Wednesday 30 November 2011

Cardiff Pubs in the 1980s

Came across this little booklet, published in 1980, which features a map of Cardiff and the pubs in the City Centre.

A lot has changed in 30 years, for instance the booklet mentions Brains have 103 pubs, they now have 270 and have expanded their empire into England and West Wales. The retail development of the City Centre saw a few pubs demolished as well.

Where the pubs have gone:

NB if the pub does not have a website of their own I have linked to the relevant page on the fantastic Cardiff Pubs site.

A. Albert Hotel, now The Yard
B. Angel Hotel, still there, although the downstairs bar closed some years ago.
C. Bluebell Hotel, still open, renamed The Goat Major.
D. Borough Arms, still open
E. Cambrian Hotel, still open renamed Kitty Flynn's
F. Cardiff Cottage, still open, now just The Cottage
G. Centre Hotel, Gatehouse Tavern, now Callaghans, part of the Holiday Inn
H. City Arms, still open
I. Duke of Wellington, still open
J. Fishguard Arms, demolished, was next door to the Golden Cross
K. Glastonbury, demolished, Radisson Blue Hotel now on site
L. Globe Inn, renamed Dempseys
M. Golden Cross, still open
N. Great Western Hotel, still open, now Lloyds No1 (Wetherspoons)
O. Greyhound Hotel, demolished, St David's 2 shopping centre on the site
P. Horse & Groom, closed, building still there
Q. Model Inn, closed in 2010, due to reopen December 2011 as Greenwood & Brown restaurant
R. New Market Tavern, renamed O'Neils
S. Old Arcade, still open
T. Owain Glyndwr, still open
U. Park Lane Bar, later known as the Park Vaults, now closed and converted into a bookmakers.
V. Philharmonic, closed.
W. Red Dragon Bar, closed now Marks & Spencer Simply Food!
X. Rose & Crown, known as Barfly recently and now Bogiez.
Y. Rummer Tavern, still open
Z. Salutation Hotel, demolished, John Lewis department store on site now
ZZ. York Hotel, closed, awaiting demolition

The pub descriptions are a little sparse to say the least:

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Zero Degrees Cider

Thought I'd give this cider a try as its only recently made an appearance on the bar in the Cardiff Zero Degrees.
Golden yellow in colour and with a noticeable aroma, not unpleasant but of fresh green apples and freshly mown hay. I'm not used to ciders that smell of apples! The aroma does start to mellow after a while, with some vanilla coming through.
The taste is of, well really nothing much with some slight tanin notes coming through at the end together with some apple flavour.
I'd guess this cider is made from desert/eating fruit by its flavour, its not too unpleasant but when you are used to making your own cider using proper cider fruit the blandness of commercial ciders is noticeable. Getting to the end of my pint now and a sweet cloyingness is beginning to creep in. Not to my taste but I'm sure some people will like it.
4.5% ABV

Baglan Hotel, Treherbert

Baglan Hotel, 30 Baglan Street, Treherbert, CF42 5AW
Open all day

The Baglan Hotel is a stone-built pub on the outskirts of Treherbert, close to the train station of Ynyswen and with bus stops nearby. Dating from 1855, this pub was originally owned by the David John Brewery of Ton Pentre who were bought by Webbs brewery of Aberbeeg and who, in turn became part of  Welsh Brewers. For a while, Ushers Brewery of Trowbridge owned the pub but the Baglan is now a freehouse. An old sign from the former Crown Buckley Brewery hangs outside the pub. The pub has been in the same family for over sixty years and the current landlord was born in the pub.
The central doorway leads to the stone-flagged bar on the left-hand side of the pub, this room is decorated with pictures of the many celebrities who have stayed at this pub over the years as well as  old photographs of the pub. One unusual visitor to the bar was a horse which was sold in here, only for the buyer to later discover it had not been broken in. Another photo is of the current landlord's father who is pictured behind the bar wearing his tie and braces with the Webbs Brewery pumpclips on the handpumps. There are also pieces of old brewery memorabilia including a rare Webbs mirror and a large collection of beer bottles. 

