Saturday 31 October 2009

Artisan Brewery Beer Festival

Hidden away in The back streets of Pontcanna in Cardiff is the Artisan Brewery, run by Simon Doherty, pictured above. Two beers on today for the micro-beer festival, a 5.1% Kolsch and a Chocolate Wheat at 4.9%. It's no surprise that the chocolate Wheat is going down well with assorted RATs here. Good food here as well with home-made burgers and pumpkin soup. Bands about to start and the festival is open Sunday as well.

Friday 30 October 2009

A queue at the bar

Went back into the Coach & Horses in Chepstow, their beer and sausage Festival is in full swing, there may be a queue at th bar but everyone gets served quickly. WTF is it with companies like JD Chaverspoons where they promise to have staff on the bar and you wait for 10 minutes to get served, yet a tenanted pub manages to serve the customers faster? Best beer tonight and hence best beer Festival has been the Coach & Horses.

Beaufort Arms, Chepstow

Saw the CAMRA Good Beer Guide sticker in the window here so thought I might get a good pint. Well had an average pint of Rhymney Bitter, Bass was also on, what put me off were the staff members eating behind the bar and not washing their hands inbetween serving customers. Pictured above is the barmaid enjoying her sandwich in the bar servery. She served customers between bites without washing her hands. Barman was also seen to be eating crisps behind the bar as well. Looks like a big food hygiene fail here and Brew Wales will be contacting Monmouthshire council on Monday with regards to this flagrant breach of the food hygiene laws.

Bellhanger, Chepstow

The third beer festival of the day and in a place as small as Chepstow. This time popped into the JDW Bellhanger for their range of ales. After drinking some fantastic Otley O1 up the Coach & Horses the tastebuds may be a little tired but went for a Toshi's Amber Ale brewed by Bank's. A sweet, malty ale, hardly in the style of a Japanese beer, more like the bland Wolverhamton & Dudley ales we come to expect from them. Why make a bland beer for a beer festival? Still at least this JDW does not have the offspring of chavs running around off their leash as the Newport ones do.

Coach & Horses Beer & Sausage Festival

The Coach & Horses in Chepstow is holding a beer and sausage Festival this weekend. 7 real ales on at a time, all served from the handpump, apart from the Kingstone Gold which is on the bar and served straight from the wood. Over 20 different real ales will be served over the weekend and 12 different sausages are on the menu. The Coach & Horses is a great little pub with oak beams covered with pumpclips and etched glass windows. Two fireplaces but with the Indian Summer we are having they are not needed. Otley O1 has just come on as well.

Beerex at the George in Chepstow

It's been a few years since the Brew Wales editor stepped into the George and the new interior was a bit of a shock. The new bar on the right hand side as you enter replaces the old cozy left hand bar which used to back onto the town wall. Bigger bar means more handpumps and 6 of them grace this new installation. The beerex is a bit dissapointing as the local beers from Kingstone are not on yet, instead we have a good selection of Marstons beers including Jennings Cocker Hoop and World's Biggest Liar as well as Brakspear Oxford Gold, Hobgoblin and Ringwood Best. Pub is decked out in a Halloween theme which the feral kids running around the pub must be enjoying. Last time I was in the pub had lunch with the local MP, don't think will be popping in again for a while. Still the beers good despite the ambience of the pub which half-heartedly attempts to be a Weatherspoon without putting in the effort. Still there are worst pubs in Chepstow. Off to the Coach & Horses next for their Beer & Sausage Festival. First time I tried Brakspears Oxford Gold was today, a wonderful autumnal hoppy aroma leads to a bitter and moreish aftertaste. Definetly a beer to have again.

Wednesday 28 October 2009

New Newmans Beer

Popped into the Pen & Wig, Newport and discovered this new beer from Celt Experiance/Newmans Brewery in Caerphilly. The 4.4% ABV Autumn Valley Flower is a mid-to-light brown ale (its night time so cannot judge colour too accuratly) with a distinctive hoppy nose. A smooth taste leads to an increasingly bitter and astringdent aftertaste that lingers. More of a bitter than hoppy ale, should be good with a strong cheese. Good pumpclip as well with an attractive picture of an oast house on it.

Beer festival in Chepstow

The historic George pub in Chepstow will also be holding a beer festival this weekend from Thursday 29th October through to Sunday 1st November 2009. The george, owned by the Barrucuda Group will be featuring mainly beers from marstons but also some from a local brewery.

