Friday 30 April 2010

Beerex at the Cross

The Cross Inn at Llanblethian, near Cowbridge will be staging their 1st Mini Beer Festival this weekend with a range of beers and ciders.

The Cross Inn

Church Road, Llanblethian, Cowbridge CF71 7JF

Tel. 01446 772995
Bullmastiff Brewery, Cardiff Brindle 5.0%

Brains, Cardiff Hancock's HB 3.6%

Newmans Brewery, Caerphilly Red Stag Bitter 3.6%

Bryncelyn Brewery, Ystradgynlais Oh Boy ! 4.5%

Wye Valley, Stoke Lacy Butty Bach 4.5%

RCH Brewery, Weston-Super-Mare Pitchfork 4.3%

Sharp's Brewery, Rock, Cornwall Doombar 4.0%

Ringwood Brewery, Ringwood, Hants 49er 4.9%

Hop Back Brewery, Downton, Salisbury Summer Lightning 5.0%

Wells & Youngs, Bedford Special 4.5%

Goose Eye Brewery, Keighley, W. Yorks Golden Goose 4.5%


Dennis Gwatkin, Abbey Dore, Herefordshire Yarlington Mill 7.5%

Google Map:

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Artisan Brewery Festival cancelled

*********Artisan Brewery Beerex Cancelled*********
Message from Simon Doherty at Artisan Brewery:
Simon Doherty cancelled the event "ALTbeer 'Garden Party'". Simon says, "*********CANCELLED**********

ALTbeer 'Garden Party' - Sat 1st May

So, the weather was not quite working with us - instead we will be open for bottle sales 12-7 tomorrow.

BARENAKED BEERS... ALTbeer 5%ABV will still be released tomorrow and should be available in bottle from the 8th of May.

The next microBEER Fest will be held on the 5th of June.

We're currently working on the music line-up, with full event details to follow shortly.

Thanks for letting us know Simon, if anyone is looking for a local beerex to go to over the weekend than the Capel in Gilfach Fargoed has one on as does the Cross Inn, Llanblethian.

Thursday 29 April 2010

Purple Moose Converts Reverend to Real Ale

Current Champion Beer of Wales winners, Purple Moose Brewery of Porthmadog, have launched a new ale, Revelation, to be launched in Spooner's Bar on the Ffestiniog Railway, Porthmadog at 6pm today.
At 3.8% ABV Revelation Ale is a delicious pale golden session bitter with vanilla and lemon citrus notes from the Cascade and Willamette hops.
Revelation Ale has been brewed in celebration of the 70th birthday of the Rev Dr Richard Buxton. Richard, who is a good friend and supporter of the brewery, found Purple Moose beer to be a 'revelation' when we started, having never previously drank beer.

If you are in Porthmadog this weekend look out for the Purple Moose Brewery tank wagon outside Spooner's Bar on the Ffestiniog Railway. It will be there for the duration of the railway's 'Quirks and Curiosities' event.

Beer Festival at the Capel this weekend

From Brew Wales

The Capel at Gilfach Bargoed is holding their annual beer festival this weekend.
The pub is well worth visiting at other times of the year as I reviewed it here only a few weeks ago.
Anyway the beer list list is here:
BLACK HOLE (BURTON)              SUPER NOVA                 4.8%   premium ale using lager malts
BRECONSHIRE                           BRECON COUNTY                    3.7%   amber-hued traditional Bitter
                                                  BISHOP GOWERS WELL 4.1%   dark amber in colour .
BRYN CELYN                             CHH                                 4.5%   Pale Brown a clean hoppy beer
BULLMASTIFF                            SUMMER MOULT             4.3%
CAINGORM (AVIEMORE)            HOWLER                          4.2%   russet, rich flavoured ale, very smooth.
CAMERONS (Co Durham)            WHITE RABBIT                 4.0%   pale straw coloured ale, citrus grapefruit aroma.
COTTAGE (SOMERSET)             CONCORDE                      4.7%   ruby ale
                                                  MOUSQUITO                     5.0%  dark ale
CORVDALE (Craven Arms)           MOLLY MORGAN             4.0%  fruity, nutty, toffee.
                                                  ST GEORGE'S STOUT                dark, but light to drink stout                        
COUNTRY LIFE (Bideford)            POT WALLOP                   4.4%   very light straw coloured.
EVAN EVANS                             MAY FLY                          4.3%   Spring ale with hints of apricot

