Sunday 30 January 2011

Lloyd & Yorath Luncheon Stout

Had this bottle label Jpeg emailed to me some time ago. It was made by Newport brewers Lloyd and Yorath and the date perforated on it is 16:6:37. Lloyds were based in the town centre on Cambrian Road, the brewery was taken over by Birmingham-based Ansells Brewery in 1951 and was closed in 1961. The buildings were demolished shortly afterwards and the site remained empty for years, used as an open-air car park, until the Cambrian Retail Centre was built on the site.
Luncheon Stout does have a rather civilised name to it. Although in the Nanny State of the twenty-first century it is doubtfull if any brewer would get away with promoting beer as a lunchtime drink.

Saturday 29 January 2011

Brains shortlisted in Publican Awards

From Brew Wales

Wales' biggest real ale brewer, SA Brain, have been shortlisted in the Oscars of the Pub Industry, the Publican Awards 2011, for Managed Pub Company of the Year. The full list of finalists is available here on the Publican website and the winners will be announced in April.
Two Welsh barmaids have also been shortlisted for Bar Person of the Year, Hayley McGrath of Brains pub The Admiral Napier, Cardiff and Rebecca Jones of the Cardiff Arts Institute.
Another Welsh finalist is the Red Dragon in Bridgend, again a Brains pub, this time in the Customer Service Pub of the Year category.
The Dragon Inns owned Morlais Tavern in Merthyr Tydfil is a finalist in the Community Pub of the Year section.
Good luck to all in the competition, the winners will be announced on Wednesday 6th April at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London.

Friday 28 January 2011

The Heath, Cardiff

Heath, 2 Whitchurch Road, Cathays, Cardiff, CF14 3LW

The Heath pub stands on the corner of Whitchurch and Allensbank roads with its red-brick and half-timbered exterior being an early example of the building style known as 'Brewers' Tudor'. Built in 1899, the Heath has been extended in the past one hundred years with an extension to the side but the pub still retains some interesting and historical features including a blue and white stained glass window with 'Bar Parlour' above one of the entrances.
The front, corner bar has a traditional yet feel to the place, with seating against the wallls, providing a large open interior with plenty of room, even for the pool table. The bar is made from a light-brown coloured wood and features gleaming handpumps and glistening steel tall fonts. The walls are decorated with photos of old Cardiff and there are some original plaster reliefs of national symbols and coat of arms high up on the walls as well. A large mirror from an old, now defunct brewery is on one wall, this originally came from the former Custom House pub on Bute Street. A large projector screen hides this mirror when major sporting events are on. Behind the bar are trophies won by the local bowls team and there is a darts board to the side.
The rear area is accessed by going through two wooden doors and this extended area has a more contemporary feel to the place with sofas, roof lights and raised seating areas together with an outside smoking area with more tables. The walls are decorated with modern art and a large round mirror helps make the most of natural light in this bar. Wide screen televisions show either music videos or sporting events. There is plenty of seating and tables in this area for those wishing to dine.
To the side of the extension is what remains of the original interior of the pub, in the 'Tudor room', which is quite a surprise to find in any Cardiff pub as most refurbishments have done away with wood panelling. The dark wooden panels contrast with a white fireplace surround, providing a secluded and popular part of the pub, away from the sometimes intrusive televisions and music.
Food is served all day from an extensive menu and there are also chalkboards announcing specials such as curries and 'Pie of the Week'.
As the pub is owned by Brains the beer range features their beers, Bitter and SA but the Heath also has an active guest beer policy with two guest beers usually on as well. Recent guest beers have included Thwaites Brewery from Lancashire and the delicious Ringwood XXXX Porter from Hampshire.

Google Map:
Plenty of buses stop nearby so access by public transport is very easy.

Protz Performs at the Bunch

Roger Protz to host tutored tasting session at Bunch of Grapes
 The Bunch of Grapes pub in Pontypridd in hosting an evening tasting event with world renowned beer expert, Roger Protz, on Saturday 29 January.

Roger Protz is one of the world’s top beer writers and tasters and has written 20 books including the World Guide to Beer, The Ale Trail and best-seller 300 Beers To Try Before You Die. He was presented with the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award by the British Guild of Beer Writers in 2003.

Roger broadcasts and gives many tutored beer tasting sessions across the world. He contributes to beer and pub trade magazines as well as the Guardian and The Independent.