The ales that will be stocked are:

Dogs Bollocks abv 5.2%
Hobgoblin abv 4.5%
Ringwood Old Thumper abv 5.6%
Ringwood Best Bitter abv 3.8%
Jennings Worlds Biggest Liar abv 4.3%
Jennings Sneck Lifter abv 5.1%

And from the local micro brewery Kingstone, located at Tintern,

Kingstone Gold abv 4.0%
Kingstone Tewdricks abv 3.8%
Kingstone Classic abv 4.5%

Thursday 29th October 2009
£1.99 all day pricing on all ales!

Halloween beer festival in Cardiff

Artisan brewery will be hosting their fourth beer festival of the year this weekend.


MicroBEER Festival #4

31st October & 1st Nov 2009

Artisan Brewing Co. in conjunction with Kings Road Art Studios is pleased to announce the fourth follow-on MicroBEER Festival

Starting 12pm - 8.30pm

Saturday & Sun

Market Stalls, Open Studios, Live Music, BBQ chili beef burgers (Veg option also) and several specialty beers on tap.

Join us... entry is free

Facebook Site

Artisan Brewing Company

View Larger Map

Friday 23 October 2009

Fake Charity Fails its own Survey!

Hat tip to both Obo and Mr Eugenides for this one

Fake Charity Alcohol Focus, the Tundra-based Government-funded equivalent of Alcohol Concern has an interesting survey on it's website.

The question it asks is:
"Cheap alcohol is damaging health and society. I support minimum pricing"
Visitors to the site then have a choice of yes or no.
At the time of posting 6403 people have voted and the percentages are Yes 4% and No 96%.

As the people have spoken surely the time has been reached where these fake charities have their Government funding withdrawn? This Nulieber social engineering is a waste of public money - a way to try and persuade us that we have to conform to their way of thinking - and they way they do this is to pay fake charities such as Alcohol Concern, Alcohol Focus and even have Alcohol Concern Wales now, to produce scare stories and made up statistics to frighten and brainwash the public into believing their propaganda.

It's also worth linking to the tribute site for the boss of Alcohol Concern here.

Thursday 22 October 2009

Brains Pub Awards 2009

From SA Brain website:

The manager of West Wales pub The Penwig has been named Brains' Manager of the Year. Mike Hockaday (pictured with his wife Chris and Chairman Christopher Brain), who runs the Newquay pub, collected the award plus a £5,000 cheque at an ceremony held in Cardiff.

Prizes of £1,000 were also handed out to the category winners. The Penhelig Arms in Aberdovey picked up the food pub of the year, the White Horse in Coychurch was named best community pub, the Aubrey in Bonvilston was rewarded for its customer service, and the title of bar person of the year was claimed by Lisa Psaila from the Grape and Olive in Cardiff.

Philip Lay, Retail Director at Brains explains: "The awards are all about celebrating the best pubs and people in our managed estate. It gives us the opportunity to thank truly outstanding staff who deliver superb customer experiences everyday."

The Brains Chef of the Year Award went to Mathew Lewis of the Lamb and Flag, Abergavenny.

Jamie Lewis from Churchills Hotel in Cardiff and Martin Morgan from The Star in Dinas Powys were named runner-up. The remaining finalists were Claire Barrell from the Lamb & Flag; Adam Tudor from Churchills; and Gareth Webb from the Black Lion in Lampeter.
Jill Matthews, Head of Catering at Brains added: "Long gone are the days when pub food meant a poor ploughman’s or a packet of cheese and onion crisps. Brains pubs today are serving great food whether they are in the heart of the community with a regular trade of locals or in a drive to location with a more sophisticated food offer. Customers are increasingly choosing to eat in our pubs where they know they can get both great food and value in preference to restaurants."

Win Wales vs Australia Rugby Tickets with SA Brain

From the Brains website:

Brains, the official shirt sponsor of the Welsh Rugby Union, is offering you the chance to win a pair of tickets to see Wales take on Australia in the sell out final fixture of the Autumn Series.

Brains has been sponsoring the WRU since 2004. On the field the ‘Brains years’ have brought two Grand Slams in 2005 and 2008, four wins in six clashes with England and two victories and a draw over Australia.

To be in with a chance of seeing Wales attempt to notch up a second consecutive win over Australia, simply log onto the Brains website and answer the simple question.

If you're not lucky enough to win you can catch the action in your nearest Brains pubs.

To view the full Autumn Series fixture list visit the WRU website.

Wednesday 21 October 2009

Welsh Cider in London!

From Brew Wales

For those of you not at Cowbridge or in the Otley pubs this weekend:

Gwynt Y ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company will this weekend be at the Southbank Centre in London as part of the Cheeses and Wine Fair.

