Thursday 14 July 2011

New brewery for North Wales

A beer inspired by the bardic legends of Bardsey Island, off the Llyn peninsular has been launched by a new cooperative brewery

Cwrw Llŷn’s first ale, brewed at Llwyndyrys, Pwllheli, is named “Brenin Enlli” after Bardsey’s last known king, as barley used to be grown on the island.

One of the group’s members is acclaimed poet Myrddin ap Dafydd, owner of Gwasg Carreg Gwalch Publishing.
He said: “In Llyn many of us already have the experience of running a successful co-operative venture in the community – the local pub, ‘Y Fic’ in Llithfaen, near Pwllheli.
“When friends in the Conwy Valley decided to develop their micro-brewery business, their small scale brewing equipment became redundant.
“Over a pint at the Fic, I introduced the idea of setting up our own micro-brewery using their equipment. Everyone was keen on the idea!”
Cwrw Llyn members come from various walks of life – some farm, one is a coal man, another is a national chaired bard. Maths teachers, stonemasons and accountants also make up the mix.
Casked Brenin Enlli ale is currently sold in four Llyn pubs, with orders being lined up at another six.
Already demand is outstripping supply and there is talk of expansion. Members are assessing plans to bottle the brew and are examining whether to introduce more lines, including a lighter coloured ale and a form of mild beer.
All are likely to maintain local themes in their names.
Cwrw Llyn member Euron Griffiths, a builder from Nefyn, said it had been a steep learning curve.
“You can imagine the party we had when the first ale was brewed,” he said.
“We currently source the malt barley from a company in Nottingham, but as we have Llyn farmers in the co-operative, we are keen to grow the barley ourselves.
“We already have eight acres of barley planted, which will make us more self- sufficient and lower our food miles.”
The co-operative has received support from Cywain, an RDP-funded project spearheaded by Menter a Busnes set up to add value to agricultural produce.
Alwen Eidda from Cywain said: “We brought in an expert consultant to advise on different aspects of their product, including financial planning, marketing advice and branding.
“The initial success and customer response to ‘Brenin Enlli’ bodes well for ‘Cwrw Llyn’s future plans.”
These include the purchase of a building to be adapted as a micro brewery. Visitors would be encouraged to witness the brewing process.
Two members have already been on fact-finding tours to micro breweries in Pembrokeshire and Copenhagen.
Myrddin ap Dafydd said the group had been astounded by customers’ initial reaction to their first ale.
“Because our beer is produced naturally, the taste is completely different to the mass product you usually buy from supermarkets and pub chains,” he said.
”We don’t add any chemicals to the beer, which more often than not, cause the dreaded hangover the following day.
“Many of our members, who were passionate about their previous tipple, have now been converted to drinking ‘Brenin Enlli.”

The beer will be officially launched on July 23rd at Tafarn y Fic, Llithfaen.

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