Monday 30 April 2012

12 Pubs a week are closing

BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat covered pub closures today with some facts from CAMRA. It's worth reading the whole piece on Pravda the Beeb as there is a telling comment by one student towards the end:

However, it's unlikely any minimum pricing introduction would substantially reduce the gap between buying a beer in store and buying a pint in a pub.

Kieron Barton, a 21-year-old student from Lancashire, doesn't think it would make a difference.

"I don't really go to pubs at all to be honest. It's not a place you'd want to go," he said. "You just prefer to get drinks at your mate's house."

And why does he prefer drinks at his mate's house? Well no doubt there is the opportunity to smoke around a friends house, something that has been banned from pubs since 2007. Whoops, that was an 'elephant in the room moment.

A minimum price for alcohol as is advocated by the neo-prohibitionists will not stop pub closures, scrapping the duty escalator will help stop the closures though. The industry needs less tax and less legislation passed and, shall we say, a liberalisation of smoking laws to allow a publican and his customers to choose if they want to smoke or not in his pub? That will get people back into pubs, not some artificial price structuring that goes against every principle of the free market economy.

The BBC also report there are 55,000 pubs in the UK, although the latest BBPA figures have that number as 51,500

Onto the pub closures, CAMRA used CGA Strategy to produce a report from September 2011-2012.
- 12 pubs now close across Britain every week – 8 in suburban areas, and 4 in rural areas, with the nation’s high streets showing resistance in the current economic climate.

Altogether 300 community pubs have closed in just 6 months.

Now I've had a look at the Welsh figures and they seem a bit confusing:

Glamorgan 10
Gwent -3
Gwynedd -4
Mid-Glamorgan -2
South Glamorgan -1
West Glamorgan -3
Powys -1
Clwyd -2
Dyfed -12

The data is somewhat confusing as it is by the old county boundaries, not Unitary Authorities as now have in Wales. Also Glamorgan appears to be having 10 new pubs, I think this may just refer to Cardiff, where new openings of cafe and hotel bars may be skewing the data. It still shows a net loss of 18 pubs, most in the predominately rural area of West Wales.

Anyway if you want to do something about pub closures then sign the e-petition and have a look at CAMRA’s official beer tax micro site with information on securing an end to above inflation beer tax increases by the Government.

CAMRA Press Release below, issued today:

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale has today released new national research showing that with over 300 community locals having permanently shut in just 6 months, crippling beer tax increases by the Government continue to threaten the future of traditional pubs. The news comes as over 33,000 consumers have signed a national e-petition in recent weeks to bring an end to above inflation beer tax increases. CAMRA’s research shows 73% of regular pub goers** support a freeze in beer duty.

National research commissioned by CAMRA has found that Britain’s national pub closure rate now stands at 12 pubs per week, and away from Britain’s city centre high streets – where a net loss of just 6 pubs in total has occurred across Britain in 6 months – rural pubs are closing at a net rate of 4 per week, and suburban at 8 per week.

With pubs hit by an inflation-busting 42% increase in beer duty since 2008, CAMRA is continuing to rally beer drinkers to sign an e-petition to call an end to above inflation increases in beer tax, thus giving struggling pubs a degree of respite in the current climate- With over 33,000 consumers backing the petition, CAMRA is lobbying to secure 100,000 signatures and force a debate in Parliament on an issue causing great damage to communities across Britain.

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said,

‘Whether situated in a small village, city high street, or on the edge of a housing estate, pubs are so central to our society that whole communities can grow around a particular pub. A threat to the future of traditional pubs is therefore also a threat to countless social groups within Britain that thrive because of their local.

‘Unsustainable beer tax increases by the Government are ripping the heart out of community centres, but with over 33,000 consumers having recently signed the beer tax e-petition, beer drinkers and pub goers are actively voicing their discontent. CAMRA is now campaigning to secure 100,000 signatures, which would force Parliament to debate above inflation rises in beer duty.’

CAMRA has also today released new figures showing the worst hit areas of Britain for pub closures. Breaking down some of the largest counties across the country, targeted figures show how in 6 months (September 2011 – March 2012) an area such as Lancashire has lost 68 pubs, whilst the West Midlands has lost 37.

