Monday 31 March 2008

Bill brings in the barrel at Wetherspoons!

Bill George, award-winning cider-maker at Gwynt Y Ddraig helps out delivering barrels during the Wetherspoons beer festival at the Sirhowy, Blackwood. The pub manager, Steve Rouse, thought a few wooden barrels would add atmosphere to the beer festival and asked Gwynt Y Ddraig to supply them. The pub, on Blackwood High Street always sells the Welsh ciders Black Dragon, Orchard Gold and Gold Medal. Gwynt Y Ddraig cider have also held a cider tasting in the pub and will hopefully hold one in the future.
For updates on Gwynt Y Ddraig events check out their Facebook site

Photo below shows Gwynt Y Ddraig operations director Bill George and the Sirhowy Manager Steve Rouse.

Saturday 29 March 2008

Alaistair Darling gets banned.

So what do cigarettes, gypsies and Alaistair Darling all have in common?
Yes they are all banned from British pubs.

Support this campaign to get the magpie-like Chancellor banned from every pub in the UK. He's ruining our pub industry. Okay the tax hike in the budget won't actually hit him - he's more of a white wine spritzer drinker than real ale. Also if he is banned he still has the 15 or so bars in Parliament to drink in. After this last budget actually finding a pub that will still be open will be difficult enough.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Save the Hereford Arms!

One of the last back-street local pubs in Newport is set to be turned into flats. The popular Hereford Arms in Maindee, the only true free house in the area is under threat of closure. This friendly community pub is popular with bikers and offers 1 real ale from independent breweries such as Wye Valley, Brains and Freeminer. It also offers bottled real ales from other breweries such as Fullers. The pub also has traditional pub games such as Shove Ha'penny and a pool table. The company owning this pub now want this Victorian corner pub to be turned into flats. Help us save the pub by writing to Newport Council objecting to the closure.

Mr Ian Carter
Planning Officer
Newport City Council
Civic Centre
Gwent,NP20 4UR
South Wales,

quoting reference number 08/0336

Wednesday 12 March 2008

Budget 'Charter for smugglers and cheap suppermarket booze'

CAMRA slams inflation-busting beer duty increase as ‘a charter for smugglers and cheap supermarket booze’
Four penny tax increase will do nothing to curb binge drinking but will hit poorest the hardest

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has hit out at the Chancellor’s decision to increase beer duty by 4 pence a pint in today’s Budget, together with annual increases of 2% above inflation for the next four years. The consumer group claims that the increase will lead to at least 20 pence on a pint over the bar, fuelling pub closures and increasing unregulated drinking as more choose to drink at home or on the streets. This is the first time ever that beer tax has increased by 4 pence – a rise of 13%!

CAMRA recently announced that 57 pubs are lost permanently every month as the price differential between pubs and supermarkets widens. Pubs provide a regulated environment for people to enjoy alcohol socially and responsibly.

Mike Benner, Chief Executive of CAMRA said, “The Chancellor has failed to recognise that well-run community pubs are the solution to Britain’s binge drinking problems. This budget will do nothing to stop binge drinking, but it will lead to pub closures on a huge scale, widen the gap between supermarket and pub prices and encourage smuggling and cross-border shopping. It’s a great big nail whacked ruthlessly into the coffin of the British pub.”

The 90,000 strong consumer group has condemned the announcement that beer tax will increase above inflation for the next four years, despite what happens to UK pubs and the beer market.

Mike Benner added, “Pubs are defined as local services (1) yet this tax rise alongside other market pressures will accelerate closures to unprecedented levels. The budget shows a disregard for our national drink and for the 15 million people who enjoy it responsibly.

CAMRA called for a cut in beer duty in the Budget to help pubs compete with supermarket prices. CAMRA believes that supermarket prices of beer are unlikely to be affected significantly by the tax increase, but pubs as small businesses, will have no choice but to increase prices at the bar.

Latest survey on pubs prices released today

The latest survey of pub prices across Britain is also released by CAMRA today. It shows that real ale prices across the UK have increased by 4.6% in the last year and the average price of a pint now sits at £2.45. CAMRA claims that average post-budget pub prices will now hit at least £2.65 for real ale and £2.85 for lager.

