What better way to spend a day than to go for a walk in a beautiful wildlife reserve, burn off a load of excess calories and then warm up afterwards with a rich, dark ale?
Especially when you know that lovely pint has just helped the wildlife you have been appreciating all day.
This is all now possible thanks to the Breconshire Brewery.Really Wild Nut Brown Ale has been launched at the Royal Welsh Winter Fayre. A percentage from every sale is being donated to the Wildlife Trusts in Wales. As charities the Wildlife Trusts benefit enormously from such donations as do the wildlife they work to protect. This special relationship will help support wildlife all across Wales.
After much experimentation, which was very difficult (!), the brewery and Wildlife Trusts staff settled on an ale flavoured with cobnuts, vanilla & rosemary as being a suitable beverage to support the huge diversity of wildlife in Wales.
Really Wild Nut Brown Ale was launched at the Royal Welsh Winter Fayre on the 29th November and will be available for sale at the Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran, as well as from the Brewery direct and all good independent stockists. .
Wildlife Trusts Wales. The six Wildlife Trusts in Wales work together for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. Between us, we have 25,000 members and manage 230 nature reserves in Wales – covering more than 6,000 hectares of prime wildlife habitat, from rugged coastline to urban wildlife havens.
It will be available in bottles (by the case) from Breconshire Brewery and also wholesale from Tanners Wines & Templetons and all good independent retailers , it will also be available from the Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran Cardigan and the Snowdonia Railway.
This flavoursome beer was launched at the Royal Welsh Winter Fayre 29th November
The Nanny State is still there and it did not go away in the General Election.
The responsible drinker is once again seen as the cash-cow of the Government, there to be forcibly milked to fund Clubbers until 3 in the morning.
This time the Government have set their greedy little eyes on increasing duty on beers over 7.5% ABV. Now I doubt if this will effect the Special Brew swigging brigade who inhabit our City Centers but it will hit a small but crucial part of the market - the craft beer scene.
Former Champion Beer of Wales, Otley O8 weighs in at a hefty 8% and is a really powerful, golden hoppy ale. From next year it will be more expensive as we have to fund the bailout to Ireland.
The Tesco American Double IPA, brewed by Brewdog (pictured left) is another fantastic beer. There is a chance that this increase in duty will put off our breweries from producing such innovative and tasty beers in the future. How is that good for the consumer or even for the Government coffers?
This duty raise will also effect imported beers - those wonderful American IPAs and Belgium Trappist beers will become more expensive because of this change in taxation.
As well as the increase in duty, the Treasury have announced a reduced rate of duty for beers below 2.8% ABV. Now I've never tried the Brewdog Nanny State at 1.1% but there were mixed reviews over that.
I have had the misfortune to try Weltons Pride n joy, a 2.8% beer that tasted so bad I, and others thought it was infected at the time. It was not, as lab analysis turned out to reveal but just tasted that bad.
It's all very well announcing a cut in beer duty for beers below 2.8% ABV, but who is going to drink them when they taste so bad?
Not the title of a good weekend out, this is unfortunately the title of a taxpayer funded publication produced by the completely unbiased neo-prohibitionist tax payer-funded fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru. Well worth the £250,000 of taxpayers money that is spent on this organisation by the Welsh Assembly Government. Of course any paper produced by Alcohol Concern Cymru entitled “Wales and alcohol”, will be biased, if you are looking for a balanced point as view you might as well ask the BNP to produce a paper on immigration, both organisations have set agendas and come with their prejudices but at least the BNP are democratically elected and not funded by the taxpayer!
So let's have a look at this document:
Alcohol consumption in Wales has risen markedly in recent decades
Unfortunately Alcohol Concern Cymru fail to produce any evidence of this. A document making such a bold statement as this should include details where the figures for this were obtained from, such as the British Beer & Pub Association. As they refuse to make any such qualifying statement then the reader should just take this statement as hearsay. Not a good start, but remember the fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru has to justify its existence on taxpayers money by making unproven claims such as this.
Alcohol has also become closely linked to the widespread Welsh passion for sport, with major brewers seeking to enhance their Welsh brand by associating themselves with teams and events.
And what is wrong with that? The sponsorship of the Welsh Rugby team by SA Brain proved to be a great success with some of the best adverts for beer we have ever seen in Wales. If a brewer or any other company wishes to spend their money on supporting our players and teams then why should not they? Brains also sponsor Glamorgan Cricket and the Football Association Wales. The Tomos Watkin Brewery of Swansea sponsor Pontypridd RFC and Welsh boxer John Phillips. Coors sponsor Welsh rugby teams via their Worthington brand and even InBev sponsor Welsh teams, so what is the problem?
