Thursday 27 October 2011

Prince of Wales beer festival

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The historic Prince of Wales pub at Kenfig Hill is holding a beer festival this weekend with some beers available from Thursday
Beers available from Thursday


OTLEY - 04

There will be a charity day on Sunday for the Gleishon miners fund with music from "Mock Thee Knot"
Prince Of Wales
Ton Kenfig,
Mid Glamorgan,
CF33 4PR
Traveline information:
The pub can be reached via the 63B bus from Bridgend Bus Station

Bangers & Beer Festival in Chepstow

The award-winning Coach & Horses in Chepstow, Monmouthshire will be holding their annual Beer & Sausage Festival this Friday & Saturday (28th-29th Friday & Saturday).
Beer, sausages and live music, what more do you want? 25 real ales and 1000 sausages are ready for the festival so its worth popping along to.
Facebook site here
Coach & Horses
Welsh Street
NP16 5LN

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Shenker sunk!

It's always sad when someone loses their job, unless that person is the neo-prohibitionist boss of fake charity Alcohol Concern, Don Shenker. News broke this morning that after the taxpayer-funded fake charity Alcohol Concern lost their main source of funding from the Department of Health they could no longer afford to pay their Chief Executive and Shenker has been shown the door.
I will be raising a glass or two later this evening to the memory of this lying little shit who manipulated data and took taxpayers money to fund his half-truths and misrepresentations. This is the one good the thing this Government have done - stop wasting public money on neo-prohibitionist organisations who have their own narrow-minded ideas. Hopefully this is just the start and the next fake charity to be culled will be Shenker's bastard offspring, Alcohol Concern Cymru, though with the socialists in power in Cardiff Bay their funding by the taxpayer looks set to continue.
"The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money to spend"
A problem the Welsh Government are finding themselves in at the moment - here's a hit don't spend £250,000 a year on fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru.
Hope some prospective employers have taken time to google Don Shenker, the first three hits are rather interesting:

H/T to Dick Puddlecote who broke the news via FB this morning 

Murenger in the Telegraph

Newport's very own 'Haven in a Superpub Ghettto', the famous Olde Murenger House has made it into the Famous Grouse Famous pub list in the Daily Telegraph.
The Sam Smith's owned pub and CAMRA Good Beer Guide regular has been a haunt of mine for years, I can remember the days of Musuem Ale (bring it back Humphrey!) and still pop in regularly now as it is the best pub in the City Centre.
The Murenger House was one of the first pubs I ever wrote about on this blog, way back in 2007 and the post can be found here.
Other Welsh pubs featured in the Famous Grouse list are:
Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon

Located in Caenarfon Castle, The Black Boy Inn is a cosy and popular pub.

The Golden Cross, Cardiff
The Golden Cross is famed for its spectacular interior and the exterior is also rather impressive.

The Neuadd Arms Hotel, Llanwrtyd Wells

Come here to enjoy their Heart of Wales Brewery beers and watch the World Bog Snorkelling Championship.

The Packet Hotel, Cardiff Bay

The Packet is one of the last remnants of the old Cardiff docks.

The Royal Oak Hotel, Roath

Built in 1896 or earlier, The Royal Oak has a boxing ring on one of the upper floors, with boxing photographs covering the bar walls.

Ye Olde Bull's Head, Beaumaris

Ye Olde Bulls Head is a historic Welsh pub, having been visited by Charles Dickens, and furnished with an original ducking stool and antique weaponry.

All on the Daily Telegraph website here

Well done to Brains for getting three of their pubs in the list - Packet, Royal Oak and Golden Cross.

Brains in London

 Wales' largest cask ale brewer, the award-winning SA Brain will be holding a series of ‘Meet the Brewer’ events in London, in conjunction with Nicholson’s pubs.

Real ales on this tour of the taste buds will be the hoppy golden ale S.A Gold and the renowned Rev. James. You may be lucky enough to pick up the odd free gift too.

S.A Gold (4.3% ABV) is a full-flavoured, hoppy and refreshing golden ale, brewed at the home of the famous Brains SA in Wales. The beer is late-hopped using Cascade and Styrian Goldings, giving it complex and refreshing citrus aromas and flavours. Equally as delicious on its own as well as with food, this pairs best with light flavours such as white fish and cheese.

The Rev. James (4.5% ABV) is brewed to a traditional recipe and has been described as having a flavour not commonly available these days. Full-bodied and warming, The Rev James is rich in palate, spicy and aromatic with a deeply satisfying finish. Pairs well with hearty meats or nutty dishes.

All events are free and no tickets are required. Just pop down and enjoy their great cask ales.

Wednesday 26th October 2011

The Coal Hole, Strand - 5.30pm
The Wellington, Strand - 5.30pm
Princess of Wales, Villiers St - 6.45pm

Wednesday 2nd November 2011

The Argyll Arms, Oxford Circus - 6.30pm

For more information on the beers available click here or to get directions to the pubs click here.

Don't forget that we're also offering a free half of SA Gold in all Nicholson's pubs until the 31st of October. Click here for your voucher.