Around the corner from the bar is a dartboard and there is also a large flat-screen television, as horse racing is popular with the locals who drink in here. However it is conversation that dominates in this Rhondda Valley pub. There is plenty of seating, from high chairs at the bar to settles and traditional pub couches with the three-legged cast iron tables to rest your drinks on.
Four real ales are served from gleaming chrome handpumps, as this is a freehouse the beers change regularly but beers from Brains, Tomos Watkin , Felinfoel and RCH breweries feature regularly on the bar. Two draught ciders from the award-winning South Wales cidermaker Gwynt-y-Ddraig are also available together with a range of their bottles.
The Baglan Hotel also serves food, from a traditional pub menu and breakfasts are available from 0730 in the morning. The more comfortably furnished lounge bar is used for dining. Booking is advisable for Sunday lunch.
 Above: the landlord of the Baglan Hotel

Google Map:

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Traveline Information:
The Baglan is a short walk from Ynyswen train station or there is a bus stop (No 130) Pontypridd - Blaenrhondda nearby.

Monday 28 November 2011

Beer and Food Matching at Kilverts

 The award-winning Kilverts in Hay-on-Wye have come together with the Brecon Brewing Company
 to put together a 5 course meal matched with food.

This will take place at Kilverts, on Friday 2nd December, as a part of the Hay Winter Festival. The evening will be as follows :

A 5 course menu, pairing the best in local ingredients with local ales. To further demonstrate how well ale and food go well together, each dish uses ale (or cider!) in its preparation. Brecon’s Buster Grant will be co-hosting the evening in Kilvert’s new private dining room.

Erdinger Dunkel Risotto
A creamy vegetarian risotto made with the darker brother of the famous Wheat beer
Paired with Pale Beacons, 3.9% Light and hoppy pale bronze ale

~ ~ ~
Fresh Welsh Mussels
Off the rope from the Gower, with Gwynt y Ddraig cider & Smoked Bacon
Paired with Bright Beacons, 4.5% Very pale best bitter

~ ~ ~
Pork Roulade
with apricot stuffing and a Gold Beacons, roasted apple & baby onion sauce
Paired with Gold Beacons, 4.2% Deep golden ale

~ ~ ~
Chocolate Brownies
made with Cwrw-istmas Beacons, served with Chantilly Cream
Paired with Cwrw-istmas Beacons, Pale chestnut in colour,
brewed with a blend of Christmas fruits and spices – just like a pud!

~ ~ ~
Shropshire Blue and Brie
Paired with the last ever barrel of Ysbrid Y Ddraig, 6.5% whisky-aged IPA
and Wandering Beacons, 5.0% Dark chestnut strong best bitter

£30 inc drinks

To book please call 01497 821042 or email

Thursday 24 November 2011

Winter Ale Festival at the Coach

The Coach in Bridgend will be holding a mini-Winter ale festival this weekend, starting Friday
25 November  and continuing until Sunday 27 November.
Facebook Event here

No full list yet but here are a few beers they have:
Amber Ales 'Chocolate Orange Stout'
Purple Moose 'Dark Side of the Moose'
Dark Star 'Winter Meltdown'
Titanic 'Plum Porter'
Skinners 'Betty's Big Sister'
Black Mountain, Smoked Porter, Marvelous Maple Mild
Winter Meltdown, Chocolate & Vanilla Stout, Dark Age
Otley O5, O8, KowHai
 Google Map:
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37  Cowbridge Road, 
CF31 3DH, 
Traveline Information:

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Bunch of Grapes celebrates Thanksgiving

The multi-award winning pub, the Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd, will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, starting on Thursday 24th and continuing until Sunday 27th November.
As well as American specials on the menu such as Clam Chowder and Southern fried chicken thighs with sweet potato steak fries and coleslaw, there is also an extensive American Beer List.

Draught on the Festival bar:
Sierra Nevada
Torpedo Extra IPA
Celebration Ale
Big Foot IPA 
Barley Wine

Flying Dog
Snake Dog IPA
Doggie Style

Cut Throat Porter
5 Barrel Pale

Prima Pils

Bottles 34 various beers on the MAIN BAR:
Sierra Nevada
Goose Island

Flying Dog


Indigo Imp
Cask Ales on the MAIN BAR
Otley Brewing Company -
U.S.O American Pale Ale
Utobeer American Red
Oxymoron American Black

O3 Boss dry hopped with cascade and Chinook American Red style
Trio dry hopped with Centennial

Tri-O dry hopped with Nugget

Bunch of Grapes
Ynysangharad Road
CF37 4DA

Google Map:

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Tuesday 22 November 2011

M & B announces profits up

Pub Company Mitchells & Butlers have today announced an increase in profits:

  • Total sales up 4.9% including food sales up 7.8%
  • Operating profit up 1.1% and operating margin at 16.3%
  • EBITDA returns of 21% achieved on expansionary capex invested over the last two years
  • Net debt reduced by over £400m; net debt:EBITDA now at 4.7 times
  • Like-for-like sales in FY 2011 of +2.6% with food like-for-like sales of +4.8%
  • Like-for-like sales growth of 2.0% in first 8 weeks of FY 2

M & B run a diverse collection of pubs, mainly left over from the former Bass Empire:

They don't tend to brand themselves as M & B but as one of their 'flavours' above. 