We don't live in a puritanical society where all alcohol advertising of sports events is banned. Yet the fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru suggests there is something wrong with this type of sponsorship.
Awareness of the concept of units of alcohol was very low amongst interviewees
Hardly surprising this since the whole concept of units of alcohol was, according to the Times 20.10.07., “plucked out of the air” as an “intelligent guess”.
Richard Smith, a member of the Royal College of Physicians working party that invented the concept of units told The Times that the committee’s epidemiologist had confessed that “It’s impossible to say what’s safe and what isn’t” because “We don’t really have any data whatsoever”. So a make-believe unit of alcohol has a very low concept of awareness among drinkers. Perhaps instead of referring to 'units' of alcohol we should refer to Shenkers of alcohol after the head of the fake charity Alcohol Concern.
Recommendations by fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru to address the situation of increasing alcohol misuse, despite the facts that the above examples are hardly instances of abuse:
As recommended by the UK’s Chief Medical Officers and the National Institute for
Health and Clinical Excellence, a minimum price of 50p per unit of alcohol needs to be implemented in both the on-trade and offtrade across England and Wales. This needs to be coupled with a new scale of duties incentivising the production and consumption of lower strength drinks. Given the lack of progress in establishing a minimum price per unit across England and Wales, Alcohol Concern supports devolving the necessary powers to the National Assembly for Wales.
So the fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru supports more powers to the National Assembly for Wales, no doubt hopeful of more taxpayers money finding its way into their coffers. Notice how the Nanny State in the form of Alcohol Concern Cymru states that the minimum price needs to be implemented. No it does not, for one thing minimum pricing is illegal under competition law as it falls within the remit of price fixing. So the taxpayer-funded fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru is advocating that competition law be broken. Time for the Charity Commissioners to take a long, hard look at why these idiotarians are given charity status.
Minimum pricing was rejected by the Scottish Parliament as they had considered it to be illegal.
2. In recognition of the growth of alcohol misuse as a public health issue, and in order to enable licensing authorities to properly address this issue, the protection and improvement of public health needs to be established as a fifth objective within the Licensing Act 2003. This has already taken place in Scotland, and if the UK Government is unwilling to make this important change across England and Wales, the necessary powers should be devolved to Wales.
We have already established that there is no growth in alcohol misuse. Protection and improvement of public health used to refer to clean water supplies and a working sewerage system; the fake charities of the twenty-first century now use the term to justify their handouts from the taxpayer.
3.To reduce irresponsible promotions and increase consumer choice, the Mandatory
Code for Alcohol Retailers in England and Wales must remain in force and be implemented in full.
Now we would all like to see increased consumer choice but the Mandatory Code had nothing to say about it. Instead it was an overly bureaucratic piece of legislation brought in by the Brown Government that was estimated to cost £58million for the first year and £38million in subsequent years. It did mention banning 'Happy Hours' though, as the puritanical pen-pushers who dreamed up this ill-thought-out rubbish would hardly want customers to be happy!
4.Given the current low levels of understanding about sensible drinking in Wales and deep-seated habits of alcohol overuse, targeted and sustained social marketing campaigns are needed to increase understanding of alcohol and bring about a lasting change in the
drinking culture in Wales.
No doubt these “ targeted and sustained social marketing campaigns” will require funding from the taxpayer. You cannot change thousands of years of drinking culture. You can however throw hundreds of thousands of taxpayers money at organisations who vainly attempt to change this culture.
5.In order to raise public awareness of sensible drinking and the concept of drinking in units, the number of units of each drink should be prominently displayed: on the front of the packaging, bottles and cans for drinks bought in the off-trade, and on menus and pumps in pubs and restaurants. Given the failure of the drinks industry so far to comply with voluntary labelling codes, such labelling requirements should be mandatory.
Since we have established units of alcohol are totally fictitious is there any point in having them listed on all packaging? We already have ABV, Alcohol By Volume, listed and most people understand that. There is no need to bring in this unnecessary, complicated, difficult to understand and expensive option. Expensive as all packaging would have to be changed to show the Shenker unit.
The document then diverts from its hectoring, puritanical Nanny State course and gives a brief history of alcohol in Wales!