EXMOOR                                    FOX                                  4.2%   a mid brown beer, slight maltiness
GREAT ORME (Colwyn Bay)        CAMBRIA                         3.8%   rich golden, thirst quenching.
MONTY'S  (Montgomery)              MANJANA                        3.9%   nut brown bitter with malt character.
                                                  MIDNIGHT                         4.0%  creamy stout, full of dark fruit & roasted malt flavours.
NEWMANS (CAERPHILLY)          Rat-ified                           4.5%   amber-brown ale (The R.A.T.S. 16th Anniversary Beer)
                                                  Cong-RAT-ulations           4.2%   Golden coloured ale with soft floral aroma & delicate hop finish 
(The R.A.T.S. 16th Anniversary Beer)                                                  BLEDDYN                         6.0%   a delicious traditional amber-brown ale.
NORTH WALES ( ABERGELE)    BODELWYDDAN               3.8%   pale ale ,northern & golden hops
                                                 CHESTER TIME               4.0%   a brown bitter       
OTLEY (CILFYNYDD)                  MOTLEY BREW                5.5%   a tawny red double ipa
PURPLE MOOSE(porthmadog)    MADOGS ALE                   3.7%   a crisp, malty, reddish coloured session bitter
                                                 GLASLYN ALE                   4.2%   golden coloured fruity best bitter, hoppy finish.
QUANTOCK (SOMERSET)          STOUT                              4.5%   highly flavoured dark stout.
RHYMNEY                                 DARK                               4.0%    A true stout.Mellow yet with a Bite. RHYMNEY                                 AMBER                            4.7%    (NEW ALE)
ROOSTERS (N.YORK)                HUNTSMAN                      3.7%   good session beer, long nutty flavour,
RUDGATE  (N.YORK)                 ERIC BLOOD AXE              4.1%   red ale
SADDLERS  (STOURBRIDGE)    RED HOUSE MILD             4.0%   a traditional black country mild, full-bodied.
                                                 STUMBLING BADGER        4.9%  deep amber in colour, full of flavour.
SANDSTONE (WREXHAM)         SLEEPING POLICEMAN     4.2%   copper coloured, traditionally hopped beer.
                                                 POSTMISTRESS                4.4%   golden red ale, medium body and bitterness.
SALTAIRE (W.YORK'S)              COPPER ALE                    4.0%   copper coloured malty ale.
WHITE HORSE (OXON)              SARACEN                         4.5%    ipa, biscuit & caramel flavours,vienna & amber malts.
WILLEY (EX RUGBY BRWY)      CEMENT                           6.8%    a full bodied dark bitter.
WOODLANDS (NANTWICH)         REDWOOD                      4.9%    a deep red coloured bitter with a sharp aftertaste.

Cider and perry list:
Seidr Dai (Cardiff)
Hellen's Early Perry    5.4%      Medium
Tumper's Perry           5.8%      Dry

Blaengawney Cider (Hafodrynys)National Treasure Cider        5.0%      Sweet
Grace Dieu Cider                   6.4%      Medium
Blakeney Red Perry               3.5%      Medium

Gwynt y Ddraig Llantwit FadreTwo Trees Perry                     4.5%      Medium
Fiery Fox Cider                       6.5%      Medium
Black Dragon Cider                7.2%      Med/Dr
The Capel is very easy to get to by public transport as there is a bus stop outside the pub and the railway station is just down the hill (Rhymney Valley line).
Capel Hotel, Park Place, Gilfach Fargoed, CF81 8LW
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Beer Festival in a council house

It's that time of year again when Gwent CAMRA hold a beer festival at the International Folk Festival at Tredegar House. 
Tredegar House is owned by Newport Council, hence the title of this post!

Opening Hours:
Friday 7th May 17:00 to 23:30 (last orders)
Saturday 8th May 12:00 to 23:30 (last orders)
Sunday 9th May 12:00 to 22:30 (last orders)

Golden Ale, 4.2%  ABV
A golden coloured organic ale, with a rich, full-bodied texture and taste of citrus hops.
Bronze Ale 4.5%  ABV
A bronze-coloured organic ale, full-bodied with crystal maltiness and a long hop finish.
Native Storm 4.4%  ABV
A robust mid-brown ale, full of spicy and biscuit aromas complemented by the presence of fresh hoppy aromas.

Tewdric's Tipple 3.8%  ABV
A honey-coloured ale
Classic 4.5% ABV
A balanced, hoppy ale.

O2 4.2% ABV
A light copper-coloured ale with citrus and floral aromas and a satisfying bitter aftertaste.
O-Garden 5.0% ABV
A wheat beer spiced with roasted orange peel, coriander and cloves.
OG 5.4% ABV
A strong, golden honey-coloured ale brewed with WGV and Willamette hops.

Dark Side of the Moose 4.6% ABV
A dark ale with a deep malt flavour and fruity bitterness.
Snowdonia 3.6% ABV
Champion Beer of Wales 2009/10. A refreshing pale ale with a good hoppy aftertaste.

