Tuesday 29 September 2009

Brown: Dangerous and Deluded

Having watched as much of the conference speech as I could stand, it came as no suprise that the teetotal Son of the Manse annouced plans to raise tax on the already overtaxed pub goer. This time the tax increase will pay for policing. Hang on a minute, we already pay enough in taxes to support the uniformed branch of the Labour Party, sorry Police force, together with the free-range park wardens known as PCSOs. If the police or the Government really wanted to clamp down on binge drinking then there is one easy law that could be enforced - it is an offence to serve anyone who is drunk, so why don't the police go around the City centres at night clamping down on the premises that are serving people that have already had too much to drink? It's already on the statute book so no further legislation would be needed. Of course the Police would object to this, after all it is too much like real policing and not inside the current safety zone they work in at the moment. Instead our deluded, unpopular and widely disliked Prime Minister announced a headline grabbing policy that will hit pubs and responsible drinkers in the pocket. Coincidently the British Beer and Pub Association today announced that they are stopping the "Axe the Tax" campaign on lowering beer duty. Looks like fake charity Alcohol Concern and their Government paymasters have scored a success on that front. Still look on the bright side, there are only 6 months left of this Government before the voters of this country give Gordon Brown a bloody nose at the polls, to add to his detached retina. The final 6 months will be messy, as the scorched earth policy of the bunker-dwelling Brown attempts to screw up this country even further.

Has anyone else noticed that Gordon Brown's health problems are similar to those caused by congenital syphilis? Delusions, blindness, temper tantrums, death of a still born child, sickness in other children etc. Looks like life in the Manse was a bit more interesting than once thought.

Monday 28 September 2009

Another successful beer Festival

The Great British Cheese Festival at Cardiff Castle was a huge success this year with thousands attending to sample the cheeses and of course the real ales and ciders available at the Cardiff Arms bar, run by CAMRA. Emergency beer supplies were brought in by Rhymney, Vale of Glamorgan and Otley Breweries. Cider supplies were stocked up with reorders from Denis Gwatkin and Gwynt y Ddraig. A pleasant sunday night was enjoyed by the staff, relaxing outside the beer tent until a late hour. The surroundings of the castle are one of the best places to enjoy a beer or cider. Today the Brew Wales editor is having a quite half or two whilst waiting for the drays to come and collect their empties. Vale of Glamorgan brewery Summer Daze is the beer of choice - a golden hoppy ale at 4.2% ABV - my favourite style of beer as readers of this blog may have guessed. Otley brewery have just been to collect their empties and have tipped Brew Wales off about a forthcoming beer at their Oct-O-ber Fest in late October - a 14 month old porter. Mmm think Treforest may be due a visit then.

Sunday 27 September 2009

Health and safety notice - please do not touch the cow

A brilliant sunday morning at Cardiff Castle and the beer tent at the Cardiff Arms is in full swing. The 'elf and safety nazis have been out and have decided to rope off the plastic cow. Obviously a danger to everyone, Brew Wales salutes those brave officers of Cardiff council who took this bold move to protect the public. Well done!

Saturday 26 September 2009

More beer!

The thirsty customers at the Great British Cheese Festival have nearly drunk the Festival dry, but thanks to Otley Brewery, Gwynt y Ddraig cider and of course Denis Gwatkin reorders have been instigated and the bar is not quite dry yet. Roll on tonight, when the Cardiff Arms becomes the 4th pub in the Otley Empire! Mine's a Columbo.

Live from the Cardiff Arms

The Great British Cheese Festival is in full flow in the fantastic surroundings of Cardiff Castle. Cheese, real ale and cider, what more could anyone want? Okay we have a hog roast and other locally reared meats available along with alpacca socks made at a vineyard in Monmouthshire. Something for everyone at this Festival. Open tomorrow as well so pop along for a cider and cheese talk with Brew Wales, tickets still available.

Cider and Cheese tasting at the Great British Cheese Festival

Local cidermaker Stewart Lucas did a talk on cider and cheese at the Great British Cheese Festival today. A packed tent, named the "Dragon's Den" saw Stewart give a talk on the ins and outs of cidermaking and the tasting of the final product. One of the highpoints was popping the corks of the bottles of Troggi Perry. Roll on Sunday when Brew Wales gets to do the lecture.

Friday 25 September 2009

Is the pint half full or half empty?

A bit of a philosophical question this but Brew Wales found ourselves in the Queens Vaults in Cardiff, more by accident than design, tonight, where they had Felinfoel Bitter on at the remarkably cheap price of £1.49 a pint! The Double Dragon is on at £1.99 a pint. Now the Queens is not a Felinfoel pub, it is owned by Mitchells and Butlers and let to the JW Bassett pub company yet they can serve the cheapest pint in Cardiff. Not normally a fan of sweet, malty beers but at this price in a city centre who can complain? The pub is reasonably busy and attracts a mixed crowd. To return to the title of this post, the Queens is the type of pub that manages to balance cheap beer and good atmosphere without attracting the chavs that large chains attract. Pint is definitely half full from here, time for another we think.