At the Bunch of Grapes, Roger will pick his top five award-winning Welsh beers and match them with a selection of dishes.

The event starts at 5pm and costs £10 per person. Places are limited so advance booking is essential.

Nick Otley, managing director of the Otley Brewing Company, said: “We’re very excited about hosting Roger Protz at the Bunch of Grapes for the first time next Saturday.

“The night promises to be insightful and fun and will be suitable to anyone who enjoys beer or fancies giving it a try for the first time. They’ll be something for everyone – especially for those who are fans of seeing how food and drink is successfully matched.

“We’re aiming to establish the Bunch of Grapes as a centre of excellence for real ale by hosting events with experts such as Roger Protz. We have many more events lined up for the rest of the year so if you’re interested in finding out more then sign up to the Bunch of Grapes Beer Academy and you’ll receive our free newsletter.”

Beers available this weekend, subject to availabilty 
On the Main Bar: Note, now 9 handpumps:
Otley – O1 4%
Otley – O3 Boss 4.4%
Otley – O4 Colombo 4%
Bass -4.4%
Great Orme - Celtica 4.5%
Saltaire – Triple chocoholic 4.8%
Country Life – Country Bumpkin 6.0%
Ceidr Dai – Broom apple Cider
Gwynt Y Ddraig – Two Trees Perry
On Next:
Otley – O-Rosie 4.3%
Otley O-Garden 4.8%
Courage – Directors 4.8%
Salopian – Treasure Trove 4.0%
Salopian – Art Deco 4.2%
RCH – Steam Sale 4.5%
Brentwood – Resolution IPA 5.5%
Continental on tap:
Erdinger - Weissen
Brooklyn – Brooklyn Lager

Ynysangharad Road, 
CF37 4DA  
Tel. 01443 402934 

BBC Newsbeat scrapes the bottom of the barrel

This story from BBC Newsbeat caught my attention today. Not that I would ever listen to Radio 1 but saw a few posts on Twitter about the article and Claire Dodd from the Publican has taken the author of the piece to task over this - it's almost worth following Jim Reed just to see him try and justify his lazy so-called journalism.
Rather than interview people currently working in the industry, Reed decides to go for gossip from obviously disgruntled former drinks industry workers - 'one former manager', 'Former manager Rich', 'one ex-manager', 'one former marketing exec'. Even the interview with one currently working barman is negative about the industry. No fair and balanced judgement in this piece of tabloid journalism which one would expect from the gutter press of Fleet Street rather than the BBC.
Jim Reed you are a lazy, tabloid hack who is unable to write fair and balanced copy or put over anything else but your own negative and twisted views of the drinks industry. Please crawl back under the rock you came from and die.
Some comments from the the Twittersphere have called this article 'Shite' 'Dreadful' etc. Expect more attacks on the drinks industry from the BBC, well done to the Publican and Claire for taking this idiot to task over his appalling piece of so-called journalism.

BBC Newsbeat have put together a 'booze calculator' here - another waste of licence fee payers money.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Cardiff Pubs

Shortly before Christmas I had a chat with Hannah Pini who is doing a postgraduate course at the Cardiff School of Journalism. Her full article appears here and is well worth a read.
The interview with me, embed below, was filmed in the Rummer Tavern in Cardiff, where just by accident we happened to run into the Assembly Member for Monmouth, Nick Ramsey, who also appears in the video.

The best off licence in Wales?

Discount Supermarket, 97-99 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff, CF14 3JP

Situated on the corner of Whitchurch Road and Heathfield Road in Cardiff, not too far away from the chaos of Gabalfa Junction, is the best range of bottled beer in Cardiff, if not South Wales. A rather unassuming shopfront gives rise to an interior well-stocked with bottled beers and ciders from across the world. From Sam Smith's beers priced at a very reasonable £2.25 a bottle to bottles of Cantillon Gueze priced at over £5, this shop has something for every beer lover.

Bottles of Dragon Stout from Desnoes & Geddes in Jamaica, makers of Red Stripe, are stocked along with Schlenkerla Rauchbier from Bamberg. Belgium, American and even a South African real ale in a bottle can all be found here. British brewers are not neglected either with Black Sheep, St Peter's, Meantime, Marble, Robinson's and St Austell all here. Local beers from Welsh breweries are also stocked with Vale of Glamorgan, Celt Experience, Brains and Pen-Lon Cottage together with Gwynt y Ddraig cider.  

