Thursday 30 September 2010

Fagins Beer Festival features Trashy Blonde!

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The award-winning Fagins pub in Taffs Well, will be holding their annual beer festival this weekend with kick-off tonight (Thursday).
PIG ROAST FRIDAY AFTEROON - (approx 3pm-ish) together with a Koran burning.

Easily reached by bus from either Cardiff or Pontypridd, Fagins has had a deserved reputation for good food and real ale for many years. This roadside terraced inn offers a traditional pub environment with wooden beams on the ceiling and barrels as tables as well as a separate restaurant to the rear. The wooden beams feature bilingual graffiti which add to the convivial atmosphere of having a pint of real ale in this pub.
The beer range is the best for miles with real ales from across the UK regularly available alongside more local brews from award-winning breweries such as Otley and Vale of Glamorgan. Beers are either served via the traditional beer engine on the bar or straight from the barrel in the temperature-controlled stillage behind the bar. Fagins is one of the few pubs in South Wales to use this gravity-method of dispensing real ale. The constantly changing beer range is one of the reasons this pub is very popular and the beer list is updated to the pub website on a weekly basis. Recent guest beers have included Sarah Hughes dark Ruby Mild and Hobsons Town Crier, both unusual beers to find here in South Wales away from their West Midlands and Shropshire homelands.
 Two beer festivals are also held every year
Fagins also hosts live music every Thursday and occasional Fridays and Saturdays – the pub website gives full details of the bands booked to appear.
Both bar meals and restaurant meals are available, check out the chalkboard in the pub for what the daily specials are. Wherever possible the food is locally sourced Welsh produce and can include home-made steak & Kidney Pie with handmade chips or home-cooked ham or locally-made sausages. Food is served 12-2 and 6-9 every day apart from Mondays and Sunday nights.
Local cider is also available from Gwynt Y Ddraig, an award-winning cidermaker based just a few miles away in Llantwit Fardre. At the moment two ciders are available on draught from Gwynt, their Farmhouse Scrumpy and Hazy Daze.
Fagins Ale & Chop House has won awards over the years; the most recent was the Mid-Glamorgan Branch of CAMRA Pub of the Year 2008. The motto of Fagins is “Real Ale, Real Food, Real Fire, Real People” and who can argue with that for a great pub. This pub is well worth stopping in, either for a quick pint or two or for a meal.

The Beer List:

8 Cardiff Rd,
Taffs Well,
South Glamorgan
CF15 7RE
Traveline Cymru: Bus Nos 26 & 132 stop nearby

Naked Guide to Cider - Book Review

Book Review: Naked Guide to Cider by James Russell
ISBN 9781906477325 RRP £9.95

There is a shortage of cider books on the market, it does appear to be a much-neglected section of the drinks industry. Luckily James Russell has decided to dip his writing finger into the pomace and come out with ''The Naked Guide to Cider''. A compact 240 page book, the NG2C has a forward by industry stalwart John Thatcher followed by various chapters on the definition and history of cider and perry; a useful glossary of terms; a look at various cider-making regions; making cider; history and culture with, of course a mention of the Wurzels. Black and white photos break up the text together with two colour photo sections, one featuring the UK's oldest cidermaker, Frank Naish. In fact the book is interspaced with interviews with the famous names of the cidermaking world - Julian Temperley, Roger Wilkins, Andrew Gronnow etc.
An enjoyable guide to the cider bars of Bristol of Bristol is given, the book does tend to have a bit of Bristol centric view of the world of cider as the author lives there but that is only a minor complaint.
Some interesting facts emerge from the author who is clearly in love with his subject – Blakeney Red pears being used to dye army uniforms khaki for instance. I can vouch for their staining properties as have never managed to removed the stain of pear juice from one of my shirts despite repeated washing!
The book briefly touches on some of the more complicated techniques of cidermaking and mentions keeving, although without explaining what it is – you have to read a section further on to find that out and there is no index at the back. Saying that another book I have takes three pages to explain it so it is perhaps not the book to go into depth with detailed descriptions. The NG2C does however touch on the different rootstocks available, quite often overlooked in other books.
A useful glossary towards the end of the book provides a timeline of cider throughout history with an interesting anecdote that ''St Guenole of Brittany chastises himself by living on a diet of water and perry in 500 AD'', proving that fad diets are not a modern creation.
There are a few mistakes in the book – a well-known Welsh cidermaker has his name reversed and 'Blackthorn' is mistakenly written as 'Blacktorn' but these are minor faults in what is a well-researched book that even manages to quote the anthropological book, Frazer's Golden Bough. The book is not without its amusing side as well with a paragraph on 'How to make your own cider house' and a page of 'Scariest Cider Cocktails'.
All in all a good read and a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any cider enthusiast.