The Conway, Pontcanna

New Conway, 58 Conway Road, Pontcanna, CF11 9NW
Open 12-11 Monday-Thursday, 12-12 Fridays & Saturdays, 12-10.30 Sunday

The New Conway is a two-story Victorian building, with a traditional slate roof. Originally built as the Conway Hotel this street-corner pub was once owned by Whitbread Brewery and later Enterprise Inns who lease it to Knife & Fork Food Limited. Woods Brasserie in the Bay and the historic Old Swan in Llantwit Major are also run by this company. The name changed to 'The New Conway' a few years ago after a refurbishment. The exterior of the pub is rather plain, though with original corbelling above the ground floor windows. There is also an outside seating area on the part of the pub set back from the road.
The interior is relatively unspoilt with the original Victorian wooden bar running parallel to the outside walls. The walls are partly timbered and the pastel colours continue inside with light green and white being the theme throughout. A varnished wooden bar counter and brass foot-rail provide some contrast, as do the four gleaming brass handpumps serving real ales from Welsh breweries such as Vale of Glamorgan, Kite, Otley, Newmans, Purple Moose as well as those from further afield such as Timothy Taylor and Wychwood. Good to see the smaller independent Welsh breweries being supported in a back street pub. The bar back or gantry as it is known in Scotland has some unusual arching in it and may be another original feature of this pub.
The bar section is quite narrow and leads to the dining section at the rear of the pub. 
The New Conway is unmistakably a gastropub, but one with a firm commitment to real ale. There is also an extensive wine list as well as a good selection of single malts. Around 30 single malts are available, many from distilleries not normally seen in Cardiff, including one made with chocolate malt which is normally used to brew dark beers. Although at £18 a shot it is a bit expensive.
There are no printed menus on the tables, instead chalkboards which are updated daily feature the specialities of the house on that particular day. With everything from tapas, baguettes, full meals and deserts, the New Conway offers a wide menu with something for everyone's palette.
Throughout the year, regular themed nights are held, often featuring the pairing of drink and food, the most recent one was a Welsh night and a wine tasting is coming up in November. The New Conway also offers free WiFi and does not smell of fish as other nearby pubs do.

Google Map:

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Stout & Porter Festival for the City Arms

The premier ale house of Cardiff, the City Arms will be holding a stout and porter festival starting Wednesday November 23rd and finishing on the 30th. A week of these dark and delicious beers from across the UK have been hand-picked by manager Chris and include a few award-winning beers as well:

Purbeck, Studland Bay Wrecked
Blackwater Brewery, Pre-Raphaelite
Thornbridge, SeaForth
Banks and Taylor, SOS
Brentwood, Lumberjack
Brentwood, Spooky Moon
Brentwood, The Dodo
Salopian, Vortex
Salopian, Shropshire Gold Stout and Porter Fest 2011
Brentwood Weald Porter 4.9%
Sarah Hughes Dark Ruby Mild 6%
RCH Old Slug Porter 4.5%
Banks & Taylor Black Dragon Mild 4.3%
Burton Bridge Damson Porter 4.5%
Blindmans ,Icarus 4.5%
Amber Winter Ruby 5%
Neathergate Umbel Magna 5%
Titantic Plum Porter 4.9%
Montys Midnight Stout 4%
Waen Blackberry Stout 3.8%
Waen chilli Plum Porter 6.1%
Bristol Beer Stout 4%
B&T Edwin Taylors Stout 4.5%
Mighty oak Oscar Wild 3.7% Dark
Otley Oxy moron 5.5%

Have previously written about the City Arms here, a pub previously known as the 'Van of Flesh Tavern' due to its proximity to the cattle market and slaughterhouse. This Brains pub now has regular beer festivals, American and German so far this year and offers the most interesting guest beers in the City Centre.

Monday 21 November 2011

Beer & Food Festival on the Gower

The historic 17th Century Kings Head at Llangennith on the picturesque Gower Peninsular will be holding their second beer, wine and food festival over the weekend of the 25th-27th November 2011. Featuring local produce and live music, if you don't fancy the trip back to Swansea the Kings also does accomodation so why not make a weekend of it?