The festival takes place in the Southbank Centre Square, situated outside the Royal Festival Hall. The Southbank Centre consists of the world-class Royal Festival Hall, The Hayward, Queen Elizabeth Hall (containing the Purcell Room), and the Saison Poetry Library. Situated on the south bank of the River Thames next to the popular London Eye, Southbank Centre is at the heart of an arts quarter stretching from the Royal National Theatre and National Film Theatre to Tate Modern and Shakespeare's Globe.

Opening Tmes
Friday 23 Oct 2009, 10:00am - Sunday 25 Oct 2009, 18:00pm
Nearest Tube is Waterloo

View Larger Map

Otley Oct-O-Ber Festival 2009

The annual Otley Oct-O-Ber Fest kicks off tomorrow and the festival is going to be bigger than before with all 3 Otley pubs being involved and over 50 real ales (10 from Otley brewery), ciders and perries over the 4 day event.

Otley Arms, Trefforest
Thursday 22nd - Tatt-Syrup
Friday 23rd - Nation Stack, Navigators
Saturday 24th - Isca Moris Men
Sunday 25th - Drink the bar dry & Sunday Lunch

Rickards Arms
Thursday 22nd - Poets, Spoken word & Comedy cabaret.
Friday 23rd - Welsh Male Voice Choir
Saturday 24th - Acoustic acts, Britt Roberts, Guy that gets the girl and NothingNew.
Sunday 25th - Sunday lunch and Poker Tournement.

Bunch Of Grapes
Thursday 22nd -Cor Meibion
Friday 23rd - A470's big Jazz Band
Saturday 24th - Afternoon cheese festival / Kitty Corsets Burlesque in the evening
Sunday 25th - Sunday Lunch and Festive Games
Follow the Bunch on Twitter!

On at the 'Bunch of Grapes'


O1 4.0


O5 SHADO 4.3



OG 5.4

O8 8.0















BEER 5.0







Other Stuff:
T-shirts, Glasses and merch, GTFM coverage, over 30 real ale and ciders, Meal Deals at all 3 pubs, The otley Rider bus pass which lets you get on the minibus traveling around the 3 pubs over the couse of the festival, poets, comedians, shenanigans, competiitions, burlesque, bands, artsits, BBQ's, free film screenings (see inside pubs for details), dancers and much much more!

Tuesday 20 October 2009

Beer festival at the Vale of Glamorgan pub

Photo courtesy of Dom at Welsh Icons

With the Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival in full swing this weekend, where better to go to than the CAMRA award-winning pub, the Vale of Glamorgan, to celebrate their annual beer festival.
The following article was written for the South Wales Echo and published on the 10th October 2009:

The historic town of Cowbridge dates from Roman times but the town layout today is based upon the medieval layout of burgage plots with a narrow street facing side and a long rear area. The rear area was for the workshops, or as in the case of the Vale of Glamorgan pub, a brewery and maltings. The first mention of a pub on this site is in 1780 when it was called the Greyhound but by 1868 the pub had acquired its present name. The brewery continued in existence until 1914 when it was bought by Hancock's of Cardiff. Today there is still an old Hancock's Brewery Toastmaster sign on the wall outside the pub but the Vale of Glamorgan pub is now a freehouse. As well as the old pub sign, a newer one hangs outside, featuring a rural scene with a farmer and his horse. The sash window has stickers on it celebrating some of the years the pub has been in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. There are two entrances to the pub; on the right an old archway through which the old brewery horse-drawn drays used to use or the left hand side door with the with the lettering above saying “Entrance to Lounge and Smoke Rooms”.

The welcoming interior features high backed settles on a slate floor at the front, with the wooden-floored bar running lengthwise towards the rear, carpeted seating area which features a stone-built wall. The bar features gleaming brass handpumps, serving the regular real ales, Hancock's HB, Wye Valley HPA and Hop Back Summer Lightning together with 2 guest beers from breweries from across the UK, as well as Mole's Black Rat Cider from Somerset. Above the bar is a large collection of pumpclips of beers this pub has sold over the years. The walls of the bar are decorated with old photographs of Cowbridge and the occasional article on the pub as well as the fireplace with cast-iron range and gleaming brass utensils.

A reminder of the days when this pub was home to a brewery is the door window on the way out to the backyard with “Order Office” etched on to it. The backyard of the Vale of Glamorgan pub features more seating and is covered over once a year during the Cowbridge Food Festival for the annual beer festival held at the Vale, this year the Festival is over the weekend of the 24th-25th October. The pub is a previous winner of the local CAMRA branch pub of the year.
The Vale of Glamorgan is open all day and home-cooked food is available lunchtimes apart from Sunday. Curries, fish and duck recipes all feature on the regularly changing menu.

