Thursday 28 January 2010

Glantaff pub, Quakers Yard

From Drop Box

Glantaff Inn, Cardiff Road, Quakers' Yard, CF46 5AH
Bus Nos X78, 78 from Pontypridd-Merthyr Tydfil

The Glantaff is a two-story stone-built building, situated just uphill from the centre of Quakers' Yard. Situated not far from the Taff Trail, the Glantaff is close to a bus stop and there is a car park outside the pub.
The old Courage emblem of a cockerel hangs on the outside of the pub as well as  'Free House' in lettering underneath. The original name of Quakers' Yard was 'Rhyd y Grug' or 'Ford of the Rustling Waters' and the sound of the Bargoed Taff can still be heard rustling across the weir below the pub.
The interior of the Glantaff Inn features bare stone walls decorated with gleaming brasswork and some fascinating old photographs of the local area including the building of the Quakers' Yard viaduct and tunnel in the nineteenth century. Open fireplaces are also features in the pub, a welcoming warm fire or two are ideal for the winter nights.
Although there are only two bar servery areas, the internal layout with a central stairwell and a raised area to the rear offer distinct and different areas for drinkers and drivers to seek out and enjoy. The smaller lounge, to the side of the bar features boxing memorabilia on the walls, Jimmy Wide, World Flyweight champion 1916-21 was born nearby.
The ceiling of the bar and lounge is dominated by a collection of dozens old water jugs, some of which bare the names of long-gone breweries and distilleries such as Buckley's Brewery and Booth's gin. The bar itself is a reminder of the 1970s as it features a tiled roof on it, a throwback to the late 1960s/1970s pub refurbishments of which very few survive in any amount.
The permanent real ale on the bar is Bevan's Bitter from the Rhymney Brewery at Dowlais, a 4.2% mid-brown malty bitter and guest ales from as far away as Hydes in Manchester or Batemans Lincolnshire regularly feature on the bar as well. Real ales from the Tudor Brewery in Abergavenny have also been seen on the handpumps recently. The wooden bar itself features intricately carved heads and looks a bit too well-designed for a pub bar, it turns out that it was made from wooden panelling salvaged from a country house in Gloucestershire, certainly a bit of a surprise to find in a Welsh pub.
Food is served from a comprehensive menu between 12-2 and 6-9.

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Journey Planner

Wednesday 27 January 2010

Back the Pub - Early Day Motion

From Brew Wales

A quick look at the Early Day Motions (EDMs) tabled by our Westminster politicians comes up with this one from the Chair of the Parliamentary Beer Group John Grogan MP and signed by Nigel Evans MP the Vice-Chair of the Group so it has cross-party support. To date 21 MPs have signed the motion so have a read of the motion and then please consider writing to your MP, asking them to sign this EDM and support the campaign to Back the Pub.

EDM 687
Grogan, John
That this House welcomes the I'm Backing the Pub campaign by the British Beer and Pub Association, Society of Independent Brewers and supported by the Campaign for Real Ale, the Confederation of British Industry, Visit Britain, British Hospitality Association, Local Government Association, Central Council of Physical Recreation and UK Music to promote British pubs and British beer; believes that pubs lie at the social heart of communities across the country, employ more than half a million people across the UK, and provide an important contribution to national income; recognises the social benefits of the responsible enjoyment of lower-strength drinks like beer; and notes that with more than 50 pubs closing every week it is vital that the Government, industry, local authorities and others work together to support a quintessentially British institution and Britain's national drink as part of efforts to enhance community life and promote economic recovery.

A good one to get your local MP to sign up for so please write to your local MP asking them to sign EDM 687 and support the British Pub.
Your MP
House of Commons 

Unfortunately my MP, being a PPS refuses to sign EDMs, however she will still b receiving a letter off me!

There is also a Back the Pub video

Cottaging in the Ernest Willows

For those of you who like the beers from Cottage Brewery in Somerset, the Ernest Willows in Cardiff is holding a "Meet the Brewer" night on Friday 29th January from 1900 hrs onwards. A range of beers from Cottage Brewery will be also be available throughout the week.
Seems there is an adventerous manager in this Wetherspoons pub on City Road. Good luck to him and the brewery, this Meet the Brewer night is becoming a regular monthly fixture at this pub, next month Wickwar Brewery are being featured.

