Wednesday 24 February 2010

Welsh Beer Festival in London

The award-winning smallest bar in London, the Rake will be holding a Welsh Beer Festival next week, starting on Sunday 28th Febuary to 6th March.

Otley : O1, O-Garden, O-Rosie & Motley Brew

Purple Moose : Dark Side of the Moose, Snowdonia & Calon Lan

Breaconshire : Cribyn & Ramblers Ruin

Monty's : Mojo & Midnight

Warcop : Caspa Lager & Raiders

Tudor : Blorenge

Tomos Watkin : 1879(kegged fizzy for Cooking Lager)  Cwrw Ceridwen

Vale of Glamorgan : Grog Y Vog Wheats Occuring

Great Orme : Celtica

Ryhmney : Dark

Bryncelyn : Buddy Marvellous

Conwy : Telford Porter

Plassey : Offa's Dyke Ale

Swansea : Deep Slade Dark

There will also be a hot food offer provided by Andy Wright owner of Loaf Supplies and Tom Harding of Mootown will also be doing a cheese selection for your enjoyment.

Ciders from Gwynt Y Ddraig will also be available.
From Brew Wales

Meet the Brewer sessions with Buster from Breconshire Brewery will also be happening on the Sunday and he'll be going through the following beers :


Golden Valley

Ramblers Ruin

Winter Beacon

Night Beacon

Ysbrid y Draig

The tastings will be at 1pm and 3.30pm and you can get tickets at The Rake or by calling 020 7378 9461 there are only 15 tickets per tasting so get in there quick.
Info about the festival kindly nicked from Glynn at Rabid about Beer
The Rake
14 Winchester Walk,
Borough Market,

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The lost pubs of Abergavenny

Local historian and author Frank Olding will be holding a talk tonight at 1930 hrs in the King's Arms pub on the "Lost pubs of Abergavenny". Entrance is £5 on the door in aid of the 2010 Eisteddford in Ebbw Vale. Frank is the former curator of Abergavenny Musuem and published this excellent book on Abergavenny pubs a few years back.

The King's Arms is the brewery tap for the Tudor Brewery

Monday 22 February 2010

Tomos Watkin Brewery

For those fans of the panoramic shots, this is the working heart of the Tomos Watkin Brewery in Swansea. Opened in 2000 by Rhodri Morgan AM, the company went into receiveship in 2002 and was bought by the local family-owned drinks company Hurns. Since then it has gone from strength to strength with their "Great Ales of Wales". Live blogged from the brewery, will post more pictures when back on the pc!

In the bar

In a bar, but not drinking, this is the tap room of the Tomos Watkin Brewery in Swansea. They produce a range of beers and lagers in cask, keg and bottles which are exported throughout the world. Latest addition to the range is the 1879 lager, on keg but selling well in their pubs across Wales. It will also be in the Rake in Borough Market for their Welsh Beer Festival next week.

Friday 19 February 2010

Welsh Cider open days

From Brew Wales

Gwynt Y Ddraig, the Welsh Cider and Perry Company will again be holding two open days this year.

First weekend is 24th & 25th April

Second weekend is 7th & 8th August

More details on their Facebook page here

For those of you who cannot wait, Gwynt ciders will be at the really Welsh Food Festival in Cardiff next week. Friday 26th - Sunday 28th February at the former Virgin Megastore in the Capitol Shopping Centre, Cardiff

MPs to debate the future of the pub

Tuesday in Westminster Hall looks like a good debate will be happening as Swansea-born Nigel Evans MP will be holding a debate on the Future of the British Pub. The Ribble Valley MP and Vice-Chair of the All-Parliamentary Beer Club has secured one and a half hours of Parliamentary time for this subject that will hopefully be better attended than the debate in the Commons Chamber on the 26th March  last year that attarcted a total of 5 MPs.
Nigel Evans MP, said he expects the debate to cover ”all the major reasons” pubs are closing.
“I know the number of closures has slowed a bit but it’s still far too many and the problems that existed for a while are still there.
“There’s the aggressive pricing by supermarkets that’s nearly constant, the bureaucracy and extra tax, the smoking ban has clearly had an impact way and above what was said it would have, and there’s the changing society with people staying at home.”