Thursday 24 September 2009

Thursday at the Great British Cheese Festival

The sun has come out and the editor is outside the Cardiff Arms beer tent at the Great British Cheese Festival. Only setup staff on site at the moment, we don't open to the public until Saturday. Still Cardiff Castle features some great grounds and there are very few City centres, apart from London, that feature such an historic and almost secret enclave. The piece and tranquility will soon be over as thousands besiege the castle for the Great British Cheese Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Better enjoy my cider whilst I can - for those interested its an oak-matured Kingstone Black from Gwynt Y Ddraig - a dry-wood aromared cider with that wonderful tannic kick in the aftertaste. A flavour of apples hits the tastebuds well into the aftertaste. Can't wait to match it to a cheese - aged cheddar I think, unpasterised of course.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Welsh Assembly to help pubs

Today in the Welsh Assembly the first formal meeting of the Cross-Party Welsh Assembly Beer and Pub Group takes place. An informal meeting was held earlier in the year to gauge support for the pub and drinks industry in the Assembly and the subjects for discussion today include tax and regulation to the beer tie and responsible retailing. Other subjects on the agenda include career paths in the pub sector, responsible selling of alcohol and the plans in Scotland, and promoting locally-sourced produce.

All 60 Welsh Assembly Members have been invited to the meeting. Speakers will include Enterprise licensee Phil Jones of Fair Pint, who secured a temporary 38% rent cut after a long-running dispute. He’ll discuss “the pros and cons of pubcos”.

Justin Grant, of the Breconshire Brewery, who chairs the Association of Welsh Independent Brewers, is due at the meeting, alongside representatives of larger brewers SABMiller, SA Brains and Coors.

The British Beer & Pub Association and Fake Charity Alcohol Concern are also due to attend. Alcohol Concern have a vested interest in appearing as according to 2007/8 figures 57% of their income came from the taxpayer. No doubt Don Shenker, Chief Executive of the Government-funded fake charity will be trying to get some funding from the Welsh Assembly Government at the meeting today for his new fake charity, Alcohol Concern Cymru.
Some information regarding the fake charity Alcohol Concern:
"Alcohol Concern supports banning happy hour, raising the price of alcohol, lowering the drink drive limit, banning glass bottles in pubs, warning labels on cans and bottles and banning TV advertising before 9pm. It described the ban on happy hour promotions as "a step in the right direction" and the introduction of cigarette-style warning labels on bottles as "a very good first step".
Basically they epitomise the nanny state along with everything that is wrong about this country today and would not exist if their Government-funding dried up.

Nine AMs are currently members of the Cross-Party Welsh Assembly Beer and Pub Group, which was formed in June. It is chaired jointly by Nicholas Bourne, leader of Welsh Conservatives in the National Assembly, and Labour AM Jeff Cuthbert.

Below: Welsh Assembly members Jeff Cuthbert and Nick Bourne met earlier this year with CAMRA members, brewers and some skinhead wearing a Felinfoel Brewery tie
From Brew Wales

Second beer festival for Hay-on-Wye

The award-winning pub Kilverts Inn, Hay-on-Wye will be hosting their second beer festival this weekend with a focus on a seasonal speciality - green-hopped beers, that is beers brewed with the first hops of the season.
The beer menu: shamelessly ripped from the festival blog
Beers in bright green are green-hopped

Breconshire Brewery:

1) Green Dragon 4.6% HP

Brewed with malted wheat and fresh Goldings hops

2) Ysprid Y Ddraig, 6.5%

Matured in whisky casks for a good few months, this is a beautifully well rounded ale

3) Cribyn 4.5%

A very pale, straw coloured aromatic ale, hopped with Bramling Cross, Northdown and Challenger hops


4)Green Hop 4.5% HP

Brewed with Fresh Fuggle hops

Golden Valley Ales

5) Hop, Stock & Barrel 4.6%

A new brewery located at the back of the Bull-Ring pub, this is their flagship ale

Hobson's Brewery

6) Hobson's Mild, 3.2%

Champion Beer of Britain 2007

Don't be fooled by the low a.b.v. this is full of flavour


7) Green Edge 4.2% HP

Green hopped beer!

Malvern Hills

8)Green Pear 4.4% HP

9)Priessnitz Plzen Lager 4.3%


10) Old Empire 5.7%

With it's pale appearance, strong hoppy taste and higher alcoholic strength Marston's Old Empire comprises all the genuine characteristics of a true India Pale Ale, which were necessary to last the 3 month long journey from Burton to Bombay.

11) Milestone
Raspberry Wheat, 5.6%
Continental Style Fruit Beer, mouth filling fruit with a zingy finish!


12) Columbo 4.0%

A dry hopped, very pale, summer ale, bittered with colombus hops with aromas of cascade and columbus

13) O8 8.0%

Pale golden strong ale. Deceptively smooth and drinker
friendly, in moderation! Hoppy aromas and good bitterness
with Willamette hops dominating.

Champion Beer of Wales GWBCF 2006 and 2008

Gold Medal CAMRA GWBCF Barley Wine 2006 and 2007


14) Rhymney Export 5.0%

A heady flavour, full bodied yet rounded, serious yet quaffable


15) Ruby Mild 4.4%

Champion Beer of Britain 09, this is a nutty, rich mild

Teme Valley

16) Early Bird Fuggles* 4.1% HP

17) Early Bird Challenger*, 4.1%HP

A brewery that is surrounded by hop farms? These beers are brewed using single strain of fresh hops - the clue is in their names!


18) Golden Wunder, 4.6% HP

Brewed to celebrate the Munich Beer Festival, this is straw coloured ale with a distinctive continental hoppiness balanced with a smooth dry finish.