Tuesday 26 January 2010

Dick Emery in 1970s Newport Pub

Spent part of the weekend digitising some old family photos and this one came to light, taken in the 1970s it shows comedian Dick Emery washing up glasses behind the bar of the Six Bells in Newport, much to the amusement of landlord Eric Read. It turns out that Dick was doing a show near Usk and had popped into the Six Bells on Stow Hill for a lunchtime drink and started joking with the regulars, at which the landlord suggested he might as well work behind the bar, so Dick started to serve customers and even helped clear up when the pub shut in the afternoon.
Also if you look at the photo, you can see how much pubs have changed since the 1970s; the cigarettes openly on sale behind the bar, the three Martini Bottles on optics,not sure if there are even three varities of Martini available today?
For younger readers, Dick Emery was the comedian of 1970s television and its also a good excuse to embed a couple of clips found on You Tube:

Wheatsheaf Beer Festival - first for Llantrisant!

The historic town of Llantrisant in Mid-Glamorgan will be playing host to a beer festival this weekend and also the first commercial brewery in the town for nearly a century.

The Wheatsheaf Hotel, owned by Celt Experience Brewery is their brewery tap and this first beer festival of the year will hopefully lead to others in the future.

DATES : 29th - 31st January 2010

FRIDAY : Meet the Brewer - Tasting - Live Music

 SATURDAY : Live Music

SUNDAY : Games etc ... including 'Sheep Racing' ??????

The beer list, subject to change, availabilty etc:

Roosters     Wild Mule    3.9    
White Horse    Village Idiot    4.1    
Highwood    Harvest Bitter    4.3    
Rudgate    Well Blathered    5.0    
Vale        Black Beauty Porter    4.3    
South Hams    Eddystone    4.8    
Black Country Ales    English Winter    5.5    
Summerskills    Guzzale    4.6    
Wolf    Coyote    4.3    57.63
Palmers    Dorset Gold    4.5    
Jarrow    Red Ellen    4.4  

approx. 5 more Welsh breweries to be featured ! 
Newmans Red Castle Cream
Newmans Red Stag
Newmans Last Lion of Britain
Celt Bleddyn 1075
Celt Golden

Also Available
Celt Golden, Celt Bronze and Celt Bleddyn 1075 in 500ml Bottle. 

Presentation Packs Also on Sale:
4 bottle pack £10,
3 bottle pack £7.50,
2 bottles and branded glass £5.

Wheatsheaf Facebook Group
Wheatsheaf Inn
High Street
Mid Glamorgan
CF72 8BQ
Tel: 01443 226481

Journey Planner Llantrisant is easily reached by bus from Cardiff and Pontypridd:
Bus Stop outside the pub!


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Thursday 21 January 2010

Cask Theft - readers vote

There is a problem with cask theft in Wales. Last year beer casks from Bullmastiff Brewery went missing from the pubs they were delivered to. Imagine the surprise when these casks later turned up at the pub in Penarth which is the brewery tap. Okay its a Wethersoons but does stock a couple of Bullmastiff beers. Anyway that is beside the point. What is important is that these missing casks were full of beer from another Welsh brewery. Yes, another brewery had taken these casks and had used them. There is a word for that, it is called theft. It was not just casks from Bullmastiff Brewery but from others such as Wye Valley and Spinning Dog breweries. Now the cask thief was a member of SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers but no longer appears on their website. Looks like SIBA have decided to clean up their organisation a bit and get rid of any dodgy members. Good on them. Now the vote - on the column on the right there is a chance to have your vote to say if cask thieves should be boycotted or not. Have your say and I will act on the result. News reaches the editor that a certain cask thief is up before the Welsh Assembly Beer Group at the end of the month. Would recommend that the tables and chairs are bolted down when he makes his exit, it should stop the thief from walking off with any more souvenirs!