Thanks to Denis Gwatkin for lending me his copy of this book to review!

Pairing off with a beer for the Ryder Cup

The Vale of Glamorgan Brewery in Barry has decided to celebrate the Ryder cup and, of course, the visit of Tiger Wood to the Celtic Manor in Ringland, Newport, with this tasteful pumpclip.
Described as having "a nutty malt flavour and long spicy hop finish", this 4.7% ale is limited to only 6000 draught pints and a small amount of bottled beer available here.
No doubt the femininazis will be up in arms about this pump clip design? No why not? They object to Hooters opening in Cardiff but not to this?
Wonder if Tiger will get the chance to down a pint between holes?
The beer is currently available in the Golden Hart pub on Cardiff Road, Newport.

Friday 24 September 2010

Hay on Beer

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Hay on Wye will be home to a beer and literature festival this weekend as Kilverts plays host to a beer festival and beer writers. The full beer list can be found here (Google doc)
Organiser Ed Davies says, "I have arranged for some of the country’s best beer writers to come and talk about their work".
Hops and Glory author and beer writer of the year Pete Brown will describe his three month journey from Burton Trent to India in the company of a cask of IPA.
You get two pints for the price one when Adrian Tierney-Jones (1001 Beer You must Try Before you Die) and Tim Hampson (The Beer Book) debate which are best – ales from North Wales or the South.
Melissa Cole will take the “beard out of beer” and lead a tasting for the ladies and a beer and food matching. And if all of this is not enough, Zak Avery, author of 500 Beers, will describe some of his favourite brews.
From the Wye Valley Brewery Peter and Vernon Amor (brewers of Dorothy Goodbody’s Wholesome Stout) will be giving readings from the Dorothy Goodbody stories and Breconshire Brewery’s head brewer Buster Grant will talk about the future of beer in the Principality.
Should you tire of the beer, there will be talks and readings by several local authors and poets. And if you want something that goes with a bang the Sealed Knot’s Hay Garrison will be firing their muskets. More than 50 different Welsh ales will be available at the festival.
The festival is opened 5pm Friday 24th by Martin Weale, Chairman of the Brecknock branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, and full details can be found on the website.
Kilvert's Inn
Hay on Wye

Beer, Cheese, Cider, Cardiff!

From Brew Wales

The Great British Cheese Festival returns to cardiff Castle this weekend

Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th September 2010
Cardiff Castle 10am – 5pm
Programme Available to download here
selection of Masterclasses will be conducted throughout the weekend, including a cider and cheese tasting conducted by Bill George of Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider, ably assisted by the editor of this website talking about cheese and cider for the third year at this event. 
The Masterclass will cost £5.00 and will last approximately 55 minutes with one on the Saturday at 1100 and the Sunday at 1500
Admission costs £8.50 and the entrance is the main Cardiff castle entrance.
Beer List, subject to delivery/availability etc: 
Heart of Wales WELSH BLACK
Otley O1
Purple Moose SNOWDONIA
Hook Norton OLD HOOKY
Great Orme CELTICA
Rhymney DARK
Celt Experience GOLDEN
Brains DARK
Bryncelyn OH BOY
Springhead BEST BITTER
Ciders and perries from Gwatkin, Gwynt Y Ddraig and Llanblethian Orchards will also be available. 
Around 40 different ciders available!.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Green hop to Brecon

