Friday 27 January 2012

Pantmawr Inn, Cardiff

Pantmawr Inn, Tyla Teg, Pantmawr, Cardiff, CF14 7TL

The Pantmawr is a bit difficult to find but luckily there are a few signposts pointing the way:

and another one:
arrived at last:

The Pantmawr is set in its' own extensive grounds and parts of this stone-built building date back to 1828, although it was rebuilt in 1898 and refurbished only recently.

The old buildings, built out of rough-hewn stone, were originally a farmhouse and associated farm buildings, it became a pub in 1960 when the local estate was built. The pub is a bit difficult to find, being at the centre of the estate and not on any main road but it is definetly worth seeking out. Originally a Hancocks/Welsh Brewers pub, ownership passed to Mitchells & Butlers who lease it to local pub company JW Bassett. A few years ago Mitchells & Butlers attempted to redevelop the site for housing but after an extensive campaign by the local community the Pantmawr Inn was saved and today the pub is a busy local serving the community.
The black and white exterior leads to to a large bare stone-walled interior, decorated with old breweriana and chalkboards advertising forthcoming events such as the annual mouse race.

The wooden bar features 5 gleaming brass handpumps serving Felinfoel Best Bitter, Double Dragon , Brains Bitter and two guests with beers such as Doombar from Sharp's in Cornwall or Red Castle Cream from nearby Newman's Brewery in Caerphilly. Another local beer that features regularly on the bar is Otley O1 from Pontypridd. The beers are served in branded glassware wherever possible.
The large bar area with its wooden beams on the ceiling also features a real fire and a huge old mirror advertising a long-gone Highland Whisky from Glasgow dominates one wall. Flat-screen televisions are mounted on the walls for major sporting matches.
To the side of the bar a passageway has been cut through the thick stone wall into what is called the 'Snug', with the pub dartboard and a retro games machine that features the old arcade classics such as PacMan and Millipede.

Outside, the Pantmawr features extensive parking as well as a patio area with seats that leads on to a grassed area with a slide for children. The Pantmawr Inn also features a function room with bar that is available for hire. Free WiFi is also available.
Food is served all day from a traditional pub menu and separate children's menu, with a carvery on Sundays, grills feature on the menu along with a healthy option section listing options with the calories displayed. Daily specials feature throughout the week with cheaper beer prices on Mondays, pizza deals on Tuesdays, curries on Thursday nights and an offer on children's meals on Fridays after 4.

Google Map:

Traveline Cymru Info:

Thursday 26 January 2012

Brains wins Welsh supplier of the year award

Above: Paul Harvey, Head of Take Home at Brains,  with the award, along with Mark Grant and Enfys Fox from Tesco

Wales' largest cask ale brewery, award-winning SA Brain has been named Wales’ best food and drink supplier by Tesco customers.

The nationwide competition to find the best local food and drink in the British Isles was launched by the Tesco local sourcing team last year. Customers were asked to nominate their favourite local product in store for a chance to win £500 worth of Tesco vouchers.

With the highest number of votes within its region, Brains secured the Welsh supplier award. Paul Harvey, Head of Take Home at Brains, said: “More than 70 Welsh companies supply Tesco, so to be named the best is a huge honour. We’ve been working with them for several years, but this award offers a great base from which to extend our ever growing national distribution.”

Brains supplies Tesco stores throughout Wales, and more recently has secured a listing for Brains Original Stout in 650 stores nationally.

Enfys Fox, Tesco Local Marketing Manager for Wales added: "Brains has been part of Wales’ history for 130 years, so it's no wonder local Tesco customers regard their beers as a favourite regional product.

“Our dedicated local sourcing office in Wales gives us the perfect opportunity to work closely with local Welsh suppliers such as Brains Brewery to retain their brand positioning and regional speciality so that we can offer our local customers the best quality locally produced beer, and they in turn can support their favourite local brewery.”

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Cardiff pub to feature mouse racing

A pub in Cardiff will be once again holding their annual mouse race this Friday (27th). The Pantmawr Inn 
in Rhiwbina will be featuring races from specially breed mice who have been given with steroids over the past few months and after the races the runners are 'retired' to the comfort of the pub boa constrictor!
Fun for all the family!
Shall we tell PETA?

The pubs of Pill, Part 1

Part 1, the Closed Pubs

Pill or Pillgwenlly is the docks area of Newport and the area was built in the nineteenth century. Named after the Welsh for 'inlet' and the name of a local saint, the area has been declining for a number of years and has seen a lot of pub closures. Many of the former pubs still stand and have been converted to alternative uses, these photographs show the buildings as they are now. Additional information is from Alan Roderick's book 'The Pubs of Newport' (1997), copies of which are now going for £26 on Amazon!