Beer List for the Beer Festival, 24th-25th October, all subject to availability

Vale of Glamorgan Brewery
VOG 4.3% ABV

Grog Y Vog 4.3 %

+ 1 other

Hop Back Crop Circle 4.2%

GFB 3.5%

Entire Stout 4.5%

Wye Valley Brewery Butty Bach 4.5%

Harvest Hop 4.5%

Wholesome Stout 4.6%

Robinsons Wags to Witches 4% ABV

Holdens Dragons Blood 4.7%

Hydes Rocketeer 4.5%

White Horse Wayland Smithy 4.4%

Moorhouses Pendle Witches Brew 5.1%

Hall & Woodhouse Tanglefoot 4.9%

Brains Rev James 4.5%

Rhymney Bitter 4.5%

Theakstons Old Peculiar 5.6%

Black Sheep Golden Sheep 3.9%

Breconshire Brewery Brecon County 3.7%

Ramblers Ruin 5%

Bryncelyn Brewery Buddy Marvelous 4%

CCH 4.5%

Bullmastiff Brewery SOB 6%

Brindle 5.1%

Welsh Black 4.8%

Conwy Brewery Rampart 4.5%

Dare Brewery Falcon Flyer 5.2%

Green Dragon 4.4%

Evan Evans Warrior 4.6%

Cwrw 4.2%

Facers Landslide 3.7%

Flintshire BB 4.9%

Great Orme Welsh Black 4%

Merlyn 5%

Monty's Mojo 3.8%

Moonrise 4%

Celt Experience Bronze 4.0%

Native Storm 4.5%

Otley Dark O 4.1%

OG 5.4%

O8 8%

Plassey Offas Dyke Ale 4.3%

Dragons Breath 6.0%

Nant Mwnci Nell 5.3%

Chawden Aur 4.3%

Purple Moose Madogs Ale 3.7%

Snowdonia 3.6%

The Duke of Wellington pub opposite the Vale of glamorgan pub will be holding a cider festival at the same time with 25 different ciders on, all served in their rear mock-Baronial hall.

Cowbridge Food and Drink Festival 09

This Saturday and Sunday, 24th-25th October will see the annual Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival, held in the historic market town, just outside of Cardiff. Easily accessible by public transport from the Capitol, the Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival is one of the last local food shows of the year.

Full list of exhibitors are available here, but the boozy highlights are below:

Celtic Spirit Co Ltd
Cwm Deri Vineyard
Gwatkin Cider, well Denis and Co would have to be there, it's not a proper food festival without a few pints of Gwatkin cider!

Above: Theresa and Denis at the show last year

Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Cider Ltd , another festival favourite with maybe a new product available?
The Handmade Scotch Egg Co Ltd, okay not a booze producer but something is needed to help the cider go down!
Mosmar Liqueurs & Spirits
Otley Brewery
Penlon Cottage Brewery, will be stocking up on their Chocolate Stout, made with real chocolate!
Tipsy Fruit Gins Ltd
Warcop Ales - Bill picton also had his excellent cider on sale last year at the festival.
Welsh Brew Tea - okay it's not alcoholic but Alan is a CAMRA member!
Wernddu Wine & Vineyard - interesting wines, ciders and perries all made in Wales.

Ticket Prices

* Family Day Ticket £7.00 (2 adults and
* 3 children under 14yrs)
* Adult Day Ticket £2.50
* Child Day Ticket £1.00 (free entry 2 years and under)
* Family Weekend Ticket £12.00
* Adult Weekend Ticket £4.00
* Child Weekend Ticket £1.50

In addition to the food festival there is also a beer festival at the Vale of Glamorgan pub on the High Street and a cider festival at the Duke of wellington pub opposite.

Monday 19 October 2009

New Brewery for West Wales

Pembrokeshire Farmer Len Davies has set up his own brewery on his farm in the Gwaun Valley. The brewery was opened last month by Wales' Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones. The brewery is currently producing 1150 pints a week and due to demand production will be increased. The 3 real ales produced are brewed with spring water from the farm and they hope to be using home-grown barley and hops to brew the beers with in the future.

They had better keep a sharp eye on their casks as a lot of beer casks tend to go missing in West Wales.

