead of it being delivered to Vince Cable today. As well as the delivery of the petition, over 100 campaigners, pub-goers and licensees gathered outside Parliament to rally behind Vince Cable’s pledge to end the Great British Pub Scandal.

CAMRA says it is essential that Vince Cable sticks to his guns and makes an announcement in the next few weeks, to allow action before the upcoming General Election.

“It is absolutely vital that the Government disarms the ticking time bomb threatening the nation’s pubs. CAMRA is demanding the introduction of a Pubs Watchdog to rule on disputes between licensees and pubcos, plus a guest beer right and a market rent only option for tied licensees. These measures are essential in order to create a level playing field for licensees, ensuring those tied to the large pubcos are no worse off than those that are free of tie.” Colin Valentine, CAMRA’s National Chairman.

It is now well over 12 months since the Government launched its consultation and despite several assurances of action, including a recent letter to CAMRA from Vince Cable stating that “We intend very soon to publish the Government response to our pubs consultation and to announce the next steps”, the Government has so far failed to make an announcement.

Currently tied licensees must purchase their beer and other products from the pub company at an inflated rate, which is often at least 50% more expensive than the market rate. As a result 57% of tied licensees earn less than £10k a year.

“The reforms CAMRA are seeking will enable publicans tied to the large pub companies to make a decent living and invest in their business, protecting thousands of valued pubs and creating a thriving industry. The current model is weighted far too heavily in the favour of the pub company at the expense of the licensee and it is essential the Government acts now to redress the balance, before thousands more people lose their livelihood.” Colin Valentine added.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Big Apple Cider & Perry Results

The Big Apple Cider & Perry competition was held at Putley in Herefordshire over the weekend and the results are below.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

CAMRA Champion Cider and Perry

CAMRA names the UK’s
best Ciders and Perries
GOLD – Sheppy’s, Medium
SILVER – Dove Syke, Ribble Valley Gold
BRONZE – Wilce’s, Cider
GOLD – Oliver’s, Perry
SILVER – Kent Cider Company, Perry
BRONZE – Raglan Cider Mill, Snowy Owl
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today announced the winners of its National Cider and
Perry Championships.
The winner of the Champion Cider of Britain is Sheppy’s Medium, described by judges as having “A rich apple aroma, dry yet well-
balanced flavour and a clean, refreshing, moreish
The winner of the Champion Perry of Britain is Oliver’s Perry which the judges described as “Initially sweet with a dry aftertaste – a very balanced perry with great body .
The final round of judging for CAMRA’s National
Cider and Perry Championships 2014 took place at the popular Reading Beer and Cider festival today. The competition featured ciders and perries from across the UK, with each cider and
perry judged on aroma, flavour, after-taste and
personal enjoyment. The winners were selected
by a specially chosen panel of judges including
cider experts, drinks writers and CAMRA members.
Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Perry, had this to say
“That’s fantastic, we’re really pleased, especially
on the back of the Pomona award last year –
fantastic for us to win for our perry. We’re very
Andrea Briers, CAMRA National Cider and Perry
Committee Chair, had this to say on the quality
and diversity of entries:
“Real Cider and Perry continues to grow in
popularity and by the quality of this year’s
entrants it is easy to see why. With such a
fantastic range of quality ciders and perries now
being produced all over the UK, the standard of
this year’s competition was higher than ever –
the overall winners should be extremely proud of
their achievement as picking a Champion from
such an accomplished field proved very difficult.”


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