Monday 30 March 2009

King gets demolished

The former King pub on Somerton Road, Lliswerry, Newport is in the process of being demolished to make way for flats. Once known as the King of Prussia, it became the King of Russia in 1916 but was just the King by 1923, although the pub sign still had "Frederick William III 1797-1840" on it until recently. The King was owned by local brewers Phillips, who sold out to Courage but in more recent times it became a freehouse, run by Newport AFC. The pub has been closed and derelict for a number of years, as with the nearby Black Horse which is awaiting demolition to be turned into a supermarket. Shame about the King, it was a nice piece of nineteenth century architecture with its tilled frontage. Another Newport pub lost, that's 42 local pubs closed since New Labour came to power in 1997.

Postscript: I'm reliably informed that the pub is not going to be demolished but converted into flats. The original planning permission was for demolition but that has now changed. Not for historical reasons but due to flood concerns. Always happy to put the record straight.

Thursday 26 March 2009

Where's Your Food From?

From the BBC, a report by Denbighshire Trading Standards found that 21% of descriptions on menus were false. National pub chains were the worse with 47% making false descriptions as opposed to only 16% for independent pubs.
Amongst the misstruths were:
"Home made" soup - bought in frozen
"Local" sea bass - found to be farmed abroad
"Locally-farmed" turkey - came from a distance
"Cardigan Bay mackerel" - imported from abroad
"Welsh lamb casserole" - a ready meal and the lamb was not Welsh

Terms such as local, Welsh, fresh, traditional and homemade were found to be increasingly used on menus to encourage customers and attract premium prices.
The report did not mention any pubs passing off the Zebu as steak though, which one major pub company does do, although they do not call it 'beef'.

Photo- a Zebu which appears on British pub menus as 'steak'

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Future of the Left - Video shot in the Vulcan

Now I'm not one for normally pushing videos by bands BUT it was filmed in the Vulcan.

Official video for the 4AD single 'The Hope That House Built' by Future of the Left (out 16th March 2009). Directed by Casey Raymond and Ewan Jones-Morris.

How old is the Guinness Advert?

Above: The east wall of the Vulcan
There have been a few comments on Facebook on the age of the Guinness advert painted onto the side of the Vulcan pub in Cardiff, after my posting yesterday on Brew Wales.
Well thanks to the Book of Guinness Adevertising I may be able to put a date on it.
The Guinness is Good for You slogan ran from 1928 until the 1960s. Similar fonts have been used in posters from 1932 until at least 1956, on advertising material designed by the artist John Gilroy. Is it too much to hope that we have a Gilroy Original painted on the side of the pub?
The font is similar to this 1938 poster - no hook on the 'G', angle on the beginning of 'S'. I'm not an expert on fonts but there is a chance this wall advert is pre-World War Two?

The sign was covered by a building for many years and is on the left hand wall of the Vulcan pub. The above image was taken in May/June 2000 before the demolition of the adjoining buildings. And before a certain RAT who hates his photo being taken could move out of shot!
Save the Vulcan blogspot

Monday 23 March 2009

Ken Clarke MP joins campaign to Save the Vulcan

Save the Vulcan – update

From Brew Wales

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer, former Home Secretary and Campaign for Real Ale member, Ken Clarke MP has lent his support to the Save the Vulcan campaign. After a trip to Brains Brewery, Ken popped into the threatened pub with the South Wales Echo and said, “I like traditional pubs, as do most other people living in Britain. It is always very sad to see them go......It would be very sad if it [the Vulcan] was to be flattened to be replaced by a car park. If the campaign is successful I'll definitely come back and have another pint!”

Full interview is on the Wales Online website here.

Ken Clarke MP is just one of a long list of politicians who have put their name to the Save the Vulcan Campaign. Others include:

Lord Kinnock

Jenny Willott MP (Cardiff Central)

Kevin Brennan MP (Cardiff West)

Kim Howells MP (Pontypridd)

Jenny Randerson AM

Chris Franks AM

David Melding AM

Nick Bourne AM

Leanne Wood AM

Andrew RT Davies AM

As well as 5000 other people including Rhys Ifans and James Dean Bradfield.

The Vulcan was built in 1853 and has many noteworthy architectural features including:

the glazed tile frontage

part stained glass and frosted front windows

cast glazed brown terracotta urinals, which are outside the pub

Vulcan pub timeline

1853 The Vulcan pub was built. 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), 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 A Compulsory Purchase Order was made by the Welsh Development Agency on behalf of St Davids 2 (Land Securities).

2007 According to the South Wales Echo, the Vulcan ends up in the hands of a property development company, Rapport (Marcol Asset Management) run by Derek Ivor Rapport for just over £500,000.