The shop has products for everyone, even the Jockanese are catered for with Glaswegian favourite Buckfast Tonic Wine available, perfect for washing down a deep-fried Mars bar before their methadone.

Google Map:

Thursday 13 January 2011

Crown - a lost pub of Cardiff

The Crown

Another lost pub of Cardiff, the Crown was situated at 37 Bute Street on the corner with John Street, opposite the Custom House and but catered for a slightly more upmarket clientèle. In fact the shadow falling on the Crown in the above photograph belongs to the Custom House. I previously wrote about the Custom House and the Glendower here. All 3 pubs were demolished, together with most of the other buildings in the area to create what we see today. The Crown was quite a popular pub, despite its small size, and was home to a parrot called Captain as well as regular live music. The live music varied and often included impromptu performances from members of the Welsh National Opera who were based nearby and would pop in for a pint and a song. The pub was, I believe, owned by Ansells Brewery at one time but Sycamore Taverns were the owners in 1996 according to Dave Matthews' Complete Guide to Cardiff Pubs. There never was an exciting beer range in the Crown, but always a good pint of Tetley or Worthington Best.
This photo was taken in 1995 and the pub was demolished a few years later. 
This image from Google Maps shows that the area is still undeveloped

View Larger Map
Another photo of the pub is here on John Briggs flickr site,  it also has some great photos of Cardiff Bay before the redevelopment.

Otley Marches Forward

Current Champion Beer of Wales winners, the Otley Brewery of Pontypridd, have recently celebrated 5 years of brewing their award-winning beers. Their tally of awards is quite impressive – 22 Gold's, 7 Silver's and 8 Bronze certificates, including national championships. Added to that their entire pub estate features in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, okay its only 3 pubs but the Bunch of Grapes, Otley Arms and Rickards Arms are all worth popping into. New Year's Eve saw a beer festival in the Bunch and these events are going to be running every couple of months there. With  regular beer festivals in the Bunch, featuring great beers such as Brewdog and Thornbridge together with specials from Otley, it looks like I shall be paying a few more visits to the Bunch this year. Some of the special brews from Otley will be featuring guest brewers such as beer writers Adrian Tierney-Jones and Roger Protz.
Here's to the next 5 years!
Oh and the picture is of my Christmas Present from the boys at Otley. Cheers lads!

Otley O-Garden, 4.8%, tasting notes:
Spices have been used in beer making for centuries, both as a preservative and for flavour and O-Garden contains coriander, cloves and orange peel. This pale amber, cloudy wheat beer has a rich aroma of coriander with a slight aroma of citrus. The coriander flavour continues into the taste and is a matched by a sharp bitterness caused by the hops used to brew this award-winning beer. This results in a pleasant dryness in the mouth and the aftertaste is of hops and coriander. Try matching this beer with food – a curry seems the ideal food to match with the flavours in this beer.
Availbale via RealBeerBox

Thursday 6 January 2011

Prince of Wales, Aberdare

Prince of Wales, 21 Victoria Square, Aberdare, CF44 7LB

The Prince of Wales is the third pub in the small but growing empire of Rhymney Brewery's, well, three pubs and is situated firmly in the commercial centre of the town. The Prince of Wales is a welcome addition to the real scene in Aberdare, a town hardly known for its interesting real ale scene. The Prince of Wales only opened a few months ago in what was previously commercial premises, most recently used as a travel agents. Now the pub has been converted into a lively open-plan bar with etched glass windows advertising “Rhymney Cask Ales” and “Purveyors of Fine Ales”. The building is quite distinct, with an unique hand-painted pub sign showing a medieval Prince of Wales in armour leading his troops into battle. The words “Rhymney Brewery” are visible in the mosaic floor in the entrance to this pub and this leads to one large room with the bar counter at the far end. Grey flagstone floors contrast well with Rhymney Brewery rugs in the expansive interior of the Prince. The beams supporting the roof are painted red and contrast with the white walls, moulded ceilings and in-built ceiling lights which provide a contemporary feel to what is basically an old-fashioned beerhouse.