Wales' Alcoholic Timeline:
7th Century – the Gododdin, describes an army of ancient Britons taking their fill of mead before
a raid on the village of Catterick in modern-day Yorkshire. No doubt pre-loading before a night out, this lads night out has obviously been taken out of all proportion by the press.
10th Century – the laws of Hywel Dda made several references to drink as a method of payment for officials, and to royal taxes to be paid in mead or beer.
14th Century – the poet Dafydd ap Gwilym wrote his humorous verse Trafferth mewn tafarn (Trouble in a pub).
1836 - one Merthyr Tydfil publican was found to be offering three drinks for the price of one as an early morning special offer. So price promotions are nothing new!
Not unsurprisingly Alcohol Concern Cymru then mention the 1881 Welsh Sunday Closing Act which closed pubs on Sundays. The neo-prohibitionists who wrote A Drinking Nation rejoice at this bit of legislation but fail to see what it achieved. For one thing the Act only applied to pubs and not to clubs, leading to the profusion of members-only clubs throughout South Wales and eventually to the Clubs' Brewery at Pontyclun. It also lead to the popularity of the two-pint flagon bottle and even to breweries delivering to customers houses on Saturday nights. According to tradition, on the passing of the Welsh Sunday Closing Act, the owner of a brewery in St. Mary Street in Cardiff, John Griffen Thomas resolved to sell his brewery and his brother-in-law immediately offered to buy him out. That brother-in-law was Samuel Arthur Brain!
Even in living memory when the pubs were shut on Sundays the front door was often locked and the back left 'off the latch' to allow customers to have their Sunday drink. The Welsh Sunday Closing Act was eventually repealed and common sense has now prevailed with more liberal laws.
A Drinking Nation? then proceeds to some rather dubious statistics, always a good last resort to use to help pad out an already dubious publication. For instance it mentions that in 1978 men in England and Wales drank an average of 15.5 units a week. Now I'm pretty sure that no one was drinking Shenkers of alcohol back in the 70s so these figures are obviously extrapolated from other data. Data, for instance that changed in 2007 when the Office of National Statistics assumed that larger glasses were being used and stronger alcohol was being consumed. So a glass of wine post 2007 contains 2 Shenkers of alcohol rather than one as it did pre-2007. With beer, one Shenker is now counted as 1.5, 1.5 is now 2 and 2.3 Shenkers is counted as 3. Can you see how data can be manipulated by Alcohol Concern when the rules for measuring data alters?
Unfortunately Alcohol Concern Cymru do not give any up-to-date figures for the average Shenkers drank today, perhaps the data shows that we are drinking less on average and does not fit in with their world view?
The graph below shows the percentage of men and women drinking more than their 21/14 unit weekly 'limit' and shows a decine
The graph above uses the altered unit which appears to show that consumption is rising. It's not. Source Office of National Statistics.
The estimated health service cost of alcohol-related chronic disease and alcohol-related acute incidents is between £70 million and £85 million each year.
According to the House of Commons Library is the alcohol industry contributes £14.79 billion to the economy every year. So any cost to the NHS is more than covered by the taxes we pay on alcohol. Taxes that also pay for fake charities such as Alcohol Concern Cymru to peddle their unscientific drivel.
Situated opposite the Millenium Stadium, this art deco building was originally built as a garage, the motiff on the front of the building still has “Queens and Royal Garage” above the new “Zero Degrees” sign. Below the signs, the large glass windows provide a view of the brewery, immaculate shinning stainless steel vessels which are illuminated during the night with colourful lights. Zero Degrees is a lot different from the usual brew pub, here the brewery is not tucked out the back of the pub but positioned strategically at the front for all to see. The entrance, on the left hand side of the building leads to thee bar area with the serving counter at the rear of the brewery. Again stainless steel dominates with a collection of tubes and pipes leading from the cellar tanks to the beer taps. The brewery brews a range of different beers including a Pilsner, a Wheat Beer, a Pale Ale, a Mango Beer and a Black Lager, in addition a monthly guest beer is also brewed. In October the monthly special was a 6.5% Oktoberfest Beer which had been maturing or lagering in the tanks since it was brewed in early August. Other seasonal beers have incuded an Apple Wheat Beer and an Asian Lager. In December the beer is Peach Vanilla. The resident brewer, Victoria Stippa is originally from Germany and previously worked for the Paulaner Brewery. There is an interview with her on Wales Online.
A nice touch is that a sample selection of all the regular beers can be ordered giving the customer the opportunity to try their range of beers without having to order halves or pints.
