Monday 30 November 2009

Artisan Brewery Microbeerfestival 5

This weekend Cardiff will play host to the 5th, yes 5th
beer festival this year at the home of Artisan Brewery

MicroBEER Festival #5

5th & 6th December 2009

Artisan Brewing Co. in conjunction with Kings Road Art Studios is pleased to announce the fifth MicroBEER Festival

Starting 12pm - 8.30pm

Saturday & Sun

Xmas Market Stalls, Open Studios, Live Music, BBQ chili beef burgers (Veg option also) and several specialty beers on tap. Outdoor event so dress for warmth - we will have some heating...

Join us... entry is free


ALL PINTS £2.50 12 till 2pm (£3 thereafter).
Barenaked Beers...
** Helles Lager 5%
** Chocolate Wheat 4.9%
** Belgian Raspberry 4.6%

Food available:
Chilli Beef Burgers £3 / Stuffed Mushroom Burger £3 / Sausages £1

Bar Opens at 12noon - Live Music from 1pm

Live Music (Starts 1pm)

-- Jonathan Powel
-- Klezma Kollective
-- Matthew Joseph
-- Thoby Davis
-- Ginge and Cello Boi
-- Sarah Louise
-- Evening Chorus
-- OK
-- Little Eris
-- Dirty Skanky Buskers

View Larger Map

Friday 27 November 2009

Worthy of a Blue Plaque?

It's not just Newport where the pubs are closing - this photo is of the Woodfield in Blackwood, formerly the Mason's Arms and the birthplace (or so he claimed in a television interview) of former MP Neil Hamilton. The pub was run by his grandfather.
The Mason's used to do a couple of real ales about 15 years ago - it has been years since I visited it and it did feature in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. Think the brewery was Courage so the Mason's may well have been part of the Phillip's of Newport pub estate. Not sure which pub company owns it nowadays but the freehold is for sale.
Not even a blue plaque outside to mark the birthplace of one of the more colourful former Members of Parliament, if this had been a Labour MP the local authority would be naming streets after him.
Woodfield, former Mason's Arms
Bridge Street, Blackwood, NP12 1AX

Newport Pub Closures - November update

Part of an occasional series in which the latest pub closures/openings in and around Newport are mentioned.
Errors and omissions accepted, if any readers have anything further to add please put them in the comments section. NB Comment moderation is enabled due to spam.

Photo above is the former King's Arms, Belmont Hill (Enterprise Inns). Currently being converted into Indian restaurant.