Wye Valley Brewery

19) Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout, 4.6% HP

1 of only 2 ales to gain 5 stars on Roger Protz's Beer-pages.com

Confirmed Ciders:

Brook Farm

Kingstone Black, 6.8% Dry

Just won silver at the Worcester Beer Festival


6%, Dry

Orgasmic Ciders

Sweet 6%

Medium 6%

Dry 6%

Gwynt Y Ddraig

Happy Daze 4.5% Medium

Barnstormer 6.5% Dry

Fiery Fox 6.5% Medium

Two Trees Perry 4.5% Medium

Pyder 6% Medium


Black Rat Cider 6% Dry

Kilverts are also on Twitter, follow @kilverts for comments from Ed as to how the festival is going, if he has time to tweet!
Full details of how to find the pub are on their website or festival blog
Kilverts Inn
The Bullring

Traveline Cymru provide details of getting to Hay on Wye

Carmarthen Beer Festival this weekend

It's a busy week for real ale lovers in Wales as the 'Best in the West' CAMRA beer festival at Carmarthen St Peter's Hall gets underway on Thursday. featuring 40 real ales, ciders and perries the biggest CAMRA beer festival west of Swansea is sure to be another great event.

Open:Thu 5pm-11pm; Fri/Sat 12noon-11pm

£4 entry fee (inc commemorative glass + prog). CAMRA membs free. Basic food avail or bring own. Beer Tokens on sale within.

Thu preview eve with ltd ales + no live music, optional fancy dress night. Fri music from Somethin' Else; Sat music from Backtrax.

The menu:

Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf 4.25 ABV

Tomos Watkin Cwrw Braf 3.7

Tomos Watkin OSB 4.5

Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf 4.2

Tomos Watkin Cwrw Braf 3.7

Tomos Watkin OSB 4.5

Tomos Watkin Chwarae Teg 4.1

Evan Evans Cwrw 4.2

Evan Evans Warrior 4.6

Evan Evans Harvest Home 4.3

Purple Moose Myrtle Stout 4.2

Bryncelyn Oh Boy 4.5

Bryncelyn Buddy Marvellous 4.0

Swansea Original Wood 5.4

Swansea Three Cliffs Gold 4.7

Rhymney Dark 4.0

Otley O1 4.0

Brecon Ysbrid Y Ddraig 6.5

Brecon Golden Valley 4.2

Bullmastiff Son of a Bitch 6.0

Ffos y Ffin Cwrw Caredig 4.1

Wychwood Hobgoblin 4.5

Bowman Swift One 3.8

Brew Dog Punk IPA 6.0

Otley ColumbO 4.0

Hopback Summer Lightning 5.0

Conwy Clogwyn Gold 3.6

Oakham Bishops Farewell 4.6

Woodefordes Wherry 3.8

Wickwar Station Porter 6.1

Hook Norton Old Hooky 4.6

Sharp Doombar 4.0

Facers Flintshire Bitter 3.7

Mordue Workie Ticket 4.5

Church End What the foxs hat 4.2

Wye Valley Dorothy Goodbodys Golden Ale 4.2

Rudgate Ruby Mild 4.4

Oakham Attila 7.5

Monty's Desert Rats 3.8

Nant Chwaden Aur 4.2

Purple Moose Glaslyn Ale 4.2


Westons Old Rosie 7.3

Old Rosie 7.3

GWR 1st Quailty 5.0

Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse 5.5

Haymaker 6.5

Firey Fox 6.5

Barnstormer 6.5


Pyder 6.5

Two Trees 6.5











Mediaeval Mead

Carmarthen is only an hour by train from Swansea

View St Peter's Civic Hall, Carmarthen in a larger map

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Beers for cheese

Beer list for the Cardiff Arms beer tent at the Great British Cheese Festival:
Breconshire Cribyn 4.5%
Breconshire Rescue Brew 4.4%
St Austell Tribute
Hobsons Best
Caledonian Dechars IPA 3.8%
Butcombe Bitter
Woodforde Wherry 3.8%
Morrisey Fox blonde 4.2%
Dark Star Hophead 3.8%
Rhymney Dark 4%
Purple Moose Snowdonia 3.6% Thornbridge Jaipur IPA 5.9%
Brycelin Buddy Marvelous 4
Otley Amarillo
Rhymney Hobby Horse 3.8
Bryncelin Holly Hop 3.9
Vale of Glamorgan Wheat's Occuring 5%
Vale of Glamorgan Grog Y Vog 4.3% There are a couple more beers arriving tomorrow but that's an excellent list to go well with the cheeses.
Almost forgot the Brains beers - Merlins Oak, Dark and SA Gold

Great British Cheese Festival - setup

The beer has arrived, well some of it, in the magnificent surroundings of Cardiff Castle. The beer tent is up and soon the stillage will be built, all ready for when the Great British Cheese Festival opens to the public on Saturday. The Festival was a roaring success last year and the crew of the Cardiff Arms are hoping for another great Festival this year. Oh and there is some cheese here as well!

Sunday 20 September 2009

Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny

After the food fest in Aber, Brew Wales popped into the Hen & Chickens in Abergaveny. Alongside the Brains beers, we discovered a beer from the Otley Brewery, called Amarilo, after the hop of the same name. The Brew Wales editor does tend to have a liking for light-coloured hoppy ales and the Hen and Chicks provide the beer in an excellent condition.