Newport Food Festival

Clashing with the fantastic Cowbridge Food Festival, Newport Council have decided to make an attempt at turd polishing and hold a food festival in Newport. The one day event, being held this Saturday, is sponsored by Asda (Wal-Mart!).
Newport is, of course a famous destination for foodies, the kebab and fried kitten shops of Upper Dock Street and Skinner Street rival anything that Caroline Street in Cardiff can offer.
Joking aside I hope this is a success - if places such as Abergavenny, Cowbridge and even Bridgend and Neath can hold successful events then there is no reason that Newport can not hold one.
Let's have a look at the drinks producers then:
Bragdy gogledd Cymru/North Wales Brewery - How this comapany is still trading is beyond me - every beer I have had from them has been off. One to avoid or just pour on your chips.

Gwatkin Cider Co ltd - say hellow to Mark on the stall, he's easy to spot as he will be reading his copy of the Sun. He's not that familiar with big cities such as Newport so may get lost. Don't forget to tell him the football score if Liverpool are playing, he really likes to know these things when he is on the stall!

The Jacobi Brewery of Caio - excellent beers, far better than the North Wales stuff - have previously reviewed their beers here.

Toloja Orchards - horrible people, never heard a good word about them!

Untapped Brewing Company - excellent beers from this company, highly recommended.

Welsh Perry and Cider Society - somehow still trading after making a £30k loss at their recent International Craft Cider Festival in Nelson.

Full details about the Festival are available on their website here

A beer festival is also being held at the Pen & Wig pub, details here.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Otley Arms, Trefforest

Otley Arms, Trefforest
It was in 1975, that a former Ely Brewery pub called the Commercial was bought by the enterprising Otley family and transformed into the Otley Arms. A few reminders of the old owners remain, from the stained glass window in the old Ely typeface announcing “Smoke room” to a well-used mirror advertising the long-forgotten beer “Brewers' Own”. 
This terraced pub, situated on a street-corner, soon established a reputation for the quality of its real ales and became one of the few pub outlets for the Crown Brewery of Brynsadler, as most of their trade was with clubs. The Otley was soon recognised by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale and has been in the Guide Beer Guide every year since 1977.
Today the Otley Arms offers real ales from the nearby family-run brewery as well as guest beers from around the UK and local cider from Gwynt-y-Ddraig. Altogether 5 real ales are on, 3 from the Otley Brewery such as O1, OG and their seasonal beer and the guests can come from as far away as Stonehenge Brewery (Wiltshire) or Beartown Brewery (Cheshire). One-off special brews often feature on the bar and there is also a range of bottled beers which include the Champion Beer of Wales 2008, Otley O8 and O-Garden, a beer flavoured with orange peel and coriander. The beer range is increased every October when the pub holds the annual Oct-O-Bar Beer Festival.
The split-level interior of the Otley Arms features a lower, wooden-floored bar and an upper, carpeted dining area with brick arches, that leads out to a conservatory which, in turn leads out to a smoking shelter. Brass footrails surround the dark-coloured wooden bars and there are plenty of options for seating, either at a table or at a high bar-stool at the bar. In fact the Otley appears to be something of a TARDIS, as from the outside it looks a small, street-corner local but once inside there is plenty of room for everyone. There is even room for a pool table in one section, far enough away from the bar and dining areas to keep everyone happy.
Food is served between 11-4, and 7.30-9.30, and the menu features a full range of options including sandwiches, the Otley burger, handcut chips as well as vegetarian and fish options. Even the bread and the chutneys are home-made by the pub themselves.  

The Otley Arms is a highly popular pub, both with students from the nearby University of Glamorgan as well as with customers from father afield. A great place for some great food and of course great award-winning real ale.
Otley Arms
Forest Road, Trefforest, Pontypridd, CF37 1SY

The pub is very easy to find, being just a short stroll from Treforest railway station

Otley Arms
Forest Road, Trefforest, Pontypridd, CF37 1SY

Google Map:

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Traveline info:

Pub beer sales down

 According to the British Beer & Pub Association's Beer Barometer, pub beer sales are down 4.3% on last year.

Press Release from BBPA 
Pubs remain hardest hit by beer tax rises – BBPA third quarter ‘Beer Barometer’

• No case for further tax rises, says British Beer & Pub Association Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds

Despite a positive quarter in total beer volumes, Britain’s pubs are still suffering from lost beer sales from sharp recent rises in Beer Tax and VAT. In contrast, supermarkets and off-licences reported growth on the same quarter as last year, the latest BBPA Quarterly Beer Barometer, released today, indicates.

Pub beer sales have remained disappointing, falling by 4.3 per cent from July to September– equivalent to 45 million fewer pints sold over the quarter compared with last year, or 488,000 fewer per day. While the rate of decline is slowing, it has not bottomed out. The BBPA is pointing out the key role of beer tax hikes in the disappointing figures. While real disposable incomes have fallen, huge beer tax rises are making one of life’s simple pleasures, a beer in the pub with friends, more and more unaffordable.