Newport Pub Closures since 1997:
  1. Simpsons, High St, Closed – empty building
  2. Chartist Arms, High St – closed – premises converted into a restaurant
  3. Carpenters Arms, High Street – closed – freehold for sale
  4. Lloyds, Cambrian Rd, became Jarcals, then Tesco Extra. Beer quality has improved!
  5. Breeze, Cambrian Rd, closed, lying empty
  6. Newport Brewhouse, Market St, now a nightclub
  7. Trout, Market St, became Can-Cans, closed, building derelict
  8. Ale House, ex-Sovereign, John Frost Square, closed and demolished
  9. Welsh Prince, Commercial St, closed – premises converted into a Thai restaurant. Freehold for sale.
  10. Langtons, Charles St, closed – premises auctioned 11.08
  11. King William IV, Commercial St, closed – derelict building
  12. Scrum Half, Commercial St, closed, retail premises
  13. Westgate Hotel, Commercial St, closed, part retail premises
  14. Royal Exchange, became Harveys in Pill, Commercial Rd. Closed, building derelict
  15. Mariners Hotel, Commercial Rd, closed
  16. Welcome Home, Commercial Rd, closed, residential accommodation
  17. Black Horse, formerly Celtic Bar/Falcon, Commercial Rd
  18. Waterloo Inn, Alexander Rd, closed and re-opened as a restaurant and hotel
  19. Cumberland house, Courtybella Tce, - closed -residential
  20. Orange Tree, St Michael St, - closed and demolished
  21. White Hart, Tredegar St, closed, business unit
  22. Old Rising Sun, Malpas Rd, closed, building derelict
  23. Pentwyn House, Bettws – closed
  24. Chaplins, Caerleon, demolished, residential development
  25. Cotton Club, Cambrian rd
  26. Three Salmons, Rogerstone, now an Indian Restaurant
  27. Jolly Roger, Rogerstone, now an Indian restaurant
  28. Old Globe, Rogerstone , now an Indian/Chinese restaurant
  29. Dolphin, Dolphin St, Pill, closed residential
  30. Seven, was Yates Wine Lodge, converted from the Tredegar Arms, High Street. Closed
  31. Victoria, Corporation Rd, closed – converted into restaurant
  32. Crown Inn, Albert Avenue, closed
  33. Seven Styles, was Lliswerry Hotel, closed and demolished, residential development
  34. King, Somerton, closed, awaiting demolition, residential development
  35. Black Horse, Somerton, closed, awaiting demolition, Tesco Extra
  36. Pullmans, Spytty, demolished, KFC on site
  37. New Inn, Bishton, now residential
  38. King's Arms Belmont Hill, Enterprise Inns, conversion to Indian restuarant
  39. Waterloo, Pill, converted to restaurant and hotel
  40. O'Reilleys, Baneswell, became Ryans Bar, then Xit, closed
  41. Gladiator, Malpas, closed
  42. Merry Miller, Bettws, closed
Pubs closed since last update (July)
    43. Angel, Baneswell, closed
    44. Corporation, Corporation Road – boarded up, fire damage
    45. Carpenters' Arms, Maindee, closed, boarded up, freehold for sale
    46. Oddfellows, Baneswell, closed
    47. Drover's, Caerleon, closed, boarded up
    48. Roman Lodge Hotel, Ponthir Road, - planning permission granted for conversion to residential
    49. Griffin, Market St
Under threat
Hereford Arms, Maindee, planning permission applied for residential apartments
New Pub openings since 1997
Dragonfly, Cardiff Rd, M & B
1995 Wetherspoons, became John Wallace Linton, JDW
1999 Godfrey Morgan, Maindee, JDW
2002 Tom Toya Lewis, Commercial St, JDW
Banc, Maindee
Page, High St
2009 Valerie's Bar, Commercial Street
NB Clubs are not counted above, I define a club as somewhere that charges membership or an entrance fee. However the following has opened and is open during the day:
Newport City Lounge, Commercial Street
Friendship, Ringland has become Harveys of Ringland
Hornblower, Commercial St. Admiral Taverns
Engineers Arms, Baneswell, Admiral Taverns
Church House, Pill, Harveys
Maindee Hotel, Maindee, S & N pub enterprises (Freehold for sale though)
Queens Hotel, JDW, was Walkabout
Golden Hart, Cardiff Rd
Globe, Maindee (Enterprise)

Thursday 26 November 2009

Culture Show does pubs - tonight

Tonight the BBC Culture Show is featuring the British Pub. Some of the footage was filmed in the Vulcan Cardiff.

From BBC Pravda:

This edition of the Culture Show is presented by Lauren Laverne, and looks at the past, present and future of the British pub. With an estimated 50 pubs a week now closing across the UK, 2009 could be the worst ever year in the history of British pubs. What's behind the decline? What's being lost as pubs go to the wall? Writers, thinkers and philosophical drinkers join Lauren to discuss whether it's now last orders for pubs.

For the Culture Show, Sting goes the Cumberland Arms, one of the oldest pubs in Newcastle and the heart of the city's folk scene. Sting performs from his new album If on a Winter's Night, accompanied by Kathryn Tickell on Northumbrian pipes, Peter Tickell on the fiddle and Julian Sutton on the melodeon.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has written and performs a special poem - John Barleycorn - for this pub-themed Culture Show. It's both a lament for and a celebration of the pub, once a cornerstone of British cultural life.

There's also a rare TV interview with John Cale. He talks about his life in music and the recent performance of his most celebrated album Paris 1919, at the newly reopened Cardiff Coal Exchange, his only UK date in 2009.

With the crucial Climate Change Summit starting in Copenhagen in December, Simon Mayo, Mark Kermode and a room full of film fans debate the pros and cons of films which deal with the end of the world including Deep Impact, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and both versions of The Day the Earth Stood Still.

All that plus Martha Wainwright, who joins Lauren in the bar to sing a song from her new album - a tribute to Edith Piaf called Sans Fusils, Ni Souliers, a Paris.

Not a mention of the Vulcan in the BBC write-up.

Broadcast times are:
  1. Thu 26 Nov 2009
  2. Thu 26 Nov 2009
  3. Thu 26 Nov 2009
  4. Thu 26 Nov 2009

The programme should be on the Pravda I-player later (UK only).

Back the pub

The 'Axe the Tax' campaign has been relaunched as 'Back the Pub' campaign.
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) are therefore launching a new campaign – “I’m backing the pub” – calling on consumers, publicans, politicians and all who value the British beer and the British pub to sign up in support.
The manifesto will be launched tonight in Westmister, in the Westminster Arms.
The manifesto, called “The life and soul of Britain’s communities”, calls on the Government to reverse the 8 per cent increase in duty on beer imposed at the time of the VAT cut last January when VAT returns to its 17.5 per cent rate on 1 January 2010, and to scrap plans to increase duty by 2 per cent above inflation in the Budget in March next year.