White Hart Inn, 5 Tredegar Street

First mentioned in 1859, the pub closed around 2000. Now used as offices.
Being opposite the Cattle Market, now the site of Asda supermarket, the pub had extended hours on Wednesdays as these were the market days.
Owners: 1905 Rogers & Co of Bristol, 1938 HG Simonds, Courage, Ushers

Castle Hotel, 28 Commercial Road, on corner with Tredegar Street

First mentioned in 1862 as the Castle Inn and Brewery, the pub shut around 1977. Now used as residential/take away, although it has been used as an amusement arcade in the past.
Owners: 1933 Phillips, 1954 Simonds, Courage.

Welcome Home, 46 Commercial Road, on corner with Dolphin Street

First mentioned 1848, this pub closed in around 1997. Now used as residential. In its last few years the pub was a well-known trouble-spot with stabbings and a shooting.
Owners: 1905 Lloyds & Yorath, Ansells

Commercial Inn, 47 Commercial Road, on corner with Dolphin Street

First mentioned in 1872, this pub shut around 1993, now converted to residential.
Owners: 1905 Phillips, Courage

Windsor Castle, 56 Commercial Road, on corner with Bolt Street

First mentioned in 1872 this pub closed around 1979 and has been converted to residential use.
Owners: Phillips, Courage

Royal Exchange, 161 Commercial Road, was renamed 'Harvey's of Pill'

First mentioned in 1872 the pub closed in 2005 shortly after the death of local gangster Lemmy Bullock who was killed with a samurai sword in the pub by a rival drug gang.
Owners: Lloyds & Yorath, Ansells, Harveys

Black Horse, 66 Commercial Road

First mentioned 1872 as the Falcon, renamed Celtic Bar in around 1982 and named the Black Horse in the late 1990s. Closed around 2006.
Owners: 1905 J T Usher of Bristol

Kings Arms, 133 Commercial Road, corner of Temple Street

First mentioned 1845 this landmark pub closed around 1993. Building is currently derelict and there have been a number of fires at the premises, the most recent one was in the last week.
Owners: Thatchers, Mitchells & Butlers, Bass

Cambrian, 112 Commercial Road,
Rear of building on Courtybella Terrace

First mentioned 1845, this pub closed around 2005 and is currently empty and derelict.
Owners: Thatchers, 1957 Mitchells & Butlers, Welsh Brewers, Marr Taverns, Ushers

Cumberland House, 21 Courtybella Terrace

First mentioned 1872, rebuilt 1891 and closed around 2005.
Owners: Hancocks, Welsh Brewers, private

Part 2 of this piece will feature more of the closed pubs with part 3 focusing on the open pubs (yes there are some!)

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Closed pubs and Streetview

Photo of the Orange Tree pub,  Pill, Newport, taken around 1998. This was once a real ale haven and appeared in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide in the late 1980s. Compare it with a photo taken from Google Street View below:

View Larger Map

I do find Streetview useful when looking for pubs to visit, or even researching old pubs.
The pub was demolished shortly after the original photograph was taken.
For more closed pubs, take a look at Curmudgeon's other blog, Closed Pubs.

16 pubs a week closing

CAMRA- ‘Community life in Britain’s suburbs under threat’
New pub closure figures out today show 16 pubs close across Britain every week

* 8 suburban pubs close every week, compared to 6 rural, and 2 high street
* Over 1000 pubs lost in Britain’s suburbs in just 2 years
* 10 tied pubs* are closing every week compared to 7 free of tie, with the number of managed pubs actually increasing by 1 opening per week.

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today called for urgent Government action to save Britain’s historic pub culture in light of new research showing how 16 pubs now close across the country on a weekly basis. The consumer group has expressed particular concern that Government policy is failing communities on the peripheries of Britain’s towns and cities, with half of these closures (8 a week) taking place in the nation’s suburbs.

In just 2 years, 1,078 pubs have been lost in suburban areas, with many community locals battered by whirlwind beer tax hikes and deep alcohol discounting from nearby supermarket chains, bringing about a general decline in pub going by consumers. Meanwhile, high street pubs are closing at a quarter of the rate – 2 per week – of suburban locals.

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said, ‘While high street city centre venues are showing a degree of resistance in the current climate, both suburban and rural areas are under threat as wholesale pub closures deprive more local people of a community centre. Pubs are vital for social cohesion and cultural integration, and therefore the Government must act swiftly to repair the damage inflicted upon local communities by offering genuine support for enterprising and hard working licensees.