The interior of Zero Degrees is cavernous and there is a choice of seating on the ground floor from tables and chairs to sofas and stools. The bar is circular in shape so that wherever you choose to sit the brewery is always at the focal point of the pub.
Also on the ground floor is the open-plan kitchen with it's pizza oven, which bears a similarity to part of the brewing plant. Directly opposite the kitchen are the cellar tanks for the beer. Food is available all day with pizzas being a speciality on the menu together with more unusual pub food such as mussels.
Upstairs there is more seating and at the front, above the brewery, a doorway leads to an outside terrace, an unique feature for a Cardiff City Centre pub. Customers do not have to worry about carrying their drinks upstairs as a dumb waiter is installed by the bar.
Zero Degrees features a regular price promotion with all the beers reduced to £2 a pint between 4-7pm. At night the bar becomes popular with sports fans as the widescreen televisions and projector are put into use.
A bit of Googling the other day and I came across this website for the West of England pub in the part of Newport known as Pill. Now I used to live in the area and this pub was a keg only boozer inhabited by local drug dealing pondlife who had been banned from the rest of the town. In fact the only decent pub in the area at the time was the nearby Ship & Pilot, which featured a regularly changing guest beer, something no pub in the area now does.
So let's examine the claims made on the website of this pub (in bold):
“One of the oldest taverns in Newport”
Apart from the Royal Mail (Old White Lion), Murenger, Carpenters Arms, Potter's Arms, Six Bells, Greyhound, King's Head, Cross Keys, Red Lion, Griffin (Blucher's Arms), Delilah's (Tredegar Arms), Ship & Pilot, Prince of Wales. Not even in the oldest dozen.
First mention of the West of England Tavern is not until 1838
“dating back to in and around the 1800s”
In Kelly's 1838 Directory the West of England is listed as a beerhouse, the Beerhouse Act of 1830 was a boost for the pub industry and it is very unlikely the pub dated to before that time.
“a Grade 1 listed building”
Now this really takes the biscuit. The West of England was rebuilt in the 1880s and a lean-to extension was built in the 1980s using bricks of a different colour to the original. If it was a Grade I (NB to their webmaster: Roman numerals are used in listing descriptions not Arabic numerals) listed building it would rank alongside the Abbey Hotel in Llanthony as one of the most important buildings in Wales. The nearby Waterloo Hotel is Grade II listed and quite rightly so. In fact the West of England is not listed by Cadw at all.
“serving a selection of lagers and real ales in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere”
Carlsberg, San Miguel and Tetley's Extra Cold keg beers is not a selection of real ales but then again if you believe this building is Grade 1 (I) listed then the author of the website is clearly deluded. Relaxed and friendly is a good description of the natives in the pub with their drug habit.
Well there you have it, a bit of mythbusting on one of the pubs of Newport.
The award-winning Waen Brewery of Caersws in the currently-snowed under county of Powys have launched their Christmas Ale, a 3.5% ABV - a spiced, lightly-hopped mild perfect for supping by a log fire during this period of Global Warming we are all experiencing in the UK.
Mary Mother Mild is described as "Having a lovely spicy nose and flavour from cinnamon and cloves with gorgeous bitter chocolate/espresso coffee flavours but still easily drinkable.
Mary Mother Mild is availble both in cask and bottle.
The award-winning Wye Valley brewery whose fantastic beers are very popular here in Wales have won a major BBC accolade.The family-run firm has beaten off competition from across the UK to win the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Award 2010 for Best Drinks Producer.
The awards programme will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 9am today (November 26th.).
According to Wye Valley Brewery MD Vernon Amor, "At Wye Valley Brewery we’re dedicated to brewing the finest beers using top quality ingredients form local growers. These awards are a fantastic platform to help spread the word about our real ales and the passion and care that goes into them".
2010 is Wye Valley brewery's 25th anniversary year and to celebrate they realised our dream of a truly local beer using both our local Herefordshire hops plus, uniquely, Herefordshire Barley through a special project with a local farmer. This very special brew of Imperial Stout was launched in bottles as a limited edition from as part of the Dorothy Goodbody range.
The BBC team from Radio 4’s Food Programme was looking for inspirational drinks producers bringing new ideas to the market whilst keeping old traditions alive. As a traditional family owned brewery, dedicated to producing the finest quality cask ales yet none the less passionate about exciting new recipes and ingredients, Wye Valley Brewery impressed the judges and won the Best Drinks Producer category.