Bevans Bitter 4.2% ABV
An easy drinking mid-brown ale.
Dark 4% ABV
Former Champion Beer of Wales, a dark and delicious mild

Original Bitter 3.7% ABV
A pale, hoppy bitter
Owd Bull 3.9% ABV
A well-hopped session beer.
Mutts Nuts 5.0% ABV
A dark, strong ale, full bodied with a hint of chocolate on the aftertaste.

Blorenge 3.8% ABV
A light summer ale
Sugar Loaf 4.7% ABV
An amber-coloured full-bodied and well-rounded beer.
Skirrid 4.2% ABV
A dark, hoppy beer.

HPA 4.0% ABV
An old festival favourite, Hereford Pale Ale is one of the best beers in the UK, a straw-coloured ale with a fruity and hoppy finish. Very easy to drink and perfect for the summer.
Butty Bach 4.5% ABV
A copper-coloured full bodied premium ale.
Rapid Ale 4.0% ABV
Straw coloured ale with a delicate hop aroma and hint of sweetness.

A wide selection of ciders and perries from Gwynt Y Ddraig will also be available.

Follow @ArfurD on Twitter or search #THFF for updates during the festival.
Facebook Group here

Tredegar House is just two miles west of Newport city centre. Follow signs from the A48 or M4 exit 28.
Train: the nearest railway station is Newport, South East Wales.
Local bus services: Service 30 operates via Cardiff Road and then the A48, stopping opposite Cleppa Park. It is a 5 minute walk from there to Tredegar House.
Service 36 operates via Cardiff Road and Duffryn, with a number of stops just a 5 minute walk to Tredegar House. Single bus journey prices are £1.20 or a day ticket is available for £2.50 (exact money only as no change is given by Newport Transport)

Tredegar House
South Wales
NP10 8YW
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Tuesday 27 April 2010

Brains Brewery shows profit increase despite recession

 SA Brain announces profits up by £2.7 million with cask ale sales up by 6%

  Scott Waddington, Chief Executive of Brains said:

"This has been a landmark year for the Company following the sale of the free trade business whilst also navigating a particularly difficult set of trading conditions.

"Profit was boosted considerably by the sale of the free trade business. However, this also contributed to a reduction in turnover, as the Company no longer wholesales third party products to free trade accounts. The sale of the free trade business has enabled us to fully focus on and invest in our brewing and pubs business whilst making our beer brands more widely available through Heineken UK’s comprehensive distribution network.

"Our managed and tenanted/leased divisions felt the effect of the slow down in consumer spending and continued cost pressures. Despite this, we saw very good growth in our managed house food and accommodation sales. Good progress was also made with National Sales customers where our performance in pub groups has been particularly encouraging. Significant progress has also been made in our Take Home business. Our beer volumes for the year grew by 1.2% in a market that was 6.4% down on a national basis. Our cask ale volumes grew by 6% compared to the national market for cask which was circa 1.7% adverse. This means we continued to grow share across the year.

"It was difficult to grow income in the underlying business whilst again having to absorb a number of increased costs that we could do little to control. Nevertheless it should be noted that overall we have continued to outperform the market in several areas of the business and at least perform in line with the market in others.

"The recent 5% increase in beer duty on top of the 20% increase experienced over the past 2 years is unhelpful to the brewing and pubs industry and will put further jobs at risk across the sector. While we remain cautious about the trading conditions that we expect to experience in 2010, we remain committed to giving our customers good reasons to visit our pubs and drink our beers. Therefore, we intend to increase investment in the marketing of our brands and will continue to invest selectively in our pub estate.

"Following the changes made this year, we have a more focused business plan which covers a quality pub estate, an increasingly demanded brand and a strong balance sheet, all supported by a strong team of committed people across the Company."

£6.4m profit after tax, up by £2.7m (73.5%) 

 £103m turnover, down by £10.3m (9%) – reflects sale of drinks distribution (free trade) business
£4.7m operating profit down 36% - impacted by disruption and carrying costs post sale of free trade business
£10.4m profit before tax up 77.1% - includes profit on sale of free trade business
EBITDA as a % of turnover up to 14.1% from 13.3%
Managed house like for like sales down 1.3%
Managed house food and accommodation sales up 10% and 42% respectively
Tenanted and leased division volumes down by 6.8%
National Sales volumes up by 1.5%
Take Home volumes up 63%

Ale volumes up 1.2% with cask ale volumes up 6%

Monday 26 April 2010

Usk Conservative Club

Usk is not short of good pubs but if you are a CAMRA member or have a copy of the Good Beer Guide make sure you pop into the Usk Conservative Club, where you will find a warm welcome, even if you are a member of the Beard Liberation Front. Two well-kept ales on the bar, Rhymney Bitter and a guest beer, tonight a blonde from Old Mill Brewery, a rare outlet for the region. An excellent light coloured hoppy ale which I may well stay on the rest of the night. Cheers.