Brew Wales perry of the Festival

At Abergaveny Food Festival the Brew Wales editorial team have been sampling the various ciders and perries, perry of the Festival goes to Denis Gwatkin with his stunning 'accidental' perry. Accidental because Denis had thought he had sold out of perry this year, until he found 3 wooden casks full of fermented pear juice just the other day. This golden perry, matured in whiskey casks was described by beer writer Pete Brown as "The best perry he had tried", good on you Pete and Brew Wales agrees with you.

Brew Wales - cider of the Festival

As no one else is doing a cider or perry award at the Abergavenny Food Festival, the editorial team at Brew Wales has decided to take on the job. Having spent 2 days sampling and working on various stands at the Festival, the best cider, in the opinion of the editorial team is Gregg's Pit Browns Apple, Elis Bitter and Kingstone Black. A pale yellow, clear cider with a sharp, fruity aroma and a bitter, sharp taste followed by a taste attack on the mouth of apples. The Kingstone Black apples provide the kick in this fantastic cider.

Saturday 19 September 2009

Beer from the wood at Abergavenny

The Abergavenny Food Festival has opened and the first suprise of the day was Kingstone Brewery and their Gold beer, matured in a wooden cask. They also have 3 other beers on in cask and 8 others in bottles. Other breweries present include Wye Valley, Tudor and Rhymney.

Thursday 17 September 2009

Fishlock's Wales - Welsh Cider

ITV Wales have been filming a new series of Fishlock's Wales, and where better to start than at Gwynt y Ddraig Cider, to film Welsh cider being made. The series will be broadcast on Thursday nights, starting the 15th October on ITV Wales at 1930 hrs.

Above: the hopper being filled with apples

Pictured: the apples being loaded into the hopper and being fed into the scratter and belt press.

Andrew Gronow, Production Director of Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider explains the finer points of cidermaking to ITV Wales.

Below: The belt press

The belt press was made in Germany and provides a continuous crushing process, the apples are washed and sorted before being scrattered (chopped) into small pieces from which the juice is extracted. The juice is then pumped into wooden barrels for fermenting.

The crushed apple pulp is then fed to the cows on the farm, nothing is wasted here! She is really loving, not just sticking her tongue out! The last time I saw cows that happy was in St Mary Street, Cardiff on a Friday night.

Below: Operations Director Bill George explains some of the intricacies of blending different apple varities to produce the perfect cider.

Above: Some of the finished ciders and perries.

For those of you who live in South Wales, Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider is available in Tesco's and selected Spar shops throughout the area, failing that they will be at the Abergavenny Food Festival this weekend and at the Great British Cheese Festival next week. The farm is also open for off sales 10-5.30.

A day at the farm

It's nice and sunny in the hills of Glamorgan and what could be better than a visit to Wales' largest producer of cider and perry, Gwynt Y Ddraig. It's all go at the farm with deliveries going out to local shops, a Breconshire Brewery dray collecting cider,pressing the apples and pears as well as sorting out the day to day running of a farm. Plus ITV Wales are turning up to film later, it looks like a very busy day. Gwynt Y Ddraig ciders are now available in Spar shops in Cardiff, as well as Tesco and Waitrose throughout Wales.

Wednesday 16 September 2009

Abergavenny Food Festival 2009

It's the Abergavenny Food Festival this weekend and below are some of the producers appearing at the festival:
Gwatkin Cider - a good place to find Brew Wales at most festivals
Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider- the second most likely place to find Brew Wales at a festival
Penlon Cottage Brewery - their Chocolate Stout is highly recommended
Three Saints Perry & Cider
Wernddu Vineyard and Winery- their 14 old chardonnay is very good!
No CAMRA beer festival this year at the event but Abergavenny is home to a local brewery and their beers will be on at the King's Arms.

Keith Floyd

RIP Keith Floyd
“A full mug is better than a half empty crystal glass”

It was announced on Tuesday morning, firstly on Twitter of all places, that Keith Floyd, one of the great characters of television cooking had died. By 1000 am Keith Floyd had become the number one trending topic on Twitter, no doubt confusing many Americans as to why a TV chef should be so well-liked and Tweeted about by the UK.

Keith Floyd had an unique style to cooking and presenting his TV shows – from barking off orders to the cameraman on how to film the shots, to drinking copious amounts of wine whilst filming the shows, Keith always raised a laugh with the audience. When you sat down to watch a Keith Floyd cookery show you knew it was going to be informative and entertaining and Keith would share his enthusiasm for the food that he cooked on that show. Sometimes not everything would work out, well cooking is like that, instead of re-shooting as some of the TV chefs would do nowadays, Keith would just bin the dish and apologise by saying that cooking does not always work out. A favourite incident occurred when he was trying to cook salt-baked fish in a Mediterranean restaurant – he overcooked the dish and then attempted to hack his way through the solid halite to the fish before giving up and consigning it to the bin. Any other chef would have made sure that bit of film ended up on the cutting room floor, with Floyd it was included in and goes to show that even with great chefs such as himself, things do not always go to plan.