Over 20,00 innocent people stopped by Gwent Police in one month

Only in the UK: today Gwent Constabulary have announced that they stopped 20,578 drivers in the Gwent Police Force area between December 1st and January 1st. 
Only 80 returned a positive breath test or refused/ failed to provide a breath test.
Now I'm not agreeing with drink driving here but to have over 20,000 innocent people stopped by the police is surly a waste of manpower and resources? With a 0.4% success rate surley there are better things for the Police to be doing with their time than harrassing the innocent.
Of course the Police, who today act no better than uniformed tax collectors hail this as "encouraging". Just what is encouraging about this - the fact that the vast majority of people stopped were innocent?

Still at least when Gwent Police are stopping innocent drivers they are not bothering to halt photographers under the so-called anti-terrorism laws - the Section 44 legislation. If anyone is in London on Saturday then can I suggest this little show to them. Old Holborn is meeting in the Chandos from 11.00 am. Looks like fun.

Welsh Breweries win awards at National Winter Ales Festival

Congratulations go to both Otley and Breconshire Breweries have have won awrds at the National Winter Ales Festival in Manchester this week.

Breconshire Brewery won Gold in the Old Ale and Strong Mild Category with their Ramblers Ruin and also won the Silver medal in the overall compettion. Ramblers Ruin is described as a dark amber, malty and well hopped ale with a beautifully balanced aftertaste; a champion Old Ale. High percentages of Crystal and Black Malt create the malt/biscuit undertones; bitterness and aroma are provided by Goldings and First Gold amongst others.
 Previously Ramblers Ruin has won:
Gold Medal Winner,International Beer Challenge 2009
CAMRA's Champion Old Ale of Wales 2008

Otley Brewery won a Bronze Medal in the Barley Wine Category for their O8 beer, a former Champion Beer of Wales winner in 2008 and the 8% session beer * is described as pale golden strong ale. Deceptively smooth and drinker friendly, in moderation! Hoppy aromas and good bitterness with Willamette hops dominating.

The full list of winners is available here:
Champion Winter Beer of Britain 2010 - Winners List:

Old Ales and Strong Milds category
Gold- Breconshire, Ramblers Ruin (Brecon, Powys)
Silver- Leeds, Midnight Bell (Leeds, West Yorkshire)
Bronze- Beartown, Black Bear (Congleton, Cheshire)

Porters category
Gold- Elland, 1872 Porter (Elland, West Yorkshire)
Silver- Sulwath, Black Galloway (Castle Douglas, Dumfries & Galloway)
Bronze- RCH, Old Slug Porter (Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset)

Stouts category
Gold- Acorn, Gorlovka Imperial Stout (Barnsley, South Yorkshire)
Silver- Beowulf, Dragon Smoke Stout (Brownhills, Staffordshire)
Bronze- Wapping, Stout (Liverpool, Merseyside)

Barley Wines 

Gold- Robinsons, Old Tom (Stockport, Cheshire) 
Silver- Kinver, Over the Edge (Kinver, Staffordshire) 
Bronze- Otley, O8 (Pontypridd, Mid Glamorgan)

OVERALL result 

Gold- Elland, 1872 Porter (Elland, West Yorkshire) 
Silver- Breconshire, Ramblers Ruin (Brecon, Powys) 
Bronze- Acorn, Gorlovka Imperial Stout (Barnsley, South Yorkshire)

The National Winter Ales Festival is in a new location this year:

"The Venue", Sheridan Suite, Oldham Road, Manchester, M40 8EA and is open until Saturday 23rd January.

More Information on the CAMRA Website

*NB O8 can be described as a session beer, just a very messy session!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

Monmouthshire Pub Closures

Monmouthshire Pub Closures

Further to the pub closure posts on Newport and Cardiff, I decided to have a look at pub closures in the mainly rural county of Monmouthshire. Again the start date of the research is 1997, not for any political reason but that was when the majority of the research was carried out on pubs in South Wales for a CAMRA local beer/pub guide that was never published. However it does show how many more pubs have closed under the Labour Government.