Neath gets a new brewery

The chav-filled town of Neath is now home to a new brewery. Neath Ales was started by former sociology lecturer Jay Thomas and is the first brewery in the area for about 5 years, when the Borough Arms was a short-lived brew pub.
A great quote from the brewery:
"At Neath Ales we love hops. We believe that a beer should be a great balance of flavours and so our bittering hop rates simply balance the beers or are appropriate for a particular style. However many other brewers would consider our late hopping rates decadent. Outrageous perhaps. But these levels of late hopping give Neath Ales outstanding aroma and subtle flavour profiles which set them apart".
A new Welsh brewery producing flavoursome and tasty ales? Whatever next?
Good luck to to the new venture and I look forward to trying their beers the next time I'm in Neath.
If you cannot get down to Neath then they do mail order.
Here are their beers, with tasting notes supplied by the brewery: 
Neath Ales Gold is a premium bottle conditioned beer. A Pale Ale at 5% ABV, it is brewed to a traditional strength and bitterness. It is crisp and refreshing with aggressive hopping rates which produce outstanding aroma and flavour. 

Neath Abbey Ale is a 4.2% ABV beer brewed with three different kinds of malt and generous amounts of hops. The quality and blend of ingredients make this an exceptional beer.

 Neath Ales Black is a 5.5% ABV premium bottle conditioned beer. Superb dark malt flavour is balanced by a refreshing hop bitterness and an outrageous amount of late/aroma hops.

This 4,2% premium bottle conditioned beer marks the invention in Neath in 1821 of the silica firebrick. Firebrick is brewed using the worlds finest malted barley and well balanced with classic hop bitterness to create a beer that is refreshing with all hot spicy food!

One beer to look out for will be available in July, called Neath Ales Reserve, it is described as an extra stout porter and is 7.5% ABV and will be sold in champagne-style 750ml bottles.

The Western Mail also has a take on this story, though they missed the bit about the Borough Arms brewing a few years back. Should have asked the beer expert on the Echo or Brian on the subs desk!

Saturday 24 April 2010

Terra Nova, Cardiff Bay

Terra Nova, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5BZ

Open 10-12 Monday-Thursday, 10-2 Friday-Saturday, 10-10.30 Sun. Food all day until 9pm

The Terra nova is one of the few examples of good twenty-first century pub architecture. Originally built as the Via Fossa, SA Brain transformed this pub when they bought it in 2003, renaming it after the ship that left Cardiff Docks to take Captain Scott and his crew to the Antarctic on their ill-fated journey. The outline of the ship is used as the pub sign on the outside of the pub, which is attractively surrounded in wood.

The front of the pub is unmistakable as it forms a triangle, reminiscent of the bow of a ship and there is an upper, outside drinking area with views out across the bay and the towards Norwegian Church. The interior of the Terra Nova has is multi-level and has wooden staircases and an attractively carved mahogany wood bar and an odd collection of drinking seats, ranging from a lip-shaped settee to fake leopard-skin coverings, along with more traditional wooden chairs and tables. The Terra Nova is surprisingly spacious enough to cater for all tastes though and there are a number of tables and chairs for those customers wishing to drink outside. A pillar in the front of the bar is clad in wood and radiates wooden beams set into the stone-flagged floor, reminiscent of the capstan of an old sailing ship. Arches lead to the different drinking areas and the right hand section has a fresco of the Terra Nova ship in the Antarctic. The upper areas provide equally attractive drinking and dining areas as well as somewhere private if customers wish to have private conversations, useful as the bar is close to the Welsh Assembly. The Belfast-sink washbasins in the Gents toilets are a nice touch as well.

The real ales are from SA Brain and are served via their unique eye-level handpumps, which are reserved for their flagship pubs. The beers available are Bitter, Dark, SA and a seasonal ale, which at the moment is Land of My Fathers, a light-coloured ale that has an unusual flavour as it is brewed with Welsh honey. Gwynt Y Ddraig Welsh cider is also available in bottles.

Food is served all day and includes Celtic Pride lasagne and burgers along with 21-day matured steaks from beef cattle – no Zebu hybrids in this pub. Welsh cheeses also feature on the menu as well as bread made with Brain's SA and even Reverend James chutney. Fish dishes are also available with Brain's beer battered haddock and Sea Bass featuring. The range of deserts is also interesting with a Baked White Chocolate and Penderyn Whisky Tart or Welsh ice cream featuring.

An excellent place to dine and drink the Brains whilst watching the waves roll across the Bay, the Terra Nova is the highpoint of any visit to the Bay.