Another time there was a cookery scene in the galley of a boat, off the coast of South Africa I think, the weather was a bit stormy to say the least, most of the film crew had been seasick and Keith had found a remedy for seasickness in the bottom of a bottle. What followed was one of the most hilarious pieces of television I have ever seen. It should never have worked and broke all the rules of broadcasting but turned out as a very funny piece, despite the fact that I can't even remember what he was attempting to cook! In the same series Floyd cooked ostrich in a field full of ostriches at a farm. The ostriches won when they pushed him out of the way and then ate the food!

Keith Floyd was not a great businessman, his restaurants and pub, the Maltsters Arms, all went bust, but that did not matter, his achievement was bringing himself and his love of food to the television audience. Also he actually used to eat the food he cooked on television, something that the more 'professional' TV chefs hardly ever do. When was the last time you saw Delia eat something she cooked?

The Brew Wales kitchen library contains many books by Keith Floyd, his Texas Barbecue Sauce is one of my favourite sauces for meat – I've tried making it in larger quantities but always end up using it all in a short space of time and one book even contains a recipe for “Jailhouse Chilli” using 50lbs of meat and a pan the size of a dustbin! Not tried that one yet and doubt I ever will. In fact Keith Floyd makes up most of the books in the kitchen, with the occasional book by Clement Freud (also sadly passed away this year) and Antonio Carluccio.
Thought I'd include one of his recipes here, have altered the ingredients to make them Welsh but they are the only changes.

Welsh Rarebit
8oz mature cheese such as Hafod Organic cheddar
1oz Butter
4 tablespoons beer such as Breconshire Golden Valley, drink the rest!
Salt, Anglesey Sea Salt of course
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dry mustard
4 slices of hot buttered toast

Put the cheese, butter and beer in a small pan and melt gently over alow heat, stirring in one direction only. Add salt and pepper to taste and the mustard and mix well. Spoon over the toast and brown under a preheated hot grill, Serve Immediately.

Brew Wales will be raising a glass or two in tribute to Keith Floyd later today and no doubt will listening to the Stranglers as well.

Do you know the True Heritage Pubs of Wales?

CAMRA is producing a book on the True Heritage Pubs of Wales, and we need your help in identifying them.

Criteria for Inclusion
The focus is entirely on interiors and what is authentically old. The pub should retain a reasonable amount of genuinely historic internal fabric and/or sufficient of the layout for the historic plan-form to be appreciated and understood. The emphasis is on pre-1939 interiors, although post-war examples might occasionally be considered if they have particular merit / quality fittings. The interior should be little altered in the past 40 years.

Applying the Criteria
When considering a pub for inclusion in the Regional Inventory, things to look for include:

• Historic plan. Is it largely intact? If it is completely intact then it ought to be on the National Inventory! A two room pub that previously had 3 rooms could pass this part of the criteria.

• Specific features. The greater the amount of original features – like the seating, bar counter and bar-back, wall-tiles, bell-pushes, original loos, screens and so on – the better. If these were nearly all there then the pub would probably be on the National Inventory. If all that survives is a couple of fixed benches and a bit of match-board wall panelling in a largely opened up pub, then inclusion cannot be justified since they are very commonplace items found in large numbers. But add in a largely intact servery and only a slightly opened-up plan and it probably can be. A specific interesting feature or two might justify inclusion, but would have to be of real significance for inclusion of an otherwise wrecked interior.

How you can help
Do you know of a pub or pubs that are little changed in the past 40 years?

Do you know of pubs with old bar fittings? - Victorian; Inter-war or even a 1960's estate pub that just happened to escape a refit (these are rarer than the others and more difficult to find)

The 1950s refit of the Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel is another example of the sort of pub interiors we are looking for.

Are you aware of a multi-roomed pub, particularly one with an old bar back or bar counter (or where the counter was only added in recent years as the pub did not previously have one)?

Based on what we have found in other parts of Britain, there must be a number of inter-war pubs in Wales that still retain some fittings from that date (or older pubs with a 1930s refit and few changes since). So far we have only identified the Albion, Conwy and possibly the Swan, Connah's Quay (currently closed). Also, the Witchell in Barry is on the list as requiring a visit. Can you suggest other pubs with inter-war fittings?

One of the most successful ways we have found in identifying good leads is to quiz locals, particularly if you are in a traditional pub. "Can you help me – I am looking for pubs in the area that haven't been modernised in recent years" is a good opening sentence. When they suggest names it is worth asking "Has it got a separate bar and lounge or is it all one room?" as it is unlikely that we will be including a completely opened-up pub with only a single room (unless it has something stunning such as tiled walls or quality panelling as well as good bar fittings). Also, please ask when they last visited the pub – care required if not in the past few years.

Information required
As well as the name and address of the pub, it is so much more useful to have an idea of what to expect to find at the pub (i.e. number of rooms, same family for 40 years, or other reason for suggesting it). We look forward to hearing from you with as much information as you are able to supply. Many thanks.

Please leave any suggestions in the comments section, these will be forwarded on to CAMRA.

Monday 14 September 2009

Black Lion, Llandaff, Cardiff

A short walk down from the Butcher's Arms is the Black Lion, another pub whose history stretches well back. The windows have the 1930s Brains A1 logo on them and the bar is wood panelled throughout, though more 50/60s refurbishment than 1930s. Still the floor tiles are a late 60s or 70s decoration. I've always liked the Black Lion, it is a useful stop off point after doing BBC Radio Wales just up the road. Lots of old maps and photos on the walls and Brains Dark, Bitter, SA and Rev James to wash them down. No music, well at least in the bar and a pub where conversation dominates. At the time of writing the Maltsters Arms opposite is closed for a major refurbisment/rebuilding and is due to reopen in November.