The other main findings of the opinion poll carried out by ComRes last weekend are:

• 80 per cent of all people think that the pub is an important symbol of the British way of life. This is true across the board and particularly high among people aged 65 or over (86%) and for people aged 45-54 (85%).

• 71 per cent of people think that more needs to be done to support and promote the British pub.

• 77 per cent think that pubs in Britain make a valuable contribution to the economy

• 74 per cent of all people think that the planned increase in the tax on beer and pubs next March is not justified.

• 67 per cent of all people agree that Government policy should encourage people to choose lower strength alcohol drinks like beer, and 74 per cent support a policy of lower taxation for lower strength drinks like beer.

• 65% of all people think that the proportion (one third) of the price of a pint of beer that goes to the tax man is “too high” and in line with this, 74% of all people think that the planned increase in the tax on beer and pubs next March is not justified. People in social groups AB (28%) and C1 (25%) are the most likely to think that this potential increase is justified. Having said this, one quarter of all people (24%) say that tax increases will cause them to visit their local pub less often.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said:

“There is a clear and compelling public consensus amongst the British people that the pub is a vital part of their community and the social and economic character of Britain. This is coupled with deep concern at the record number of pub closures we are witnessing today and a resounding call for action to support the British pub.

“It is time for a concerted effort by government, industry and all those who value the pub to work together to adopt and implement policies to promote the great British pub.

“The manifesto we are publishing today sets out a range of policies which could make a real difference. We are therefore calling on all – including politicians and political parties - to back this agenda and to pledge their support for our ‘I’m backing the pub’ campaign.”

Julian Grocock, chief executive of SIBA, said:

“Pubs are an integral part of Britain's rich culture, our national heritage, and the life of our communities. Reducing duty on a low strength drink like beer would be a good start in helping to promote a unique British product, supporting a unique British institution, and launching an effective strategy to encourage responsible drinking in controlled and convivial surroundings."

Among comments included in the industry manifesto, Richard Lambert, Director-General, CBI, said:

“The British Beer and Pub Association highlights some key priorities for the beer and pub trade and companies at large, including lowering the tax burden and ensuring levels of regulation do not hinder the business environment.”

Feargal Sharkey, CEO, UK Music, said:

“The combination of pub and music can knit local communities together. It is vital that such a network exists, and for the sake of future creativity it is something we must continue to protect, nurture and encourage.”

Sandie Dawe, chief executive of Visit Britain, said:

“The pub is at the heart of the community; a place to champion great local food and drink; a community hub; a job and wealth creator for the local economy.”

Download the manifesto "The Life and Soul of Britain's Communities" here (pdf)

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Wednesday 25 November 2009

Eclipse Ales

There are a few old advertising windows left in the pubs in Monmouthshire but the most intriguing involves the Eclipse Ales windows in the Coach & Horses, Chepstow and the King's Head, Abergavenny (pictured left). Both these pubs still have their old windows with Eclipse Ales and Monopole Scotch Whiskey. Now I can't find any reference to a local brewery ever producing Eclipse Ales and the Century of British Brewers Book only lists an Eclipse Brewery, off Deansgate, Manchester 1860-1877, eventually acquired by John Lees in 1894. Don't think that is of much help as it would be unusual for the windows to survive over 140 years and to be from as far away as Manchester. The King's Head was owned by Arnold, Perrett & Co Ltd of Wickwar, Gloucestershire, between 1914-1938. The Coach & Horses, Chepstow is now a Brains pub and was formerly a freehouse, so the ownership of these pubs does not help anything.

Below are 3 pictures of the windows of the Coach & Horses, Chepstow.

So over to my readers, anyone know where Eclipse Ales were?

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Sebastopol Social Club

On the outskirts of Pontypool, just downgill of the Monmouthshire-Brecon canal stands the Sebastopol Social Club. Now the Brew Wales editor used to be a regular here in the days he worked in Cwmbran, nowadays the visits ard few and far between so it was nice surprise to pop into tonight and find the club redecorated. Wooden floors, new tables and chairs with padded seatings all in a mauve/light brown setting. The beers on at the moment are Otley O1, Tring Side Pocket, Jennings Biggest Liar and Burton Bridge Have a Heart. Brew Wales is on the Otley O1 of course. The cribbage boards are coming out in the front bar though so will be moving to the back bar or catching the bus home.

Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny

An old favourite of mine in Abergavenny is the Hen and Chickens. When Brains bought the pub a few years back there were fears that the interior would be completly ruined, what followed was a sympathetic refurbishment that took in the former hairdressers next door to produce a modern pub with an almost unspoilt appearance. The side rooms still exist, the winding staircase around the fireplace is still there, the wooden floorboards happily mix with Victorian floor tiles in the next room. If you did not know this pub had been altered then you would not notice. The real ales on are Bass, Brains SA and Rev James and a guest beer. Today the guest is from Batemans, the delightfully named Miss Lucious. The beer is also nice with a good hoppy aroma and bitter taste. Not going into too much tasting notes today as the taste buds are getting a little tired. Still another good pub to pop into if you are in Abergavenny. Some of the locals are even taking snuff in the pub! Can't fault the place!

Another one bites the dust

It came as a bit of a shock to see the Somerset Arms pub in Abergavenny shut, boarded up and the freehold for sale. I've been using this pub on and off for about 20 years and it was a regular in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide. The 2-bar pub had a thriving trade and served good food. It was also a good community local and even had its own brewery back in the 19th century. The Somerset always supported local breweries and was a rare local outlet for beers from Cwmbran brewery. A sad loss to Abergavenny.

King's Arms, Abergavenny

Abergavenny is also home to the Tudor Brewery, in fact there are 2 breweries, the main one at the Celtic Spirit Company base and a smaller plant at the Kings Arms pub. The Kings Arms is the brewery tap for both the Celtic Spirit Company and the Tudor Brewery. The beers of Tudor Brewery have improved lately, due to a new brewer being employed. The most popular beer is the 3.6% Blorenge - a light and hoppy, thirst quenching beer, in fact this is so good I don't want to try the others but will out of duty to my readers. The Skirrid (the beers are named after local mountains) is a mid-brown 4.2% beer, and is a sweeter, more fruity ale with a bitter aftertaste. Unfortunately the 4.7% Sugarloaf was not on at the time of the visit. The King's Arms is a truly ancient inn, as it was next door to the old Tudor Gate and town wall. Some of the surviving internal partitions still exist and are a possible indicator of the old burgage plots from medieval days. This pub has plenty of character with old fireplaces and wooden partitions, even the former outbuildings, once home to Delafields Brewery, have been enclosed and a cinema has been installed out the back. The food range is impressive as well with an emphasis on local ingredients, even the crisps are local as the Real Crisp Company products are available here. A local pub serving local beers and local food sounds a bit Royston Veasey but it works here in the King's Arms. Right another pint of Blorenge coming up. Live blogged from the King's Arms using the Sony Ericsson k550i.

King's Head, Abergavenny

The Kings Head is situated next to the market hall and Abergavenny has a thriving market with Tuesday being market day. A pleasant single bar pub, the Kings Head only does 2 real ales, Charles Wells Bombardier and a guest, Ringwood Huffkin today. For cider lovers the pub has 8 different bottled Welsh ciders from Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company. Stone-flagged floors, a separate restaurant area and an old jukebox all add to the unique ambience of this town-centre pub. Some etched-glass windows still remain with adverts of long forgotten distilleries and breweries on them. The old ornate fireplace has been somewhat spoilt with a 1970s gas fire but apart from that not a bad town centre boozer.

Monday 23 November 2009

Organic Cherry Beer

Okay the last Sams beer of the night. After the tastebuds being overwhelmed with the stouts earlier have decided that something different can only bring them back. Step forward Sam Smith's Organic Cherry Beer at 5.1% ABV and available in a 330 ml bottle. Brewed at Sam's other brewery, the Melbourne Brothers brewery in Stamford, Lincolnshire and blended and bottled at the Old Brewery in Tadcaster, this is an interesting addition to the range. A cherry red colour of this organic beer leads to an intense aroma of, well cherries, think Black Forest Gateux in a glass. The taste is again of cherries with a swoop of flavour over the tongue. This is not a sweet beer though, the bitterness of the cherries comes through very well. A beer to cook deserts with I think or even as a marinade, for venison I think. Right off to poach a deer.

Oatmeal Stout

Well it is the season for dark beers and where better to have a few than the Murenger in Newport. On the Sam Smiths Oatmeal Stout now, there are not many pubs or even breweries that carry 2 different stouts in their range. Sams even have a third, the Extra Stout on draught, but keg only. Back to the beer, again Oatmeal Stout is in a 550ml bottle and is an intense black beer with a slight reddish hue, the aroma is of roast coffee and dark chocolate. The initial taste is a sweet bitterness, followed by the intense aftertaste of bitter roasts that form the astringent lasting flavour that lingers. Not as strong in flavour as the Taddy Porter but a good flavoursome stout that is worth trying.