Evans, who sat on the Trade & Industry Select Committee that produced its critical report into pubcos in 2004, said: “I will mention the tie as well and make mention of Peter Luff’s committee report [last summer’s damning Business & Enterprise Committee report].
“The tie has impact on the viability of pubs if people can’t buy alcohol at competitive prices. Talk to any [tied licensee] they feel they are at a competitive disadvantage to freehouses.”
The Ribble Valley MP said he will speak to tied tenants this week ahead of the debate, which is due to run from 10.30am until midday.

A few problems facing the industry include:

Thursday 18 February 2010

Plough & Harrow, Monknash


The Vale of Glamorgan has plenty of good pubs but the Plough and Harrow, Monknash is a truly outstanding one. The Plough is a short bus journey (No 145) from Llantwit Major or there is plenty of car parking available in the field opposite. There is a bus timetable to the side of the bar in case customers wish to extend their visits and catch later buses home.
Set in the hamlet of Monknash, there was never a monastery here, just a grange or outlying farm of Neath Abbey where the lay brothers farmed the land and there are still ruins in the fields behind the pub dating back to monastic times.
The approach to the pub is via a walled pathway and the entrance porch is popular with local swifts as well as local customers! Don't forget to duck on entering the doorway, where you have the choice of a bar to the right or a lounge on the left. The bar is as traditional as anyone would hope to find in an old pub, with wooden settles and a huge fireplace for those cold, distant days of winter. The interior of the bar hints at the fourteenth-century age of the Plough and Harrow with a now-blocked up arched doorway with a spiral staircase in one corner. Stone-flagged floors and wooden tables make up the bar area with what must be one of the smallest bar servery counters in Wales. Crammed onto the bar are 5 handpumps serving real ales such as Otley O1 and Wye Valley HPA, whilst on a rear stillage beers such as Bass and other guests are served straight from the cask.  The thick, stone-walls of the Plough keep the building cool in summer or customers can choose to sit out in the quiet beer garden and enjoy the weather.
Cider lovers are not forgotten either and the Plough was awarded Cider Pub of the Year 2009 (South Wales) by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The cider range features local makers such as Gwynt Y Ddraig with their Barnstormer or Two Trees Perry as well as makers from Somerset. Wine and whiskey lovers are also catered for with a wine of the month and and a good range of single malts and Penderyn Welsh Whiskey.
The food menus are chalked up on the old oak beams and blackboards in the pub and is served 12-2.30, 6-9 Monday-Friday, 12-5 Saturday and 12-6 Sunday. There is an extensive range of food on the menus with locally made faggots to Sea Bass appearing on the beams, along with separate children and desert menus. Wednesday night is steak night with £10 meals on offer and half price deserts.
The Plough and Harrow also holds an annual beer festival with live music in July. Always well-attended, the Plough and Harrow really is one of the top pubs in Wales and has been a regular in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide for years and has even made it into the Rough Pub Guide, recognised as one of the top 50 UK pubs.

Journey Planner:

A new day, a new tax on our pubs

From Brew Wales

Just when we think that Colostomy Brown and his Darling Chancellor cannot tax the pub industry any further, news comes through of this via the British Beer and Pub Association:

Government plans to change the taxation of popular quiz and games machines like Cluedo, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Monopoly, will cost the industry £85 million, put many manufacturers out of business and turn more people towards gambling on fruit machines, the pub sector warned today.

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are seeking to reclassify Skills with Prizes (SWP) machines as gambling machines, making them liable for gaming machine tax. HMRC also wants to make the tax retrospective for the last three years, which could cost the industry £85 million.

Retrospective! Our pubs are still closing at a rate of about 40 a week and the Government is doing bugger all to stop this - a retrospective tax will do nothing for an industry already in decline.

SWP machines have become increasingly popular in pubs in recent years. They are often based on well known game shows, such as Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Question of Sport, The Weakest Link, or board games such as Cluedo, Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit. They rely on the knowledge and ability of players to answer quiz questions and have become an important part of the entertainment offered to many customers, in a nation where the pub quiz is a national institution. There are currently estimated to be around 35,000 SWP machines being used in the UK.