Rhymney Brewery go for Gold with new beer

The current Champion Beer of Wales brewers, Rhymney Brewery are, this week, launching a new beer, their first new beer since moving to their newly-built plant at Blaenavon.
The 4.2% Gold Beer is the first light beer brewed by the brewery as the other light brews were all lagers but this hoppy golden ale contains 6 varities of malt and is hopped with Fuggles and First Gold.
Described by the brewer as "Blonde and Brassy", this is a welcome addition to their award-winning ramge of beers.
The beer will available in their pubs and this weekend at the beer festival in the Capel, Gilfach Fargoed.

Friday 27 April 2012

New owner and new look for Plassey Brewery

The award-winning Plassey Brewery of Wrexham has a new owner, in the shape of Jack Hanby who has been working in the industry since the 1970s in breweries such as these:

1974-1980 Shipstones Nottingham as Brewer

1980-1988 Shrewsbury and Wem Brewery as Head Brewer

1988-2009 Hanby Ales as Brewer and MD

2009-2012 Gertie Sweet Brewing Co as Brewer and proprietor

2012 New Plassey Brewery as Brewer and proprietor

The company has been formed after the merger of Plassey Brewery with Gertie Sweet Brewery and is due to the success of the new Wrexham Lager Company. Ian Dale the previous owner of Plassey is fully committed with the new lager venture so it made sense for Jack Hanby, who was brewing his own beers at the Plassey, to merge the two companies and to market the most popular brands of the two companies under the banner of a new company hence The New Plassey Brewery.

Some of the beers from this new venture will be available at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival in June at the Motorpoint Arena.

Brains launch low-strength beer

News from Brains:

This month sees the launch of a new lower-strength beer. Sunbeam – at 2.8% abv – is described as a ‘deliciously quaffable hoppy ale’, and will be available in selected Brains pubs from April 28th.

New rules on duty levels saw beers with 2.8% alcohol by volume (abv) and below receive a 50% duty cut, meaning Brains pubs are able to offer Sunbeam at a lower price point.

Richard Davies, sales and marketing director at Brains, explains: "Sunbean is a quality, full flavour cask ale and a great option for customer looking for a beer with a lower alcohol content, at a lower price. Sunbeam will be available initially on a trial basis in selected Brains pubs from April 28th.

"The arrival of Sunbeam comes ahead of the launch of our new craft brewery, which, when up and running, will allow Brains to experiment with a range of beer styles and techniques."

Sunbeam uses a unique blend of Challenger, Fuggles and Goldings before being dry hopped in cask with Saaz. The satisfying dryness of the hop blend and the clean and sweet aroma of Saaz combines with a medley of Pale Ale and Crystal malt, creating a golden-red, deliciously quaffable hoppy ale.

Sunbeam Stockists:

Albany, Cardiff

Birchgrove, Cardiff

Crwys, Cardiff

Fox and Hounds, St Mellons

Fox and Hounds, Whitchurch

Gower, Cardiff

Halfway, Cardiff

Hanbury, Caerleon

Heath, Cardiff

Hen and Chickens, Abergavenny

Lewis Arms, Tongwynlais

Maltsters, Whitchurch

Merrie Harrier,

Park, Barry

Pheasant, Bridgend

Star, Dinas Powys

Three Arches, Cardiff

Ty Nant, Cardiff

Vivian Arms, Swansea

Westgate, Cardiff

White Horse, Coychurch

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Drought cancels cider weekend!

The multi-award winning cider and perry maker, Gwynt Y Ddraig, have had to cancel their open day this weekend due to the weather. The fields are flooded and their is no way hundreds of happy cider drinkers can be accommodated at the farm with the saturated soil.
Yes global warming and its effects has claimed another victim!