Justin "Buster" Grant, head brewer at Breconshire Brewery has brewed a special annual beer, made with hops picked on the same day as brewing the beer.
Usually hops will be dried and vacuum packed in order to preserve them but by using fresh hops some unique characteristics are passed on to the beer in the volatile compounds that can be lost through processing.
The hops were picked on the morning of the 9th of September at 11 am to be precise, at Little Lambswick Farm, near Tetbury Wells in Herefordshire and went into the boil at 3pm.

Green Dragon is described as a  4.6% golden ale, there is a gentle malty base of pale and wheat malts, with the just picked hops adding all of the remaining flavours.
An exceptionally fresh tasting beer with a gentle refreshing bitterness.
Green Dragon has now finished fermenting and has been released into the trade, look out for it in pubs across South Wales.

Bassett Pub Company expands with Ninian Park acquisition

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The JW Bassett Pub Company, who already run pubs from Penarth to Kilburn has announced another pub to add to their estate as they have bought the lease of the Ninian Park pub from brewers SA Brain. The JW Bassett company already runs the Queens Vaults in Cardiff and the Carpenter's Arms in Newport and according to pub company owner John Bassett, a keen Cardiff City supporter, "We are going to be capitalising on stadium events days. There will be a lot of memorabilia going in there and we’ve commissioned paintings of players for the walls, it will be transformed.”
The pub will have high-definition televisions installed for punters to watch pre-match football, while there will be a new menu as JW Bassett looks to attract custom outside of match days.
“We want to get the locals back in there. A lot of people are walking into town, or to Cowbridge Road instead. But we also want to continue to attract the Cardiff City element of the business. What I can say is that it will not be turned into flats, in three days it will be transformed.”
Although built around 1975, the Ninain Park pub replaced the Atlas Hotel which had been built in 1878.

H/T to Wales Online

Friday 17 September 2010

Abergavenny Food Festival

Above: Abergavenny from the Blorenge

 Amongst the producers present will be:
Gregg's Pit Cider & Perry
Gwatkin Cider Co Ltd
Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider
Kingstone Brewery
Otley Brewing Company
Ralph's Cider & Perry
Spyder Ginger Beer
Ty Gwyn Cider
Wernddu Vineyard and Winery
Wye Valley Brewery
Did not see the Tudor Brewery on the list but they will no doubt be there somewhere, if not pop over the King's Arms for a pint or two.
Looking forward to a couple of days of samplying the best ciders, cheeses and other produce at this historic market town. Also will be on for a bit of a pub crawl in the night so if anyone fancies going to the King's Arms, the Angel, the Grofield and the Hen & Chickens then I'll be along to help those from Cardiff get on their correct train again! 
Will be tweeting during the Festival from my account @ArfurD and using the #abff hashtag during the festival.
The Festival is open Saturday and Sunday with lots more details on their website here.

Rumour has it that cidermaker Denis Gwatkin will be launching a new product at the show - a bit hush hush at the moment but is sure to send the corks popping when opened!
Above: Map of Abergavenny Town and the Food Festival
Journey Planner:

Thursday 16 September 2010

Aberystwyth Pub is best in South and Mid-Wales

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The Ship & Castle in Aberystwyth has beat pubs from across South & Mid-Wales to be crowned Regional Pub of the Year by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The Ship and Castle will now compete against 15 other pubs for the national pub of the year title.
Described in the 2011 Good Beer Guide, published today, as
Ship & Castle, 1 High Street, Aberystwyth, SY23 1JG (Page 595, Good Beer Guide 2011)

The best just got better. A total refit has given this flagship real ale pub improved facilities while retaining its original character. A Mecca for townsfolk, students and visitors of all ages. Five draught beers are usually available, mainly from micros, alongside Westons Old Rosie and Perry. Bottled offerings include Gwynt y Ddraig cider and a small European range including Duval. Beers festivals are held in spring and autumn, and CAMRA runs occasional quiz nights.