Taddy Porter

Sam Smith's Brewery is very traditional or set in its ways as some might say. This is even shown in the size of their bottled beers which are 550ml instead of the more common 500ml. Its a bit of a suprise when you are used to pouring a 500ml bottle into a pint glass and suddenly realise this bottle is not going to fit! Anyway the Taddy Porter is 5% and is an intensely black beer with an aroma of roast malts and fruits, am detecting caramelised apple in the aroma. The taste is a bittersweet flavour at first before the tongue is swept by a tsumami of roasted and charcoaled taste sensations. As the beer warms up, it came straight from the fridge, the full complexity of Taddy Porter is revealed. Lots of flavour and lots of taste, packed into a beer from the oldest brewery in Yorkshire.

Old Brewery Bitter

Not a Welsh beer, but brewed at Sam Smith's in Yorkshire and available in Ye Olde Murenger House in Newport for the bargin price of £1.90 a pint. This brown coloured ale is drawn from oak casks - Sams are the last brewery to do this on any scale. Wadworths still employ a cooper but you hardly ever see their wooden casks apart from in a few of their pubs. I think the wood does impart some flavour to the beer, tannins are noticable in the aftertaste of the OBB and the harsh, bitter flavour of the beer is not to everyones taste but I like it. Its a shame the brewery no longer produces the stronger Museum any more but that's what you get with this brewery which does not even have a website. Back to the beer. Live blogged from the Murenger on the Sony Ericsson k550i

Friday 20 November 2009

True Taste Awards 2009

It's that time of the year again when the Welsh Assembly Government announce the True Taste awards. The awards were presented last night (Thursday) at the historic market hall in Abergavenny. Although one producer did decide to ignore the embargo and announce they had won an award the day before via Facebook.

Now in their eighth year, the Welsh Assembly Government managed awards reflect the increased demands from consumers for locally sourced produce along with those of the export market place. The 2009/10 awards has seen some 860 entries from over 400 companies – over half of producers in Wales.

he independently judged awards were founded to recognise and reward quality and innovation across the food and drink and hospitality sectors.

This year there were 18 award categories catering for all areas of food and drink production, retail and hospitality sectors as well as a new Export Achievement Category, which was won by The Anglesey Sea Salt Company.

Rural Affairs Minister, Elin Jones said, “The Wales the True Taste Food and Drink Awards are a tremendous showcase for the Welsh food and drink industry.
Once again the Awards have highlighted just how much high quality food is available here, and I congratulate all those who have received awards.

“Earlier this year I launched our Local Sourcing Action Plan which encourages us all to buy more Welsh food. There are so many benefits to buying local: from reducing food miles and supporting the local economy, to the reassurance that comes with knowing where our food comes from and how it has been produced.

“While our Food Tourism Action Plan is all about improving visitor experiences in Wales as a destination where high quality and distinctive food is widely available in our cafes, restaurants, pubs, hotels and guesthouses.

“We want to ensure that our visitors are provided with an exceptional food experience based on locally sourced and distinctive food. In 2008 the first category for Food Tourism Destination was included in Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Awards and this year’s winners – Pembrokeshire County Council - will help raise awareness of the excellence of Food Tourism outlets throughout Wales.”

A number of companies scooped more than one award; among them were South Caernarfon Creameries, Penrhiw Farm Organic Meat, Oaklands Organics, Gill’s Plaice, Greta’s Wholefoodies, and Hafod Welsh Organic Cheddar. It was a good night in particular for Primrose Organic Centre which won awards in several categories.

While the main award of the night, the True Taste Champion was awarded to Deiniol ap Dafydd of Blas ar Fwyd Cyf in Llanrwst.

Full list of winners is available here

As usual Brew Wales have sifted the results for the interesting ones:

Non-alcoholic drinks:

SILVER - Ty Bryn Cider

Ty Bryn apple juice -

Ty Bryn, Upper House Farm, Grosmont, Monmouthshire, NP7 8LA. Tony also makes cider which is why he gets a mention here!

Alcoholic drinks:

GOLD Evan-Evans Brewery
Cwrw Evan-Evans

SILVER - The Hurns Brewing Company Ltd

Tomos Watkin's cwrw gaeaf (Winter Ale)

BRONZE - SA Brain & Co Ltd

Brains dark

Eating out in Wales -

Restaurants, pubs & hotels:

GOLD - The Crown at Whitebrook - Overall &

South East Wales Regional Winner

BRONZE - Ynyshir Hall

Mid Wales Regional Winner

BRONZE - Tyddyn Llan

North Wales Regional Winner

BRONZE - Cwtch

West Wales Regional Winner

Local Sourcing Initiative:

GOLD - Riverside Community Markets Association

(Riverside Markets, Roath Real Food Market, Newport Farmers Market) Plenty of local brewers and cidermakers at these events

Export Achievement:

GOLD - The Anglesey Sea Salt Company

SILVER - The Hurns Brewing Company Ltd

Thursday 19 November 2009

Python goes local!