The industry argues that SWP machines, which have been on the market for many years, have always been recognised as distinct and different from gambling machines such as fruit machines. In fact, it was a distinction explicitly recognised in the tax system. HMRC used to levy a separate SWP tax until its removal in August 2006. Gambling machines, where chance is the deciding factor on whether a player wins a cash payout, have always been covered by a tax called Amusement Machine Licence Duty (AMLD). Given SWP machines have existed for many years without being classified as gambling machines, the industry is questioning the legal and rational basis for such a change now.
The industry has highlighted five principle threats arising from HMRC’s attempt to reclassify quiz machines as gambling machines in order to make them liable for tax:

• It will cost the industry £85 million, or £2,500 per pub
• It will result in fewer people playing SWP machines for entertainment and more people playing fruit machines to gamble
• SWP machines are manufactured in Britain and the scale of the tax bill will put many out of business
• It will place hard-pressed pubs – closing at the rate of 39 a week – under further pressure
• Jobs will be lost in manufacturing and pubs

The industry estimates the tax revenues that will be lost to the Treasury due to falling business revenues, failing businesses and rising job losses will far outweigh any revenue gain from the tax change.
Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association said, “The perverse result of this tax change will be to switch more people onto gambling as quiz machines are switched off across Britain. That cannot be a sensible or sustainable public policy outcome for Government.

“It must make more sense for Government to encourage those people who enjoy playing machines to have a bit of fun with their friends with games that are about skill and entertainment, rather than turn to gambling. At the moment there is an incentive for pubs and people to play these machines. This proposed tax change will remove that at a stroke.

“This sudden tax change will place a swingeing tax burden on the industry. The inevitable result of such a considerable cost increase will be business failure, job losses and contraction in this growing market.”

Another day another tax, this Government has ruined this country, roll on General Election Day and a chance to vote these idiots out of office.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Newmans Daliad Da

Popped into the Pen and Wig, Stow Hill, Newport for a lunchtime pint and found this beer from Newmans/Celt Experience on the bar. A tawny coloured session bitter with a dry finish, this tastes strongly of crystal malt, not unpleasant but hardly spectacular. A good session ale at only 4.2% ABV, the name translates as "Good Catch". Not bad for a lunchtime pint in the City Centre for only £2.20 and the food is quite good in here as well!

Monday 15 February 2010

Gwdihw, Cardiff

Whilst in Cardiff, thought I'd visit Gwdihw, one of the better cafe/bars that have sprung up in the City. An unusual local outlet for the local Artisan Brewery Beers, the 'barenaked beers' are now on tap here, well the Helles Lager is, a golden hoppy brew at 5%. Also bottles from Artisan are available unless the local CAMRA members have emptied the fridge before you visit. Good food as well in this bar which also offers a range of Gwynt Y Ddraig ciders in bottles. And the name, Gwidihw, pronunced Goodywho, is Welsh for owl. One to watch in future.

Goat Major Beer Festival

Good to see a Brains pub do a beer festival and this week the Goat Major, High Street, near Cardiff Castle is having brews on from Brewsters, Springhead, Roosters, Brewdog, Cameron's, Cropton and of course Brains Breweries. Not all the beers are on at once as they are being served on handpump, so when one goes another comes on and the festival is on until this Saturday. Well worth popping in if you're in Cardiff. Special events on through the week as well with Wednesday night being Pie and a Pint night for £5.95 and Thursday being Sausage & Mash Night. Looks a good week in the Goat Major. The Cropton Dangleberry being a favourite beer at the moment, though at 5% a bit heavy for lunchtime.