Pub Closures
  1. Great George, Cross St, Abergavenny
  2. Malthouse, Abergavenny, now a restaurant
  3. Greyhound Vaults, Market street, Abergavenny, now a restaurant
  4. Somerset Arms, Victoria Street, Abergavenny, closed, freehold for sale
  5. Pill House Inn, Pill Row, closed
  6. Bridge Inn, Chepstow, closed, for sale
  7. Berkeley Arms, Chepstow, closed, now a day-care centre
  8. Green Dragon, Moor St, Chepstow, closed, now owned by local cult
  9. Cupid's Hill Inn, Grosmont, closed, residential
  10. Wentwood Inn, Five Lanes, Caldicot, converted to restaurant
  11. Queen's Head, Moor street, Chepstow, closed
  12. St Tecla Inn, Bulwark, Chepstow, demolished for shopping centre
  13. Navigation, Gilwern, closed for sale, boarded up
  14. Cambrian, Clydach, closed
  15. Cordell Country Inn, Govilon, closed
  16. Horse & Jockey, Hardwick, Abergavenny is now the Hardwick restaurant
  17. Old Farmhouse Inn, Llandogo, closed, residential
  18. Red Hart. Llanvapley, closed, residential. (photo above from 1960s)
  19. Bridge Inn, Llanfoist, closed, for sale (freehold)
  20. Llanfoist Inn, Llanfoist, converted to an Indian restaurant
  21. Bridge Inn, Llangwm, closed, up for sale (freehold)
  22. Hostry, Llantilio Crosseny, closed, residential
  23. Old Mitre Inn, Llantilio Pertholey, closed, residential
  24. Royal Oak, Llantrisant-on-Usk, closed,residential
  25. King's Arms, Llanvertherine, closed, residential
  26. Charthouse, Llanvihangel Gobion, converted to restaurant
  27. Beaufort Arms, Monkswood, closed, for sale (freehold)
  28. Three Salmons, Cross Ash converted to restaurant and renamed 1861
  29. Crown, Whitebrook, converted to restaurant
  30. Bull Inn, Monmouth knocked through and became part of the Punch House next door
  31. King Henry V, Monmouth, converted to Chinese restaurant
  32. Parkhouse Tavern, Parkhouse, closed, residential
  33. Priory Motel, Skenfrith, closed
  34. Halfway House, Talycoed, converted to restaurant, then closed
  35. Foxhunter, Nantyderry, converted to restaurant
  36. Trekkers, The Narth, closed
  37. Cardiff Arms, Usk, closed retail unit
  38. White Hart, Usk, closed
  39. Brittania, Monmouth, converted to restaurant
  40. Gockett, converted to residential

Old Herefordshire House, Abergavenny is now Auberge a cafe/bar/nightclub
Welsh Guardsman, Frogmore Street, Abergavenny is now the Britannia

New Pub Openings
  1. Coliseum, Abergavenny, JDW
  2. Bellhanger, Chepstow, JDW
  3. Kings Head, Monmouth, JDW (reopening)
  4. Hogs Head, Great Treadam, Llantilio Crossenny (free)

The vast majority of pub losses have been due to resataurant conversions and suprisingly not residential conversions. This strongly contrasts with Newoprt and Cardiff areas.

Sailors Arms, Llareggub

Sailors Arms
A few years back I was busy compiling the Good Beer Guide entries together and decided to do a spoof entry. As a Regional Director of CAMRA, the branch entries come to you to sort into the areas in the guide, I would also check the postcodes, OS references etc. Occasionally I would have to add to the description if not enough words were included in the original form, very occasionally I would rewrite the entire description if the original did not make any grammatical sense and cut any negative comments about the pub. Basically the Regional Director acts as a sub-editor of the guide, before the entries are sent on to CAMRA HQ for compiling into the print-ready edition.
A few months earlier to the Good Beer Guide forms coming in I had gone through an edition of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas and had highlighted every word and phrase to do with drinking or the Sailors Arms pub. I then wrote all these down and assembled them into a description suitable for the Good Beer Guide. Unfortunately the entry was removed by the editor Roger Protz on the grounds of 'literary decency', whatever that means?
The entry never made it into print and a copy stayed as a bookmark in my edition of Under Milk Wood until I rediscovered it by accident recently. Having shown it to a few people who thought it amusing I have decided to reprint here. Remember the words are taken straight from the book and just placed in ordered sentences as they would be in a pub description. The postcode is actually that of the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne and the telephone number was of the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea.