Three Horseshoes, 1 Station Road, Dinas Powys, Vale of Glamorgan, CF64 4DE
The Three Horseshoes is situated on a corner plot opposite the village green in the historic village of Dinas Powys. A two-story building, the Three Horseshoes is set back from the road, allowing outdoor drinking areas to the front and side of the pub. A plaque on an outside wall commemorates a nineteenth-century bard, Dewi Wyn O Esyllt, also known as the White Bard, who lived in the pub.
The pub apparently dates back to 1456 when it was built as a farmhouse, however it has been altered over the centuries but still today retains a separate bar and lounge. The lively flagstone-floored front bar has a large flat screen television as well as a dart board on a lower level and rugby memorabilia on the walls. Although the television is a feature of the bar, it is conversation that dominates in this pub with the locals discussing the latest racing results or the latest gossip in the village.
Towards the rear is the lounge, entered from the bar via a dark wooden door set in a thick stone wall, which was probably an exterior wall of the original building. The lounge features comfortable seats around the walls with some old photos of the pub on the walls and a 1930s style stone fireplace against the far wall. The Three Horseshoes does have a 1930s feel to the place with the bar counter being made out of dark wood and leaded glass windows in the lounge. The sash windows in the front bar show that the building seen today is an amalgamation of various building styles over the centuries. Another wooden door, again with a brass lock and metal handle, leads from the lounge to a heated rear patio area.
The Three Horseshoes was once owned by Hancock's Brewery and Hancock's HB is still available on the bar alongside other real ales from breweries such as Wells & Youngs and Fullers. The beer range does vary throughout the week but the pub is owned by a Pub Company so it is not a free house but tied to their products. There are four handpumps altogether, two in the bar and two in the lounge so it is worth checking what is on in the other section. On the wall in the lounge are tasting notes for the real ales served in this pub. The Three Horseshoes has Cask Marque accreditation for its real ales and regularly features in the Good Beer Guide, published by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale. The Three Horseshoes does not do any meals, only home-made rolls and the pub does have a real community atmosphere to it with regular live music on Friday nights.
Inez has been battling to bring to everyone's attention the plight of the great British pub. Inez asked if I would write and record a song to help, which I along with my studio engineer / co-writer Tim Bushong (Lovewar & The Channelsurfers) did so.
The song "What Can We Do Now" is available on CD Baby & I-Tunes, 79p in U.K. and .99c here in the U.S. not only are landlords and pub licensees losing their homes, but they are also losing their livelihoods, and we are losing a heritage that should be around forever.
Wether you are a musician, tourist, local, who ever, we are all losing out.
More than 40,000 pubs have closed in the U.K. which is disturbing, if it can happen in the U.K. it can happen any where.
As far as the entertainment industry is concerned, 40,000 equates to more than 40,000,000 (Fourty Million), in lost revenue and royalties for ASCAP, SESAC, PRS, MCPS, BMI, and song writers / musicians.
Less venues for musicians / artists / bands to play, yet not too much is heard about it, not too much is done about it, but be assured when it is too late, everyone will be whining and wondering what on earth happened, IT WILL BE TOO LATE !!!"
The historic market town of Llantrisant, often referred to as the Hole with the Mint as the Royal Mint is based there, will be playing host to a beer festival this weekend at the Celt Experience pub, the Wheatsheaf. The festival kicks off on Friday 26th November with a limited range on and will continue on the Saturday and Sunday (27th & 28th).
The multi-award-winning Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd will be going American between the 25th – 27th November with their American Thanksgiving Beer & Food Festival
Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere
Great Divide Titan
Great Divide Hercules
Flying Dog Tire Bitter
Flying Dog Raging Bitch
Left Hand Black Jack Porter
No Bud though, not even for Cooking Lager
Thanksgiving Menu Available in the Bar & Restaurant
Gingered butternut squash soup with spicy pecan cream £4.50
New England clam chowder £5.00
Maryland crab cake £5.50
Waldorf salad with rye bread £5.00
New Orleans smoked sausage and brown shrimp jambalaya with brown rice, grilled prawns and chillies £13.00
Colorado pork Chile Verde with tortilla chips £13.00
Southern fried chicken thighs with sweet potato steak fries and coleslaw £12.00
Kansas City barbecue sauce beef spare ribs with fries and green salad £14.00
“Connecticut’s best” apple pie £4.70
New York supreme cheesecake with blueberry coulis £4.70
Michigan frosted pumpkin doughnut with cream cheese ice cream £4.70
Looks good and of course if you don't fancy the American beers there are always the fantastic Otley Brewery beers to wash down the food with.