‘This research also further underlines the major problems caused by many hard-working pub lessees being unable to buy their beer on the open market, restricted by punitive measures imposed by greedy pub companies. The number of tied pubs has fallen by over 3,500 in just 3 years, with free of tie pubs remaining better placed to weather these difficult economic times by having the ability to offer greater beer choice and lower prices to the consumer.’

Today’s figures coincide with a groundbreaking new report by the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) into the social value of community pubs. The report reinforces CAMRA’s figures by highlighting the need for a radical change in Government policy that recognises the important community function many pubs perform.

Recommended measures to provide vital support include business rate relief for pubs acting as ‘centres of a community’, reform of planning laws which prevent pubs from being demolished without the need for planning permission, and improving relations between large pub companies and their lessees to offer a guest beer option and an option to become ‘free of tie’ accompanied by an open market rent review.

IPPR Associate Director, Rick Muir, said, "Government must stop using a one size fits all approach to licensed premises which is killing off our community pubs. Instead responsible well-run community pubs should be encouraged and supported.

"Our research shows community pubs aren’t just places to drink but also places where people meet their neighbours; where local clubs hold meetings and events; and which support many important local services such as village post offices and general stores.’
 Allowing smoking back into pubs would encourage people to start using them again.

Monday 23 January 2012

Best beers from Wales via Ratebeer

Now I'm not a regular user of Ratebeer but I do find their lists interesting, if just for the amount of anomalies it throws up - for instance Murphy's Irish Stout is regarded as Welsh beer as its brewed by Inbev at their Magor Factory and at number 2 is Thames Welsh ESB, a beer that most people in Wales will have not seen or heard of as it is made by Felinfoel Brewery for export only. A lot of ciders on this list as well, here is the link for the full list.
Also on Ratebeer is a list of the 50 worst beers - made up mainly of Malt Liquors and Pale Lagers - although the spiced 'beer' made up of American Bud and Clamato (that's tomato juice and clam soup!) called Chelada does sound like the most disgusting combination possible, that is until you realise a Light version is also available.

Beer                                                                                        Score/Count/Style
1Otley mOtley Brew   
3.4624  Imperial/Double IPA
2Thames Welsh ESB   
3.44248  Premium Bitter/ESB
3Gwynt y Ddraig Kingston Black SV   
3.4216  Cider
4Otley O8   
3.4050  Barley Wine
5Otley O6 Porter    
3.3328  Porter
6Murphys Irish Stout   
3.301374  Dry Stout
7Rhymney Dark   
3.2936  Mild Ale
8Otley O-Garden   
3.2854  Wheat Ale
9Gwynt y Ddraig Gold Medal   
3.2825  Cider
10Gwynt y Ddraig Fiery Fox (Draught)   
3.2718  Cider
11Troggi Perry   
3.2614  Perry
12Kingstone Classic Bitter   
3.2621  Bitter
13Otley Oxymoron   
3.2511  Black IPA
14Murphys Draught Irish Ale    
3.2446  Irish Ale
15Kingstone 1503 Tudor Ale   
3.2426  Old Ale
16Gwynt y Ddraig Black Dragon (Bottle)   
3.2322  Cider
17Conwy Mulberry Dark   
3.2219  Mild Ale
18Purple Moose Dark Side Of The Moose/Ochr Tywyll Y Mws    
3.2263  Porter
19Pen-lon Cottage Stock-Ram Stout   
3.2022  Stout
20Otley Dark-O   
3.1940  Mild Ale
21Otley O5 Gold   
3.1813  Golden Ale/Blond Ale
22Tomos Watkin Cwrw Gaeaf (Bottle)   
3.1835  Premium Bitter/ESB
23Pen-lon Cottage Chocolate Stout   
3.1742  Stout
24Gwynt y Ddraig Haymaker (Draught)   
3.1615  Cider
25Waen Blackberry Stout   
3.1616  Stout
26Pen-lon Cottage Twin Ram India Pale Ale   
3.1533  Premium Bitter/ESB
27Gwynt y Ddraig Orchard Gold (Bottle)   
3.1418  Cider
28Gwynt y Ddraig Black Dragon (Draught)   
3.1431  Cider
29Brains Dark   
3.14134  Mild Ale
30Great Orme Welsh Black   
3.1450  Mild Ale
31Gwynt y Ddraig Happy Daze (Draught)   
3.1412  Cider
32Breconshire Night Beacon   
3.1317  Stout
33Otley O-Ho-Ho   
3.1316  Premium Bitter/ESB
34Celt Experience Celt Golden   
3.1390  Golden Ale/Blond Ale
35Brains Original Stout   
3.1317  Stout
36Otley Columb-O   
3.1337  Golden Ale/Blond Ale
37Untapped Triple ’S’   
3.1311  Stout
38Celt Experience Bleddyn 1075   
3.1237  Golden Ale/Blond Ale
39Otley Thai Bo   
3.1216  Spice/Herb/Vegetable
40Otley O1   
3.1157  Golden Ale/Blond Ale
41Tomos Watkin Taffy Apples Cider   
3.1117  Cider
42Gwynt y Ddraig Vintage 06 (Bottle)   
3.1010  Cider
43Newmans Mammoth   
3.1017  Bitter
44Breconshire Ramblers Ruin   
3.1034  Premium Bitter/ESB
45Swansea Deep Slade Dark   
3.0921  Mild Ale
46Swansea Three Cliffs Gold   
3.0910  Golden Ale/Blond Ale
47Facers North Star Porter   
3.0911  Porter
48Evan Evans Brewery Bitter / Best Bitter   
3.0817  Bitter
49Evan Evans Harvest Home   
3.0810  Bitter
50Purple Moose Madogs Ale/Cwrw Madog   
3.0838  Bitter