COUNTY: West Wales, Carmarthenshire
TOWN: Llareggub
NAME OF PUB: Sailors Arms
FULL ADDRESS: Coronation Street, Llareggub, Nr Laugharne
DIRECTIONS TO PUB: Uphill, along the cobbles and up three steps
PUB OPENING HOURS: 11.30-11.30, SUNDAY 11.30-11.30
DRAUGHT BEERS: Welsh Bitter [H]


The Sailors is a village pub immortalised in literature, where the customers are all characters. Set amidst the humble two-storey pinkwash houses of the backwater of life, Llareggub, the Sailors offers no frills but several curious customs including stout with an egg in it and the belief that stout and ale is good for a baby in a pail. It is comforting to sit in the bar, supping flat, warm, thin, Welsh bitter beer whilst watching village life go by through the smoked herring-brown windows of the unwashed Sailors Arms. Occasional dancing. Mr Benyon's owlmeat sausages are recommended. There is no accommodation at the pub but Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard runs a nearby B & B.

Real Fire
Traditional Pub Games

Not that bad I thought and a lot more inviting than some of the entries in the Good Beer Guide.

Beer drinking is good for your health

Don't expect any of the neo-prohibitionists to be coming out with the news that drinking beer is good for your health. Also do not expect the likes of the Government-funded BBC to report such news, heaven forbid if intelligent drinkers were allowed to make up their own minds when it comes down to scientific evidence.

Last month, Dr Jonathan Powell, Head of the Biomineral Research Section at the Medical Research Council Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research (HNR) in Cambridge presented a lecture entitled
“The synergies of moderate ethanol and silicon intakes in bone health” at The 3rd Workshop on the Aqueous Chemistry and Biochemistry of Silicon: Silicon by the Sea, held in San Diego, California, USA.

Dr Powell said “Beer is one of the richest sources of silicon in the western diet. Historically silicon has not been seen as an essential nutrient, but our research suggests that it could play an important role in bone health.”
“We have shown that silicon appears to have a beneficial effect in increasing bone mineral density. Epidemiological work has identified a positive association between drinking beer in moderation (2 units per day) and increased bone mineral density. Our results suggest that this is, at least partly, due to the high silicon content of beer.”
“In a separate study published earlier this year we showed that moderate ethanol consumption has an acute, specific effect in reducing bone loss. The combination of the silicon and alcohol intake obtained from moderate beer consumption appears to promote both bone and connective tissue health”
However Dr Powell warns “drinking alcohol in high amounts is detrimental to health and consumption of beer, or any other alcoholic drink, in anything other than moderation, will far outweigh any potential benefits related to lower intakes. High consumption should be discouraged as it can greatly accelerate disease and result in early death”.
Further research into the effects of silicon on health are needed, but work at HNR points towards it being beneficial to health, and beer (in moderation) is just one source of silicon that could be included into a healthy and balanced diet.

Mean (range) silicon contents of alcoholic beverages (mg/L):
Beers -
     -Can lager = 20.7 (15.4-26.4)
     -Draft lager = 21.5 (11.7-39.4)
     -Can bitter = 14.5 (9.59-20.1)
     -Draft bitter = 21.0 (13.5-30.1)

Ciders = 3.7 (2.72-5.53)
Wines = 7.67 (6.61-9.24
Spirits = 1.26 (0.56-2.06)

MRC Human Nutrition Research:
The MRC Collaborative Centre for Human Nutrition Research (HNR) was established in 1998 following the restructuring of the Dunn Nutrition Unit, so as to progress the Medical Research Councils portfolio of strategic and applied nutrition research. HNR was set up with a collaborative remit: to pursue research in partnership with national and international stakeholders.

