Wednesday 18 February 2009

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 2009

The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival will be once again be held at the Cardiff International Arena this June. The highly successful event, organised by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, will feature real ale, ciders and perries from across the UK, with a special emphasis on those produced in Wales.

Above: The Cardiff International Arena, CIA

It may come as a surprise to some people that there are 39 different breweries in Wales, who between them produce over 250 different beers throughout the year.

Customers to the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival this year will have the choice of over 250 real ales, ciders, perries and German beers, all served in their own, specially commissioned souvenir glass, sponsored by Rhymney Brewery.

The Campaign for Real Ale runs different beer festivals throughout the year in Wales, in venues as diverse as the Home Farm Stables at Tredegar House, Newport in May to the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, in August. The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival is the biggest beer festival in Wales and all the Welsh CAMRA branches come together to organise this huge event which attracts customers from across the UK. For 3 days, the Cardiff international Arena is transformed into the biggest pub in Wales. The highlight for the brewers of Wales at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival is the Champion Beer of Wales competition, which will be announced on the afternoon of Friday 12th June. Previous winners have included Bullmastiff Brewery of Cardiff with their Son of a Bitch beer, Rhymney Brewery of Merthyr Tydfil with Dark and Breconshire Brewery with Golden Valley. These beers range from a strong ale at over 6% ABV, to a dark mild at 4% and a golden ale at 4.2% respectively, so the whole spectrum of beer styles and flavours is represented at the Great Welsh. Last year, the Champion Beer of Wales competition was won by Otley Brewery of Pontypridd, with their dangerously drinkable barley wine O8. Competition will be tough again this year with brewers such as Plassey from North Wales, Ffos y Ffin from Carmarthenshire and Kingstone from Monmouthshire, to name just 3, all competing with their real ales against older brewers such as Brains and Felinfoel. The brewers of Wales have now formed a trade association, AWIB, the Association of Welsh Independent Brewers, in order to work together to promote their Welsh real ales.

If customers prefer cider to real ales then they will not be disappointed as 4000 pints of cider and perry (that's fermented pear juice) will be available. Cidermaking in Wales has increased in interest in recent years, with around 35 cidermakers now practicing the art of fermenting apples and pears. The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival will aim to have ciders and perries from every Welsh producer as well as from English makers. CAMRA also runs a Champion Cider of Britain award and we will have previous winners at the Festival, including ciders from Wales' largest producer, Gwynt y Ddraig. Gwynt Y Ddraig was formed in 2001 and now offers customers 2 open days every year as well as farm-gate sales and online ordering for those who want to enjoy their award-winning ciders at home. The range of flavours in ciders and perries is as great as in any other food or drink, from the subtle taste and light colour of a perry to the strong, tannic flavour and dark colour of a spirit cask cider, along with every colour and flavour in between. The expert staff on the cider bar, many members of the Welsh Perry & Cider Society themselves, will be able to offer their expertise on finding a drink to suit everyone's palate.

As well as the real ales, ciders and perries, food will be available all day along with a selection of traditional pub games. Friday and Saturday nights will see live music being performed at the Festival.

There are 17 branches of CAMRA in Wales and if you like good beer or cider or wish to campaign for drinkers rights and to help save our pubs, then why not join the Campaign for Real Ale? Each branch contributes to the annual Good Beer Guide and holds regular meetings. Many of the branches hold regular beer festivals and volunteer members are more than welcome to come along and help. The Welsh branches of CAMRA also supply volunteer staff to the Great British Beer Festival at Earls Court in August, the largest beer festival in Britain. CAMRA members also get a monthly newspaper, Whats Brewing, keeping them up to date with industry news and local campaigning. If you do wish to join CAMRA, then why not come along to the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival to learn more and take advantage of our special festival membership offer.

Festival Facts

  • 6000 thirsty drinkers are expected at the 3 day event
  • 24,000 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 4000 pints of cider and perry will be available
  • Over 250 different real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers will be available at the Great Welsh
  • 2000 pints of German beer will be specially imported for the Great Welsh
  • Over 120 CAMRA members will be volunteering to work at the festival
  • The bar is 70 metres long!
  • The Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 2009 is the 9th annual festival, the 2nd at the CIA, the previous 7 having been held at Cardiff City Hall
  • CAMRA outgrew Cardiff City Hall and with help from the Welsh Assembly Government relocated to the CIA last year
  • Pub games, stalls and food will be available at the Festival

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival, Cardiff International Arena, CIA, Mary Ann Street, Cardiff CF10 2EQ

Open: Thursday 11th June 11-11, Friday 12th & Saturday 13th June 11-11

Entrance £5 (£4 for Under 26s and CAMRA members), includes souvenir glass and festival programme. For more information log onto:, tel:07807 609712

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival Facebook group can be found here

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This event is supported by the Welsh Assembly Government


Anonymous said...

There's no mention of Bryncelyn Brewery in the article, I hope there beers will be there.

Brew Wales said...

We have around 40 breweries in Wales at the moment and unfortunately they could not all be mentioned in the article. The beer list will be published here online when it is available and the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival hopes to be able to have every Welsh brewery present.


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