Sunday 22 January 2012

The Blacksmiths Arms, Llanmaes

Blacksmiths Arms, Llanmaes, Vale of Glamorgan, CF61 2XR

Open all Day.

The Blacksmiths is situated in the village of Llanmaes, a short distance north of the historic town of Llantwit Major. The village has its own historic sites including a Roman camp, Norman castle and a Celtic Cross in the church. The pub was built in the mid-nineteenth century and named the Blacksmiths after the nearby smithy, the anvil of which is preserved opposite the pub car park.
The Blacksmiths is a two-story stone-built that has been extended over the years but still retains a distinct atmosphere of a traditional Vale of Glamorgan public house with its wooden beams, stone floor and real fire. Once owned by Welsh Brewers, the pub is now owned by Punch Taverns. An unusual cast-iron pub sign of two blacksmiths at work hangs outside of the pub and there is a large car park to the side. 
Inside the Blacksmiths features a welcoming log-burning fire, perfect after coming in from the rain and the cold this time of year. The light-grey bare stone walls of the interior contrast with the dark slate stone floor and the light-brown of the wooden bar. There are four handpumps on the bar, featuring Hancock’s HB and Brain’s Rev James as the permanent ales and two guest beers from breweries such as Wharfebank and Black Sheep from Yorkshire, Harviestoun from Scotland and Butcombe from Somerset. There are tasting notes on the wall for the real ales as well as a booklet listing their future beers. The Blacksmiths Arms holds Cask Marque accreditation as well as being in the 2012 CAMRA Good Beer Guide. A good range of single malts is also available.
The pub features plenty of seating with pews and tables in the front extension which leads out to a patio area. Smaller tables are in the bar area and there is another extension at the rear of the pub with another wood-burning fire.
The walls are decorated with old photographs of the area and daily newspapers are provided for customers to read. A charity quiz night is held on Wednesday nights and the pub hosts an annual beer festival every June.
Food is served 12-3, 6-9 weekdays, all day on Saturday and 12-4 Sunday. There is a printed menu and a chalkboard menu, the latter changes daily and features home-made and locally-sourced ingredients. Pasta. Fish dishes and a traditional Welsh cheeseboard all feature on the menu and there is a steak night on Tuesdays.

Public Transport: Infrequent  bus service to the village but Llantwit Major with its bus terminus, taxis and railway station is less than 20 minutes walk away.

Google Map:

Friday 20 January 2012

Winter Ales and dumplings at the Clytha

The award-winning Clytha Arms in Monmouthshire will be celebrating the dumpling with a range of fantastic winter ales to wash them down with tomorrow.
The Clytha Arms
Near Abergavenny
South Wales
United Kingdom
Google Map:

View Larger Map

Saturday 14 January 2012

Newport Wetherspoons used by paedophile for drugs and grooming

Regular readers of this blog will know I'm not a fan of the Wetherspoons chain of pubs but the story in the South Wales Argus today (no online version yet) shows the type of customers that frequent the Queens Hotel in Bridge Street, Newport, and the depths to which their clientèle have sunk to:

This story does not even make front-page news or even top of the page news; it's on the bottom of page 5. 
To quote the paper, "The first time [they met] was at the Queens Hotel in Newport in January last year...  there was use of controlled drugs".
Use of drugs, children being groomed on the premises? A few years ago when Chaverspoons announced that they were taking over the Queens I wrote that Newport was stepping into the abyss, it seems as if the City has now reached those depths.
No mention in the paper if any Chaverspoons staff have faced disciplinary action over this to occur on their premises and their PR department have not got back to me today but if this happened a few years ago the pub would have no doubt lost its license. It's a fact that badly-run pubs attract dodgy customers and encourage bad behaviour so, I challenge Tim Martin, boss of JD Wetherspoons to start to clean up this pub by sacking the manager who allowed this behaviour to occur on the premises. Go on Tim, have the guts to clean your own pubs up before taking on Europe!

