Thursday 23 July 2009

Marks & Spencer Gathers the Honey Ale

Cowny Brewer Brings Real Ale Drinking To The Masses

Conwy based beer brewer Gwynne Thomas is introducing real ale to the mainstream with his popular Welsh Honey Bitter, produced exclusively for Marks & Spencer.

A keen brewer since his days as a chemistry student at Newcastle University, Gwynne, 40, opened the Conwy Brewery in 2003 brewing a range of real ales using fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Welsh Honey Bitter is made using 100 per cent Welsh honey sourced from Ceredigion, South Wales, creating a delicate beer with sweet honey aromas and a clean, dry finish.The unique blend of pale malts used to brew this particular bitter gives the brew a smooth texture with a light, fresh taste - perfect for those who may be taking their first steps into real ale drinking.

Research shows that whilst there are around seven million regular real ale drinkers in the UK, a huge 85 per cent of these are men with 63 per cent aged over 45.

Gwynne thinks this is set to change due to the growing popularity of real ale drinking amongst women and younger markets in recent years.

He said: "With the help of organised beer festivals and sampling opportunities across the UK, more and more people are getting the opportunity to try real ales and are enjoying the many varieties available. The fact that retailers like M&S are selling a selection of real ales from across the UK has also helped introduce the drink to different markets.

Gwynne continues, "The feedback we've received regarding the Welsh Honey Bitter is that this is an easy to drink real ale which is perfect with BBQ's or just a lazy day in the garden due to its crisp and refreshing taste."

As many rural areas in Wales are completely unspoilt and untouched by artificial fertilisers, the honey produced and then used during the brewing process at Conwy Brewery makes for a distinctive and truly natural flavour which differs slightly between seasons.

Gwynne continues: "Welsh Honey Bitter will taste subtly different depending on the time of year it is brewed. For example, it has a more floral influences earlier in the season as a result of the summer flowers, compared to later in the year when the heather gives the bitter more of a woody and rich flavour."

Marks & Spencer (real ale) specialist Sue Daniels said: "Welsh Honey Bitter is ideal for first time real ale drinkers as, unlike some beers, it doesn't have a particularly bitter taste which those dipping their toe into real ale drinking can be particularly sensitive to.

"Our locally sourced real ale range is very popular and we worked closely with Gwynne in producing a top quality honey beer for our customers to enjoy. Following a year long trial of the Welsh Honey Bitter in selected stores, we are now rolling it out to more than 200 stores across the UK."

Welsh Honey Bitter can be found at Marks & Spencer's food halls across the UK.

Brew Wales reviewed the beer some weeks ago for his newspaper column and reprints the review below:

Conwy Brewery Welsh Honey Bitter, 4.5% ABV, £1.99 500ml/bottle Marks & Spencer

Conwy Brewery first started brewing in 2003 and produces a range of real ales, both on draught and in bottles. All the beers are brewed with water from Snowdonia.

Honey Bitter is a golden ale, which on pouring into a glass, produces a large, rich, foamy head, so make sure you use an oversized glass to drink it out of! The aroma is of fruit, caused by the Challenger and Fuggles hops and of course the Welsh Honey used to brew this beer. There is a bitter, refreshing, almost biscuity flavour, followed by a sweetness in the aftertaste that leads to a satisfying, thirst-quenching finish. The flavour comes from the a combination of the Maris Otter malt, together with the hops and of course the honey. This produces a very drinkable, pleasant and refreshing beer. Altogether, Conwy Honey Bitter is a well-rounded beer, with the honey imparting an unique flavour to this beer which manages to encompass all the flavours of a long, hot Welsh Summer. The beer will match with food very well, for instance at a barbecue.

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