Friday 12 February 2010

Halfway, Pontcanna, Cardiff

From Drop Box

Halfway, 247 Cathedral Road, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9PP

The Halfway is an attractive two-story building on the corner of Cathedral Road and William Street. In the summer the outside features a colourful display of hanging baskets and over the corner entrance door looms the unmistakable trademark of the rampant Brains dragon, along with a copper-framed lantern. The Halfway has an interesting heraldic pub sign as well. The pub was built in the nineteenth century, as was much of this area and has been serving pints of Brains beer for over 120 years. The original brickwork of the pub has been refaced in modern times, resulting in the off-white fa├žade that is visible today. The pub used to have a sign outside showing a dog yelping after a case of Brains beer had been dropped on it's tail, with the caption “Brain's Honest Ale” above the unfortunate mutt. Say it out loud, it can still raise a laugh after almost 90 years. The pub name appears to drive from the fact that the Halfway is halfway between Llandaff and the City Centre or between the Cathedral and the Castle to be more accurate.

The interior of the Halfway features a wooden bar, gleaming brass handrails and is attractively decorated throughout, with a varnished wooden floor, mirrors and a choice of seating from traditional dark-wood chairs to modern leather settees. Despite the Victorian street-corner appearance to this pub there is a modern and well-designed look to the interior.

There is good choice of real ales available in the Halfway with Brains Bitter, Dark, SA, SA Gold and a regular changing guest beer all served from the gleaming brass handpumps. A recent guest beer was from Elgood's brewery in Cambridgshire.

The central island bar layout allows easy access to the various sections of the Halfway, with a skittle alley available for private hire to the side of the building.

Food is served all day until 9pm and there is an extensive chalkboard menu with a good range of deserts including a chocolate and raspberry clotted cream pudding.

To the rear of the Halfway is an enclosed courtyard, providing smokers with a pleasant place to indulge their pastime.

Plasma television screens showing sports programmes are in the bar, but the Halfway is large enough to allow customers to move to a different, quieter area if they so wish.

The Halfway is a deservedly popular Brains pub, a community local offering good beer and good food in a comfortable environment.

Google Map

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Save the Vulcan - one year on

A year ago today,outside the Welsh Assembly in Cardiff Bay, the Save the Vulcan Campaign presented their petition with over 5000 signatures on it to save the pub to Assembly Members. Around 50 people turned up to brave the cold on the steps of the Senedd and a number of AMs came out to listen and talk to the protesters.
Above: Jenny Randerson AM addressing the protesters outside the Senedd last year whilst (below) Nick Bourne AM listens to the protesters.

Recommendations from the committee are:
1. We recommend that the Welsh Government considers the introduction of guidance, or legislation if necessary, to allow the protection of buildings that are of importance for social and cultural reasons.
2. We recommend that the Welsh Government consults with Welsh local authorities and the WLGA with a view to strengthening the powers available to local authorities to prevent the demolition of buildings that meet the criteria for local listing.

The report is a response to a petition of 5,000 signatures calling to save the historic Vulcan Hotel from demolition.
Save the Vulcan campaigner Rachel Thomas said, “We are pleased the Assembly’s Petitions Committee took time to examine our petition. However, this is by no means the end. This is just the beginning of the Vulcan campaign, and our aim is to see the Vulcan thrive for another 157 years.
“The fate of the Vulcan now lies in the hands of the developer Derek Rapport, and we strongly urge Mr Rapport to comment immediately on the future of this Victorian watering hole.
“According to the BBC, pubs in Wales are closing at the rate of five a week. The Vulcan should not be allowed to become a statistic.

“We strongly urge the Welsh Government to act on the report’s recommendations as soon as possible”.
Save the Vulcan campaigner Graham Craig is keen to see strengthened powers for Cardiff Council to prevent the demolition of buildings that meet local listing criteria. Graham said, “The Vulcan must be protected, and listing the building is the best way to do this. We understand why the Vulcan cannot be listed under Cadw’s current criteria, but the Welsh Government and the WLGA must now move swiftly to introduce legislation to protect buildings which are socially and/or culturally important”.

Local architect Jonathan Adams said he could see no reason why the Vulcan could not be incorporated into a future redevelopment of the site, and that it would pose an exciting architectural opportunity.

Save the Vulcan campaigner David Wilton added, “Don’t forget to visit the Vulcan during the 6 Nations. The atmosphere is unrivalled, and the beer’s pretty good too!”

The Vulcan is the only building to survive from the area formally known as Newtown.