Butcher's Arms, Llandaff, Cardiff

Today there is a dubious award ceremony going on opposite the Butcher's Arms in Llandaff. The ceremony is to unveil a blue plaque on what is supposedly a former sweet shop that was used by Roald Dahl, only the regulars in the pub all state the shop was in a different completly building! Its a rather tenuous connection in the first place, I mean a former sweet shop that he used as a child just seems like an excuse to milk the Dahl fame. Anyway, back to the pub, the Butcher's Arms is an imposing building with the old William Hancock Brewery monogram on one window and the now politically incorrect "Smoke Room" on the other. Three real ales on, HB, Bass and Wye Valley HPA. Not a bad pub in an area of Cardiff that feels as its more of a village than part of a city. In fact Llandaff has its own Cathedral and the Medieval Bishops Palace is not far away. Quite a decent pub as well, it extends out the back into the former slaughterhouse, well it is called the Butcher's Arms afterall. And not a chav in sight.

Saturday 12 September 2009

Chocolate Stout Bread

As promised here is the recipe for Chocolate Stout Bread. It turned out quite well, still has the flavours of the beer and the Free Trade cocoa powder I used compliments the favours of the stout. Ingreients are for a bread machine with 1lb capacity, so it may have to be adjusted to suit other machines.
9fl oz Penlon Cottage Chocolate Stout. Do not chill the bottle and swill out the yeast in the bottle to go into the recipe.
1lb strong white bread flour.
2 tbsp Free Trade cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (Anglesey Sea Salt of course)
2 tsp caster sugar
1 oz butter
1/2 teaspoon dried yeast
Add the ingredients according to the instructions of the bread maker and set to the sweet setting. Drink the remainder of the beer and let the machine mix and bake away. 3hrs my bread machine took to produce a double chocolate bread, next time I will add some chocolate chips for even more flavour. Enjoy.

Pen-lon Cottage Brewery Chocolate Stout

Every so often a beer comes along that has a wow factor. The Penlon Brewery Chocolate Stout is one such beer. An intense black ale with aromas of roast and caramel flavours leads into a smooth and silky rich flavour of, well chocolate which continues well into the aftertaste. I have tried chocolate beers before, with varying degrees of success, but Penlon have really pulled it off with this beer as they use chocolate and not just chocolate malt in this beer, along with roast barley. In fact this beer is so good I'm going to attempt to use it in cooking a chocolate cake! Will post the recipe in a couple of hours if it works out okay.

Pen-lon Cottage Brewery - Gimmer's Mischief

I'm glad the bottle label informs me "A gimmer is a young maiden ewe" as I had no idea who or what it was before discovering this beer. A dark amber coloured ale with an aroma of Seville Marmalade and a bittersweet almost chewy flavour. Lingering orangey flavour continues into the aftertaste. A bit strong at 5.2% ABV and a stronger version at 7% is brewed for export to Denmark. The 7% version won the True Taste Wales best alcoholic drink product last year and every batch is hand-produced on the small 15 gallon brewery in West Wales. Another moreish beer, may have to check the cellar to see what else is in there.

Kingstone Brewery - Kingstone Gold

Time for an afternoon beer, from one of my local breweries, Kingstone Brewery, Kingstone Gold, a deep golden 4.0% ale, brewed in Tintern, Monmouthshire. Quite a light and refreshing ale, good hoppy aroma and a smooth taste, leading to a bitter, moreish aftertaste. Both Fuggles and First Gold hops are used in this beer, brewed with spring water in the Wye Valley. The bottle label suggests matching it with barbecued or spicy food but its going well with a strong cheese sandwich at the moment. Home-made bread and Welsh cheese of course!

Friday 11 September 2009

Merlin's Oak for September

The largest real ale brewery in Wales, SA Brain, have launched their seasonal beer for September, Merlin's Oak. Originally brewed at the former Buckley's Brewery for the Carmarthen Beer Festival, this ale takes its name from an ancient oak, pieces of which are still kept in St Peter's Hall, venue of the beer festival.

According to local folklore, Carmarthen is said to be the birth place of the mythical wizard Merlin (the town’s Welsh name Caerfyrddin coming from Myrddin, the Welsh name for Merlin and Caer for fort, named after the Roman encampment there).
Merlin is said to have made a prophecy regarding an old oak tree in the town centre; "When Merlin’s tree should tumble down, then shall fall Carmarthen town." When the tree died in 1856 the prophecy appeared to come true as the following winter Carmarthen suffered the worst floods for many years. There is a story that a local trader deliberatly poisoned the tree for his own benefit as it was blocking access to his shop.
The beer will be available across the UK, with Coors, Waverley and Halls taking it on a guest.

Merlins Oak is described as, "A well-rounded ale with a rich autumnal hue, warm oats, honey and nutty flavours " and is 4.3%ABV

Thursday 10 September 2009

Real Ale Premier League - Welsh Division

With the CAMRA Good Beer Guide being launched today, the Campaign for Real Ale have done some number crunching and come up with a list of the most prolific brewing areas in Britain.