Gwaun Valley Brewery

Kilkiffeth Farm
SA65 9TP

Telephone: 01348 881304

Hat tip to Farmers Weekly for the story

Welsh beer in Parliament

Today will see beer from the Waen Brewery of Newtown in Powys being served on the Strangers Bar in the Palace of Westminster. Their beer, "First of the Summer Waen" is the last brew of that beer for this season but is a favourite of the local Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik who has helped support his local brewery by getting their beers into Parliament.
The Waen Brewery was set up earlier this year by Sue and John Haywood and supplies both bottled and cask ale.
First of the Summer Waen is described as "a 4.2% summer beer, full of fruity flavour and a touch of wheat". As this is the last brew of this beer until the Spring, "Last of the Summer Waen" may be a better name!
For those of you wishing to try beers from the Waen Brewery, they will be at the Royal Welsh Agricultural Society Winter Fair on Monday 30th November and Tuesday 1st December at the Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells.

Saturday 17 October 2009

Beer Festival at The Star

After a day of picking apples, time to go to a beer Festival. A short drive from Abergavenny is the Star Inn at Talybont on Usk and their first beer Festival is this weekend. The marquee is in the canalside beer garden and features Penlon brewery beer on draught as well as ales from Otley, Newmans and even Harviestoun and Cairngorm from Scotland. Brew Wales is on for the light hoppy ales so a pint of Tudor brewery Blorenge is going down very well. Just so happened that Anthony the brewer was also here today. The first Star Inn beer Festival looks to be a success, the last warm rays of the autumn sun will slowly vanish behind the bank of the Monmouthshire-Brecon canal and the band are about to start playing. Time for another pint I think before going to Cowbridge to press the apples.

Back to the orchard

Still more picking at the orchard near the Blorenge mountain near Abergavenny. Not sure of the variety of apple today - a small reddish sweet or slightly bitter sweet variety. Only 5 trees but have got around 15 bags which should make about 15 gallons of juice. May have to blend some crab or bitter sharp apples in to make a flavourfull cider. The sooner we finish the sooner we can go to Beerex in the Star, Talybont on Usk, a few miles along the canal.

Friday 16 October 2009

Beer Judge moves to Australia

One of the regular judges at the Champion Beer of Wales competition and the Champion Beer of Britain competition, Ian Boyd, is hanging up his white wig and gavel and moving to Australia. A member of South Bedfordshire CAMRA, Ian first came to the attention of the Brew Wales editor when he became the only lecturer to join the UCL real ale society, almost 20 years ago. After years of persistent nagging, he was invited along to be a judge at national competitions and has stayed on the list ever since. Ian has travelled the world, finding time to visit brewpubs in between the lecture circuit and one year even did an interview with Chinese Television at the Great British Beer Festival, after just flying in from China and visiting their brewpubs a few days earlier. A regular contributor to the CAMRA publication "Beer in Beds", we look forward to his reviews of the Melbourne brewery scene.

Above: Ian Boyd is pictured hard at work at Cardiff City Hall, judging the Champion Beer of Wales competition in 2007

Quote from Ian, "Having seen the Niagra Falls, the Grand Canyon, the Great Wall, the Pyramids, and the Giants Causeway, dived the Great Barrier Reef, and experienced the midnight sun in the Arctic Circle, there's still nothing like enjoying a good pint or three of tasty real ale, perfectly served in a lined-glass, either beside a roaring log fire in an unspoiled flag-floored hostelry, or in the sunny garden of a well-kept traditional thatched country pub, in good company, righting the wrongs of the world".

Ian Boyd will be moving to Australia to take up the position of Director at the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication. Does the Melbourne Brewery scene know what is going to hit it?

Thursday 15 October 2009

Beer Festival at the Star

The Star Inn, Talybont-on-Usk will be holding their first beer festival this weekend, the 17th & 18th October. The pub will also be celebrating their Pub of the Year 2009 award from Brecknock CAMRA.
Real ales from local breweries such as Breconshire, Kingstone, Celt Experiance an Wye Valley will be available along with live music and food. Although the Star is a small, roadside inn, not too far from the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, there will be a large marquee in the beer garden.

View Larger Map

The Star is reachable by public transport, the Cardiff-Merthyr-Brecon-Abergavenny bus passes the door

Star Inn
01874 676635

TV Highlights

A new series of Fishlock's Wales begins tonight on ITV Wales and featuring on the show will be Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company. Have previously covered the filming at the farm here.

Also on Channel 4 at 2100 hrs is a documentary on British pubs called "Red Lion"

"With the financial crisis forcing seven pubs a day to shut their doors for good, Cutting Edge explores why pub culture is central to British society. Sue Bourne visits some of the country's 600 establishments that use the name The Red Lion to find out why Britain is still a nation of drinkers, despite Government warnings about the dangers of alcohol. Along the way she hears the stories of those propping up the bars, from tipsy grannies to lonely souls".