HNR's mission is to advance knowledge of the relationships between human nutrition and health by providing a national centre of excellence for the measurement and interpretation of biochemical, functional and dietary indicators of nutritional status and health. HNR also acts as an independent, authoritative source of scientific advice and information on nutrition and health in order to foster evidence-based nutrition policy and practice.

Well there you have it, scientific proof that moderate beer drinking is good for your health. Now will the fake charities such as alcohol concern kindly stop trying to interfere in the lives of brewers and drinkers in this country? Thought not.


Monday 18 January 2010

First cider of the year

A visit to Llantrisant today was a bit dissapointing as most of the pubs were shut, however the Crown in nearby Llantwit Fardre was open so a pint of Otley was imbibed there. Behind the Crown is the Gwynt Y Ddraig cider farm so it would have been rude not to have gone and see Bill, Drew, Glyn et al. Naturely a pint of cider was offered to me, the first of the year. The Black Dragon cider is as excellent as ever, loaded with tannins it was a bit of a shock to the system at first but turned out an enjoyable drink in the end. Second cider was the lucious Haymaker, sweet and golden as poured straight from the tank. From the farm I can still see snow on the mountains to the north. Cider is not usually thought of as a winter drink but Welsh craft cider should be!

Friday 15 January 2010

Some former Pill pubs

Some former pubs in the Pill area of Newport.

The Welcome Home

A bit of a blast from the past with this photo of the Welcome Home pub on Commercial Road, Pill, Newport. The photo was taken around 1996 just before the pub closed its doors for the last time and was converted to residential apartments. Situated in the docks area of the town, the Welcome Home became popular with the Afro-Caribbean community and their associated drug problems. In fact this area was known as “the Front Line” and for years was ignored by the police who had far more important duties to do in the Masonic Hall in Dock Street than stop Leroy and his mates selling and smoking their ganja. Just to the left of the photographer was the infamous Kwik Save car park that used to be at its busiest in the early hours of Saturday morning as cars queued up to buy drugs from the locals. There used to be a saying that “There is good craic in the Welcome Home and if you want other drugs the locals will supply”. In 1996 a customer of the pub was shot in the face with a shotgun following an argument outside the pub. The pub closed for good shortly afterwards.

The Welcome Home dates from 1848 and was owned by Lloyds and Yorath Brewery of Cambrian Road, Newport and later, Ansells Brewery, Birmingham.

To the right of the photographer on the image of the Welcome Home and on the opposite corner was the Commercial pub. This had closed around 1993 and has been converted to residential. Dating from at least 1872, this former Phillips Brewery pub became a Courage Brewery pub after their purchase of Simonds Brewery, Simonds having purchased Philips Dock Road Brewery in 1949.

Further down Commercial Road towards the docks is the former Kings Arms, more fires have occurred since this photo was taken and today the building is nothing more than a burnt-out shell. First mentioned in 1830, though this building is a later 19th Century construction ,the pub was owned by Bass who acquired it through their purchase of Mitchells & Butlers Brewery, who in turn had purchased the nearby Thatcher's Brewery in Alma Street. The Kings Arms closed around 1993.

To the right of the Kings Arms is the Top of the Range Club.

There are a lot more former pubs in the Pill area of Newport, as nearly every street corner had a pub. Nowadays it is more difficult to find a pub that is open in the area. None of them sell real ale, however alternative drugs are widely available on the streets, which if this area were a bit more upmarket could be classified as a “slum”.

The Brew Wales Editor is considering updating the photographs of the area, those above were all taken on a Canon A1 with XP2 film nearly 15 years ago and only recently scanned in but Pill is not the place to be seen with a camera as the inhabitants of the Pill ghetto don't take kindly to strangers taking photos. No doubt in the belief that if their image is captured then they will be also be recaptured soon and end up back in Cardiff nick. Joking aside, no one has been shot or stabbed outside any of the pubs for years so the area is improving a bit; today East European deli's compete with the established typhus-hosting kebab shops and cat-currying takeaways although drug-dealing and prostitution are still rife in the area, the welcoming graffiti on buildings of “Pill Jihad” and “Sharia UK” should soon put pay to that.

Thursday 14 January 2010

Goodnight Beer Festival!