2008 CADW rejects calls for the pub to be listed, stating that it was not as special as other city pubs.

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

2009 February. 5000 name petition to Save the Vulcan is handed to the Welsh Assembly Government.

2009 March. The Vulcan is awarded 'Pub of the Year' by the Cardiff Branch of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.

2009 March. CADW is once again urged to give the building statuary protective status due to the historical worth the Vulcan offers to the City of Cardiff.

Marcus Binney says in 'Time Gentleman Please', “Pubs are undoubtedly the most visited and the most popular of all Britain's historic buildings”. Yet in Wales, CADW, the body responsible for protecting old buildings through listing them has constantly let down the Welsh nation with their refusal to protect historic pubs.

One notable example of this was in the demolition of the Green Meadow at Waterloo, Near Machen, Caerphilly. Despite overwhelming evidence, found by research by historians, that this was the undisputed birthplace of Chartist and cremation pioneer Dr William Price, the pub was demolished in 1998 to make way for housing.

From Brew Wales

Irish-Dutch-Beer scam

This arrived in my inbox the other day - it makes a change from the Nigerian Oil scams I normally receive -this is the first Dutch-Irish-beer-football scam I have seen. Now I know it does not come from that well-known Dutch brewer and I am just publishing this piece of rubbish as a warning to others - and to give you all a good laugh.

From:Heineken International (
Heineken International
58 Leitrim Street

Heineken is one of the world's great brewers and is committed to growth and remaining independent. Heineken today announced it will give its African consumers their first ever chance to hold the UEFA Champions League Trophy aloft when it takes the famous cup on tour in March and April of this year. After two successful tours in Asia and South America in 2007 and 2008 it is now the turn of African football fans in Algeria, Egypt and South
Africa to have the ultimate experience, to be able to see and touch the famous Trophy.
Following the process and success of the Asia and South America UEFA Champions League tour in 2007 and 2008, Heineken International has once again started with the online awareness (email) games which was the
starting point for the 2007 and 2008 tours respectively.
NOTE: Heineken international organise this online draw to create awareness before the tour.
As was done in 2007 and 2008, Heineken contacted Microsoft directly to provide the email contacts of the leading internet users worldwide for the 2007 and 2008 email draws to kick off the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour in Africa.

Among the ten thousand email addresses that were provided by microsoft for the online draw, your email address came out as one of the four lucky winning email addresses of FOUR MILLION POUNDS STERLING ( £4,000,000.00 ), as a result your email address has won the sum of ONE MILLION POUNDS
>STERLINGS ( £1,000,000.00 ).


Jean van Boxmeer
58 Leitrim Street
Tel: +44 7031-923-807

With high confidentiality we say congratulations.

Yes of course you do.
And I refer 'Jean van Boxmeer' to the reply given in the case of Arkell vs Pressdram.

Friday 20 March 2009

Budget coming up again

It will soon be Budget time again, when the banned from pubs Badger-haired lackey of the teetotal one-eyed idiot gets the chance to Save the British Pub, that's if they are not too busy both saving the world.
According to the British Beer & Pub Association, 2099 pubs have closed since the non-drinking Jockaracy that runs this country put up the tax on beer last year. The Temperance Movement would be proud of Darling and Brown, able to cause more damage to pubs and communities than anyone since the Luftwaffe.
Anyway our Friends at the Axe the Beer Tax campaign have done this little tax calculator for you all to see how much tax we are paying on pints.

The 5 demands of the Campaign are:
  1. To stop plans to increase beer tax by up to a third
  2. To enforce existing laws – not create new ones - to deal firmly with irresponsible drinkers and premises
  3. To end the irresponsible promotion of alcohol in supermarkets, pubs and elsewhere
  4. To trust responsible adults to make informed choices about what they drink, not punish them for the actions of an irresponsible minority
  5. To support the British pub as a vital part of social life in local communities.
So what can you do to help?
Go onto the Axe the Beer Tax website, enter your postcode and lobby your MP.

Monday 16 March 2009

Brains and Felinfoel

It's not often that both Brains and Felinfoel are seen on a bar together but today in the Pen & Wig, Newport is one of those occasions. Felinfoel Double Dragon describes itself as the "National Ale of Wales" and is the oldest brewery in Wales. Nice 3d pumpclip, although the Brains pumpclip is at least 20 years old! Still the Double Dragon is very good today, a 4.2%, sweet, malty ale with a fruity finish. Time for another methinks.

Friday 13 March 2009

Wetherspoons finally admits real ale policy

Chav-palace creators JD Wetherspoons have finally admitted that they are not interested in appearing in the Good Beer Guide, published by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale.
A manageress of one of their Newport-based chav-palaces told a CAMRA member who was surveying the pub for the Good Beer Guide that, "We don't care about going in the Good Beer Guide" and refused to give the researcher the opening times for the pub!
Nice to have something many of us have long suspected finally confirmed by one of their staff.
With their policies of chucking any pumpclip on any handpump and continuing to serve beer that is only fit for pouring over chips, it's hardly suprising that only a few of their chav-palaces make it into the Good Beer Guide.
As a point of principle, Brew Wales no longer drinks in any of their pubs, despite having been a supporter of the company for the last 17 years.
A new chav-palace is due to open in Barry today (13th)
Sir Samuel Romilly
Romilly Building
Vale of Glamorgan
CF62 7AU
That opening should see a few Barry pubs close down for good.