Former Monty Python star Terry Jones was spotted supporting a Welsh brewery the other day at the Star Inn, Dylife where he enjoyed a few pints of Festival Landmark and Brewster's from the Waen Brewery at Caersws. “Best pint around”, said Terry who expressed his love of the local beer and spent the afternoon drinking it.

The Waen Brewery was only set up earlier this year and has already featured on a bar in Parliament.

Terry Jones is known to be a fan of real ale, he was a partner in the Penrhos Brewery, Lyonshall, Kington, Herefordshire (1977-83) and even opened the Great British Beer Festival one year. The first brew of the Penrhos Brewery was the aptly named Jones' First Brew. In 1983 the brewing equipment was sold to Summerskills Brewery of Plymouth.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Pomona Award winner

Mike Johnson (pictured left in his cider cellar), owner of the Ross-on-Wye Cider and Perry Company at Broome Farm, Peterstow, Herefordshire, is this year's winner of CAMRA's Pomona award after a series of glowing nominations from CAMRA members and people within the cider and perry industry. Johnson was singled out particularly for his work in nurturing new talent in the cider world.

One individual who nominated Mike Johnson for the Pomona Award 2009, said:

'Mike (Johnson) is a very good cider-maker but the reason why he deserves to win this award is nothing to do with his skill in this respect. In short, the cider and perry community owes Mike a huge debt of gratitude for his selfless dedication to helping encourage new producers to enter the market, even though they are in direct competition with him. This attitude, combined with his interests in ecology and benefitting the local community through holding an annual Cider Festival is reason enough to give Mike this award.'
The Pomona Award is named after the Roman Goddess of apples and is presented by CAMRA to the person, place or thing who has done the most to promote real cider or perry primarily over the previous twelve months and secondarily, where there is no outstanding contender in the last twelve months, for ongoing work.

Mike Johnson, Pomona Award 2009 winner, said:

'I am very surprised to win as I didn't even know I'd been nominated. It's really gratifying for me and the team of people that put a lot of work into being hospitable and encouraging more people to make cider. I started producing myself in 1984, and it's great there's been a renewed interest in real cider in recent years.'
CAMRA's Cider and Perry Committee also noted that while Johnson's extensive charity work- which has seen him donate significant sums to development charities around the world- was not a factor behind his success in the Pomona Awards 2009, his willingness to help others is nevertheless a key reason why he has contributed so much to the cider and perry industry.

Sarah Newson, Vice Chair of CAMRA's Cider and Perry Committee, said:

'It is with great pleasure that we have chosen Mike (Johnson) as the winner of the Pomona Award 2009. CAMRA's Cider and Perry Committee agreed there wasn't a more deserving winner to be found in the industry and we hope he can educate and influence cider and perry producing enthusiasts for years to come.'

The connection with Wales is that Broome farm is where Seidr Dai cider and perry is juiced before being transported back to Wales to be fermented.

Cheese and Beer join forces to create a powerful taste of Wales

Two of Wales' most popular brands have joined forces to give the nation’s pubgoers a taste sensation.

Welsh brewing and pub giant S.A Brain and Co Ltd is to feature Collier's Powerful Welsh Cheddar on its menus from November, in delicious dishes such as homemade fish pie with topped with Collier's Cheddar and potato crust; warming ploughman’s platter; and Welsh steak burger topped with Collier's.

Thirty two Brains pubs will feature the award-winning cheese on their menus, which was judged to be the Best Mature Cheddar in the UK at the International Cheese Awards earlier this year.

Diners and pubgoers will also have the chance to win a weekend stay at one of Brains' hotels or pubs with rooms, which includes the picture postcard pretty Grove in St David's, and the classic coastal pub the Ship in Tresaith. To be in with a chance of winning you’ll need to enter a recipe containing Collier's into a competition to be judged by TV chef and brand ambassador for Collier's, Matt Tebbutt.

There will also be two prize draws taking place at each participating pub for a free meal for two. More details of the competition are available at participating Brains pubs and at, although entry can only be made in the pub.

"Both Collier’s and Brains are quintessential Welsh brands and cheese and beer is a culinary match made in heaven," says Marketing Director for Fayrefield Foods, Chris Swire.