A new year and a new venue for a beer festival. Nosda, Welsh for goodnight, hence the headline, will be hosting its first ever beer festival on Saturday 30th January when Tafarn @ NosDa hosts its first ever Beer Festival!

Situated on the West bank of the Taff, across from the Millenium Stadium, Tafarn @ NosDa is slowly establishing itself to be one of the better bars of Cardiff with ciders from Gwynt and beers from Artisan already available.

The festival on Saturday 30th January will feature live entertainment from 6pm, and beers and ciders from:

Artisan Brewing Co. has created a range of distinctive, unique and downright bizarre beers all naturally brewed. Sourcing only the finest speciality ingredients from near and afar, Artisan Beers are wholesome and natural, with no filtration, pumps or pasteurisation. You won’t find Artisan beers on the shelves in a supermarket as they’re produced small and kept local.
Gwynt y Ddraig, the award-winning Welsh Cider & Perry Company made their first few hundred gallons of cider on the home farm in Llantwit Fardre in the autumn of 2001. Since then they have increased production every year and broadened their selection of draught and oak matured bottled ciders.
Untapped Brewery, run by two old friends, have started off with 2 beers - Sundown and Eclipse. But they’ve already got plans and recipes to make more fantastic beers as time and funds allow.
Otley Brewery originated back in 2005. As a micro-brewery, Otley Brewery is dedicated to the craft of producing Welsh ale with a difference. They believe in using the highest quality ingredients with every effort made to source produce from the local area, including fresh Breconshire water and the finest malts and hops available.
53 - 59 Despenser Street,
CF11 6AG
tel: +44 (0) 2920 37 88 66

Hoppy 25th Birthday to Wye Valley Brewery!

Although based over the border in Herefordshire, the real ales from Wye Valley Brewery are widely available throughout South Wales. Probably the best pint of HPA to be had is in the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny. Added to that HPA is the fastest selling beer at the Gwent CAMRA beer festival at Tredegar House Folk Festival, the brewery has good connections locally and well done to their first 25 years in the business.

Press Release from Wye Valley Brewery below:

2010 will be the 25th year of brewing for Stoke Lacy based Wye Valley Brewery, and they plan to celebrate by brewing even more excellent beer.

Wye Valley Brewery has come a long way since Peter Amor started brewing in 1985 in the old stable block at The Barrels, Hereford. Since then the brewery has moved to Stoke Lacy, increased its tied estate and invested in a state of the art bottling facility.

Wye Valley Brewery will start its 25th year on a high, with the launch of its popular cask beer HPA, in bottled format. Numerous other events are planned including the release of a special Limited Edition bottled beer in March and a race night at Hereford Racecourse in August where customers and staff will celebrate the brewery’s 25th anniversary in style with real music and real ale! Also, the brewery’s Herefordshire barley project will be realised and the first all Herefordshire beer will be produced, using local hops and local barley.

Fundraising throughout the year will benefit the brewery’s selected charity for 2010, Riding for the Disabled.

Said Peter Amor, Chairman and founder of Wye Valley Brewery, ‘It is obviously very gratifying to have come this far. It really is a collective achievement and our success is down to the dedication of the whole team at the brewery.’

Wednesday 13 January 2010


For those readers who are wondering why this blog has been a quite recently, it's because I decided to have some time off from it due to not being too well and to do some in depth research. Oh and internet went down as well. Filling copy to the editorial desk via a mobile phone is not fun!

Will be back to normal soon once over the dreaded lurgy which has left my taste buds so numbed that even the bottles of Otley and Brewdog taste like the watered-down gnats piss from a multi-national lager producer.
However the time off has not gone to waste, expect some news on pub closures coming soon - Monmouthshire has been the area I looked at over Christmas/New Year - another double digit number to add to the closures already recorded in Cardiff and Newport. Also a Freedom of Information request I made to the Welsh Assembly government has been quite interesting, will post on that one in the next few weeks as well. Finally got around over the holidays to reading a couple of books - the Old Dog and Duck, reviewed earlier and the excellent McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy - a drinking and cultural crawl around Eire, published some 10 years ago but only just got around to reading it. Very good and packed full of laughs on every page.