Thursday 12 March 2009

Beer Necessities - blast from the past

A few years back, the Gwent Branch of CAMRA used to produce an award-winning newsletter called Beer Necessities. Anyway whilst trawling the web I came across a few back issues as pdfs on this website.
The centre-page pub crawls are still there and I might have to borrow the maps for an article or two on this site!
Don't know if anyone is still interested in Welsh pub and brewery news from 6-11 years back but they are there if you want them. Oh and you might find a photograph of me with a big beard in one or two issues, but that was back in my Taliban days and am now clean shaven once again.That was actually my passport photo for 10 years!

Book review - Thirsty Dragon

Book Review: The Thirsty Dragon, Lyn Ebenezer 2006
ISBN: 1-84527-048-7, £5.50 116 pages, colour and B&W photos

I know this book was published in 2006 but it has only just found its way to the Brew Wales book reviewer. Books on Welsh drinks are few and far between, we have the excellent Prince of Ales by Brian Glover (published 1993) and the odd Farmhouse Brewing (1974, republished in Welsh 1983) and apart from the occasional company histories (Brains 1982 & 2007) and pub guides, books on drinks in Wales are not that easy to find. It was only by chance I found The Thirsty Dragon in a Cardiff bookshop when I was looking for another book! Sorry Doc I'll get round to buying Eagles Rising another time.
Lyn Ebenezer devotes a chapter of the book to a particular part of Welsh drinking; Mead, Monastic brewing, Cidermaking, Welsh Whisky and Wrexham all deservedly have chapters devoted to them but for some reason the entire 6 pages of Chapter 13 are given over to a hagiography of Simon Buckley, late of Buckleys, Ushers and Tomos Watkin Breweries but of more recent times, Evan Evans Brewery. Lyn Ebenezer was clearly taken in by the slimy charms of this former stockbroker as any serious journalistic research would have involved interviews with members of the Brains board and former Tomos Watkin board members in order to produce an accurate and balanced account of Simon Buckley's part in Welsh brewing history. Instead we have the various rants of the Clown Prince of Welsh Brewing blaming everyone else for failures of his businesses in the past. For an account of the opening of the Tomos Watkin brewery in Llansamlet click here. Chapter 13 also has a very amusing photo of Simon Buckley stood in front of pallets of empty casks. The reason why this photo is amusing is that recently Simon has been suspended from his membership of SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, for using other brewers casks without their permission. In fact one Evans Evan delivery occurred to a pub using 'borrowed' casks which came as a surprise to another brewer who was sat in the pub watching his casks being unloaded from the Evan Evans dray!
The rest of the brewers in Wales have to share the remaining 7 pages and a whole chapter to themselves. The author even gets the name of one award-winning North Wales brewery wrong, it's Purple Moose, not Pink Moose as in the book!
All in all this is a rather disappointing book, let down by the poor standards of research and writing, not to mention the amateurish photographs. I'm not sorry I bought it, but was left with the feeling that the author could have done better. Reminds me of a beer I may try once in a pub but is not that good so will avoid it in future.

Book Review - Guide to Beer

Guide to Beer, Robert Jackson & David Kenning,Published by Paragon 2008, RRP £7.99, £3.50 in Wilkinsons. ISBN 978-1-4075-1773-5

Odd book this; odd shape and with some odd beers and very odd arrangement of the countries they come from. For instance the countries are not listed alphabetically so we begin with Canada and finish with Australia. A good few pages are given over justifiably to the United States, Germany and England but why for heaven's sake are 4 pages given over to beers from Luxembourg, a country that is to brewing beer what Gordon Brown is to depth perception? Once I asked a friend of mine, a CAMRA member who lives in Luxembourg, what he did when he wanted a good beer, “Go to Germany” was the reply.

This book mainly contains beers from the multi-nationals who now own most of the world's breweries, hence the reviews of the beers are mainly lagers with the odd independent brewery thrown in for good measure. The German section does not even mention the Rauchbiers – beers brewed using smoked malt, one of which is even available in UK supermarkets.

Unfortunately the Guide to Beer does not go in depth as to who actually owns the brewery, for that try the very well written Beer Book, edited by Tim Hampson.

There are a few errors in the Guide to Beer. For instance a review of Pauwel Kwak from Belgium mentions its distinctive glass but the accompanying photograph does not show it! I mean come on, did the photo editor actually read the article? Similarly the photo of a foaming pint of real ale is supposed to represent “a bewildering array of quality distinctive beers”. The photograph is only spoilt by the large, brightly lit keg font of XXXX lager in the background!