The Channel 4 programme is available to watch here (UK only)

The Graniud has a review of the programme here

Wednesday 14 October 2009

No to bland beers

Spent the night in the Pen & Wig, Newport drinking the very enjoyable Otley Columb-O, not a strong beer at 4% but packed full of flavour, it's most probably the hoppiest ale brewed localy. And yes I do like hoppy beers. The American Columbus hop used in this beer produces wonderful citrus flavours, we are talking grapefruit here, a lasting astringency as well. The aroma is hoppy as well, think some other hops have made their way into this excellent golden brew. To get back to the title of this post, a few breweries in Wales stil produce bland beers and then complain to CAMRA when their beers fail to win awards at national competitions. Very sorry, Brew Wales has no sympathy for those sad outcasts from SIBA who claim that they brew bland beers for the 'locals' as that it what they call for. Tasty beers are what the customers want, not some boiled-up Welsh river water at which a hop was waved in the general direction of. If brewers want to be noticed then put some flavour in your beers. Bland beers don't do the public or the Welsh brewing industry any favours, neither does taking the casks of other brewers without their permission and using them for your own beer. NB the points made above involving cask theft and bland beers do not refer to Otley brewery, but to another Welsh brewery a bit further West. Any comment from the Clown Prince of Welsh Brewing?

Monday 12 October 2009

Zero Degrees Cardiff

Popped into the Zero Degrees in Cardiff, not a pub I use regularly but will give it a go once in a while. Six beers brewed on site available today, the 6% Octoberfest the best of the lot, both in terms of flavour and accuracy of the beer style. This brewery on Westgate Street has a very modern feel to it, despite being housed in a former 1930s Art Deco garage! The beers: Pilsner - light and hoppy but a heavy malt aroma, may be served too young here. Lager the beer for a few months or even weeks if you want it to call it a Pilsner. Pale Ale - not very pale as is red in colour and not very at all similar to an English ale as US hops (Cascade and centennial are used). Cloying sweetness, not a well-balanced beer. Black Lager - a taste sensation of roasted malts hitting the tongue, leading into chocolatey overtones. Wow factor on this one, suggest having the Smoky Mexican pizza with this. Wheat Ale - the banana aroma of this beer is the first hint of what to expect from this beer, a very good example of a German Wheat Beer tastes like. Surprisingly good. Mango beer - mangos go well with curries with chutneys but with beers? An interesting fruity aroma leads to a sickly sweet mango flavour. Can only think to match this beer with a curry. The sample tray pictured above cost £2.50 but did not include the Octoberfest Beer which was the best of the night. Zero Degrees is a good addition to the Cardiff scene, a US style brew pub, just wish the beer was a bit less cold an fizzy.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Broome Farm Cider Cellar

After a day picking and pressing perry pears, where better to finish the day than the cider cellar at Broome Farm, just outside of Ross. Different ciders served straight from the barrel, by award-winning cidermaker Mike Johnson and the weather is still good enough to drink outside whilst watching the Alpacas feed off the apples in part of the orchard. Right now to find that panking pole.

Pressing pears

After picking and scratting (choping) the pears comes pressing. Today we are using a Victorian twin screw press, owned by Seidr Dai and kept at the Ross on Wye cider farm. Cwm Green perry pear has produced 24 gallons of juice, not bad for one tree. All we have to do now is try and remember which farm we left the panking pole in!

Red Huffcap

Another old variety of perry pear is this Red Huffcap, which may also be known as Jenkin's Red. The problem is trying to identify the various old varities, especially when the tree can be a few hundred years old. Then of course after picking and pressing we have to wait 3 or 4 months to taste it. Off to press in Ross next.

Perry pear picking in Monmouthshire

On an orchard overlooking the hills of Herefordshire and close to the famous Rockfield Studios we find the old perry pear varieties such as Cwm Green and Blakeney Red. The farmer has even started to replant some of the old varieties. Back to picking.

Friday 9 October 2009

Artisan Cider Making

You can tell you are an artisan cider maker when the press is set up in the rear room of a terraced house. After a day spent picking different varieties of apples and pears, the fruit is washed, then cut up in a scratter, before being built up in cheeses and pressed to release the juices. The picture above shows Alex from Llanblethian Orchards using his self-built press, made from Monmouthshire oak, to extract the sugar-rich juices of the Blakeney Red perry pear. The juice will now ferment for a few months and be ready to drink in the new year. Another pear pressed today was called Tainton Squash, a sweet-tasting pear which will ferment out, hopefully by the new year. More apples and pears to pick and press over the weekend, may even have a beer if we have time!