Live music Friday night, Saturday Night and Sunday Night!
Bands confirmed are:-

Friday night:- 'The Fleas Massive'

Saturday Night:- 'Nimble Limbs'

- 'I Scream For Crow'

Sunday Night:- 'Stu's Gastric band'

The Kings will be Selling their award winning selection of cheeses and will have hampers for the festive season.
Welsh Cheeses

Welsh Whiskies

Welsh Chocolate

Welsh Preserves

Home-made Christmas cup cakes/ Biscuits/ Mince Pies

Home-made Christmas Yule Chocolate Logs
It is also the same weekend as the Christmas Produce Market in the Hall so plenty going on in Llangennith.

Kings Head Inn, Llangennith, Swansea, West Glamorgan SA3 1HX
 Facebook Event here

 Journey Planner:
The Kings Head can be reached by bus from Swansea, though its a somewhat infrequent service from the City Centre on bus number 116

Google Map:

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Saturday 19 November 2011

Save the Pub with UKIP

The United Kingdom Independence Party have recognised the problems facing British pubs and have launched a campaign to save them.
Head over to their site, to sign the petition

There is also a booklet to download which gives some British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) facts:

  • A net total of 1,013 pubs shut their doors for the last time between July and December 2009,  
  • 2,365 pubs closing during the whole of 2009 
  • This has led to the loss of over 10,000 jobs in local communities across Britain, 
  • This costs the government an additional £1.53 million a week in job seekers allowance. 
  • As every pub contributes £107,000 in tax a year – 30% of turnover - pub closures in 2010,therefore cost the government more than £254 million in lost taxes, a loss that is increasing by more than £5.5m a week.
  • There are still approximately 52,000 pubs across the UK.
  • The average closure rate of pubs currently stands at a stupendous 28 per week.
UKIP actually come up with some useful proposals to save the pub:

• UKIP will institute a Royal Commission to investigate the pricing structures used by the breweries through pubcos, in particular; the Royal Commission will investigate the pricing structure used by breweries in their captive markets for bulk packaged wholesale goods and the cost of sales to
supermarkets. This pricing makes the cost of wholesale prices, from tied sales from a pubco or even independent wholesalers, more expensive than some retail beer prices in supermarkets. UKIP will insist on reduced differentials and a fairer balance in beer pricing between on and off-trade beer sales.

• UKIP would cut duty and taxes on traditional draught beers such as real ale, ciders and some lagers. UKIP would also allow landlords to write off against tax promotional costs for traditional beers through pub posters, beer mats and giveaways.
Any tax cut is good for the trade theses days.

• UKIP would reduce both EU derived regulations and UK regulations /controls. Will tone down enforcement regimes, involving various licences, permits, certificates, surveys, reports, audits, contracts, procedures, assessments and policies. This would free up landlords/managers and reduce
costs. In so doing, it will allow the landlord/owner more time for the marketing of their pub/club and the organising of promotions.
A reduction in red tape is also good for the trade

• UKIP would amend the smoking ban to allow pub landlords and club managers to provide contained and ventilated 'smoking rooms' within pubs and clubs. This is in pubs and clubs where the customers desire it and the landlords or pub companies wish to invest in such a facility. This proposal also brings benefits to residents in reducing noise and intrusion from outside smoking areas, which can be uncomfortable and antisocial for users. It also removes the risk for landlords/managers of sizeable fines being levied by local councils.
Freedom to choose to smoke or not in pubs is also a good idea. 

All in all a lot of positive ideas there to help the pub trade out.

Friday 18 November 2011

Tomos Watkin launch new beer

The award-winning Tomos Watkin Brewery of Swansea have launched a new beer, Blodwyn, named after the cockle-picking sister of the company's founder, Idris. Brewed with pale malt and Styrian Goldings hops this thirst quenching ale is already proving popular in their usual outlets. A bottled version will be appearing soon.
Tomos Watkin on Facebook
Tomos Watkin on Twitter

Beerex in Trellech

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The historic Monmouthshire village of Trellech will play host to be a beer festival this weekend in the equally historic and multi-award winning Lion Inn.

Beers available:
Bath Ales Festivity,
Otley O8,
Wye Valley Butty Bach,
Felinfoel Double Dragon,
Butcombe Bitter -
2 local ciders and 2 local perries
19 different bottled beers including Chimay, Pen Lon, Leffe Blonde, Fruli

Lion Inn, Trellech, Monmouth, Monmouthshire, NP25 4PA

Traveline information:
Trellech is accessible by public transport, the Chepstow-Monmouth service 65stops by the pub though this being rural Monmouthshire, not at night.