The next beer festival at the Ship & Castle will be over the weekend of the 27th-28th October.

The Good Beer Guide is available on Amazon:

New Welsh Breweries feature in the Good Beer Guide

The Good Beer Guide 2011, launched today by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale features more breweries than ever before with 767 different breweries now operating throughout the UK. Four new Welsh breweries are featured in the Guide:
Neath Ales, Neath
Rotters Brewery, Talgarth
Abbey Grange, Llangollen
Gertie Sweet, Eyton (contract brewed at Plassey)

Good Beer Guide editor and Trotskyite Roger Protz says: “The real ale revolution goes on in spite of all the problems facing the brewing industry such as the often anti-competitive behaviour of the large pub companies, the heavy and continuing rise in tax on beer, grossly unfair competition from supermarkets, and the smoking ban in pubs. Yet, against all the odds, craft breweries continue to sprout like mushrooms at dawn.”

“The main reason is a simple one: craft brewers are responding to genuine consumer demand. Beer in pubs may be expensive compared to cheap supermarkets but drinkers are prepared to pay a bit extra for beer with taste and quality. Real ale hits the spot in every way: it has flavour and is made from pure, natural ingredients that are grown mainly here in Britain. More and more people want to think local and drink local and real ale meets that demand.”
“These breweries are just the tip of the famous iceberg,” editor Roger Protz says.
“The breweries section of the Guide is full of similar success stories of small craft breweries that are booming and growing as a result of beer lovers’ demand.
“The British are notoriously bad at celebrating the things we do well but let’s raise a glass to the success of the good old British pint!

The Good Beer Guide is surveyed every year by CAMRA members and the new edition, the 38th, features over 1000 new entries.

Save money on the Good Beer Guide RRP by ordering on Amazon:

Tuesday 14 September 2010

Flintshire Real Ale Trail

 Eight Welsh pubs in Flintshire have come together to organise a Real Ale Trail on Saturday 18th September. The pubs, on the Mold-Denbigh Road will be open and serving Welsh real ales fromm 11-11 with a shuttle bus running between the pubs every 30 minutes.  Bus tickets are available from participating pubs and cost only £3 for all travel day.
Pubs taking part include:
 Blue Bell Inn, Halkyn. CAMRA Cider pub of the year 2010
Antelope, Rhydymwyn
Royal Oak, Hendre
The Crown Inn, Lixwm
Royal Oak, Caerwys
Piccadily, Caerwys
Pwll Gwyn, Afonwen
Downing Arms, Bodfari

The trail is organised by the
Flintshire Tourism Association (FTA) to celebrate the Flintshire's unique Welsh pubs, unusual ales and local food. Starting and ending points are the Denbigh Lenten Pool and the Hot Wok, Mold.
 According to John Les Tomos, FTA chairman, “We are fiercely proud of our Welsh pubs and the Real
Ale Trail is a fantastic opportunity to showcase pubs and ales, such as the Flintshire Bitter. We are geared up to accommodate a good number of people and have put on live music, entertainment, and local food. ”

Friday 10 September 2010

Get Untapped at Rudry this Saturday

 For those of you not at the Tredegar Arms in Bassaleg, the Ludlow Food Festival or Newtowning this weekend, it's also the annual Rudry Village Fair with a bar opening at midday.
Caerphilly at Rudry Village Hall CF83 3DF,
Saturday 12th September. From 1200.
Rudry Village Hall. CF83 3DF
Admission £1.50.

Mid way between Rudry village and the Maenllwyd Pub.

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Cask Beers: All Gravity Served- from the Otley Brewery and others including Untapped Brewing Company.

 A couple of tasting notes for the Untapped Brewing Co:
'Sundown' a light in body, full flavoured Golden ale 4.0%
Mainly pale malt with a touch of crystal. Hops: Challenger - bittering; Goldings - aromatic.