Cider apples in Monmouthshire

In the shadow of the Skirrid Mountain, just outside of Abergavenny is one of the old orchards of Monmouthshire. The farmer does not use the orchard but allows Llanblethian Orchards Cider to come in and pick the apples and pears. There are varieties of apples such as Kingstone Black, Newtons Wonder, Yarlington Mill and a few we dont know. Each variety will be fermented separatly and may be blended to produce the final product, available next year. Its not raining yet but may do so later, onwards to pick the KB!

Wednesday 7 October 2009

All Aboard The Cambrian ALEways!

The Cambrian Railways Partnership (CRP) has teamed up with the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) to promote travel by train to pubs on the Cambrian network through the new Cambrian ALEways initiative.

Launched at the Llanbedr Beer Festival, held over the last weekend in September at the Ty Mawr Hotel, the ALEways leaflet features 20 hostelries that appear in CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide that are easily accessible via the Cambrian lines. Also included are some ideas of rail related things to do that combine to make a great day out for locals and visitors as well as of course rail and real ale enthusiasts!

Speaking at the launch Bob Jones, CAMRA Director commentedThe Cambrian Railways are some of the most spectacularly scenic in the world but have the advantage over other great international railways in having an excellent selection of great British pubs to quench your thirst adjacent to almost every station. Having your breath taken away by the views is thirsty work and where better to absorb the local culture than in one of the local pubs which offer an increasingly wider range of quality local real ales. As well as a safe means of travelling the Cambrian railways are probably the most enjoyable way of seeing one or two pubs. The ALEways leaflet offers a selection of some of the best local hostelries recommended by local CAMRA members.

From left to right Bob Jones Director CAMRA, Gerwyn Jones Cambrian Railways Partnership and Eirwyn Thomas Chairman Llanbedr Beer Festival

Gerwyn Jones on behalf of the CRP commented “The local pub is an important social meeting place for the communities they serve. We hope the Cambrian ALEways initiative will help support these and encourage people to use the trains to access them”.

This initiative was developed by the Cambrian Railways Partnership working with the hostelries, supported by SARPA, the Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth Rail Passengers Association and is endorsed by CAMRA, the Campaign For Real Ale.

For a complete listing of all CAMRA endorsed public houses in the UK and other information pick up a copy of ‘The Good Beer Guide’ published annually.

The Cambrian Aleways Leaflets can be downloaded here (pdf)

The Cambrian ALEways map can be downloaded here (pdf)
Above: Cambrian ALEways launch held on Friday the 25th of September 2009 at the Ty Mawr Hotel as part of the Llanbedr Beer Festival.

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Cider at the Roast Ox

The Roast Ox Inn, Painscastle, Builth Wells will be holding their third cider and beer festival next weekend, the 10th-11th October. The Inn previously held a beer and cider festival in August. The cider festival will feature a display of apple pressing as well as live entertainment and a cider menu.
The Roast Ox is a traditional country public house but with the added attraction of a restaurant seating 60 persons, 10 fully en-suite letting rooms and superb conference facilities with full audio-visual equipment.

Recently completely renovated and refurbished following a disastrous fire some years ago, the Inn is steeped in history and is known to have been in existence for at least 500 years.

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The Roast Ox Inn
Builth Wells

Tel: 01497 851398

Saturday 3 October 2009

Hendre Huffcap

Another traditional perry pear is the Hendre Huffcap, named after the part of Monmouthshire the tree was first found in. Quite a tannic pear, will probably blend with another, sweeter pear such as the Tainton Squash we just picked (did not blog that one, ganger was getting me to pick and pank, not blog!) Very good year for perry pears this year.

Blakeney Red pears in Monmouthshire

Another day of perry pear picking at a Monmouthshire Farm. This time the variety is Blackeney Red, a traditional perry pear originaly from Gloucs. Centuries old farm with 200 year old trees. Good tannins in the perry pear balenced with plenty of sugar, this should ferment out to about 5-6% ABV when ready in the new year. Roll on the Welsh Cider and Perry Festival in May when this perry from Llanblethian Orchards.

Friday 2 October 2009

Don Shenker is a Chump

Both Pub Curmedgeon and Dick Puddlecote have picked up on this excellent blog, written by Brew Wales' drinking buddy Fido and entitled Don Shenker is a Chump. Well its not actually called that but I'm sure Fido meant those words. Okay possibly not, but if Mandelson can attempt to get away with it.......
Here at Brew Wales we are no fans of the Government-funded Fake Charity Alcohol Concern or of its boss, Don Shenker. In fact a Brew Wales article appears on the Don Shenker is a Chump blog.