Naturally like the Football Premier League, Brew Wales finds little of this of use, as it is mostly dominated by English areas, so after doing some number crunching ourselves we can present the Welsh Real Ale Premier League:

1. Glamorgan with 13 breweries and 1 new brewery
2. West Wales with 9 breweries and 2 new breweries
3. North West Wales with 6 breweries
4. Mid-Wales with 5 breweries and 2 new breweries
5. North East Wales with 5 breweries and 1 new brewery
6. Gwent with 4 breweries
The full list can be seen on the CAMRA website here.
NB These are based on the Good Beer Guide areas, mainly the old historical counties as featured in the Good Beer Guide and not the Unitary Authority areas.
Press Release from CAMRA:

Good Beer Guide 2010 finds real ale brewing industry to be one of the most successful small business sectors in the UK

On the day its flagship publication, the Good Beer Guide, is launched, CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today released new findings showing the fastest-growing real ale areas in the UK.

Total beer sales in the beer and pub industry may be at their lowest since the Great Depression, but the Good Beer Guide can happily report that the real ale industry is maintaining its rapid growth, with more brewers in operation than at any time since the Second World War. CAMRA has found that 71 new breweries have started production in the UK in the last 12 months, taking the total to 711 breweries nationwide!

CAMRA has published new findings from the latest Good Beer Guide revealing the most prolific brewing areas* in the land. A comprehensive list can be viewed at www.camra.org.uk/realalepremierleague, with the top ten as follows:

UK region Number of breweries in 2010 Number of new breweries for 2010
1.West Yorkshire344
4.North Yorkshire284
7.Gtr Manchester250
8.Gloucs and Bristol212

Roger Protz, Good Beer Guide editor, said:

'For the first time since the 19th century, Britain is the undisputed top brewing country in the world. It has over 700 breweries and has more small craft breweries per head of population than all other major industrialised countries; but it also offers tremendous choice.'

'While most other countries offer mainly mainstream lagers, Britain has enormous diversity: milds, bitters, strong ales, porters, stouts, barley wines, old ales, Xmas ales, spring beers, golden ales and harvest ales to name just a few. And some craft brewers are even producing lagers in the true Continental style.'

'This rebirth of British brewing is due to the pioneering work of CAMRA- there are now more than twice as many breweries in Britain than when the campaign was launched in 1971- and to the enthusiasm and innovation of independent brewers.'

In its latest Annual Industry Report, SIBA, The Society of Independent Brewers, revealed that their members had experienced a 7% year on year volume growth throughout 2007 and 2008; a record that is unlikely to be matched by any other sector of small and medium sized businesses. Further to this, new companies brewing through 2008 added a further 3% to year on year volumes, marking a total volume growth of 10%.

As for community pubs, the industry-led Intelligent Choice Report revealed how research from one national pub company showed well-kept beer to be a true indicator of success. Findings showed how pubs that obtained an award from Cask Marque, a quality accreditation body and sponsor of the Good Beer Guide 2010, were experiencing sales growth of 14%, while those without saw a decline of -2.5%.

Protz concluded:

'This is an exciting time for real ale. Craft brewers are growing their sales at a time of economic downturn and falling demand for big beer brands. It's a major success story. And there's more to come: the Good Beer Guide lists 25 new breweries that will come on stream later this year and in 2010.'


* Geographic areas as defined in the Good Beer Guide 2010

Regional Pub of the Year

Severn Arms, Penybont is South & Mid-Wales CAMRA Pub of the Year 2009.
With the launch of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide today, comes the eagerly awaited announcement as to the winner of the South & Mid-Wales Pub of the Year and this year the award goes to Powys and the Severn Arms Hotel in Penybont, near Llandrindod Wells. The Severn Arms serves up 5 different real ales, sourced from independent breweries and also offers good food and accomodation.
Further North, the Mersyside, Cheshire and North Wales winner is the Golden Lion Inn,Llangynhafal, LL16 4LN.
A full list of the Regional winners can be found on the CAMRA website here. These pubs will now compete against each other in the national final of the Pub of the Year Competition.

Real ales at Rudry Country Fair

For those of you not at the Boar's Head this Saturday 12th September there is another real ale event happening in the area, this time closer to Caerphilly at Rudry Village Hall.
Saturday 12th September. From 1200.
Rudry Village Hall. CF83 3DF
Admission £1.50.

Mid way between Rudry village and the Maenllwyd Pub.

View Larger Map

Cask Beers: All Gravity Served-

Hobsons Best Bitter,
Bryncelyn Buddy Marvellous,
Dark Star American Pale Ale,
Otley Columb-O,
Otley Amarill-O,
Otley Calif-O-rnia,
Reserve- Tudor Blorenge.

In bottle- An exclusive for Rudry!
Announcing the Untapped Brewery, Cardiff.
Currently brewed at Whittingtons Brewery in Gloucester, but hoping to move to Wales sometime.

'Sundown' a light in body, full flavoured Golden ale 4.0%
Mainly pale malt with a touch of crystal. Hops: Challenger - bittering; Goldings - aromatic.

'Eclipse' fuller, deep and dark. Well balanced and easy drinking.. 4.4%
Mainly pale malt with some crystal and chocolate malt for colour and flavour. Hops: Northdown - Bittering and Aromatic.

Both are bottle conditioned beers, and available in 500ml bottles.

Bus service J from Caerphilly Bus Station. (Francis Drake Travel)
1010, 1210, 1410, 1510, 1610, 1710, 1810, 2030, 2215.