'Eclipse' fuller, deep and dark. Well balanced and easy drinking.. 4.4%
Mainly pale malt with some crystal and chocolate malt for colour and flavour. Hops: Northdown - Bittering and Aromatic.

Both are bottle conditioned beers, and available in 500ml bottles.

Journey Planner, buses run from Caerphilly Bus Staion to Rudry:

On the Showfield-
Essentially a family afternoon, with numerous activities for children.
Dog show, animal fancy dress, pony rides, various craft & produce competitions.

Café and Bar in the Village Hall-
Bar opens 1210 until late.

Live entertainment from 1900.

Ale trail in Newtown

Newtown in Powys is looking like the place to be this weekend as the 2010 Ale Trail gets under way with all 12 of the market town's pubs getting involved.
Pub such as the Elephant & Castle will be joining in together with the Sportsman, run by the local Monty's Brewery, to bring a wide selection of real ales to the thirsty visitors and residents of Newtown. A food and drink market is also happening in the town this weekend.

Newtown is easily reached by train and is on the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line.

Journey Planner:

Thursday 9 September 2010

Tredegar Arms Beer and Cider Festival this weekend

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The Tredegar Arms, Bassaleg on the outskirts of Newport will be holding a beer festival this weekend. This Greene King pub will be featuring a large selection of real ales and local ciders as well:
Palmers Upland Cyder: Cheeky Jackdaw Cyder, Ty Du Cyder and Oaky Dokey Cyder
Blaengawney Cider will have 3 ciders including a rum cask one.

Tredegar Arms
4 Caerphilly Road
NP10 8LE
Journey Planner:

Tuesday 7 September 2010

A couple of Celts

 Now it may come as surprise but I do appreciate a good lager, Czech Budvar is one of the best beers in the world, though I have gone off drinking Pilsner Urquell ever since they started brewing in in Poland, it just never tasted the same. However I did fiind this locally-brewed beer which is lagered in the traditional manner and tastes just who a lager should.

Celt Experience Cwrw Lager, 5%ABV, 330ml bottle, direct from the brewery, Unit 2E, Pontygwindy Industrial Estate, Caerphilly. CF83 3HU, 0870 803 3876

Celt Experience Brewery was established in 2007 at Caerphilly, the first brewery in the area for over 100 years. Lager has been brewed in Wales since 1883 and Cwrw from Celt Experience is the latest Welsh brewery to brew this style of beer, Cwrw, of course, means beer in Welsh and this beer is brewed from Munich lager malt as well as Saaz hops. The beer is also matured or lagered for 6 weeks in the traditional continental manner.
Celt Experience Cwrw is golden yellow in colour and has a sweet, malty aroma with a slight hoppy nose. A smooth, sweet initial flavour leads to some astringency and bitterness in the aftertaste, resulting in a dry finish. A deceptively easy to drink beer despite the strength of 5%.

As a complete contrast I thought I would try one of their other beers:

Celt Experience Brewery, Bleddyn, 5.6%, /500ml bottle

Bleddyn is named after a Welsh king who died in 1075. Celt Bleddyn is an organic beer and has deep golden colour with a rich aroma of pear drops and candied pistachio nuts. The beer uses hops from North America and New Zealand to produce these aromas. There is a bitter initial flavour followed by a bitter aftertaste and lingering tangy bitterness on the tongue, as well as a warming sensation. The aftertaste produces flavours such as grapefruit, again caused by the Chinook and First Gold hops to brew this beer, which won an award at the SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, awards in Hereford last year.