To quote from the blog:
"Head of a fake charity, Don sees his role as blowing booze into a media problem. A scaremonger who claims that a tipple or two turns us into mad beasts that need control. Then booze can give us cancer, reduces our immune system leads to all of societies ills. Unelected, a puritan who is given your tax money to put across his pet message. Don needs to be stopped".

Digging around in his background, it appears that the fake charity boss spent some time in Wales, as he did his degree at the Trefforest Miners Institute (1987-1990), now the University of Glamorgan.
Brew Wales cannot help but think if he spent more time researching in the 'O Block' his puritanical anti-pub views would not be so strong as they are today.

Thursday 1 October 2009

Fagin's Beer Festival on Now

The award-winning Fagin's Ale & Chop House, situated just outside of Cardiff, will be holding their a beer festival this weekend. Well it opens today (Thursday) and carries on until Sunday.
Fagins Festival Beers List - (In Alphabetical order) Subject to availabilty

Atlas – Kinlochleven – Three Sisters – 4.2% - Dark fruity beer with whole flower hops balances the dark malt character.
Bragdy’r Nant – Llanrwst – North Wales – Monkey Nells – 5.9%
Breconshire – Brecon – Ramblers Ruin – 5% - Dark amber,malty well hopped with a beautifully balanced aftertaste.
Brew Dog - Fraserburgh north east Scotland - Dogma – 7.8% - Heather Honey infused ale – Brewed with Guarana, Poppy seeds & Kola nut blended with Scottish heather honey.
Brew Dog – Fraserburgh north east Scotland - Punk IPA – 6% - Light Golden in colour with tropical fruits & caramelon the nose. Made with New Zealand hops
Brew Dog – Fraserburgh north east Scotland – Zeitgeist – 4.9% - Black lager.
Bridge of Allan – Stirling - Bannockburn – 4.2% - Pale Golden Beer.Refreshing complex hoppy & fruity aroma.
Bridge of Allan – Stirling - Bramble – 4.2% (cloudy) Brewed with the finest & freshest Scottish brambles from the forth valley.Smooth with a tangy aftertaste.
Cairngorm – Aviemore – Nessies Monster Mash – 44% - Malty lightly hopped.
Cairngorm – Aviemore – Trade Winds – 4.3% - Golden beer made with wheat. Blended with pearl hops & elderflower to give a bouquet of fruit & citrus flavours..
Elland – Leeds – Tomahawk – 4.7% - A pale gold premium bitter with a aromatic hop aroma. Made with USA hops Columbus tomahawk.
Goose Eye – Keithley West Yorkshire – Chinook – 4.2% - Pale beer with plenty of hops giving a hoppy subtle citrus flavour.
Hambleton – Melmerby North Yorkshire – Stallion – 4.2% - Premium bitter. Has a distinctly malty character with a hint of nuttiness.
Newmans – Caerphilly – Red Castle Cream – 4.7% - Copper coloured bitter with a smooth finish.
Ossett – Ossett West Yorkshire – Silver King – 4.3% - Lager style beer with a crisp dry flavour & citrus fruity aroma.
Ossett – Ossett West Yorkshire – Excelsior – 5.2% - Mellow yet full flavoured. Fresh hoppy aroma with toffee & floral characteristics.
Otley – Pontypridd – 01 – 4% - Straw coloured pale ale with styrian goldings aroma hops.
Otley – Pontypridd – 0F – 4.8% - Brewed for only Fagins a pale golden well balanced modern premium bitter.
Otley – Pontypridd – Porter – 6.6%ish – This porter has been cask conditioned for 14 months !!!
Purple Moose – Porthmadog – Glaslyn Ale – 4.2% - A golden coloured fruity best bitter with a well balanced hopped finish.
Red Squirrel – Hertford – WeissBier – 5% - Contains lots of wheat malt & a German yeast. A cloudy beer with that traditional refreshing weiss bier taste.
Red Squirrel – Hertford – White Mountain American India Pale Ale – 5.4%.- Contains four pale malts & one coloured malt plus two American hops.
St. Austell – Cornwall – Proper Job – 4.7% - A powerfully hopped golden bitter that explodes with citrus & grapefruit flavour.
Timothy Taylors – West Yorkshire – Landlord – 4.3% - Classic strong pale ale. Has won more awards nationally than any other beer.
Valhalla – Shetland – Auld Rock – 4.5% - Dark full bodied Scottish style ale.
Valhalla – Shetland – Simmer Dim – 4% - Golden bitter that explodes with citrus & grapefruit flavour.

Fagins Ale & Chop house
8 Cardiff Rd
Taffs Well
CF15 7QD

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