Overall, sales of beer were up 1.6 per cent on the same quarter of 2010. However the BBPA sounded a note of caution, as third quarter 2010 off-trade sales were particularly weak, partly as a result of surplus stocks being run down following the Football World Cup. This contributed to the comparative success of the supermarkets, with a 9.1 per cent increase in sales in the third quarter.

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, comments:

“It is good to see some growth in the beer market overall, and we are seeing some new pubs opening, with successful operators innovating, and broadening their offer to consumers.

“However, there is no doubt that pubs continue to bear the brunt of Britain’s punitive tax policies on beer. We’ve seen Beer Tax rise by 35 per cent since March 2008, with Britons now paying an astonishing 40 per cent of all the beer taxes collected in the entire European Union. This is still shutting pubs and costing jobs, in a sector that could create growth in the economy.

“We know that given the right tax and regulatory environment we can grow the sector, hiring more staff, adding to the nation’s wealth and maintaining our proud pub heritage. We certainly don’t need the further beer tax rises the Government is planning under a misguided tax escalator policy. Instead, we want to welcome everyone to support their local pub and play their part in their local community.”

There is a reason apart from tax why pubs continue to lose sales but both the BBPA and CAMRA fail to see the elephant in the room:
Time for a change in the law to save the pub?

Newport beerex at the Pen & Wig

To celebrate Newport Food Festival, the Pen & Wig is holding a beer festival over the 28th-29th October.
Beers on sale:
Wye Valley Goodbody’s Stout(4.7%)
Wye Valley Country Ale (6.0%)
Brecon Busters Broomstick Brew (4.7%)
Hexhamshire Devil’s Elbow (3.6%)
Hexhamshire Shire Bitter (3.8%)
Hexhamshire Blackhall Stout (4.0%)
Hexhamshire Devil’s Water (4.1%)
Hexhamshire Whapweasel (4.8%)
Hexhamshire Old Humbug (5.5%)
Bulmastiff Son of a Bitch (6.0%)
Bulmastiff Special Reserve (6.5%)
Untapped Ember (5.2%)
Untapped Eclipse (4.4%)
Untapped UPA (4.5%)
Hereford Owd Bull (3.9%)
Hereford Celtic Gold (4.5%)
Hereford Mutley’s Revenge (4.8%)
Hereford Best Bitter (4.2%)
Isle of Purbeck Studland Bay Wrecked (4.5%)
Cotswold Spring Gloucestershire’s Glory (4.1%)

Ciders as well!

Google Map:

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Monday 24 October 2011

Otley Oct-O-Bar Fest!

The Otley Arms in Trefforest will be holding their annual Octoberfest this week, starting Tuesday (25th) and continuing through to Saturday (29th).
Beer list:
From Otley
O1 4%
croeso 4.2%
O3 boss 4.4%
O4 Colombo 4%
O5 gold 5%
O7 weissen 5%
O8 8%
Oxymoron 5.5%
Kowhai 4.9%
Thai bo 4.6%
new brew(yet to be named) 4.7%

Saltaire stateside IPA 6%
Saltaire blackberry cascade 4.8%
RCH old slug porter 4.5%
RCH easy street cream5%
Country Life golden pig 4.7%
Marston Moor Brewers droop 5%
Burton Bridge stairway to heaven 5%
Burton Bridge sovereign gold 4%
Bristol beer factory sunrise 4.4%
Bristol beer factory Amber 4.3%
Springhead roaring meg 5.5%
Ring o bells dreckly 4.8%
Green jack hop harvest 4%
Green jack orange wheat beer 4.2%
Isle of purbeck force four 4%
Isle of purbeck sutland bay wrecked 4.5%
Dark star American pale ale 4.7%
Dark star hophead 3.8%
Mighty oak English oak 4.8%
Oakham citra 4.2%
Oakham tranquility 6.5%
North Yorkshire golden ale 4.6%

+ 8 ciders

Tuesday night will see a charity quiz night in aid of  Ty Hafan
£1 per person entry fee, teams of up to 5 people
Free snacks at half time
Prizes for 1st, 2nd, 3rd & last 
Entertainment for the rest of the week is:
Wed 26th Oct
8pm Mathew Frederick

Thu 27th Oct
8.30pm Los Devitos

Fri 28th Oct
8pm Antique Toy

Sat 29th Oct
7pm Inconsiderate Parking
9pm Ffred Jones

The pub is very easy to find, being just a short stroll from Treforest railway station
Otley Arms
Forest Road, Trefforest, Pontypridd, CF37 1SY
Google Map:

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Traveline info:

Cowbridge Food Festival this weekend!

Cowbridge Food Festival 29th-30th October
A nice weekend out in Cowbridge beckons this weekend with a Food & Drink Festival in the historic market town of Cowbridge.

There will be a cider tasting at the town hall on the Saturday at 1415 - conducted by myself and Alex from Llanblethian Orchards, using cider from Denis Gwatkin as we have sold out of our own (and we need all the containers for this year's juice!)