Fox & Hounds, Whitchurch, Cardiff

Fox & Hounds, Old Church Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF14 1D
Open all day

The Fox & Hounds is situated off what is now the main thoroughfarethrough Whitchurch, however this was the centre of the old village as directly behind the pub a Norman Motte and Bailey castle once stood and across the road are St Mary's Gardens, once home to St Mary's Church which gave the area of Whitchurch its original name. The tump of the Norman Castle survived into the twentieth century before it was flattened to provide land for housing. The Fox & Hounds has an unusual profile – it is a very long building with its short end facing onto the road, the reason for this is that when the pub was originally built in the 16th or 17th centuries, the castle was still a prominent landmark and the building today still respects the now-demolished Norman Structure. In the nineteenth Century there was a school in what is now the pub car park and there is a photograph of it on one of the walls of the pub, together of other old photographs of the area, including one of the pub when it had a thatched roof.

The Fox & Hounds has very much of a country pub feel to the place despite being in a suburb of the City, the long profile of the pub features distinct dining and eating areas with wooden floorboards and settles at the front to dark grey flagstones and seats at the rear.

The long wooden bar features contrasting light and dark wooden panels and gleaming brass handpumps serving Brains Bitter, SA and Dark along with two handpumps reserved for guest beers, one usually reserved for the current Brains seasonal beer such as 'Bread of Heaven' and the other for guest beers from breweries such as Wooden Hand of Cornwall orAdnams of Suffolk. Pumpclips of former guest beers are displayed on the dark-stained rough cut wooden bar back. The pub is recognised for its beer quality by CAMRA as it is a rgular in the Good Beer Guide and also holds Cask Marque accreditation.

To the rear of the pub is another dining area which leads out to the surprisingly large beer garden. There is also a smoking shelter at the front of the pub.

Food is served all day at the Fox & Hounds, from an extensive printed menu with daily chalkboard specials such as 'Pie of the Day' or

'Homemade Specials'. Grill nights are Tuesdays and Wednesdays are Curry Night and there is a cask ale night on Saturdays with the real ales available for £2 a pint.

The Fox & Hounds is a real community pub with quiz nights on Sundays and poker nights on Mondays. The pub is large enough to accommodate a wide-range of clientèle if those activities do not suit the customer.

Google Map:

View Larger Map

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Cardiff's best pub to host cider festival

The CAMRA Pub of the Year for Cardiff, the City Arms in Quay Street will be holding a cider and perry festival, starting on Wednesday 25th April and continuing throughout the weekend, finishing on Sunday 29th.

There will have 8 different ciders and 4 varieties of perry for customers to choose from alongside their usual range.
These guests will be alongside our resident ciders including Stowford Press, Aspall's, Friel's, Thatcher’s Katy, Thatcher’s Gold, Savanna Premium Dry and Orchard Gold Cider. The new ciders will be limited edition so make sure you get your hands on them whist they're around!

Unusually ciders and a perry from Llanblethian Orchards of Cowbridge will also be available, unusual in that most of this award-winning hand-crafted cider is normally only ever sold at beeer and cider festivals and not in pubs:

Llanblethian Orchards Stoke Red dry single variety cider 5.3%
Llanblethian Orchards Bramley mix 5.3% , a blend of Stoke Red and Bramley apples to produce a medium-sweet cider
Llanblethian Orchards Hendre Huffcap and Blakeney Red Perry 6.8%

On Thursday 26th April, live music will be on in the pub.

Monday 23 April 2012

Old Swan offers free pint to travelling ale drinkers

The Old Swan Inn to offer travelling ale lovers a pint for a pass

The 16th Century Old Swan Inn in Llantwit Major, is issuing an open invite to ale lovers across South Wales to come and sample the 25 different types of beer and cider on offer, including the famously strong Firebox beer, back again this year by demand. There will also be beer from breweries like RCH, Wye Valley, Wickwar, VOG, Breconshire and Otley. The Festival starts on Friday 27th April.

Anyone who chooses to travel to Llantwit Major by train or bus will be able to exchange their ticket for a free pint at any point over the weekend.  The pub is just a short walk from the station, which is well-served by trains every hour from Cardiff.

The Welsh beer and cider line-up will be complemented by bands from the local area, who will be playing live music throughout the weekend.  While the event lends itself to the outdoors in the large beer-garden, rain will not stop play, with a specially erected marquee lined up to accommodate the festival goers.

This is the first of a programme of festivals the pub, whichis part of the Knife & Fork Food Group, will be laying on over the course of the summer with plans for similar events to coincide with the Queen’s jubilee and the National Eisteddfod.