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Friday 23 April 2010

Gwynt Open weekend - update

From Brew Wales

Further to my earlier post on the open day - it looks like it will be a hot and sunny weekend perfect for cider drinking - there will be live music at the farm starting at 1330 on the Saturday:
Andrew 'Tetris Prime' Lewis, 
Amy and Pete, 
3d Binge 
Sunday we're going to be rocking out with Cider fest stall warts Plod Rock and theguythatgetsthegirl.
If you cannot make this weekend up at the farm then make sure you make the open day in August as the Manglewurzels will be playing on the weekend of the 7th & 8th August

And don't forget their Facebook site to keep up to date with their news.



Welsh Pubs on Twitter #ff

Most of the readers to this blog should be familiar with twitter - a micro-blogging site where you can update your status or link to other pages all in under 140 characters. The Brew Wales editor is on there as @ArfurD and friday is the day for posting links or Follow Friday as it has become known. As opposed to Follow Through Friday which can happen after drinking perry at lunchtime. Twitter also uses the hashtag key to allow you to keep an eye on certain topics, eg  #ff for Follow Friday, #GE2010 for the General Election. Anyway a few Welsh pubs are on Twitter so here is a list of the ones I am aware of:

Kilverts Inn, Hay on Wye.

Goat Major, Cardiff

Coach & Horses, Chepstow

Plough, Rhosmaen, Carmarthenshire

Bunch of Grapes, Pontypridd

A very amusing look at how you might know if you are a Welsh Landlord from a Lampeter pub.
eg reason: 103. The police regularly call around your pub during lock-ins and only complain if they can't get served.

The Salutation Inn, Near Newport, Pembrokeshire

Glan Yr Afon Inn, near Holywell, Flintshire

If there are any more tweet me @ArfurD and I'll add them to the list.

Wednesday 21 April 2010

Shock - Fake Charity reveals high levels of binge drinking

Fake Charity Alcohol Concern Cymru who are funded by the Welsh Assembly Government to the tune of £250,000 (Source Freedom of Information Act request) have comeout supporting a study paid for us by the taxpayer, via the Welsh Assembly Government, saying that 4 out of 10 Welsh men and 2 1/2 out of 10 Welsh women drink to much every day. No that was not a typo the study does say that. Hardly unusual coming out with fake statistics such as that, the Nanny State and their cronies love figures and meaningless numbers such as 'units' of alcohol.

Those limits were really plucked out of the air. They were not based on any firm evidence at all. It was a sort of intelligent guess by a committee,” said. Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians and a former Editor of the British Medical Journal who sat on the committee who came up with the idea of units. (Source: Times)

Andrew Misell, Nanny State Apologist and policy officer for Alcohol Concern Cymru, said: “A lot of people would consider three pints of beer to be a fairly normal night out, but that is eight or nine units, which is well over the limit.”

Your limit. Not Mine. Not anyone else's. Stop trying to tell me what to do with my life and crawl back under the rock you were spawned from.

Mr Misell said with “alcohol-related harm” – the damage caused by violence, accidents and health problems – costing Wales £1bn a year, a priority for the UK Government after the General Election must be to introduce a minimum alcohol pricing of 50p per unit.

Yes they must mustn't they. Listen Misell you authoritarian little bastard. Why don't you do the world a favour and stop telling us the public and the Governmnent what we all must do? If you want your New World order then stand for Parliament under your Neo-Prohibitionist Bannerand see how many votes you win. In the meantime you can piss off.

Between 1980 and 2008, the price of alcohol increased by 283.3%. After considering inflation (at 21.3%), alcohol prices increased by 19.3% over the period.
That's a fact from the Office of National Statistics.
Right I'm off for a few beers!

Full story is in the South Wales Echo
For a balenced view check out Fido who rips into Fake charity supremo Don Shenker

Gwynt Cider Open Weekend

It's that time of the year again when the boys at Gwynt Y Ddriag Cider open the doors again for their first open weekend of the year.Loads of parking at the farm or the farm is a short walk up the hill from the bus stop with Numbers 100 and 400 (Talbot Green-Pontypridd) stopping nearby. A perfect place to try some of their award-winning ciders and perries and see how the cider is still made in a traditional manner. Last year the ITV Wales programme Fishlock's Wales covered the cidermaking process and here are some photos of the day.
From Brew Wales

Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider Ltd
Llest Farm, Llantwit Fardre
Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF38 2PW

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From Brew Wales

Tuesday 20 April 2010

Welsh publican stands for Parliament

The former constituency of Welsh Windbag Neil Kinnock, now Lord Kinnock of Bedwetting, has an independent candidate standing at the General Election. Paul Taylor, licensee of the Rock in Blackwood has paid the £500 deposit to register as a candidate and produced his manifesto which attacks the current Government and their policies towards pubs.