Full list of exibitors here
But the important ones are below:
Cwm Deri Vineyard
Glyndwr Vineyard

Gwatkin Cider Co
Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Cider Ltd
Otley Brewery
Penlon Cottage Brewery
Wernddu Wine & Vineyard

In addition the Vale of Glamorgan pub will be holding its annual beer festival during the weekend but the Duke of Wellington will NOT be holding their cider festival, shame it was a popular event.

Journey Planner:

Cowbridge is easily reached from Cardiff or Bridgend via the X2 bus.

Sunday 23 October 2011

Brains for Halloween?

Brains pubs celebrate Halloween week
Information from Brains regarding what's going on this week in some of their pubs.

The Coach & Horses in Chepstow will be hosting its annual 'Beer & Sausage Festival' this weekend as well, over the 28-29th October.

Monday 24th October to Monday 31st October.

Lamb & Flag, Abergavenny
A free ice cream sundae with bat's blood and warlocks sauce with all children's main meals. We have Halloween activities all week including a children’s colouring competition and guess the weight of the pumpkin.

Pump House, Swansea
All week in the build up to Halloween - guess how many sweets are in the jar for your chance to win them.

Twelve Knights, Port Talbot
A special Halloween 3 course meal will be available all week.

October 25th

Reverend James, Swansea
Halloween Quiz Party - with Rob Pendry's music quiz. Prize for best fancy dress!

October 27th

Flora, Cardiff
Quiz Night Halloween special - Starts 8.30pm, £1 entry, winner takes all! Second prize also available!

October 28th

Blinkin Owl, Cwmbran
Scaryoke with Carl. Fancy dress and the best dressed wins a £20 bar tab.

Cornwall, Cardiff
Halloween Karaoke starts at 8.30pm in bar area. Meat raffle just £1 a ticket with all proceeds going towards Christmas meals for the elderly.

Heart of Oak, Hereford
Halloween Fancy Dress Party!

Hollybush, Cardiff
Adults Halloween Party! Come and join us for our Spooktacular Halloween Party we have: Kreepy Karaoke, Ghoulish Games, Freaky Fancy Dress, Paranormal Punch and much more. You Would be crazy to miss it!

Newbridge, Cardiff
Halloween party with sweets and prizes! Kid’s fancy dress prizes plus musical chairs and a disco.

October 29th

Black Horse, Swansea
Halloween Fancy Dress Party!

Hollybush, Cardiff
Kids Halloween Party. All kids under 12 are invited to come and join in some fantasticly frightening fun at The Hollybush. With lots of ghastly games, terrifying treats and gruesome goodies for all! Activities include: fancy dress, games and face painting. All children will receive a trick or treat Party Bag.

Kitty Flynn’s, Cardiff
Kick start the Halloween party weekend with fancy dress if you dare.

Lamb & Flag, Abergavenny
Anyone purchasing one of the meals of our special chalkboard menu (halloween themed) will receive a free raffle tickets to enter our draw which will take place at 10.30pm. Prizes will include a Christmas Fayre meal for 2 plus many more.

Lewis Arms, Cardiff
Kids pumpkin carving 1pm till 4pm.

Maltsters, Whitchurch
Maltsters monster mash fancy dress party!

Pendragon, Cardiff
Halloween Party, fancy dress and games for kids and adults.

Plas Derwen, Abergavenny
Halloween Hamper Raffle.

Pumphouse, Swansea
The start of our Spooky Halloween weekend where The Pumphouse will transform into a scary wonderland of ghouls and ghosts. Prizes for best under 10s fancy dress competition!

Retreat, Cardiff
Halloween Fancy Dress Party.

Tynewydd, Barry
Halloween Fancy Dress Party.

Ty-Risha, Bridgend
From 12pm until 5pm we have a childrens entertainer with the halloween theme. There will be face painting, apple bobbing and party games. From 8pm onwards we will be hosting a Monster's ball with a fancy dressed live band and some spooky themed games to get the party started. Fancy dress all day.

Savoy Country Inn, St Clears
Halloween colouring competition for kids with sweets for prizes!

October 30th

Hanbury, Newport
Sunday night themed Halloween Quiz with our resident Wizard Kevin weaving his special blend of magic and mystery. Prize for the best scary fancy dress costume.

Kitty Flynn’s, Cardiff
Ghoulish fun with Wii games with a haunting theme.

Black Horse, Swansea
Children's Halloween party and spooky quiz.

Flora, Cardiff
From 7pm - fancy dress, apple bobbing, toffee apples, cakes, toffee apple shots, punch and more. Good music all evening. Best fancy dress costume wins a meal for two in the Flora!

Willows, Cardiff
Halloween Party!

October 31st

Admiral Napier, Cardiff
Come enter the Napier dungeons, and have a scary Halloween party, where there will be plenty of wild and scary games to be played with prizes to be won. Fancy dress allowed; prize for best dressed. Then join the monster bop and dance the night away with Donna and her karaoke! See you there for a scary night!