Landlord Sean Murphy said of the event: “Beer festivals really do indicate the start of summer and we are looking forward to welcoming both our regular patrons and some new faces. The public transport to Llantwit serves us very well and we hope our offer to buy any travellers a drink will encourage people to go a little bit farther afield that weekend.

“We are confident that our line up of the great and the good of beers and ciders is the best we’ve seen yet, and we are looking forward to getting feedback on the ones we have chosen.  It will be a fantastic weekend, whether you are a beer drinker or not, and there is plenty of entertainment on offer.” 

Old Swan, Church Street, Llantwit Major, CF61 1SB

Journey Planner:

Sunday 22 April 2012

Gwynt Cider Open Weekend

It's that time of year again when Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider throw open their doors again to the public and entertain us with a weekend of cider, good food and music. The first open weekend of the year at Llest Farm will be on Saturday and Sunday NO ITS CANCELLED with the next one on the 4th and 5th of August.

The perfect place to try the multi-award-winning ciders and perries, these open days have proved extremely popular in the past, although the Sunday does tend to be a quieter day.
Above: Llest Farm is set in glorious countryside just a short drive from Cardiff
With live music all day

1. ROSS KIRK (above) - 12 TILL 13:15

2. SICK NOTE STEVE - 13:30 TILL 14:30

... 3. ELK REDEMPTION – 14;45 TILL 15;45

4. WHISKEY OUTLAWS - 16:00 TILL 17.00

5. STEVE EVANS BAND - 17:15 TILL 18:15 -



1. ROSS KIRK – 11;30 TILL 12:30

2. MOCK THEE KNOTT – 12;45 TILL 13;45 -


4. HELLO CAMERO – 15;15 TILL 16;00

5. EON BLUES BAND 16;15 till 17;15

6. Johnny Trashed -17;30 till end

As well as the music there is also face painting for children (and of course the adults!)

 Some of the cider lovers at the festival last year

Food will also be available with local award-winning pigs on the hog roast and crepes.

So why not support a great Welsh company by coming along to their open weekend?

Some information on ticket sales from Gwynt:
 Tickets are available between 10 am and 4 pm Monday to Friday. This means that our offices will unfortunately be closed for ticket sales at the weekend.

We would also like to add that we will only supply a maximum of five tickets per individual.  If you intend to buy a  maximum of five tickets for your family or friends then please be advised that anyone who appears to be under the age of 18 at the gate will be asked to produce some ID.

( Group purchases of tickets only by prior arrangement with the organisers. Please telephone 01443209852.)

Gwynt Y Ddraig Cider
Llest Farm, Pontypridd, RCT, CF38 2PW
Google Map:

Traveline Cymru Information:
The farm is a short walk uphill from the stops in-between the Crown and the Bush

Saturday 21 April 2012

Six Nations Trophy does pub crawl!

The Six Nations Trophy will be touring Cardiff pubs on Monday 23rd April

Six Nations trophyTerra Nova / Salt- 12noon
City Arms-1pm
Old Arcade-2pm
Cardiff Cottage-3pm
Duke of Wellington-4pm

Friday 20 April 2012

Beer tax damages pub trade

From the British Beer & Pub Association

Pub beer sales suffer under big Beer Tax hikes – BBPA Beer Barometer

*Pub sales down 6.0% on same quarter last year, with off-trade sales up 4.7% *Swing shows lasting damage of Beer Tax hikes, says BBPA’s Brigid Simmonds *Public urged to get behind e-petition to stop tax rises

Britain’s pubs have seen a six per cent fall in beer sales in the first quarter of 2012, as they bore the brunt of continued, huge rises in the tax on beer, according to the latest quarterly ‘Beer Barometer’ from the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), issued today. In contrast, off trade sales were up by nearly five per cent.

The BBPA believes that current pressures on the beer and pub sector, on which almost one million jobs depend, further highlight the poor decision of the Government to raise Beer Tax by a further five per cent in the March Budget – making for an astonishing 42 per cent tax hike since March 2008.