Before Budget increases apply, the most expensive region for a pint is London at £2.64 for real ale and £2.84 for lager. The best value pint of real ale was in the North at £2.15, with the best value lager in the North West at £2.40.


Notes to editors:

CAMRA’s annual survey of pub process was conducted between 24th January and 24th February 2008. Over 1,000 pubs were surveyed.

Key findings of the survey:

The average price of real ale rose by 11 pence to £2.45 – a 4.6% increase
The average price of lager rose by eight pence to £2.65 – a 3,3% increase
The highest price rises were in Scotland where real ale jumped by 7.8% to £2.55 a pint and lager by an inflation-busting 10.7% to £2.59 a pint
Average price of real cider has increased by 7% to £2.63, but this is still better value than keg ciders at £2.67 a pint
Real ales from Britain’s small independent brewers are the least expensive on average at £2.39 a pint

Full results of the survey are available at

CAMRA Pub Watch Survey shows that 57 pubs closed permanently in 2007 with 1567 closed with an uncertain future.

A summary of CAMRA’s Budget Submission to the Chancellor can be found at together with diagrams of tax rates in the EU and percentage of beer sold in pubs compared to shops.

CAMRA Budget Hotline – 01727 798443

For more information:

CAMRA press office: 01727 798443
Mike Benner: 01727 798441 mob: 07971 591224
Head of Public Affairs Jonathan Mail: 01727 798448. mob: 07720 724733
Research and Information Manager Iain Loe: 01727 798449. mob: 07801 706607

(1) The Sustainable Communities Act 2007

Bootleg Budget

Today our badger-look alike Chancellor imposed a rise in the duty for beer of 4p a pint - this translates as almost 15p a pint when the customer pays for a pint over the bar. Or to put it another way, a small-scale brewery will be paying an extra £20k a year in revenue to the Government. A fantastic way to support our small businesses with a recession on the way.

If the storms were not so bad, you could see the white vans heading to Dover to stock up on cheap French booze. A bootleg budget like this will only benefit the ferry operaters, owners of Calais hypermarkets and the French alcohol industry. It does not benefit our pubs with almost 700 closing last year, it does not benefit our growing brewing industry and it does not benefit the customer who from Sunday will see an unjustified increase the cost of their pint.

Can you see any other country in Europe taxing and treating their businesses in this way?

And where is all this money raised from increasing the price of a pint? No doubt to buy more cans of Argentinian baked beans for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This Government won't even support the farmers or food factories in this country by buying their produce to feed our troops so what chance does any food producer or brewery in this country have of Government support. Or the money will be going to Nothern Rock, in order to stop Labour MPs being voted out of their North East seats at the next election.

The result of this budget - the average beer drinker hit harder in the pocket and more pub closures. A budget for bootleggers and a bonus for the owners of foreign hypermarkets.

At least the chimp could not make such a bad job of being Chancellor as Darling does.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Pub Closures

The Campaign for Real Ale is calling for a tax cut on beer in Wednesday’s Budget to help prevent community pub closures following the results of a survey released today which reveals that the number of pubs closed permanently has increased to 57 a month. The survey suggests that almost one third (31%) of pubs closed permanently are being demolished, while 36% are converted to shops, cafes and restaurants and 33% to some other use, mostly residential.

CAMRA is calling for a one penny cut in beer tax in the Budget to help stop unnecessary pub closures due to rising costs and falling beer sales. Beyond the Budget, the consumer group is also seeking changes to planning law to prevent pub demolitions and change of use from pubs to shops, cafes and restaurants without planning permission.

Mike Benner, CAMRA’s Chief Executive, said, “Britain’s pubs provide an essential amenity for communities and a place for people to enjoy alcohol sociably in a regulated environment, yet the Government’s high tax policies coupled with increasing costs are crippling them. We need to see action immediately to stop the number of pub closures spiralling out of control making it impossible for many people to benefit from the amenity of a local pub. A ‘rescue plan’ for community pubs is required and we hope the Government will begin that process with a one penny tax cut on a pint of beer on Wednesday.”