The November special beer from the award-winning Purple Moose Brewery of Porthmadog is the final one in their ship series for this year. Named Isallt, it is is a deep golden coloured bitter with citrus and floral aromas, made with hops from New Zealand and America.
The Moose will be out and about in North Wales as well:
Hurns Brewing Company
Unit 3, Century Park, Llansamlet Enterprise
Park, Swansea, SA6 8RP
Cwrw Idris is a medium to light-brown coloured beer with a complex aroma of malt, hops and fruit, mainly raisins. The flavour consists of an initial malty sweetness balanced by a bitter sweet dryness towards the end together with some fruit flavours. Deceptively drinkable for a beer with an ABV of 5.2%.
Pure Welsh water is mixed by Hurns craft brewers with traditional floor-malted pale and crystal malt, then boiled with the finest English Goldings and Challenger hops before being carefully fermented with their unique strain of yeast to produce this light-brown coloured premium ale. Cwrw Idris has a rich, foamy head and an enticing aroma of malt, hops and fruit, followed by a smooth malty sweetness that sweeps over the tongue as like waves breaking over the beach. The sweetness is balanced by bitter and fruit flavours which all combine to make Cwrw Idris a deceptively drinkable premium beer with a strength of 5.2% ABV.
Cwrw Idris is brewed by the family-owned Tomos Watkin Brewery and is named after the founder of the family firm, who was torpedoed twice during the First World War. The photograph of Idris Parry on the bottle label shows him in his naval uniform when he was serving on HMS Duke of Albany.
Gwynt y Ddraig Cider Ltd.
Orchard Gold Cider
Llest Farm, Llantwit Fardre,
Pontypridd, CF38 2PW
Orchard Gold is a golden medium cider with a refreshing apple aroma. Smooth balanced flavour that has a fresh, crisp sharpness. Shows off its true origins as a traditional oak matured farmhouse cider.
Suitable for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs.
Orchard Gold – Oak Conditioned Medium cider, 4.9% ABV
Monty’s Brewery Ltd.
Unit 1 Castle Works, Hendomen,
Montgomery, Powys, SY15 6HA
Described on their website as " An award- winning dark creamy stout, full of dark fruit and roasted malt flavours". 4% ABV.
Monty’s Brewery is proud to be the first brewery in Montgomeryshire since the Eagle Brewery closed in the 1980’s. The owner and head brewer, Pam Honeyman is one of only a handful of brewsters (female brewer) in the UK.
Congratulations to all the winners and good luck to everyone in the competition next year.
The Cardiff Story Museum, based in the Old Library in Cardiff is looking for some old photos of the Vulcan pub. The oldest found so far, pictured left, is on the Facebook Group, dates to 2000 and was taken by me! On my the trusty old Canon A1 as well.
Tom Hoare from the Cardiff Story Museum has already searched the National Museum, Cardiff Library and Glamorgan Records Office, all to no avail in the search for old photographs of this pub.
The Vulcan pub in Cardiff, now almost 2 years into its 3 year reprieve from demolition.
The award-winning Rhymney Brewery, currently based in Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, is on the move. Unable to expand at their present home, the family-run brewery has been searching for a new location for a while before finally deciding on the world heritage town of Blaenavon in Torfaen. The new purpose-built brewery
premises is situated close to Big Pit mining musuem and will be the first brewery in the town for over 100 years, after a Mr Westlake moved his brewery out of the town and set up further down the valley in Cwmavon due to the water supply in Blaenavon being so poor.
Hopefully problems such as the water supply will not effect the brewery this century and we can all look forward to the Hobby Horse riding throughout the valleys of South Wales once again.
Above: the former Westlakes brewery, Cwmavon
The original Rhymney Brewery was founded in Rhymney and closed by Whitbread in the 1970s.
The City Arms is one of Cardiff's most famous pubs and has recently been given a refurbishment by Wales' largest real ale brewers, SA Brain.
A building on this site is marked on John Speed's map of 1610, although it is not known if it was an inn or not. Situated opposite the town quay, it would have been a good place for a tavern with the ships coming and going from the River Taff, which was not diverted to its present course until the nineteenth century. On a map of 1851 a beerhouse on this site is marked with the delightfully sounding name, “The Van of Flesh Tavern” and today this forms the right-hand side of the present building.