These beers, plus more from their range are availbale to buy direct from the brewery at:

The Celt Experience Brewery
Unit 2E Pontygwindy Industrial Estate
Pontygwindy Road
Mid Glamorgan
CF83 3HU 

Owain Glyndwr, Cardiff

Owain Glyndwr/Tair Pluen, 10 St Johns Square/Church Street, Cardiff, CF10 1GL

The Owain Glyndwr, built in the shadow of St John's Church, is one of the oldest pubs in Cardiff and has had a variety of names throughout the years including rsvp, the Buccaneer, the Tennis Courts Hotel, the Kemeys-Tynt Arms, the Green Dragon and was known as the Mably Arms back in 1731. There is a building on this site shown on Speed's map of 1610 and the pub was once the brewery tap for Nell's Eagle Brewery, which was situated behind the pub until it closed in 1927. Nell's brewery, the Tennis Court and 11 other pubs were bought by Crosswell's Brewery and eventually ended up in the Whitbread Empire, then Laurel Pub Company, Discovery Inns and now the pub is now owned by the Stonegate Pub Company. Today the pub is split into two, with the larger Owain Glyndwr side being open all day, and the smaller Tair Pluen bar being open at night. This pub has a two-story stone frontage and occupies the corner of Church Street and St John Street.
The Owain Glyndwr side features old photographs of Cardiff and paintings, including one entitled,  “The Fall of Harlech Castle”, which Owain Glyndwr did not actually take by force, but by bribing the English garrison to leave the castle in 1404. Still it is good to see a pub that has finally settled on its name, even if it is named after a Welsh historical character who did burn down Cardiff and Newport. The Owain Glyndwr also features wooden floorboards and varnished wood panelling throughout the pub as well as a raised dining area with a good view of the St John's Church and the pedestrianised shopping area. The interior of this bar is spacious and there is another dining area upstairs. Food is served all day until 9pm. There is also plenty of seating and tables outside the pub, for those wishing to smoke, or just embrace the café culture of pavement drinking.
The Tair Pluen or Three Feathers, named after the Prince of Wales' coat of arms that feature on the pub sign outside, features music on Thursday and Friday nights and is a narrow, split-level bar. There is also a  function room available for customers to use for free. Both bars feature 4 real ale ales, which change regularly and often feature local breweries such as Brains, Felinfoel and Vale of Glamorgan. Around 12 different real ales are served every week between the 2 bars. 
The Owain Glyndwr/Tair Pluen make interesting additions to the Cardiff pub scene and a change from the usual superpubs that tend to dominate the City Centre. 

 Google Map:

Saturday 4 September 2010

Neath Ales Green Bullet and Gold beers

Every so often I come across a truly excellent beer and having tried Green Bullet from Neath Ales in both bottle and draught format I can confirm that this is a truly stunning beer.

Green Bullet, 6% ABV, 330ml bottle,
Green Bullet is the name given to a variety of hop grown in New Zealand and this beer is an amber coloured beer with a complex aroma of sharp, fruity citrus flavours from the hops matched with the biscuity aroma of the Maris Otter Malt used to brew this beer. The sweet,malty biscuity flavour is also present in the taste before the unique flavour of the hops provides the bitterness at the end. This is surprisingly drinkable for a 6% beer, a wonderful example of a traditional Indian Pale Ale beer style.

Last week the brewer kindly helped Swansea Bay Beer Festival keep a good range on right to the end, with an emergency reorder. So thanks Jay and keep up the good work.

Neath Ales Gold, 5%ABV, 500ml bottle 

Neath Ales Gold is a deep amber colour and has a rich aroma of citrus fruits and orange marmalade, caused by the First Gold hops used to brew this beer. A smooth bitter initial taste leads on to a very complex aftertaste with the true bitterness coming through a good few minutes after drinking.
An intensely bitter beer that goes well with strong hard cheeses.
I look forward to trying the rest of the range. 

More closed pubs

I see Curmudgeon has a new blog, highlighting pub closures and using photos from Google street view. Thought I'd add some here, taken from my own collection. Above is the former King, originally the King of Prussia, Somerton, Newport. Building is currently in a state of dereliction and awaiting conversion to flats.