Blinkin Owl, Cwmbran
4.30pm trick or treat the landlord, cover him in gunge make him eat the food he hates! For the kids we have party games with prizes to be won for the best dressed and best pumpkin.

Cornwall, Cardiff
Murder Mystery Halloween night including fancy dress, games and prizes to be won!

Hanbury, Newport
Special Hanbury Halloween Hocus Pocus Menu available from 6pm. Blood curdlingly delicious selection of devlish delights concocted by our kitchen wizards and served by the Hanbury Harridans.

Hen &; Chickens, Abergavenny
Face paint for kids, pumpkin pie & apple bobbing!

Lamb & Flag, Abergavenny
All children dressed up will receive a trick or treat goodie bag and our draw will take place for our weight of pumpkin and colouring competition.

Maltsters, Whichurch
4.30pm-7pm: trick or treat for the kids with free face painting!

Old Inn, Swansea
Scary costumes and grave yard shift, low lights and candles on tables, special menu for the brave!

Pear Tree, Cardiff
Halloween themed specials, trick or treat for kids and pumpkins on the bar!

Phoenix, Gorslas
Family Halloween party and disco, fancy dress, apple bobbing, face painting and our BBQ!

Piercefield, St Arvans nr. Chepstow
9:30-11:00am St Arvans Play Group Halloween Activity Morning with fancy dress, apple bobbing, spooky biscuits & pumpkin soup.
7:30-9:00pm Fancy dress competition, carved pumpkin competion, goody bags for all in fancy dress & other spooky going ons.

Pumphouse, Swansea
Children's colouring in competition. If your picture is judged the scariest throughout Halloween week, then you will win a special prize!

Rose & Crown, Nottage, Bridgend
Toast Halloween with our homemade hot & spicy cider brew.

Red Dragon, Bridgend
Childrens fancy dress, treasure hunt and bobbing apples with prizes to be won! Enter our prize board raffle - buy a square to win a prize!

Smoking Dog, Malmesbury
A selection of food with Ghoulish names.... Drop in to find out more!

Thomas Arms, Llanelli
All diners dressed in fancy dress will be entered into a draw to win a family meal voucher for 4, see our ghoulish specials for the night!

Wharf, Cardiff
Halloween party with a raffle and guessing games to raise money for charity.

White Horse, Buckover
Halloween Grotto!

White Horse, Coychurch
Fang-tastic Food Specials ... grilled 'stakes' ... blood red wine! Book a table early ... you never know who's going to be BEHIND YOU! And try one of our Halloween cocktails!

Yard Bar & Kitchen
Comedy night at the Yard, from 7.30pm in association with Carnival Comedy. A great line up with our headline act Nick Helm, and support from John Robins, Rob Callaghan and Robin Morgan.

Friday 21 October 2011

Another EU ban

Once again our political masters in the EU have decided that they know better than us and their latest piece of bansturbation is to outlaw the use of Sulphur Dioxide in sterilising brewing and cidermaking equipment, something that has been used since Roman times. Now this would mean a ban on the use of Sodium Metabisulphite - a very useful steriliser that is used at CAMRA beer festivals and in homebrewing and commercial cidermaking to disinfect taps, clean shive and bung holes etc. Sodium Met produces Sulphur Dioxide on contact with water - easily getting rid of any bugs etc. SO2 will also drop out of solution easily so that any beer, cider or apple juice that then goes into that container will loose its sulphurous nose over a period of time. It also does not taint taps as other sterilisers can do.

So why do they want to ban something that has been used for over 2000 years? Well an alternative steriliser being suggested is Hydrogen Peroxide, which is already used commercially in the food industry and also by terrorists to make bombs. Yes, that is correct, the bonkers bureaucrats in Brussels want us to use a bomb-making component at beer festivals! Should be fun buying it in the chemists!

Of course this EUSSR dictate has nothing to do with the largest producers of Hydrogen Peroxide in Europe are based in France and Germany!

It's not a total ban, SO2 use as an additive in cider or wine making, etc, is NOT threatened by this ruling. So we can add it as an ingredient or biocide but not as a sterilising agaent? Bonkers!!!!

Time for a referendum on membership of Europe?

True Taste Awards 2011/12

The winners were announced last night and Tweeted by some people, nothing on the True Taste website as of yet (come on Welsh Government get your act together) but as the winners are in the public domain here are the boozy ones as reported on Twitter:

Gold: Celt Experience Brewery - Celt Golden
Silver: Monty's Brewery - Sunshine
Bronze: Blaengawney Hallet's Cider

A slightly ungrateful tweet from Hallets Cider was forthcoming during the awards:
Still when your cider tastes of mouse then what more can you expect?

Update: Full list of winners here

The Anchor, Tintern

Every so often I come across one of those pubs that I have not been to for years, one which I had avoided due to bad beer, poor service or it smelt of fish. The Anchor in Tintern, Monmouthshire was one such pub, having been run a few years ago by a couple totally unsuited to the pub trade. One day in the summer I found myself, almost by accident in Tintern and decided to give the Anchor pub another go. I'm glad I did, as the Anchor has a new owner, the pub is no longer a Punch Taverns/Pubmaster tied house but a genuine free house.
Standing almost in the shadow of the historic abbey, the Anchor incorporates a medieval gate in one part of it. Although the most of the building is a later structure, there are still some unusual features to be found inside, the most unusual being the round stone-built horse-drawn cider mill in the bar!