Above: Window pane from the Vulcan

Save the Vulcan Timeline:
2005: Brains given compulsory purchase order for the Vulcan so land could be used as a car park while St David’s 2 is built.

2007: The Echo reveals it was not sold to St David’s 2, but bought by businessman Derek Rapport for £500,000.
2008: Cadw rejects attempts to list property.
February 2009: Campaigners give 5,000-name petition to the Assembly Petitions Committee.
March 2009: Cadw urged to step in after campaigners offer new evidence of historical worth.
April 2009: Drinkers were told the pub would stay open for at least another three years after being given a reprieve.
February 2010: A Welsh Assembly Government report calls for a change in legislation to give more powers to local authorities to safeguard the future of “culturally significant” buildings like The Vulcan.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Wetherspoons to open in Chavertillery

The northern fringes of the Gwent tundra are to be further improved with the opening of yet another chav palace. JD Wetherspoons will be opening their new pub, the Pontlottyn in Chavertillery  Abertillery on Friday 12th Febuary, provided supplies of alcopops have survived the convoys to reach the Gwent valleys.  Conviently situated within walking distance of the Jobcentre Plus and Tattoo Parlour, the Pontlottyn is sure to shut down a few pubs in Abertillery, as the locals migrate to the open-plan zebu serving cheap chav palace instead of their usual smack-selling pubs.
Brew Wales sent their roving reporter to Abertillery this week to ask the locals what they thought about the new pub:
"It's fooking crucial like mon", said Brian 22, unemployed, "Cos we like now a proper town innit like the 'Port or Cradiff or even Ebbw Vale. I been to Ebbw Vale 'spoons and it real posh like cos they puts yer lager in a glass right, not like out of can like what they does in pubs around 'ere".
Brian's partner, Stacey, age 20 and a mother of 4 said, " I luvs the 'spoons, the pops are so cheap an I gets plastered on them and then gets preggers with my little babes. Me and my mates can bring our kiddies in the pub all day like and sit there and drink the 'pops and the little ones can run round the pub all day. it's going to be fookin great".
Semi-retired drug dealer and now illegal tobacco salesman Paul, 62, said, "It's another outlet for my chinese-made fags. The more customers in a pub the more chance I have of selling tobacco, pst want some Superkings?"

Pub manager Jane Merralls says she is looking forward to welcoming customers into The Pontlottyn.

“I am confident that it will be a good addition to Abertillery’s social scene,” she said.

Somerset Street
NP13 1DJ

Wednesday 10 February 2010

Carpenter's Arms, Newport

Always good to see a pub reopen after an extended period of closure and the Carpenter's Arms in Newport is a welcome change to the usual shit holes that masquerade as City Centre pubs in Newport. Run by the JW Bassett Pub Company, who also run the Queens Vaults in Cardiff and the Golden Egg in Kilburn, yes a Welsh pub in Kilburn, the Carpenters offers 3 real ales, all from the Felinfoel Brewery. The first outlet for Felinfoel Brewery in Newport for, well, apart from the odd appearance as a guest beer, ever? Three real ales are on tap, Double Dragon 4.2% and two house beers, also brewed by Felinfoel: Liquid Metal 4.3% and Carpenters 1403 at 3.9%. All at £1.89 with the 1403 £1.49/pint until 1700hrs! Good value menu available until 2100hrs. For those keg tickers out there Thatchers Gold is available alongside Old Hand 4.1% lager and Black Arts 4% Stout. Quite a good pint as well, good jukebox, with an emphasis on rock music. Can see myself using this pub more often! A Felinfoel outlet in Newport!

New Minister for Pubs

This week the Government announced from the Bunker that after years of legislation that has seen thousands of pubs being forced out of business that they have finally realised that tax revenues are dwindling and something needs to be done.And what has the Government done, well it appoints a Minister for Pubs (pictured).
After a year of dithering, Gormless Brown has appointed John Healey, Minister for Housing and Planning. Both of which are devolved matters in the UK Government, so does his brief extend to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland or will only pubs in England be given help? And will that help be only directed to marginal labour constituencies as has happenend with other such help?