Thursday 17 November 2011

Up for sale

The Red Lion, Stow Hill, Newport is up for sale, asking price £175,000, down from £190,000 last month. A once decent boozer that has fallen on bad times over the past few years, not helped by the indifference of the owners, Punch Taverns, and their sozzled tenant.
Once a Welsh Brewers pub, the Red Lion played host to the first meeting of Gwent CAMRA back in the 1970s and in the 1990s was bought by Marr Taverns and then Ushers Brewery of Trowbridge. In the Ushers days the landlord used to serve guest beers from a secret cellar - it was know as the 'Ann Frank Cellar' due to it being so well hidden. The same landlord built up a lunchtime food trade, the present incumbent does not even open the pub lunchtime, no doubt too busy sleeping off the drink from the night before - the pub opens around 3/4pm depending on when the landlord wakes up from his vomit-encrusted bed.
The pub has also gained a reputation for violence, not helped by the fact that the landlord refused to identify to the police a regular who attacked another customer. So he lost a few customers that way, not that he cared too much as his drinking has reached such problem levels that such thoughts are blocked out of his tiny alcohol-soddled mind. Yes Brian I mean you - are you going to threaten to stab me again just because I criticise your shitty pub?

From the sales catalogue:
"No accurate trading figures are available. Prospective purchasers will need to reach their own conclusions as to the potential trade and profitability which can be enjoyed at this outlet"
So Punch refuse to tell anyone what the pub is trading at? No surprise they have had to knock down the price by £15,000 in a month.

This could be a very successful pub once again, given the right ownership and management, opening the pub lunchtimes would be a start. Lighting the real fire in Winter would also help - the miserable git of a landlord could not be bothered one Christmas a few years ago.
There is a small area out the front for smokers and a larger unused rear courtyard and a passageway - this was the first pub I noticed when the smoking ban came in - noticed the smell of stale beer in the carpets as well as the smell from the toilets - tobacco smoking did have its advantages in some shit pubs!
Can't see anyone wanting to buy a Newport pub at the moment, looks like another auction property on the cards and conversion to flats?

Mid-Wales Beer festival starts this weekend

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The smallest town in Britain, Llanwrtyd Wells, will be playing host to the 10-day Mid-Wales Beer Festival this weekend. The festival is centered on the Neuadd Arms Hotel and brewery but other pubs in the town do take part.
Starting on the 18th and going on until the 27th November, this long-stablished beer festival will feature around 60 real ales on tap from breweries all over Wales, it is a true showcase of Welsh brewing talent.

The 60 ales are those just available in the Neuadd there are as many ales again available at other establishments in the town, and with no entry charges it is simply a case of turning up and enjoying as many as you can cope with. There is live music each Friday and Saturday evening, or visit during the week for quieter enjoyment of the ales.

No beer list but Sue from Waen Brewery tells me that their Blackberry Stout, Chilli Plum Porter and Festival Gold will all be available
The beer festival also has a couple of fringe events:
Real Ale Wobble
The Wobble is a mountain biking event where participants down free fresh pints of ale from the local Heart of Wales Brewery. The three trails are 15 miles, 20 miles and 35 miles long, through the Cambrian Mountainside. Riding is mostly off-road due to the alcohol consumption.
Routes change from year to year or sometimes just run backwards. Trails used in the past few years have run towards Coed Trallwyn and the Woolen Mill. Riders used to go near the LLyn Brianne reservoir, but not in recent years. A video of the 2010 event shows the trail highlights, stops and after-party.

Checkpoints are located throughout routes and are where the free drinks are tapped. These stops are also used make sure no one has gone astray during the adventure.
Around 700 riders joined the Saturday ride in 2010 and about 70 the next day.

Real Ale Ramble
The Ramble is similar to the Wobble, only stomped out on foot. Think of it as a pub crawl through the Welsh countryside. The routes begin at the town center and are a tad bit shorter. The three distance options are 10 miles, 15 miles and 20 miles.
While in anticipation of their next pint of Felinfoel's Double Dragon, ramblers will walk clearly marked trails through the mountains, moors and forests of Mid Wales. Medals are awarded to those who complete the trek, although badges have to be purchased.

Traveline Information:
Llanwrtyd Wells is on the Heart of Wales line, a very scenic journey that runs through the mountainous countryside between Llanelli and Shrewsbury.


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