A bit of historical reference here, I used to work in the Queens Hotel when it was owned by Belhaven Inns so I'm familiar with the pub and the drinking culture in Newport, but the grooming and drugging of 14 year-old girls by a Muslim sex offender is something that Wetherspoons must stop at all costs.

Update: 16.01.12 - the Argus appear not to have put the story online, but they have mentioned it in a different story here.

Friday 13 January 2012

Far Deal for Pubs

I watched with interest yesterday the motion passed in the Commons criticising the Government's lack of action on the Business Select Committee proposals for pub chains. Reasonably well-attended for a Thursday afternoon, although my MP was no-where to be seen despite my email to her, hopefully she is not on another sprog-dropping spree which saw her still claim expenses whilst twice on maternity leave and not in the Commons during the last session of Parliament.

The Commons was for once united in a game of "Pub Bingo" at which a Member would try and mention the name of a pub in his or her constituency, honourable mention must go to the Member for Torfaen who managed to name the Open Hearth in Sebastopol, Pontypool in his speech.
Others defended the family brewers - James Gray the Member for Wadworth's and Andrew Griffiths, the Member for Marston's and Punch. But this debate was not about family brewers, but about the thousands of pubs and their landlords struggling to survive, pubs that are owned by Pub Companies.

If there was one star in the debate it was Greg Mullholland who announced that the Government response to the Business Select Committee was written by the British Beer & Pub Association - it even contained the same typos!

A lot of MPs blamed the beer tie for pub closures, once again choosing to ignore the elephant in the room that is the smoking ban.

Charlotte Leslie MP for Bristol North West, provided an welcome bit of totty to the debate and said,
"The issue of the beer tie is one part of the equation which is leading to so many of our pubs closing".
But failing to mention the elephant in the room again.

Even the tree-hugging Caroline Lucas MP for Sodom and Gomorrah (Brighton) joined in the support for pubs. There truly is cross-party support for this issue.

Of course a debate with like this is also an opportunity for MPs to use their most descriptive pub language -
"The Prime Minister is dodging his round at the bar on this issue" - from Tom Blenkinsop MP.

The debate concluded without a vote, the Ayes having won with no objections heard by the Noes.

Motion passed by Parliament:

That this House believes that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ proposals for reform of the pub industry fall short of the undertaking given to the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee in July 2010 and that only a statutory code of practice which includes a free-of-tie option with an open market rent review and an independent adjudicator will resolve the contractual problems between the pub companies and their lessees; and calls on the Government to commission a review of self-regulation of the pub industry in the Autumn of 2012 to be conducted by an independent body approved by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee

CAMRA did a live blog of the speech which can be viewed here.
CAMRA Press release on the subject below:
Parliament Unanimously Passes Fair Deal for Pubs Motion

Following a lively debate on the floor of the House of Commons, during which the Government was heavily criticised for rejecting proposals by the Business Select Committee, MPs have unanimously passed a motion criticising Government's lack of action on pub companies as falling short of their own commitments and requiring the Government to commission an independent review of self regulation in the pub sector.

Today’s decision by Parliament follows over 5,000 CAMRA members individually contacting their local MPs asking them to support this motion and extensive campaigning by organisations including Federation of Small Businesses, Forum for Private Business, licensee groups and the Parliamentary Save the Pub Group.

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive said:

‘CAMRA is delighted that MPs from all parties have highlighted the inadequacy of the Government’s attempts to tackle unfair business practices in the pub sector and that the Government are now obliged to commission an independent review into the matter. Following the success of this motion the Government now has a chance to think again and to consult on meaningful proposals to ensure the survival of many thousands of pubs.

‘The large pub companies must be encouraged to provide their lessees with free of tie and guest beer options accompanied by an open market rent review. These steps would effectively self regulate the operation of tie agreements.

‘The large pub companies have been living in the last chance saloon since 2004 during which time many thousands of valued community pubs have been lost forever while pub companies have failed to deliver meaningful self regulation.’


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