 Nearby the Black Horse in Somerton is awaiting demolition and a Tesco Extra to be erected on the site. A former Ansells pub the building has again been derelict for years.

In the City centre, the former King William IV stands shuttered up on Commercial Street. This pub was originally a Phillips Brewery pub before Courage, Ushers and a pub company took it over.

Close to the indoor market, the Trout on Market Street stands empty. Originally a Lloyd & Yorath pub, this later became an Ansells house before being closed. For some reason the lease has reverted back to Newport Council but they do not appear to be interested in marketing the building and it fits in well with the empty shops that dominate the City Centre.
The King's Arms on Belmont Hill has at least reopened, albeit as an Indian restaurant rather than a pub!

Duke of Wellington, Cardiff

Duke of Wellington, 42 The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1AJ

The Duke of Wellington is an unmistakable three-story red-brick building facing the St Davids 2 shopping centre and decorated with flowers hanging on the outside. The pub has recently been refurbished by owners SA Brain. Built in 1892, the pub was named after the Iron Duke to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of his death. Having been opposite a major building site for the last few years, the Duke of Wellington was in need of a much needed refurbishment and Brains Brewery have done well in bringing this bar up to the standards of a twenty-first century pub. The pub had in the last few years just been known as 'Wellingtons' but thankfully the refurbishment has restored the original name.
The tables and chairs outside the pub fit in well with the nearby café quarter of Mill Lane and the inside of the Duke features a range of seating areas with raised seating areas featuring tables and chairs to high tables and even a secluded couch area towards the side of the bar. As this is one of the Capitol' s smallest pubs, SA Brain have made good use of the available space in here and have even kept some of the original nineteenth century partitions which separated the bars and necessitated in the three separate entrance doors to the pub, although only two are in use today. Some customers may moan about the gents toilets being moved upstairs though.
The interior of the Duke features high ceilings with arches and plaster mouldings, along with large mirrors to make the best use of the available light. Old photographs of Cardiff are displayed on the walls and there is a bookcase in one section of the pub. The inside of the Duke also features dark wood tables and bar-counter but this is complemented by the light coloured walls and the gleaming brass handpumps and foot-rails on the bar. Even the keg fonts only have brass plaques on them to distinguish them from each other. Five real ales are served here, Brains Bitter, SA, SA Gold, Rev. James and a guest beer from another brewery. Recent guests have included Sunchaser from Everards Brewery in Leicester and the unusual-sounding Tettnang from York Brewery. There is also an extensive wine list and the Duke also has a choice of bottled beers and ciders including Orchard Gold from Gwynt Y Ddriag. Alternatively there is a choice of coffees from Costa Coffee available at the bar.
Food is available all day at the Duke and there are chalkboard menus for the Daily Specials and desserts, as well as the more conventional printed menus. The food can range from beer-battered haddock and chips to a cold meat platter with desserts such as Carmarthenshire ice cream and sorbet or cherry and chocolate fondant. A welcome addition to the Cardiff pub scene, the Duke does have the look and feeling of a new pub despite it being here for almost 120 years.

Thursday 2 September 2010

Beer Festival at the Boars this weekend

From Brew Wales

The award-winning Boar's Head at Tyla Garw, near Pontyclun, will be holding a beer festival this weekend, starting on friday 3rd September. Beers on sale, subject to availability are:

BREWDOG - 'Trashy Blond'

BREWSTERS - 'Decadence'

BREWSTERS - 'Rutterkin'

BREWSTERS - 'Stilton Porter'

CHEDDAR ALES - 'Gorge Best'

CHEDDAR ALES - 'Potholer'

CHEDDAR ALES - 'Bitter Bully'

CROUCH VALE - 'Amarillo'

CROUCH VALE - 'Brewer's Gold'

CROUCH VALE - 'Summer Breeze'

DARK STAR - 'American Pale Ale'

DARK STAR - 'Hophead'

DARK STAR - 'Sunburst'

GREEN JACK - 'Orange Wheat'

GREEN JACK - 'Ripper Tripel'