Sixty-eight CAMRA volunteer branches across the UK provided figures for their areas which show the staggering levels of pub closures. The survey is based on closures recorded throughout 2007, so the effects of the smoking ban introduced last year are not yet fully evident. The consumer group also claims that pubs are faced with unprecedented increases in costs as beer prices are expected to rise due to hop and malt shortages.

Mr Benner added, “Pub beer prices have increased above inflation over the last ten years and the Chancellor must give beer a break. Supermarket beer prices, on the other hand, have actually fallen in real terms, often making beer cheaper than bottled water. Supermarkets can absorb tax rises while small pub operators can’t and the clear effect of this is to drive consumers away from the pub and into their armchair to drink cheap alcohol. We want the Government to recognise that the great British pub is the solution to Britain’s binge drinking problems and we need policies and action to support them, not close them.”

A survey commissioned by CAMRA in December 2007 shows that 27% of people who prefer to drink at home said price was the main influence on their decision. The survey also revealed that 72% of people agree that it is unfair that responsible drinkers have to pay for an irresponsible minority through high taxes. 68% of adults agree that a pub is a responsible place to drink alcohol.

We need action now before last orders ring for the British pub

Mr Benner added, “Recent calls from the BMA and others for significant increases in alcohol excise duties are misguided and would be ineffective in combating binge drinking. Higher taxes will kill British pubs, force drinking underground and fuel smuggling and cross-border shopping. We need action now before last orders ring for the British pub.”

Notes for editors

The survey shows that 1567 pubs were closed with an uncertain future during 2007
Beer production in the UK declined by 6% during 2007 and the proportion of beer consumed in pubs is in long term decline.
CAMRA’s first Pub Watch survey, carried out in 2006, showed that 56 pubs a month were closing with 1320 closed with an uncertain future.
CAMRA has issued ‘Cut Beer Tax Now’ postcards to its 90,000 consumer members and to 30,000 pubs. The cards will be sent to the Chancellor in support of the campaign.
A one penny increase in beer tax would typically add five or ten pence to the price of a pint in a pub, while supermarkets can usually absorb increases.
The Government cut cider duty in 2002 followed by freezes over the subsequent four budgets. This action, devised to support the ailing cider sector, has helped revitalise cider sales in the UK
The UK already has the highest rate of excise duty on beer in the European Union.
Excise duty on beer has increased by 26.7% in the last ten years compared to 16% for wine, 11% for cider and only 3% for spirits
Pubs are defined in the Sustainable Communities Act 2007 as ‘public services’
CAMRA’s survey, carried out by TNS in December 2007, also found:

72% of people agree that it is unfair that responsible drinkers have to pay for an irresponsible minority.
68% of people agree that a pub is a responsible place to drink.
A 10% increase in pub prices would lead to 21% of current pub goers drinking more at home.
45% of people now drink at home, and purchase low-cost alcohol, often used as a loss-leader by supermarkets. 27% of people who prefer to drink at home said price was the main influence on their decision to drink at home.
Beer is still the preferred drink in pubs. 47% of us prefer beer. This rises to 61% for people who use pubs at least once a week

For media enquiries call:

CAMRA Press Office 01727 798443
Mike Benner 07971 591224
Iain Loe 07801 706607
Tony Jerome 07736 948186
Jonathan Mail 07720 724733

Wednesday 5 March 2008

Beer to Brussels!

Pictured: Nick Otley, Buster Grant and Charlie Otley at the Bibliotech Solvay

St Davids Day saw a delegation of brewers from Wales, along with their beers visit Brussels for the First Minister's Reception. Alongside the award-winning brews from Breconshire, Otley, Tomos Watkin and Brains breweries there was also a range of Welsh food provided by True Taste award winners, the annual food and drink competition run by the Welsh Assembly Government. The brewers wee on hand to answer questions about their products and explain the success of the Welsh brewing industry in recent years.

According to Breconshire brewer, Justin "Buster" Grant, "The invitations for this event were highly sought after and there was a very big positive response to our beers.

Nick Otley said "It was an enjoyable event, and it was great to get an acknowledgement from the First Minister - we're certainly hoping to be asked back to next year's event."

Both breweries agreed that it was an excellent positive step for the Welsh Assembly Government to be promoting Welsh real ales, especially in one of the most discriminating beer drinking cities in the world!


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