Return leaving Rudry-
1428, 1528, 1628, 1728, 1828, 2045, 2230.

On the Showfield-
Essentially a family afternoon, with numerous activities for children.
Dog show, animal fancy dress, pony rides, various craft & produce competitions.

Café and Bar in the Village Hall-
Bar opens 1215 until late.

Live entertainment from 1900.

Wednesday 9 September 2009

Ye Olde Murenger House Charity library

The best pub in Newport, Ye Olde Murenger House, has a charity library with which customers can choose a book for 20p. Not really a library as you get to keep the book and of course you can donate any spare books you have to the shelves. The shelves are made out of the wood from the former bar, rescued from the skip when the Murenger was refurbished some years ago. With the motto "Libraries Gave Us Power" emblazoned on the top of the shelves, the Murenger charity bookcase is another addition to this great pub. Oh and please do not attempt to donate any Dan Brown books, no one wants them, the charity shop opposite refuses to take the overfill and they end up in the recycling bin!

Health Challenge Newport - fail

Popped into the Pen & Wig in Newport for a lunchtime pint and discovered this new beermat for "Health Challenge Newport". This is a scheme run by Newport City Council who have decided to spend our council tax on propaganda to advertise their leisure centres as revenue has been falling at council run centres as customers go to Ballyntines and other such "lifestyle altering places". Should local councils be spending our money to compete with the private sector? Probably not but Brew Wales did his own "Going for Gold" with a golden pint of Celt Experiance Red Castle Cream. A hoppy and malty aroma leads to a smooth biscuity flavour and bitter aftertaste. Chewy, bitter finish that lingers in the mouth for a while. Not a bad beer, not spectacular but a drinkable pint. That's my "Going for Gold" for today!

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Boar's Head Beer Festival

The Mid-Glamorgan CAMRA pub of the year, the Boar's Head in Tylagarw, near Pontyclun is holding a beer festival this weekend, Friday 11th and Saturday 12th September 2009, with any left over beers being sold on the Sunday. A short walk from pontyclun railway staion, the pub is relatively easy to get to.

Anyway below is an article I wrote about this pub earlier this year

A less than 10-minute walk westwards from Pontyclun railway station, brings you to the Boar's Head, unmistakable with it's old Fernvale Brewery sign outside, a former Welsh brewery that closed in 1970. The walk is a bit difficult as it involves crossing the Bailey Bridge, walking through an industrial estate and almost missing a hidden path with metal fencing around it. Clue – turn right at the stones and carry straight on past the new housing estate. The Boar's Head is on the left hand side, by the level crossing. There is a car park at the rear of the pub if you choose to drive here.Entering the door of this pub, with its stained glass windows, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed since the pub was built in 1875, however a few years ago, the Boar's underwent a sympathetic refurbishment with the bar now becoming the centre of the pub and the surrounding rooms were retained rather than knocked through into one. The pub was originally built by the Trecastle Estate for the nearby tinplate workers.

Six real ales are always available on the bar here, together with Budvar Dark Lager from the Czech Republic. The beer range varies but brewers such as Hydes of Manchester, Archers of Swindon and Mathews of Bath are often seen on handpumps alongside Fullers from London and Welsh breweries such as Heart of Wales from Powys. This is an unusual beer range for South Wales, made possible by the fact that the Boar's Head is a free house and not tied to any particular brewery. However the popularity of some of the brews with customers means that Mathews Brassknocker, a golden, hoppy ale of 3.8% ABV, has become an almost permanent feature on the bar.

The Boar's Head is panelled throughout in wood and gleaming copper pans hang over the bar. Another reminder of the old days of Welsh brewing is the old Ely Brewery poster in the bar.

There is a pleasant outside drinking area to the rear and a choice of rooms in the pub to eat or drink in. There is Welsh food on the menu in the form of Celtic Pride beef burgers and Welsh Black Beef Curry. Special offers run throughout the week on the menus with Tuesday being steak night and Wednesday curry night. Bookings are recommended for Sunday lunch. Food served Mon-Sat 12-2.30, 6-8.30

Every room in the Boar's has its own character, with long table and settles or more traditional dining tables in the restaurant section. Every room also has its own fireplace, ideal for those winter evenings. The Boar's Head is a pub that offers something for everyone and is a well deserved winner of the Mid-Glamorgan Branch of CAMRA Pub of the Year 2009.

Beer List (subject to availability)

Bath Ales Barnstormer
Bath Ales Golden Hare
Bath Ales Wild Hare
Brewdog 77 Lager
Brewsters - (1) TBA
Brewsters - (2) TBA
Brewsters - (3) TBA
Crouch Vale Brewer's Gold
Dark Star Old Chestnut
Dark Star Summer Solstice
Hop Back Summer Lightning
Lancaster Blonde
Matthews Brassknocker
Morrisey - Fox Brunette
O'Hanlon's Firefly
O'Hanlon's Original Port Stout
Old Mill of Snaith Fall Over
Purple Moose Dark Side of the Moose
Purple Moose Madog's Ale
Rooster's Boneshaker
Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild
Spingo Middle
Tom Woods Harvest Bitter
Warwickshire Darling Buds
Warwickshire Ffiagra
White Horse Village Idiot


View Larger Map

And there is is this video of the pub on You Tube:


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