Above:1851 Cardiff Map with the "Van of Flesh Tavern" marked in red. The orange line shows where the pub called the City Arms later expanded into.
The wording on the map is somewhat indistinct and as a beerhouse it does not appear in the trade directory of the time, as only the more up market public houses and hotels are mentioned. By 1858 the building on this site was called “The Cattle Market Tavern”, as the cattle market was situated across the road from the pub, where the multi-story car park stands today. On another corner, where the former Glamorgan Staff club now stands was the slaughterhouse. Both the cattle market and slaughterhouse moved to the outskirts of Cardiff later in the nineteenth century, leaving the Cattle Market Tavern as the only reminder of the trade that once went on here. In 1905 Cardiff was granted City status and the pub was renamed the City Arms. The present brick-built building was built in the 1880s and in the latter part of the twentieth century expanded into the Labour Club next door.
Above: the City Arms in 1935
Today the City Arms is unmistakable with its cream and black exterior and the Brains dragon proudly displayed at the acme of this three-story building. The leaded glass windows have the old Brains A1 logo in dark blue lozenges set in them and the pub sign features, of course, the Coat of Arms of the City of Cardiff. On the inside the central island bar has three banks of gleaming handpumps, one for each side of the bar, featuring cask beers from SA Brain, including the new IPA as well guest beers from brewers across the country but with an emphasis on Welsh-brewed ales with award-winning brewers such as Breconshire and Otley making appearances.
Above: Handle glasses for the beers off the stillage
There is also a stillage featuring cooled casks being served straight from gravity.
As well as the real ales there are also brass T-bars serving beers from across the world including Budvar Dark from the Czech Republic and Duvel Green from Belgium and a selection of over 20 different bottled beers and ciders. Altogether the new look City Arms offers over 35 different beers and ciders. The lists of beers are chalked up on blackboards behind the bar.
The pub does not do food, apart from crisps and pickled eggs but there are plenty of other places that do in the City Centre. There are plenty of places to sit around the pub and there is even room for a darts board in one corner. The walls are decorated with old photographs, brewery memorabilia and even some Gren cartoons. The City Arms has returned to its roots and become a beerhouse once again.
The City Arms has a website a bit different to the usual Brains corporate pub site here, where you can sign up for their loyalty card to be launched in the new year.
Old Cottage, Cherry Orchard Road, Lisvane, Cardiff, CF14 0UE
Open all day
Situated a short walk away from Lisvane and Thornhill railway station, the Old Cottage is almost hidden from the main road, set in its own grounds in a quiet hollow. There is an extensive car park at the rear and a bus stop, number 85, on the main road. The two-story building dates from the 1780s and rough-hewn whitewashed stone walls contrast with newer parts built of brick. The long wooden bar runs almost the length of the pub with a split-level seating area towards one side, open all the way up to the roof with some decorative wooden panelling and beams and with a brick fireplace on the ground floor. The upper seating area has a wide-screen television, only used for major sporting events. The opposite end of the pub has a real fireplace with comfortable seating, providing a distinct drinking/dining area. At the rear of the bar is a modern extension with more seating. There is also an extensive outside area, with heated canopies for smokers. Despite the age of the Old Cottage it only became a pub around 1990 when it was converted from two cottages and was originally owned by Ansells Brewery of Birmingham, part of the Ind Coope empire. Today the pub is run by Ember Inns, part of the Mitchells and Butlers pub empire. Ember Inns have an active guest beer policy with 9 handpumps on the bar, although not all are used during quiet periods. Three real ales are permanently on the bar, Fuller's London Pride, Hancock's HB and Greene King Morland Old Speckled Hen and the guest beers can be from breweries around the United Kingdom. Recent guest beers were from Lees of Manchester and even a brew from Tetley Brewery in Leeds, a brewery that will soon close down. During November the Old Cottage is playing host to a month-long beer festival that will feature beers from BrewDog, St Austell and Thornbridge breweries as well as many others. Tasting notes for the beers are available in A5 full-colour booklets on the bar – a nice touch that adds some interesting information for the real ale drinker. It's no surprise that the pub has Cask Marque accreditation.
The Old Cottage serves food all day with special offers such as Grill Nights on Tuesdays and Curry Nights on Thursdays. This popular pub also runs quiz nights on Sundays and Wednesdays.
From Welsh Icons News: Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood has called for rules tying pubs to the large companies that own them to be relaxed to boost the burgeoning real ale market in Wales. Ms Wood, who represents South Wales Central in the National Assembly for Wales, said allowing publicans more choice in the beer they sell would deliver a significant shot in the arm for the brewing industry in Wales.