Flagstone floors, blackened wooden beams, thick stone walls and a slate bar top with 5 gleaming handpumps on – Wye Valley HPA the perfect thirst quenching beer for a Summers Day, or any other day for that matter. Also on the bar were Butty Bach, Bath Gem and Weston's Old Rosie together with bottles of Severn Cider.
A good pub doing well under new ownership after a sympathetic refurbishment. Menu looked good as well. As for the view from the beer garden:
Anchor, Tintern, Monmouthshire, NP16 6TE
Google Map:

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Thursday 20 October 2011

The Robin Hood, Pontcanna

Robin Hood, 16 Severn Grove, Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9EN

The Robin Hood is situated on a quiet back-street in the leafy suburb of Pontcanna. This time of the year, the pub sign is almost hidden by a large tree and with the upper floor of the pub painted dark green, together with a large green canopy it almost seems that Sherwood Forest has moved to Cardiff! The pub was built in 1901 and a few years later expanded into the adjoining property. A tiled frontage was built when the properties were joined and that frontage exists today with  'Hancocks Ales & Stout' emblazoned across it, after the name of the local brewery that owned the pub. The pub is set back from the road and this small area has tables and chairs together with a large canopy that provides shade to the outside seating area as the summer sun slowly sets over the Western suburbs of the City. Unusually for Cardiff, the Robin Hood still retains a separate bar and lounge, with the bar on the right-hand side of the tiled fa├žade and the lounge on the left. The large windows in the lounge open up to allow customers to enjoy the weather in the summer.
Despite being over 100 years old, this pub has a contemporary feel to the place with wooden floorboards and a choice of seating in the bar, with traditional benches, lounge seats and bar stools in this lively section of the pub, where conversation dominates despite the flat-screen television and eclectic selection of piped music. Above the bar hang dimpled pint jugs, once popular with customers, although the straight pint glass is more likely to be used to serve drinks today in.
Behind the central bar servery is a the dark mahogany back-shelving or gantry which serves both the bar and lounge areas. A doorway to the rear of the bar leads to another section of the pub with more seating and this in turn leads to a surprisingly large rear garden with tables, a smoking shelter and even an area for playing boules. The pub is decorated throughout with pictures of Welsh sporting heroes, happy customers enjoying themselves at the pub and old photos of the surrounding area.
The lounge area is well-lit and features plenty of seating as it is mainly used by diners in the lunchtime and early evening. Food is served 12-3 and 7-9pm from a traditional pub menu together with chalkboards announcing the daily specials.
Two real ales are served from the wooden bars, Hancock's HB and Reverend James, both brewed in Cardiff by the local brewery with a penchant for advertising on railway bridges, SA Brain.
The Robin Hood also offers free WiFi and is a popular pub that appeals to everyone, from the lunchtime diner to the local customers just popping in for a pint and a chat, to the ever-popular karaoke singers during the night. 
A nice little pub that does does not stink of fish as a certain place nearby does.

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Thursday 13 October 2011

Tuesday 11 October 2011

Bunch of Bottles in Pontypridd

Wales’ first ever bottled beer festival will be held at the Bunch of Grapes gastro pub in Pontypridd on October 14 to 16.
The Otley Brewing Company will welcome over 150 of the World’s best bottled beers to its flagship pub for Wales’ first ever bottled beer extravaganza. The three day event will hold host to beers which have never been served in Wales before and bottled Russian Stouts, German Hefeweizen and American Pale Ales will take over the predominantly cask ale pub.
As this is a first event of its kind in Wales, it is expected to draw in customers from across south Wales and beer writers and enthusiasts from across the UK. The Otleys will also welcome author of ‘Good Bottled Beer Guide’, Jeff Evans, to the pub to talk about the best bottled beers available from around the globe.
Jeff Evans is well known in the UK and USA for his knowledge of quality beer and has hosted beer talks and tasting sessions at public events such as at the Great British Beer Festival and has also shared his expertise on BBC’s Good Food show. Jeff has been writing about beer professionally since the 1980’s.
Nick Otley, managing director of the Bunch of Grapes and Otley Brewing Company said: “We are already known for our Otley bottled beer range, but it is also important that we introduce different flavours and styles to our customers too. It was essential that we could pull together the biggest selection of quality bottled beers from all over the world to the Bunch, to really get our customers excited and to bring them something new.
“We have recently been certified as the official Welsh arm of the Beer Academy and so educating our customers about great beers is an even bigger part of what we believe in now. We’ve hand-picked an amazing selection of beers for the festival and can assure that we will not only bring Wales’ first bottled beer festival to Pontypridd but we will also have the best beer selection on offer too. Quality hops and unusual flavours are really important to us and we can assure that any beers we introduce during this festival will tick those boxes.”
Entry to the Bottled Beer Festival is free and will start from 11am and finish at 11pm daily.