Although given a cautious welcome by the industry, the appointment of Wentworth MP has been blasted by UKIP as too little too late,"The announcement that John Healey, the MP for Wentworth as 'Minister for Pubs' is a travesty", said UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom.
"Given that this Government has been responsible for a whole stream of devastating legislation that has brought the pub industry to its knees it is worse than that, it is an insult", he said.
"There is no doubt that Mr Healey is, in himself, a great supporter of the pub trade but his appointment, too late in the day for the 2,500 pubs that have closed in the last year, seems more concerned with the election than it does the pub trade."
He will no doubt talk about the price differentials between supermarkets and pubs, the impact of the big Pubcos and so on, but in the next three months there is nothing concrete he can do apart from waft a hoppy smell over this government's failed policies."

Too little to late, well said Godfrey.

Pub Closures - North Wales

Some interesting facts from the Daily Post

1,033 pubs in North Wales in 2005
1,005 pubs in North Wales in 2007
956 pubs in North Wales in 2009

A breakdown shows most pubs have closed in the Clwyd South constituency, with 18 of the 137 shut up for good.

The full article is here, about the latest plans from the Bunker, via Health Stazifuhrer Andy Burnham to halve the number of UK smokers to 1 in 10 by 2020 by extending the smoking ban to beer gardens. Yes you read that correctly, the latest headline grabbing scheme from this failing government is to want to ban smoking in beer gardens. Country almost bankrupt and the idiots in 10 Downing Street can only come up with this. Makes the Brew Wales editor want to take up smoking!

Tuesday 9 February 2010

Beer from Coal

A tweet this morning from someone I follow put me in the direction of this gem of a film. It was made in 1959 and is part of the British Film Institute archive.

The film features some great footage of Charringtons now demolished (1976) brewery in East London and the one big change from 50 years ago is the huge scale of the brewing that went on at the time. The mash tun and coppers are something you would see at Regional breweries only today and the manuel handling of the hop pockets would need a risk assessment today! . Open fermenters are still being used in the film,these are rarely used today. The cask washing of the wooden barrels is an eye opener for those of us who have only known metal casks and the bottling line is not shown not braking down every few minutes as one owned by a modern brewery I know does.
A great bit of history in this short film.

More from the BFI archive here on You Tube

True Taste Award Winners stand out at Tesco

From Brew Wales
In order to help its customers locate quality Welsh produce, Tesco is launching new signage in 29 superstores and 15 Tesco Extra stores right across Wales. Six award-winning True Taste producers, a Welsh Assembly Government brand, have been selected to feature on the new signage in Tesco supermarkets which will feature on shelves up and down the country. They include two of Wales' best breweries, Brains and Tomos Watkin.
Other food producers include Edwards of Conwy, Cadog, First Milk and South Caernarfon Creameries.
The Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, says, “One of the priorities of the Welsh Assembly Government is to make it easier for consumers to buy food and drink produced in Wales, and this new signage will significantly help in achieving that goal.
“Local sourcing of food and drink is one of our priorities as set out in One Wales and the Local Sourcing Action Plan. The Plan aims to support local food and drink producers as well as assisting them in their efforts to access local markets. The Plan also aims to help Wales maintain high standards in food safety, develop local food cultures and reduce “food miles”.”
The signage, which is of post-card size, will include some background information and a photograph of each producer along with the True Taste logo.
Mark Grant, Tesco’s Senior Buying Manager for Wales, explains, “These producers are producing award winning products that carry the True Taste logo, which are recognised by consumers and the food and drink industry as a sign of excellence.
“Our customer research tells us that people are increasingly looking out for regional and local produce and we are delighted to be able to offer them a wide range of local Welsh products.”

Statistics show that people are far more interested in food production, provenance and buying British than ever before. Research shows that 84% of customers claim they would buy more locally sourced products if made available to them in supermarkets and that 32% of people view local food as a way to take positive steps for the environment. Tesco launched a local sourcing initiative in 2008 and has 450 regional products in its Welsh stores. 

The Wales the True Taste Awards were founded in 2002 and are managed by the Welsh Assembly Government.  The awards scheme recognises and rewards quality and excellence in Welsh food and drink.  Year-on-year the True Taste Awards grow in strength and popularity and are regarded as the 'Oscars' of the Welsh food industry.  For further information about the Wales the True Taste awards please visit: /

Monday 8 February 2010

Demolish the Vulcan?