Tables with cast-iron legs and seats are positioned around the walls and one wall in particular features a chimney with a wood-burning fireplace, an unique feature not seen in any other Aberdare pub. The wood-burning fireplace provides welcome warmth during this cold weather as well as being a conversation piece in the pub itself. The stuffed moose head on the chimney-breast does look a little out of place and may be more at home in an hotel run by Basil Fawlty than in a traditional pub. The rest of the interior walls feature photographs of the local area as well as flat screen televisions and a jukebox. Alternative music is provided by the pub piano, another rare feature for any pub.
The bar servery, situated in the far right-hand corner of the pub is made out of light-coloured wood and features 5 handpumps serving beers from the award-winning Rhymney Brewery and include real ales such as Bitter, Dark, Hobby Horse and Export together with any seasonal beers the Merthyr Tydfil-based brewery is brewing. All the beers are served in the brewery's unique branded glasses.
At the rear of the Prince of Wales there is an outside area with a smoking solution. The Prince of Wales does not do any food, this is purely a pub for good beer and conversation.
Aberdare is easily reached by public transport - train from Cardiff or bus from Merthyr Tydfil 

Google Map:

View Larger Map

Wednesday 5 January 2011

A few beers from Jacobi

 Just before Christmas at the Caerphilly Medieval Fayre, Brew Wales picked up some beers from the Jacobi Brewery, based in Caio, near Pumsaint in Carmarthenshire. The brewery was founded in 2006 in a converted barn on Penlanwen Farm, close to the Dolaucothi gold mines and a visitor centre is due to open later this year at the brewery. A rare excursion east for these beers and they were very enjoyable. 

Light Golden Ale, 3.8% ABV. There is a wonderful light golden hue to this beer and a fresh, citrusy, including limes, in the hoppy aroma. The dry, bitter taste, is followed by a some sweetness leading to an increasing bitterness and astringency at the finish. A golden, hoppy bitter, surprisingly packed full of flavour for a beer of only this low strength 3.8% ABV. An excellent match for strong cheddar cheese.

Beekeepers De-Light, 4%ABV. A golden amber-coloured ale with a complicated aroma of floral and sweet malt aromas. As well as the honey imparting aroma, Cascade hops also add to the armoa.  
An initial sweetness to the taste is quickly replaced by a subtle but distinct bitterness from the Fuggles hops, added late in the boil. The finish is bitter-sweet with some honey overtones.

Dark Roasted Ale, 5% ABV. This stout is a black beer with an intense aroma of black treacle, liquorice and coffee grounds. A huge roast flavour in the initial taste leads to some hoppy bitterness and astringency in the finish together with dark chocolate and blackcurrant flavours. The roast malt flavours linger in the mouth for a while.

What I did like on the rear of the bottle label was, together with the units BS, the Brewed in Wales logo, not something I have seen on other Welsh brewed beers. Then again do we really want to see that label on Stella and Bud, both brewed in Monmouthshire?

Brewery tap refurbishment

Plans to refurbish Brewery Tap

The award-winning Rhymney Brewery, currently based in Merthyr Tydfil but moving to the historic world heritage town of Blaenavon in 2011, have submitted plans to Merthyr Tydfil Council for a refurbishment of their brewery tap, the Winchester. The Castle Street pub is situateded between the Castle Hotel and the 1930s former Water Board Offices (Social Services now) and was converted to the Rhymney Brewery's first pub and Brewery Tap back in 2006, the premises before then had been a commercial unit, even used as a tanning saloon. Originally on this site, there stood a pub called the Beehive which dated from the 1840s but this was demolished when the next door Castle Hotel was built in 1967.
The planned refurbishment for the Winchester will see a Welsh slate roof installed, replacing the 1970s flat roof and the frontage will be opened out and improved with large etched glass windows allowing natural light to illuminate the interior of the pub. A Victorian style door will be installed to the side of the etched windows and the entrance floor will be tiled with a 'Rhymney Brewery' mosiac.
The pub sign will be hand-painted and a Rhymney Hobby Horse sign will be embedded into the outside wall. A chimney stack will also be built on the side to enable a real fire to be put into the pub! Smokers will be catered for with a smoking solution to the rear of the building.
The Winchester was a breath of fresh air when it opened in Merthyr, the first pub in a generation to regularly have a dark mild on cask in the town – the former Champion Beer of Wales, Rhymney Dark as well. Having been impressed with the Winchester since it first opened and seen the plans for this refurbishment, well hardly a refurbishment, more of a de-refubishment and recreation of a Victorian beerhouse., I'm very hopeful that these plans will be passed by Merthyr Council and this rebuild looks as good as it does on the plans.


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