England, Scotland and Ireland all get a mention in the book but the 39 or so breweries of Wales are missed out. No doubt the authors, based in Darlington and Kent could not find the time to research the Principality. Which is what lets this book down, reading it I have come to the opinion that the authors did not even drink any of the beers they write about, there are hardly any tasting notes and those that are there seem to have been supplied by the public relations department of the brewery. Still another book for the collection (I really must buy another bookcase) and worth splashing out £3.50 on it in the bargain bin section of Wilkinsons.

Monday 9 March 2009

Save Welsh Pubs Campaign launched by Welsh Liberal Democrats

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are today launching their "Save Welsh Pubs" campaign, after new figures showed that 1 in 20 Welsh pubs have closed since June 2007. Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Wales Roger Williams MP is calling for the duty on beer to be cut and to limit the restrictive practices operated by PubCos, which are damaging many pubs across the country.

Figures compiled by show that Wales has just over 5% fewer pubs open today than in June 2007. Some areas have been particularly hard hit, with Newport East and Wrexham losing nearly a fifth of their pubs since 2005.

Tied pub landlords rely on PubCos for their premises and supplies with evidence emerging of overcharging being endemic within the industry, with some PubCos charging double wholesale prices. An 11 gallon keg of Carling can be bought from a wholesaler for £63, whereas PubCos are charging £110-£120 per keg. The Business and Enterprise Select Committee are currently carrying out an enquiry on the operation of the 'tie'.

Some PubCos have even placed restrictive covenants on pubs which prevent them from being used as pubs in the future when they haven't been able to find a new landlord.

Prince Charles's 'Pub is the Hub' scheme is to be piloted in Denbighshire, having been in operation in England since 2001. The scheme helps pubs to offer additional services such as post offices and shops and school meals.

The key actions the Welsh Liberal Democrats want to see are:

· A reduction of the duty on beer and the scrapping of future planned rises

· Reform of 'the tie' operated by some of the big pub companies which restricts the licensee and makes many pubs unviable

· A change in the law to prevent restrictive covenants being placed on pubs which prevent them being operated as pubs in the future

Commenting, Roger Williams MP said:

"Pubs are having a tough time because of the recession, but the underlying trends show that even before we were hit by the worst of the economic problems, Welsh pubs were already beginning to close.

"Pubs are extremely important to communities, both rural and urban, and that we have already lost so many is deeply disturbing. Pubs can act as a social centre, and as a boost to surrounding businesses.

"Well run pubs can encourage responsible drinking. There has been a disturbing trend towards cheap alcohol from supermarkets which needs to be looked into.

"1 in 20 Welsh pubs have closed just in the last 18 months, and we must take action to protect our remaining pubs."

On the Welsh Lib Dem campaign, Roger added:

"Reducing the duty on beer would be an excellent first step in helping pubs stay in business, but without action to loosen the grip of PubCos on their tied landlords, it won't save our pubs.

"It is outrageous that pubs are charged extortionate prices for rent and supplies when the industry is suffering so badly. The PubCos are driving potentially successful businesses into the ground, and it is communities that are having to pay the price.

"It is even more of a scandal that when they can't find someone to take on a pub, they are placing covenants to stop them from having any competition, and depriving the community of the possibility of a pub under new ownership."

Friday 6 March 2009

Globe bites the dust

Another day another pub closed in Newport. This time its the Globe, Chepstow Road, Maindee. Although not been run well for years and having to compete with 2 nearby super-pub chav-palaces, the Globe still retained a loyal customer base, who have no doubt found some other local pub to haunt. Nearby the Maindee pub is also shut and does not look like re-opening any time soon.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

St David's Day Beers

Popped into the Pen & Wig in Newport and had the choice of 2 St David Day beers from either Wye Valley Brewery or Brains, both very good but the one in Welsh, Cwrw Dewi Sant, brewed in England was the best. Well done Wye Valley!

Tuesday 3 March 2009

New Brewery for Wales

Wales gets a new brewery. It's not every day that a new brewery sets up in Wales so hats off to Pam Honeyman for starting Monty's Brewery in what has been a bit of brewery desert, Montgomeryshire. Last brewery in the area was, I believe Sam Powell who disappeared about 20 years ago, though their beers were brewed in England for a while. I did manage to try one of Monty's beers in the Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd the other day and was quite impressed by it. Look forward to trying some more of the range sometime.
Check out the brewery website for details of their beers and a few recipes using beer to cook with. For those who cannot wait Monty's beers are available in the Kerry Lamb near Newtown and the Lion at Caerhowell.

Monty's Brewery
1 Castle Works,
SY15 6HA
Tel: 01686 668933


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