"Collier’s has a unique and distinctive flavour which elevates any dish that it is included in. Visitors to Brains' pubs are in for a real treat."

Philip Lay, Retail director at Brains said: "Long gone are the days when pub food was limited to little more than a packet of salt and vinegar crisps. Today our pubs are serving quality food, using only the best and freshest ingredients. We are therefore delighted to introduce Collier’s award winning cheese to our menus."

To enter the competition, visit one of the participating Brains pubs below to collect your entry card. Create your recipe using Collier's Powerful Welsh Cheddar, fill in the entry card and hand it in at one of the Brains pubs below:

Use the Find a Pub section from the SA Brain website to locate your nearest participating Brains pub.

Aubrey Arms, Bonvilston
Black Boy, Swansea
Black Lion, Lampeter
Boathouse, Bath
Churchills Hotel, Cardiff
Dovey Inn, Aberdovey
Duke of Wellington,
Fox & Hounds, St. Mellons
Fox & Hounds, Cardiff
Grafton, Hereford
Greenhouse, Cwmbran
Lord Nelson, Milford Haven
Monachty, Aberaeron
Old Inn, Swansea
Old Post, Bonvilston
Piercefield, Chepstow
Plas Derwen, Abergavenny
Pontygwindy Inn, Caerphilly
Pumphouse, Swansea
Punch House, Monmouth
Savoy Country Inn, St Clears
Tafarn Y Tanaerdy, Carmarthen
Thomas Arms, Llanelli
Twelve Knights, Port Talbot
Ty Mawr, Cardiff
Ty Nant, Cardiff
Ty Risha Ale House, Bridgend
Watermill, Bridgend
Wellington, Brecon
White Horse, Buckover
White Horse, Coychurch
White Lion, Bala

Sunday 15 November 2009

In the cellar

After making 69 gallons of cider and perry today, where better to have a social glass or two of cider than in the cellar of the Ross on Wye Cider Company at Broome Farm. With a choice of various ciders served straight from the wood the cellar is popular with visitors and guests camping at the farm. Tonight was only a brief visit as our home-made scones with jam and cream were waiting for up upstairs in the farm. Home in time for the new series of Top Gear as well.

Building the cheese

To make the cider the apple pulp has to be pressed. Layers of cloth with apple pulp are built up to form the cheese. This is the Brown Snout apple picked earlier today with Seidr Dai and we are hoping for over 20 gallons from the one tree. The press is a Victorian twin screw press which was used for many years at Lyne Down Farm in Much Marcle, Herefordshire. Back to the pressing!

Brown Snout apples

A good crop of Brown Snout apples picked near Rockfield Studios in Monmouthshire. Lots of pears picked today as well on the last pick of the season. Weather not too bad today as well, a bit of rain but at least the apples are not frozen to the trees as in previous years around this time. Off to press after lunch.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Murenger - haven in a superpub ghetto

Newport is not a great place for good pubs, however Ye Olde Murenger House on High Street is the notable exception. Owned by Sam Smith's brewery of Yorkshire, the Murenger serves Old Brewery Bitter drawn from the wooden cask. The building dates back to the early 1500s. Have written about this pub on previous blog entries so not going into all the details here but if you are ever in Newport it is well worth visiting. The price of the OBB is a competitive £1.90 a pint and there is no music or TVs in the pub. Time for another. Live blogged from the Murenger using the Sony Ericsson K550i.

Monday 9 November 2009

Shove Ha'penny

On the way home tonight popped into the Pen & Wig in Newport and witnessed a shove ha'penny match between a couple of pubs. Newport can still manage a Shove Ha'penny league and it is played in quite a few pubs and clubs in the area.

White Hart, Machen

Tonight Brew Wales visited one of the strangest pubs in Wales. Machen is a village between Newport and Caerphilly and the White Hart pub occasionaly brews its own beer, tonight Otley was on. This pub was refurbished in the early 1960s just as the liner, the Empress of France was being scrapped by Cashmores in Newport. Cashmores used to sell off the interiors of the ships they were scraping. This has resulted in the art deco interior we see today in the White Hart. Now here is where the fun starts, why don't CADW, who are responsible for protecting historic buildings in Wales list, ie protect this 1930s woodwork? One of the reasons why they say they will not is because the interior dates from the 1960s! Cant win. Best way to support the pub is drink there!

Friday 6 November 2009

Booze/Death Calculator

Now I realise this is only a bit of fun and not to be taken seriously but having found out that it would take 25 bottles of Fullers ESB to kill me I'd better stop drinking at 20! From the Barstools site, a website that scares Fake Charities before they get out of bed in the morning!