There is some comfort in the figures, in that beer sales are now falling at a slower rate than in the previous four years. Overall beer sales fell by 1.4 per cent in the quarter compared to last year. In the year to March 2012, overall beer sales were down 2.9 per cent, following the 7 per cent rise in beer duty last March.

The recent Budget tax hike was made under the controversial ‘duty escalator’ policy, despite widespread calls to rein in the rises. The BBPA and Oxford Economics believe this decision will cost some 5,000 jobs in 2012/13. A Government e-petition demanding an end to these punitive tax rises has already attracted over 28,000 signatures.

The decline in pub sales amounts to 57 million less pints enjoyed by Britain’s pub-goers, compared to last year’s first quarter.

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

“These figures show the Chancellor was totally wrong to raise beer tax again in his Budget, as this discredited policy continues to hit pubs hard. This key British industry could be an engine of growth for the economy – but poor tax policy is damaging our potential. The public are getting behind calls for a change in policy, and signing the e-petition in their thousands. I hope people will continue to respond positively and back a tax freeze – and I hope the Government will listen.”

Stop the beer duty escalator – sign the e-petition here

Alcohol Concern Cymru Survey Discredited

I recently ran a survey on this blog on support for minimum pricing of alcohol, the results are above with a firm 70% against it.

Curmudgeon ran a similar pole a few ago, although his results were 80% against the minimum price for alcohol.

So what happened today? Well fake charity Alcohol Concern Cymru published the results of THEIR poll which allowed them to claim that 77% of Welsh publicans agreed with minimum pricing. Although what they should have stated is that 77% of Welsh publicans who were questioned by their researchers agreed with minimum pricing. Although since it has emerged that they asked one publican 3 times about the survey this does throw into doubt the survey findings.

One Cardiff Publican wrote on my Facebook wall today when I posted about the ACC survey,

"Haha! They phoned me for this one, load of rubbish! In fact, they tried to phone me three times which really throws into doubt their findings... did they ask 600 landlords? or 200 landlords 3 times? idiots...

And lets be honest, you ask most landlords who are currently fighting bankrupcy and are getting smashed by brewery prices "are supermarket prices fair and ballenced" and they're going to say no... I think she told me I was the first person to disagree

That in itself tells me it's crap because I shouldn't be disagreeing with her, she shouldn't have an opinion! it's a survey!"

Hmm so that pretty much discredits the ACC survey, added to that they are unable to provide any publicans who are willing to go on the record to publicly support minimum pricing, every publican I have spoken to is against the measure, seeing it as another excuse for the Health Lobby and the neo-prohibitionists to increase the price of alcohol.
Alcohol sales are already falling, binge drinking is falling, and beer sales are down. Going against the free market and installing a minimum price for alcohol will do nothing to stem the tide of pub closures.
Having our taxes wasted by fake charities such as Alcohol Concern Cymru to produce worthless surveys in order to placate their political masters in Cardiff Bay is just another waste of public money. The minimum price will effect small-scale cidermakers throughout the UK - have a read of the Save our Scrumpy campaign. Once we give into the neo-prohibitionists and let them set the price of drinks where will this end?

As there is congestion on our roads, why don't we bring in minimum pricing for cars? A stupid idea? Yes, but that is exactly what is being planned for alcohol. Think about it.

Thursday 19 April 2012

A PubCo Pub

I visited a pub the other day that was recently up for auction but had been sold prior to that auction. Now this pub had been built about 1872 and for most of its life had been owned by local brewers Phillips of Newport and, later on by Courage who had bought Phillips. I can remember it as a busy Courage pub, selling a lot of beer, 17-20 18-gallon kils of beer a week, that was just cask beer, not including the lagers or cider. Ever since it was owned by a pub company the decline started though, the beer range changed, with resulting loss of custom, money was not spent on the upkeep of the building etc and the place just got worse. Luckily a new company has bought the pub and leased it to an old hand in the pub business. A refurbishment is ongoing at the moment and I recently visited the pub and had a chance to see the building site of the front bar. The entire bar length has had to be scrapped, along with the floorboards as these have proven to be rotten - the problem was the drainage pipes behind the bar had been leaking for years and this had led to both the wooden bar and floorboards being eaten away by rot. Now I've seen some premises in poor conditions over the years but this was definitely one of the worst. How a succession of managers and the Pub Company never noticed these problems and allowed them to get out of hand is beyond me? Do Pubcos even care about the state of their premises? From what I saw I doubt it.
On the bright side, the new owner has already installed a handpump in the bar in the backroom and will be opening the rest of the pub soon, it even has its own smoking solution in the form of an alleyway and back garden, a rarity in the centre of Newport. I'll do a more in depth review when the refurbishment is complete.
So here's looking forward to the next 140 years of the Ivy Bush in Clarence Place, Newport. The future for the place looks a lot better than the last 15 years.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