Paul Taylor blames the smoking ban for the record number of pub closures and calls for a relaxation of the legislation as well as attacking Pub Companies for inflating prices they charge their tenants.

Taylor told The Publican: “I’m just so fed up with what the Labour party has done, I thought I’d give it a go myself.” 

Good luck to Paul, though in Islwyn they do tend to weigh the votes for Labour rather than count them.
I do like his election slogan though:

“Can’t find a decent party to go to? Vote for Paul Taylor!”

H/T to the Publican

Saturday 17 April 2010

Motley Brew and an Otley Beer Festival!

The multi-award winning boys at Otley brewery have a new beer out for this month. Motley Brew is described as "A tawny red double IPA. Loaded with bitterness from Chinook hops, and heavy on Cascade aromas. High bitterness but very easy drinking". Sounds good and I look forward to trying it, as the description does sound better than the bland ales produced by a former public schoolboy and ex-gay nightclub owner elsewhere in Wales. But let's not dwell on the reasons why Mr Bukake is unable to become a blood doner.
Motley Brew was originally brewed last November as a one-off for a beer festival at the Rake in Borough Market, London, and licensee Glyn Roberts came down to Pontypridd to help brew the beer along with Mat and Charlie Otley.
News also reaches us here of an Otley Beer Festival in May:

Bunch of Grapes Beer Festival May 14th - 16th 2010

For the first time an ALL OTLEY BEER FESTIVAL will be held at the Bunch of Grapes with 18 Otley beers being served over the weekend.
A temporary bar will be set up close to the main bar to in order to serve 12 of the beers through hand pulls, the remainder on gravity.
Live music on Friday and Saturday evenings, BBQ Saturday from 12pm-6pm, Sunday Lunch 12pm - 3.30pm.
Beers Available:

Otley O1
Otley O2
Otley O3 Boss
Otley O4 Colombo
Otley O5 Gold
Otley O6 Porter
Otley O8
Otley OG
Otley Dark O
Otley O-Garden
Otley 11O38
Otley Croeso
Otley Motley Brew
Otley O Mai
Otley AmericanO
Otley O HO HO
Otley O5 ShadO

Royal Oak, Ystrad Mynach

Royal Oak, Commercial Street

Ystrad Mynach, Hengoed CF82 7DY

Proudly standing by the roundabout on the way into Ystrad Mynach, the Royal Oak, or to give it its full name, Ye Olde Royal Oak, is an early Welsh example of what is known as 'Brewers' Tudor' style of pub architecture. With its' unmistakable half-timbered frontage, the Royal Oak was built in 1914 by Merthyr Tydfil-based brewers Giles and Harrap, who had their name etched into the glass windows on the front of this pub. Another window has the word 'lounge' on it and there is even a window with 'Smoke' on it, now of course illegal to do so in a pub, but not just before the First World War when this pub was built.

Today the Lounge has become the bar area and the bar is a seating come dining room. Apart from that, there have been few internal changes to the Royal Oak over the years and the pub is one of the few pubs to have retained separate and distinct areas that resemble the original layout. There is even a wooden rail in one part of the pub with acorns carved on it which could well be an original fitting of this pub.
Photographs of old Ystrad Mynach adorn the wall in the lounge, including one of the former, less grand pub that stood on this site before 1914.

The real ales served today in the Royal Oak are Bass and Greene King Abbot Ale, no locally brewed ales anymore, as Giles and Harrap were bought up by Hancocks of Cardiff in 1936 and the pub is now owned by a pub company. The former Giles and Harrap brewery buildings are surprisingly still standing on Brecon Road in Merthyr Tydfil, though in a sad state of dereliction.

There are plenty of places to sit, both inside and outside the pub and the Royal Oak has its own car park as well.

The outside of the pub is worth a look at as well, the most unusual features being the mythological animals on the roof of the pub. The architect of the pub spared no expense when allowing a sculptor to allow his mind to wander to create the menagerie of mythical creatures that can be seen today.

The Royal Oak is a good example of a Brewers Tudor pub, set in the South Wales Valleys and an unusual and possibly unique survivor with it's etched glass windows and internal features.

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Wednesday 14 April 2010

Loony Juice Ale for the Election!

Right all, as a few readers seem to believe this blog is politically biased I have decided to devote time to one of the minor parties at the forthcoming general election. 
The manifesto of the Official Monster Raving Loony William Hill Party was launched om April 10th by Lord Offa at the Neuadd Arms Hotel in Llanwrtyd Wells with pints of  locally brewed 'Loony Juice' real ale being downed on that momentous occaision.The beer was brewed by the Haert of Wales Brewery based at the hotel.
There is also a victory party on April 24th with bands such as the Big Fibbers and Tenpole Tudor, at the Ridgebourne Inn, Llandrindod Wells.
Well we have enough loonies standing for parliament but only a few stand under the party banner of the 'Official' party.