.HOPBACK - 'Crop Circle'

HOPBACK - 'Entire Stout'

HOPBACK - 'Summer Lightning'

.HOWARD TOWN - 'Snake Ale'

HOWARD TOWN - 'Longdendale Light'

.LODDEN - 'Bamboozle'

LODDEN - 'Ferrymans' Gold'

MAULDON - 'Mousetrap'

MAULDON - 'Silver Adder'

MAULDON - 'Suffolk Pride'

OAKHAM - 'Bishop's Farewell'

OAKHAM - 'Inferno'


RCH - 'Double Header'

RCH - 'Old Slug Porter'

RCH - 'PG Steam'

RED FOX - 'Red Fox Bitter'

RED FOX - Hunter's Gold'


RED FOX - 'Wily 'Ol Fox'

SARAH HUGHES - 'Dark Ruby Mild'

.SPRINGHEAD - 'Bare Bones'

SPRINGHEAD - 'Charlie's Angel'

SPRINGHEAD - 'Roaring Meg'

THORNBRIDGE - 'Craven Silk'



TRIPLE FFF - 'Stairway to Heaven'

TRIPLE FFF - 'Moondance'

WOLF - 'Granny Wouldn't Like It'

WOLF - 'Straw Dog'

WYE VALLEY - 'D.G. Golden Ale'

WYE VALLEY - 'Butty Bach'


.YORK - 'Guzzler'

YORK - 'Yorkshire Terrier'


HECKS - 'Single Variety Cider'



Boar's Head, Tyla Garw, Pontyclun, CF72 9EZ, 01443 225400

A less than 10-minute walk westwards from Pontyclun railway station, brings you to the Boar's Head, unmistakable with it's old Fernvale Brewery sign outside, a former Welsh brewery that closed in 1970. The walk is a bit difficult as it involves crossing the Bailey Bridge, walking through an industrial estate and almost missing a hidden path with metal fencing around it. Clue – turn right at the stones and carry straight on past the new housing estate. The Boar's Head is on the left hand side, by the level crossing. There is a car park at the rear of the pub if you choose to drive here.

Entering the door of this pub, with its stained glass windows, you could be forgiven for thinking that nothing has changed since the pub was built in 1875, however a few years ago, the Boar's underwent a sympathetic refurbishment with the bar now becoming the centre of the pub and the surrounding rooms were retained rather than knocked through into one. The pub was originally built by the Trecastle Estate for the nearby tinplate workers.

Six real ales are always available on the bar here, together with Budvar Dark Lager from the Czech Republic. The beer range varies but brewers such as Hydes of Manchester, Archers of Swindon and Mathews of Bath are often seen on handpumps alongside Fullers from London and Welsh breweries such as Heart of Wales from Powys. This is an unusual beer range for South Wales, made possible by the fact that the Boar's Head is a free house and not tied to any particular brewery. However the popularity of some of the brews with customers means that Mathews Brassknocker, a golden, hoppy ale of 3.8% ABV, has become an almost permanent feature on the bar.

The Boar's Head is panelled throughout in wood and gleaming copper pans hang over the bar. Another reminder of the old days of Welsh brewing is the old Ely Brewery poster in the bar.

There is a pleasant outside drinking area to the rear and a choice of rooms in the pub to eat or drink in. There is Welsh food on the menu in the form of Celtic Pride beef burgers and Welsh Black Beef Curry. Special offers run throughout the week on the menus with Tuesday being steak night and Wednesday curry night. Bookings are recommended for Sunday lunch. Food served Mon-Sat 12-2.30, 6-8.30

Every room in the Boar's has its own character, with long table and settles or more traditional dining tables in the restaurant section. Every room also has its own fireplace, ideal for those winter evenings. The Boar's Head is a pub that offers something for everyone and is a well deserved winner of the Mid-Glamorgan Branch of CAMRA Pub of the Year 2009.
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The pub is short distance from Pontyclun Railway Station



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