Save Our Scrumpy

Another day and another group comes out against the prohibitionist plans by this non-Tory Government to have a minimum price for alcohol. This time its the cidermakers, in the form of the South West Cidermakers Association.

They have a blog here on the subject.

So why should farmhouse cider be exempt from minimum pricing?
 "For hundreds of years draft cider has been bought from over 500 cider farms in the Westcountry (and elsewhere). It is cheaper than cider bought from the supermarket because it is not bottled (you buy it in your own containers) and because is not pasteurised and therefore lasts only a week. If it were bottled and pasteurised or sterile filtered so you could buy it in a supermarket then the price would be relatively high and therefore we are not worried about bottled tradtional farmhouse cider only the stuff from the barrel. The proposed law is there to catch cheap alcopop drinks which cost next to nothing to make and bottle. The traditional sale of draft cider is something which this law will affect and the government has not considered."

There is an e-petition to sign as well.

A bit odd the Welsh Perry and Cider Society don't have an opinion on this threat to the industry?

Monday 16 April 2012

Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 2012

It's just under two months to go now before the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival returns to the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. The beer and cider orders are being finalised at this very moment and up-to-date lists will be published on the Festival Website as and when we have confirmation. With over 200 real ales, ciders and perries, the 2012 will be the biggest ever beer festival in Wales, with even more beers and ciders in reserve just in case the stocks run low again due to the unprecedented demand we had at the 2011 Festival. The Brewery Bars are now all fully booked and the new brews from Brains brand new craft brewery will be taking centre stage at the festival alongside old favourites such as Otley and Tomos Watkin and the new brewery from Newport, Tiny Rebel. The bands have all been booked with the stage this year being sponsored by Budweiser Budvar from the Czech Republic. Friday 8th June 5pm Under the Driftwood Tree Under The Driftwood Tree have continued to build a glowing live reputation on the festival circuit. Already in 2012 they have been invited to perform at Camp Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Wilderness, Fire In the Mountain and many more to be announced soon. Exceptional song-writing skills transform their music into mini-tales of simple philosophies that everyone and anyone can relate to. Friday 8th June 8pm FREE BEER! Top Party Band No matter what the occasion, if you want it to be the talk of the town with your guests, clients or customers then you need to ply them with copious amounts of ‘FREE BEER’. Playing a range of hits from the 50s through to the present day, ‘FREE BEER’ are the band guaranteed to make your party a truly memorable one. Saturday 9th June Choir tbc Saturday 9th June 7pm Still got the Blues Blues / Blues Rock / Classic They are a Four Piece band formed in 2007 from members of the Borough Blues Club. They have played the usual pub gigs and also at Pontypool 'Jazz in the Park' and other local festivals. The Champion Beer of Wales competition will be held at the Festival, along with a Regional Cider competition, the results of these will be announced at 3pm on Friday 8th June. More details on the GWBCF Website Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival 7th-9th June, Thursday-Saturday, 11-11 Motorpoint Arena Cardiff CF10 2EQ

Monday 9 April 2012

The truth about binge drinking

Alcohol sales are in decline, but still our politicians and their publicly-funded fake charities churn out their same old lies about binge drink epidemics that get turned into headlines in the Daily Mail by lazy hacks who can't be bothered to look at the evidence. So thanks to Straight Statistics for the above graph which shows a decline in binge drinking. Where, might you ask does such a graph originate from? The House of Commons library where it forms part of a larger study available as a pdf here.