Wikio Labs - who links here?

Thanks to Ollie over at the Red Rag for the tip to this one.
Those nice people at Wikio have an experimental section where you can type in the URL of your blog and it shows who is sending traffic your way by linking to you. It only works if both your blogs are indexed by Wikio and is still in the experimental stage so thought it would be good to see where most of my backlinks come from:

1. is the left-wing commentator and drinking buddy of Brew Wales, Fido at the Lone Voice. Fido was one of the reasons I started blogging as I got sick of people thinking his website was written by me!

2. Pete Brown's Beer Blog, Well Pete Brown is the top beer beer writer/blogger in the UK and I must get round to reading his books sometime.

3. Andrew Wilcox Media Wales' website guru and founder, organiser and generalisimo of Shed Week proves their is life outside of the shed with his blog on beer and photography, though beer does tend to dominate.

4. Pencil and Spoon Mark Dredge was the The British Guild of Beer Writers New Media Writer of the Year 2009 and its an excellent site.

5. Beer Reviews - Andy Mogg has a well-designed and innovative site, one I'm determined to spend more reading!

Well that's the top 5, not a bad little tool from Wikio and sure to use it more in the future.

Monday 12 April 2010

Samuel Smith's Organic Cider

Popped into Ye Olde Murenger House in Newport and went for something different to their Old Brewery Bitter which is my usual tipple in this pub. So tried my first bottle of their Organic Cider, a bit of shock at £3.91 a 550ml bottle! Straw-coloured and heavily, if not overly carbonated this 5% cider may be organic but the ingredients state that it is made from concentrate, sugar and malic acid. The acid is quite noticable in the aftertaste and the cider is quiet thin. Actually it is very difficult to get any flavour apart from acid out of this cider as the carbonation is so high. Not a great cider, think Sams should stay brewing their excellent beers rather than try and copy what Westons, Gwynt and others do far better.
UPDATE: once the carbonation has died down the flavour of apples does come through, though it takes half an hour. The apple concentrate appears to be made from desert/eaters and the style is reminiscent of Kentish cider.

Saturday 10 April 2010

Capel, Gilfach Fargoed

Capel Hotel, Park Place, Gilfach Fargoed, CF81 8LW

On bus routes X38 (Pontypridd-Bargoed), 50 (Newport-Bargoed)

Also close to Gilfach Fargoed railway station on the Rhymney line, limited service though.

The Capel Hotel is a large, imposing roadside pub with floral displays outside in hanging baskets. The unmistakable pub sign features 5 hop cones, a clue as to the beer quality and variety to be found inside. The word 'Capel' is Welsh for 'chapel' but the pub was actually named after John Capel Hanbury, a local landowner. The family also gave their name to the abundance of pubs in South Wales with the name 'Hanbury Arms' in Caerleon, Pontypool and Aberbeeg (now demolished). The Capel was built by the Phillips Brewery of Newport in 1912 and is a good example of an Edwardian pub with many original features still intact. This may have something to do with the fact that the pub has been in the same family for almost 50 years. Phillips were taken over by Simonds of Reading, who were themselves swallowed up by Courage Brewery. Today the Capel is a tenanted pub, owned by a Pub Company.

The interior of the Capel features an impressive carved wooden bar with gleaming handpumps offering a choice of real ales including the Caerphilly-based brewery Newman's Red Stag bitter to guest ales from further afield such as Sharp's of Cornwall and Tring of Hertfordshire. Beers from Rhymney brewery also feature on the bar regularly and there is a choice of draught cider and perry from Gwynt Y Ddraig in Church Village. The interior also features a mixture of old, possibly original wood panelling and pumpclips from the various guest beers that the Capel has served to customers over the years. The ceiling is decorated with dried hops and the beams have quotations about drinking on them from people as varied as Benjamin Franklin to Oscar Wilde and Samuel Johnson supplies a quote on the outside of the pub.

The Capel also serves food with baguettes, Cornish pasties and chips available Monday-Friday 12-2, 6-8.30, Saturday 12-8 and Sunday 12-4.

The etched glass windows of the Capel are also worthy of a mention, with long-forgotten terms such as 'Jug & Bottle”, an old term for off premises sales, and the more intriguing “Commercial & Smoke Rooms”, which today would be illegal because of the smoking ban. The Capel still runs 'Jug and Bottle' off-sales, with customers able to purchase carry-out containers of their favourite ales or ciders. Other windows are home to a collection of annual CAMRA Good Beer Guide stickers and the Capel is a former Mid-Glamorgan CAMRA Pub of the Year. The Capel also runs an annual beer festival in May.