From Brew Wales

Demolish the Vulcan? Well that was the headline in the Echo the other day as customer Alan Grainger attempted to plug his book that features the Vulcan.
He may not like the new customers in the pub, but it is now thriving every night whereas a few years ago it was closing at night due to lack of trade. The Vulcan is the last old building standing in the area and there are no more terraced houses for the foundry workers who originally frequented the area. The Vulcan has moved with the times, where once it slaked the thirsts of dehydated iron workers today thirsty media studies students from across the road crowd the small bar and lounge to quench their thirsts on pints of Brains SA and Bitter. Move with the times, that is what this successful old pub has done and the Brew Wales editor enjoyed a good night in there the other Monday, washing down a few pints of Brains Bitter, the best pint to be had of it in Cardiff.
Long may the Vulcan survive as the great little pub that it is.

There is also a response to Alan Grainger on the Save the Vulcan site here.

From Brew Wales

Brains launch Up and Under charity ale

From SA Brain:
A specially brewed ale to support a fundraising effort that will see 15 former Wales rugby captains climbing Kilimanjaro for lung cancer research, is on sale in Tesco's now..

‘Up and Over’ ale, from Welsh brewer Brains, has been created for the Brains SA Captains Climb, happening in September 2010. The 500ml bottle is being sold exclusively in all Welsh Tesco Extras and Superstores and is priced at £1.67 or 3 bottles for £4. 15p from each bottle sold will be donated to the challenge.
Up and Over Last week saw six of the ex-captains, including Ieuan Evans, Rob Jones, Mark Taylor, Emyr Lewis, Bob Norster and Bleddyn Bowen, were in Tesco Talbot Green to launch the charity beer. The former captains also helped pack customers’ shopping bags to raise additional funds. Bob Nortser said: "Cancer is a disease that touches all our lives. When I was asked to take part in the climb I was more than happy to accept the invitation. It’s become an even bigger challenge as we approach the big day".

A specially brewed ale to support a fundraising effort that will see 15 former Wales rugby captains climbing Kilimanjaro for lung cancer research, will go on sale in Tesco supermarkets this week.

‘Up and Over’ ale, from Welsh brewer Brains, has been created for the Brains SA Captains Climb, happening in September 2010. The 500ml bottle is being sold exclusively in all Welsh Tesco Extras and Superstores and is priced at £1.67 or 3 bottles for £4. 15p from each bottle sold will be donated to the challenge.

Richard Davies, Sales and Marketing Director at Brains said: "We’re delighted to be involved as headline sponsor of the climb. As a brewer we could think of no better way to support the cause than to create a charity beer, which we hope will raise thousands of pounds for the appeal."

Mark Grant, Tesco senior buying manager for Wales commented: "Tesco are delighted to be able to support Velindre Cancer Centre’s Stepping Stones appeal which will help raise awareness around lung cancer and the ongoing research required into the illness.’’

The event is the brainchild of WRU photographer Huw Evans. His wife Sue was diagnosed with lung cancer last year but is recovering after undergoing treatment. It is hoped the climb will raise £1m for Velindre Cancer Centre’s Stepping Stones appeal, which is designed to raise awareness about lung cancer and support research into the disease.
‘Up and Over’ will return to pubs in cask in May.

To support the Brains SA Captains Climb visit here

UP AND OVER TASTING NOTES:The name ‘Up & Over’ was the inspiration of Stephen Katchi who won a MediaWales newspaper competition to name the beer. ‘Up & Over’ is a fruity, light amber coloured beer. Fuggles, Goldings, Styrian Goldings and Cascade hops coupled with the unique Brains yeast and balanced malt flavours creates a deliciously refreshing pint guaranteed to be a high point in our ale range.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

Golden Hart, Newport

The Golden Hart on Cardiff Road in Newport has only recently reopened and the new owners have made drastic improvements. Before the pub shut it had not served cask ale for years, about 15 years according to one source. Now there are up to 3 ales available with beers such as Jennings Snecklifter, Pedigree and Rev James. Now you may not think that's adventerous but for Newport it certainly is! Added to that cider from Troggi and Westons Old Rosie are also available on draught! Yes Newport finally has a pub offering draught real cider for the first time in years. The Golden Hart must be one of the smallest pubs in the City and will hopefully attract a good following to support the beers and ciders served in this bar. The pub is situated close to the town end of Cardiff Road, opposite the police station, with a bus stop outside.