Some of the beers coming on:

Anchor Brewing - San Fransisco
Steam Beer – 4.8%
Liberty Ale – 5.9%
Porter – 5.6%

Brooklyn Brewery - NYC
Brown Ale – 5.6%
Black Chocolate Stout – 10.0%
East India Pale Ale – 6.8%

Flying Dog Brewery- Maryland
Doggie Style – 5.5%
Road Dog Porter – 6.0%
Raging Bitch – 8.3%
Tire Bite – 5.1%

Goose Island - Chicago
312 Urban Wheat – 4.4% (as served in the White House!)
Honkers Ale – 4.3%
India Pale Ale – 5.9%

Sierra Nevada
Pale Ale – 5.6%


De Koninck – 5.0%
Duvel – 8.5%
Kwak – 8.4%
La Chouffe – 8.0%
Mc Chouffe – 8.0%
Houblon Chouffe - 9.0%
Vedett Blonde – 5.0%
Vedett White - 4.7%
Belgoo Magus – 6.6%
Van Honsebrouke Brigand – 9.0%
Van Honsebrouke Kasteel Blonde 7 – 7.0%
Van Honsebrouke Kasteel Brune 11 – 11.0%
Cantillion Geuze – 5.0%
Cantillon Kriek – 5.0%
Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus – 5.0%
Cuvee Des Trolls – 7.0%
Delirium Tremens – 8.5%
Duchesse de Bourgogne – 6.2%
Mongozo Coconut – 4.5%
Rochefort 8 - 9.2%
Rochefort 10 - 11.3%
Saison Silly – 5.0%
Brasserie Dubuisson Scaldis Ambre – 12.0%
Urthel Hop It – 9.5%

Abbey & Trappist

monastic or monastic-style beer

Chimay Red Cap – 7.0%
Chimay White Cap – 8.0%
Chimay Blue Cap – 9.0%
Karmeliet Tripel – 8.4%
La Trappe Blonde – 6.5%
La Trappe Tripel – 8.0%
Maredsous Blonde – 6.0%
Maredsous Brune – 8.0%
Maredsous Triple - 10.0%
Orval – 6.2%
Westmalle Dubbel – 7.0%
Westmalle Tripel – 9.5%


Hefe Weiss – 5.3%
Urweisse – 5.2%
Hefe Dunkel – 5.6%
Pikantus – 7.3%

Pils – 4.8%

Kolsch – 4.8%

Kolsch – 4.8%

Rauchbier Marzen – 5.1%
Rauchbier Weizen – 5.2%

Aventinus – 8.2%
Original – 5.4%
Grunes – 6.2%

Pils – 4.9%

Weiss – 5.4%

Alt – 4.8%

St. Georgenbrau
Kellerbier 4.9%

Veltins – 4.8%

Fruit Beers

Framboise – 5.0%
Kriek – 5.8%

Cuvee Brut (Kriek) – 6.0%
Fruitesse – 4.2%

Framboise – 4.0%
Kriek – 4.0%


Bohemia Regent Dark Lager – 4.4%
Bohemia Regent President 6.0%

Hopfenkonig (Hop King) – 5.1%


Organic Lager – 5.0%


Menabrea 4.8%

For more information please visit the Bunch of Grapes website or follow the pub on Twitter @BunchGrapesCF37

Bunch of Grapes, Ynysangharad Road, Pontypridd, R.C.T., CF37 4DA

Monday 10 October 2011

Opening Early for the Rugby World Cup

An Englishman, Scotsman and an Irishman all walk into a pub.
The Welshman is of course still in New Zealand!

Given the performance of the England team the other day against France, it is clear that most of the team are only a couple of years away from their Strictly debut!

Enough jokes about the other rugby teams, if you are looking for somewhere to watch the match then a number of Brains pubs will be open early:

Semi Final (Wales v France) - Saturday 15th October, 9am
Birchgrove, Cardiff
Boathouse, Bath
Maltsters, Whitchurch
Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny
Pheasant, Bridgend
Westgate, Cardiff
Wharf, Cardiff Bay
Coach & Horses, Chepstow (from 0830)

Semi Final (Australia v New Zealand) - Sunday 16th October, 9am
Birchgrove, Cardiff
Boathouse, Bath
Maltsters, Whitchurch
Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny
Pheasant, Bridgend
Westgate, Cardiff
Wharf, Cardiff Bay

Bronze Final - Friday 21st October, 8.30am
Birchgrove, Cardiff
Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny
Wharf, Cardiff Bay

Final - Sunday 23rd October, 9am
Birchgrove, Cardiff
Boathouse, Bath
Maltsters, Whitchurch
Hen & Chickens, Abergavenny
Pheasant, Bridgend
Westgate, Cardiff
Wharf, Cardiff Bay
These details were correct at the time of going to print. Please call the pub ahead of your visit to avoid dissapointment.

In addition the Clytha Arms in Monmouthshire will also be open early. They also have their Octoberfest on as well!