As well as the extensive bar area with a pool table, there are also a number of rooms off the main bar area, including the 'Singing Room' accessed via the bar, where the old pub piano used to play. Today it is used for more modern musical delights but it does offer attractive views to the rear of the pub, across the Rhymney Valley. Old cast-iron bar stools allow customers to sit at the bar or there is a plentiful choice of seating at one of the many tables that are available in this pub.

Conversation dominates in this Valleys' pub and it is popular with drinkers of all ages.
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Friday 9 April 2010

New Beer from Untapped Brewery

 The Untapped Brewery are launching a new beer -U.P.A. (Untapped Pale Ale). Described as, "The perfect pint for the long, hot summer we're about to have....! A light, delicate ale with almost citrus flavours followed on by a long, hoppy, balanced finish. 4.5% vol. Very refreshing indeed..."
UPA is brewed with Pale Ale and a touch of Crystal Malts and is hopped with Celia and Cascade hops.
Find The Untapped Brewery at Roath and Riverside Farmers markets, as well as at Abergavenny, Usk & Monmouth Farmers Markets.

Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn

Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn, Main Road, Gwaelod-y-Garth, Cardiff, CF15 9HH, 029 20810408 ,
 A runner-up in the Cardiff CAMRA Pub of the Year Award

The Gwaelod-y-Garth pub is situated overlooking Taff's Well and this attractive two-story stone-built building offers picturesque views across the Taff Valley below. The front area outside the pub has tables and chairs as well as a canopy for those not so dry days and there is a car park towards the rear of the pub.
The inside is welcoming with a wooden bar and flagstone floors with a separate pool room with old stained glass lettering above the doorway saying 'Saloon'. Two cast-iron fire grates sit in the large stone fireplaces at opposite ends of the pub, the roaring fires providing welcome warmth in the March chill. There are plenty of seats in this pub as well as a separate restaurant upstairs. There is even a bookcase from which customers can choose a Pub Guide or other books to read whilst enjoying the views from the windows.
The name of the pub means 'the foot of the headland of the enclosure' but locals just refer to it as 'The Gwaelod'. The village was the inspiration behind the book and the film The Englishman who went up a Hill and came down a Mountain, although the film was shot in Powys as a more rural setting was thought to be needed than the industrial Taff Valley.
The pub has recently undergone a refurbishment but has not lost any of its character, the old stone walls are decorated with paintings and photographs of the local area, porcelain and pewter beer tankards hang from the rafters and above the bar hang hop bines, picked last Autumn.
Real ales are prominent on the bar at the Gwaelod, with six handpumps offering a choice of real ales from across Britain. Breweries such as Wye Valley, Tomos Watkin, RCH, Purple Moose and Titanic have all featured recently with Wye Valley Bitter being a permanent real ale on the bar. Local cider and perry from Gwynt y Ddraig is also available in bottles and Peroni lager from Italy is on draught.
The Gwaelod is open from 1000 am and serves food Monday-Thursday 12-2, 6.30-9, all day Friday and Saturday and 12-3.30 Sunday, with booking advisable on Sundays. The food is locally sourced wherever possible, with the beef coming from cattle from a nearby farm. There are separate lunch and evening menus along with a specials board which features food such as pork sausages cooked in Gwynt Y Ddraig cider gravy. It is not surprising that this pub has won awards over the years, from a runner-up in the Cardiff CAMRA Pub of the Year Award to Best Local Pub in the South Wales Echo Food & Drink Awards, this is a wonderful pub in a stunning location. 

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CF15 9HH, 
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Thursday 8 April 2010

Welsh Assembly now gives grants to convert pubs to restaurants

Not content with dishing out £250,000 of our money to fake charity Alcohol Concern, the Welsh Assembly has now given a grant of £172,800 to a Mr Mafiz Ali to convert the former Old Rising Sun/Harlequin pub into an Indian restaurant. Just what we need in Newport, another restaurant! The City is full of third-rate Indian restaurants at the moment with hardly any customers, chucking this money at a new venture will do nothing to improve Newport. Still at least the local populations of stray cats and dogs are kept in order!
The Old Rising Sun was sold by Admiral Taverns in 2006 for £300,000 and closed shortly afterwards with the usual 'suspicious fire' taking place. Amazing that so many Newport pubs somehow catch fire just after they close! The spontaneous combustion of recently closed public houses is a fascinating subject which the local police should really take more interest in rather than harrassing innocent citizens.
The Welsh Assembly and their Assembly Beer Group do claim to support our breweries and pubs but with money being thrown at projects such as this you have to wonder where our politicians truly stand?

Lets see some Assembly money being put into supporting our pubs, not encouraging their destruction.

H/T to the South Wales Argus for this story, though they seem to have missed the bit about the Assembly wasting our money


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