And the title of the post? Fermenting, well like the ciders I produce that's what I have been doing over Christmas/New Year, slowly using a few good bits of sugar-coated information to produce the finished product on these pages.

If anyone is interested the photo above was taken at Broome Farm near Ross-on-Wye

Normal service will be resumed soon.

Book Review - The Old Dog and Duck

Book Review –
The Old Dog and Duck – The Secret Meanings of Pub Names, Albert Jack.
RRP £12.99, Half price at Waterstone's at the moment £6.49, Hardback.
A bit of post-Christmas shopping turned up this gem of a book at half price in my local Waterstone's. I did go looking for pub/beer related books before Christmas but apart from one book which had been published a year earlier there was hardly anything around. Luckily this one turned up in the post-Christmas sales.
A book on pub names is always a fascinating subject, with Delderfield in the 1960s having set the benchmark to be followed up by Dunkling and Wright producing the most inclusive study in the 1980s with their A-Z. Albert Jack has taken a different approach and has not only researched in depth every pub included in the book but gives alternative reasons for pub names. Previous books do tend to concentrate on one story/rumour for the origin of the pub name and often that is repeated in subsequent books, quite often the rumour is bolstered out of all proportion and that becomes the standard reason for the pub name. Jack's approach is to research deeply, often into heraldry and to put the alternative reasons for the pub names. One downside of this approach is that he often gets tied up in national politics as the reason for a pub name, e.g., the name White Hart is said to show allegiance to King Richard II, which may well be the case throughout most of England, however in South Wales the pub is more likely to have connections to the Morgan family who also used it on their coat of arms.
That aside this is a good little book that does not just concentrate on UK pubs, for instance Harry's Bar in Venice is mentioned, a pub identified as a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs. As well as the Irish pub Molly Malone's, described by Albert as “The Trollop with the Scallops” as he delves into the history and legends surrounding the person with that name.
This book is packed full of little pieces of information such as Mount Vernon, the estate of George Washington was named after British Admiral Vernon who gave his name to pubs and one of his victories was beating the Spanish in the War of Jenkins' Ear which was celebrated by naming a farm and road after a one of the battles – Portobello.
Altogether this is a well-researched book, on an interesting subject, not comprehensive on pub names but well-researched for each and every pub in this book. Roll on volume two sometime!

Wednesday 6 January 2010

A short crawl

Over the Christmas/New Year time decided to visit a few local pubs that I hardly ever go into. Good reason to as I found out.
First pub was the George in Maindee, Newport. Usually have one real ale on, something from Wye Valley but nothing on that day. I did ask the barman if he had a busy Christmas, "Not really" was the answer. The only 2 draught products were Carling and Brains Smooth so went for a bottle of Pils, the first in years. Now I can understand running out of some beers, but almost all during the busiest week of the year?
Next up was the Banc, a superpub that does not quite make the grade. Only HB on there so gave it a miss. The clientele appear to be those who consider the nearby JDW too posh for them.
The Carpenters Arms opposite had closed some months before and was boarded up. The Albert had no real ale and very few customers as did the Crown and the Star.
Finally the Hereford Arms, a thriving local had some truely wonderful pints of Bass on so the night was spent in there with Fido from the Lone Voice. Oh and the Cynical Dragon joined us for one. Half empty pubs with bugger all stock, hardly surprising pubs are doing so badly. Its not just the lack of real ale was a problem, some of the pubs had hardly any keg beer. Wonder how many will survive in Maindee in 2010.

Saturday 2 January 2010

Hoppy Gristmas

Hopefully the last of the Christmas beers, the puns are starting to wear a bit thin in the new year now. Hoppy Gristmas is the second seasonal offering from Newmans in Caerphilly. Weighing in at healthy 5% (terminology deliberatly used to wind up the health Stasi, yes you Shenker), this light brown ale has an aroma of fruit and this is present in the taste as well. Some astringency in the aftertaste and a a subtle bitterness build up with some roast flavours to produce a good flavour. Liked the first pint and the (2 day) hangover is easing. May stay for another pint or two!


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