Created by Bar Stools

Online Cardiff Pub Guide

Whilst browsing the Internet today I came across this useful site, an online guide to Cardiff pubs. Having used the excellent pocket-sized maps made by the same person for years, I can recommend the useful information contained on both the the website and the maps.
The website contains photographs of the individual pubs both interior and exterior and a pub sign if they have one. A brief description of the pub is given, together with the opening times as well as a link to Multimap to help you find the pub. Not yet checked out the website via mobile Internet but will do so later.
An useful site if you regularly use pubs in Cardiff.

Butcher's Arms, Llandaff

On my recent post regarding Smoke Rooms I forgot to mention the Butcher's Arms in Llandaff, Cardiff, which not only has a Smoke Room etched window but also an old Hancock's Brewery monogram on another window. Anyway here is a full write-up on the pub.

Butcher's Arms, 16 High Street, Llandaff, Cardiff, CF5 2DZ
The Butcher's is an unusual three-story building with a sharp, angular roof and the name of the former brewery, Hancock's who once owned the brewery, emblazoned high on the front wall. One of the windows also has a etched glass monogrammed logo of W and H, representing the William Hancock name. The other, smaller sash window has the letters 'Smoke Room' etched into it. The central doorway to the Butcher's leads into the Smoke Room and then through an archway into the main bar area. The bar is carved out of dark wood and there is an equally impressive bar back or gantry for serving spirits from.

Three real ales are served from gleaming brass handpumps, Bass, Hancock's HB and a guest which changes regularly and was recently Wye Valley HPA. The Smoke Room features settles and tables, which lead into the rear area of the pub with more seating and a roof light. At the very back of the Butcher's Arms is a very pleasant, partly covered beer garden, unusual for a Cardiff pub and a very well-kept secret.

The Smoke Room has attractively carved cornices and features numerous pumpclips from breweries whose beers have been served in this pub over the years. The walls of the pub are adorned with framed photos of rugby starts who have visited the Butcher's over the years, as well as with newspaper cuttings and even the more unusual 'Genealogy of the Earls of Llandaff', proudly hanging near the entrance. The tables are mainly of the old cast-iron tripod varieties, painted black, apart at their bases where the countless shoes of patrons have polished the metal over the years.

The Butcher's Arms does lunchtime food and there is a blackboard of often changing 'Specials' hanging up adjacent to the bar.

The Butcher's Arms has much of the atmosphere of a country pub, despite being in a suburb of Cardiff, albeit on a historic side-street, close to the Bishop's Palace and the Cathedral. Conversation dominates in the bar and other rooms of this pub, there is a television but it is only used for major sporting events and the piped music is kept at a low background level. There is a quiz night on Mondays. The pub is called the Butcher's Arms as the building was formerly a butcher's shop, together with a slaughterhouse at the rear. The building became a pub in 1880. Today the Butcher's offers good beer and good food in a comfortable atmosphere in one of the City's more pleasant areas.

Above: the interior of the Butcher's Arms, looking from the Smoke Room towards the bar

Thursday 5 November 2009

New Chairman for Brains

From Brew Wales

Pictured Above: A nervous Keith Jenkins (bar manager) looks on as John Rhys is about to pour a pint of Brains at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival

John Rhys, a direct descendent of Samuel Arthur Brain, has taken over the pumps at SA Brain, the largest cask ale producer in Wales. John has replaced Christopher Brain, who retires after 20 years in the role and more than 50 years with the company.

In recent years, the Chairmanship has been handed down through the generations and both men followed in their father’s footsteps. M.B. Brain (father of Christopher) was in the chair from 1955 to 1971 and Bill Rhys (John’s father) from 1971 to 1989.

John has been Non-Executive Director at Brains since 1998 and in that time he has been closely involved in shaping Brains’ brand development and marketing strategy. This has included the award-winning ‘positive thinking’ campaign and the marketing of Brains’ high profile sponsorship of the Welsh Rugby Union.

After a 20-year career in London marketing agencies, John co-founded branding consultancy Heavenly Group in 2002. Heavenly’s clients include various departments of the Welsh Assembly Government, including Visit Wales and International Business Wales, Glynd┼Ár University, Sony, Sky TV and Vodafone. John will continue to play a reduced role at Heavenly, alongside his responsibilities as Chairman of S.A. Brain.

John said: "it is a great honour to take over the Chairmanship from Christopher Brain and follow in the footsteps of my father and great great grandfather. I have been closely involved with Brains’ business for over 10 years now and I am very much looking forward to playing an increased role in the company’s exciting future as a family-owned, independent brewer and pub operator."


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