White Hart Beer Festival

The White Hart pub in Machen, near Caerphilly will be hosting a beer festival this weekend and landlord Alan Carter has even brewed 2 special ales for the occaision. Empress Ale at 4.5% and Quarrymen at 5.5% will be two of the real ales on sale alongside others from around the United kingdom when this beer festival starts on Friday 5th Febuary.
Other ales are:
Breconshire Cribyn 4.5%
Evan Evans SBA 4.6%
Waen Festival Landmark 4.2%
Conwy Welsh Pride 4%
Nant Coryn 4.2%
Stonehouse Station Bitter 3.9%
Otley O Rosie - New Otley beer at the festival!
Monty's Equinox
Purple Moose Glaslyn
Newmans Red Castle Cream
Rhymney Scrum V
Bullmastiff Sloberchops
+ plus a few more. Most of the beers will be on the stillage in the rear room, others will be on the handpumps on the bar.

Journey planner:
Machen is easily reached from Newport or Caerphilly via the Number 50 bus

Below is some background information on the pub and the reason why there is a photograph of an ocean liner on the top of this post.

White Hart Inn, White Hart Lane, Nant-y-Ceisiad, Machen, Caerphilly, CF83 8QQ, 01633 441005
Open 11.30-2.30 (not Wednesday lunchtime), 1830-2300. Open all day Saturday and Sunday

Situated just off the Newport to Caerphilly road and next to the old railway line, the White Hart is one of the most unusual pubs in Wales. From the A468, follow the signs up the lane and under the railway bridge turn right into the large car park, the pub is there. An old 'Double Diamond' lantern hangs outside the pub which also features the pub name. The White Hart was built for the tramroad, now a cycle path and up to 1885 the pub was owned by the Morgans of Tredegar, a stag or hart's head appears on their coat of arms. Lord Tredegar leased the pub to the Griffiths Brothers brewery of Blaina who merged with Buchan's Brewery of Rhymney in 1929. It later became a free house.

On entering the pub there is a long wood-panelled corridor with the bar being entered at the end, through the doors on the left. The bar again features more wood panelling as well as an unusual oval painting on the ceiling. There are four brass handpumps dispensing real ales on the gleaming copper-topped bar. Real ales from around the United Kingdom are served, as well as more local beers from breweries such as Tomos Watkin and Otley. Beer festivals are held throughout the year, the next one starting on February 5th  and continuing over the weekend. The White Hart is also home to Carter's Brewery, named after the landlord Alan Carter and his occasional brews feature at the festivals.

To the side of the main bar is another, smaller room, known as the Captain's room, again this is wood-panelled. The White Hart was redecorated in 1961 with wooden panelling and features from the ocean liner, the Empress of France that had been scrapped at Newport by Cashmore's in 1960. The Empress of France had been built in 1928 as the Duchess of Bedford and was owned by Canadian Pacific, plying the route between Liverpool and Montreal. These fittings give the pub an unique Art-Deco look. Opposite the bar is another room, this one used for functions as it has a separate bar. Here are more features from the Empress of France including a marble fireplace and a couple of corbels resting between the beams and walls of the room.

The White Hart offers an extensive menu with chalkboard specials, a good range of grills and seven different curries. The White Hart is a popular pub and features quiz nights on Sundays and darts nights on Mondays.

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Monday 1 February 2010

Old Swan, Llantwit Major

Another good pub to pop into. Tonights offerings are Wye Valley HPA, Bowland Gold, Vale of Glamorgan Chocs Away and Lytham Dark. On the 5% Lytham Dark at the moment, a rich dark and chocolately beer with a bitter finish. Loving the stuff at the moment. Time for another.


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