In Newport, Infusion Sports Bar will be open from 0800 and they have recently installed a cask beer!

Beer Academy in Wales


Pontypridd pub, The Bunch of Grapes has been officially named as the first official outlet for The Beer Academy in Wales. 

Founded in 2003, The Beer Academy is an international body that helps people understand, appreciate and enjoy beer sensibly. The Academy is supported by brewers, beer retailers, trade associations and consumer groups and delivers training courses as well as talks, tastings and workshops.

The Bunch of Grapes Beer Academy has already attracted 165 members who have enjoyed exclusive events including tutored tastings and beer and food matching event with world-renowned beer writers including Melissa Cole and Roger Protz.

Nick Otley (pictured outside the Bunch), managing director of The Bunch of Grapes and the Otley Brewing Company, said: “To be declared the first official Welsh arm of the Beer Academy is a real badge of honour for us. It will help us on our way to establishing the pub as a centre of excellence for real ale and will boost our efforts to encourage more people to share our passion for beer.

“The Beer Academy at the Bunch of Grapes is a meeting point for people to get together and learn about, experience, taste and enjoy beer in all its wonderful varieties. We’re really keen for more people to join the Beer Academy at the Bunch and learn about what makes real ale so special. It’s fast-becoming a drink of choice for a younger, more discerning drinker and this is reflected in our member base which is made up of a large proportion of under 35s.”

The next event at the Bunch of Grapes is a three day festival from 14 October which will bring 150 bottled beers from all over the world to Wales, many for the first time.

Beer Academy director, Simon Jackson, said: “Beer is not only the world’s most popular alcoholic drink, it is also the most diverse.  The Beer Academy’s ambition is to open people’s eyes to the dazzling varieties of different beers that they can enjoy and how to present them in perfect condition.  We are delighted that the Bunch has come on board to spread our message in Wales.”

The Beer Academy at the Bunch is free to join and is open to anyone who is keen to develop their interest in real ale. Sign up to receive the latest news and information about what’s going on in the world of beer and forthcoming events. 

Register by emailing

Friday 7 October 2011

Scores on the Doors - filthy pubs

Further to my previous posts on the 'Scores on the Doors' scheme run by the Food Hygiene Agency, I decided to make Freedom of Information requests to a couple of councils to find out why a couple of pubs had scored so low on the scheme.
Cardiff Council were the first to respond but there was a delay from Powys Council - above is a screenshot from the Food Standards Agency website regarding the George Hotel in Brecon which scored a 0/5 - the website does not go into detail as to why the score was so low, hence the FOI request.
The George Hotel in Brecon scored so low because:
Compliance Food Hygiene and Safety 
Some major non-compliance with statutory obligations
"Repeat issue re fridge. High risk stored"  
Some major non-compliance with stat obligations
"Grease to walls. Cleaning issues" 
Confidence in Management Systems 
Poor track record of compliance, little or no technical knowledge. Little or no appreciation of hazards or quality control. 
"No food safety management".

Not the type of place you'd really want to eat in is it?

The company that owns the George in Brecon also runs the Cricketers in Cardiff which scored marginally better with 1/5
I did get banned from the Cricketers early this year after I complained to the owner via email that his pub stank of fish, which it does. Good job I did not eat in this place as the inspectors found:
Confidence in management/control procedures
"....have not carried out the kind of logical but simple analysis of the food safety hazards present that is required by current food legislation"
Compliance with food hygiene and safety procedures
"Several ready-to-eat food items found in the desert and sandwich trays were found past their use-by-date"
Oh dear, serving out-of-date food to your customers! Is the pub called the Cricketers or the Crapeters?
Compliance with structural requirements
"Ice-making machine was dirty".
"Window in the kitchen left open and provided easy access for pests"
No doubt attracted by the smell of fish from the pub.
"Fridge/freezer in the kitchen was not clean".
"Door seal of the fridge was dirty".
"Floor covering in the kitchen was dirty".
"Ceiling above the hot cupboard in the kitchen was dirty".

Not a glowing report, though I understand improvements have been made. It is odd that the George in Brecon appears to have had less serious issues than the Cricketers in Cardiff, but was given 0/5 rather than 1/5. It seems to be that each council environmental health departments have different criteria to awarding the scores.

The owner of these premises proudly states that he has access to my Facebook account and is in fact  cyberstalking me, if anyone is interested, below is a screenshot from Linkedin account to show that he does indeed read this blog and follow my Twitter updates.

Black Cock does beer festival

The Black Cock Inn on Caerphilly Mountain are holding their annual beer festival this weekend. More details here.
30 real ales and 6 ciders will be available over the weekend.

Live music to accompany your pints and last year had an Irish Jig Band plus a Hog Roast on the Saturday and a BBQ on the Sunday.

The £12 admission to the Real Ale and Cider Festival will include a commemorative glass and tokens for 4 pints/ 8 Half pints.

Google Map:

View Larger Map

Previous review of the pub here
Black Cock Inn, Waunwaelod Way, Caerphilly, CF83 1BD


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