At present, many pubs are dictated to over what beer they buy in and the price at which they sell it as a result of the strong grip large pub companies have over them. This usually leads to the pub companies selling bog-standard beer at inflated prices to the licensed premises tied to them.
The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) has persistently urged the Office of Fair Trading to intervene in the matter, but to no avail.
During questions to the Welsh Assembly’s Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, Ms Wood said:
“Over the next fortnight, the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells will be hosting a beer festival that will showcase some of the many fantastic real ales brewed in this country.
“I am sure that everyone in the Chamber is proud of the excellent produce of our Welsh microbreweries and would agree that it should be promoted as much as possible.
“Unfortunately, however, given that many pubs are tied to large companies that dictate which beers can be bought and at what price, real ales are prevented from getting to the many keen customers out there.
“The Office of Fair Trading recently declined to intervene in the relationship between pubs and the large companies that own them. I realise that this is a non-devolved issue, but I would be grateful if you would be prepared to make representations about the unfair terms and conditions imposed on pub landlords and landladies, which are damaging to Welsh microbreweries.
“I am sure that you would agree that the case should be made for a level playing field, so that the Welsh micro brewing industry can compete properly.”
In reply, Ms Jones said: “As you said, Leanne, this is not a devolved issue, but, if I recall correctly, it was a recommendation of the Rural Development Sub-committee’s report that the Government look at tied pubs and make representations.
“The Office of Fair Trading report came out after the debate on the sub-committee’s report in the Assembly, and I may well be asked to pursue this issue after my meeting with the cross-party group.
“It is clear that consumers and visitors alike want to sample local food and drink when they go to any establishment in Wales. All the consumer evidence shows that. It is a shame that that is not allowed in some pubs and other establishments in Wales.
“I would want to see a way of trying to pursue this issue with the UK Government and with pubs and pub owners in Wales.”
Ember Inns may be a part of the Mitchells and Butlers giant pub company but at least during November they are running a beer festival. Entitled NovEmber the following beers will be available in their pubs:
There is a competition running to name the Project Green beer - the green hops were picked by Ember Inns managers last month.
The full tasting notes are available at the bar in a full colour A5 leaflet or as a PDF here.
Unfortunately there are only 2 Ember Inns in South Wales and both are in Cardiff the Old Cottage and the Deri:
Greendown Inn, St George's-super-Ely, Drope Road, Vale of Glamorgan, CF5 6EP
Open 12-2 (not Monday or Tuesday), 6-11; 12-11 Saturday and Sunday
Situated close to the Westerly suburbs of Cardiff, the Greendown Inn is set in an idyllic village setting in the Vale of Glamorgan, not to far away from the local church of St George-super-Ely. The inn is set in its own grounds with a large car park at the rear.
The Greendown Inn has been extended over the years but still remains single-story and claims to date back to the fifteenth century although the date of 1620 also appears in one of the rooms. Whatever is the date for the building of this Inn it is genuinely old as shown by the blackened beams supporting the low ceiling in one room and an unusual fireplace with a curved wooden beam above it in another. The Greendown Inn was solidly built from rough-hewn local stone and the bare stone walls have borne witness to many passing centuries. There is a choice of drinking and dining areas, decorated with old paintings and chalkboards.
The centrally-placed bar is surrounded by bricks laid into the floor and features an unusual wooden pillar on one corner with the handpumps all on the restaurant side of the Inn. Three handpumps dispense a regular changing guest beer from breweries such as Wickwar, Wye Valley or a Welsh brewery together with a real cider and, more unusually a real perry. Recently ciders have included Bristol Port from the Broadoak Cider Company in Somerset and their award-winning perry as well. The prices are very reasonable with £2 a pint for the beers and ciders. The beer and ciders available are chalked up on a board that hangs on the large chimney breast.
Despite being in a small village, the Greendown Inn is popular with all and the community focus of the pub is shown by the books for sale on the bar and in a small section off the low-ceilinged room, the proceeds of the book sales go towards the restoration fund of the nearby church of St George. Regular events are held at the pub, including a steam rally in the grounds recently. The pub also hosts a weekly quiz night on Saturday nights. There is also a dartboard to one side of the bar as well as a separate restaurant area. The menu is extensive with daily specials being advertised on chalkboards mounted on the exposed stone walls. The Greendown Inn also offers accommodation.