H/Ts to Dick Puddlecote and Straight Statistics

Saturday 7 April 2012

Save your pint -sign the petition

The Government now take a third of your pint of beer in tax, according to CAMRA, who have launched a new website and campaign in order to get more people to sign up to the e-petition to halt the beer duty escalator.
The duty escalator is applied in an already shrinking market, hardly a good idea in a recession, or at any other time.

The escalator has seen beer duty increase by 42% since 2008 including a rise of 5% in last month’s budget.

Securing 100,000 signatures for this e-petition is a key aspect of the ongoing campaign to lobby the Government for the escalator to be abolished.

The e-petition needs 100,000 signatures in order to trigger a high profile Parliamentary debate which will put pressure on the Government to abandon the beer duty escalator in the 2013 Budget.

The Save the Pint Campaign is also backed by beermats and posters - click here to order them for your local - good to see beermats being used for this as most publicans I know are only too glad to have some. Apart from the ones made by the local rozzers that is.

Wednesday 4 April 2012

Easter Beer Festival Roundup

First to Cardiff where Brains pubs are hosting a week-long Spring Festival starting on Friday 6th April. Hmm a trip down the Bay may be called for if the snow holds off as its the first time the Wharf, Terra Nova and Salt have done this sort of thing. A first for Barocco, Cardiff Arts and 33 Windsor Place as well.
Full list of pubs here:
Cardiff Arts Institute, 29 Park Place
33 Windsor Place
Goat Major, High Street
The City Arms, 10-12 Quay Street
The Old Arcade, 14 Church Street
Barocco, 12 Wharton Street
The Cottage, 25 St Marys Street
Duke of Wellington, 42 The Hayes
Yard Bar & Kitchen, 42-43 St Marys Street
Terra Nova, Mermiad Quay
Salt, Mermaid Quay
Wharf, Schooner Way

Elsewhere in Cardiff, the Artisan Brewery will be holding their first open day of the year at their brewery on Saturday 7th..
Helles Lager, ALTbeer, Bavarian Wheat, Chocolate Wheat, will be available as well as wine, cider and softdrinks for the non-beer drinking sorts.
Food from the barbie as well withbBurgers, jerk chicken and a veg option too.
The brewery will be hosting its open days each first Saturday of the month for the remainder of the year.
Entry is Free! Bar Serves from 12noon till 9.30pm.

There are rumours of another beer festival in Cardiff but the pub holding it smells of fish and the high-gravity produced beers are not as good quality as beers from other Welsh brewers. Still if the owners of this establishment can't be bothered to tell me about this event then it won't get a mention here!

Heading West, the Coach in Bridgend is also holding a beer festival, and the beer list and pub details are available here.

Just outside of Caerphilly, the White Cross at Groesfaen, CF15 7UT, are also holding their annual beer festival with beers from across the UK.
Beer list: 
Gower Brewery Samson Jack 4.2%
Tiny Rebel (Newport) Urban IPA 5.5% 
Moles Brewery Perle 4.6% 
Vale of Glam Brewery (Barry) Unsinkab-Ale 4.2% 
Wickwar Spring Ale 3.9%

Heart of Wales (Llanwrtyd Wells) Welsh Black 4.4% 
Three Tuns Brewery (Shropshire) Cleric's Cure 5%
Gower Brewery Gower Best 4.5% 
Ruddles County 4.3% 
Tudor (Abergavenny) Blorenge 3.9%.

Vale of Glam Rorke's Draft IPA 4.7%, 
Three Tuns Stout 4.4% 
Wickwar Bob 4%
Next up:
Bryn Celyn Brewery Faster than a Roller Coaster 6.7% 
Bullmastiff Brewery Welsh Black 4.4%
Fullers London Pride 4.2%

Brains Under Milkwood
Moles' Elmos' Fire

Ciders..only 4 but kicking!:
Westcroft Janets Jungle Juice  6%
Rich's Legbender  6% 
Broadoak Traditional Cider 6%

Further North, the Bell, Glangrwyney, Crickhowell, NP8 1EH , is also holding a festival from Friday 6th to Monday the 9th April, with Live music on Saturday and Sunday ( afternoon and evening)

Beers include:
Marston’s Pedigree,
Hook Norton, Hooky Bitter,
Skinners Betty Stoggs,
Black Sheep Best
Hop Back Summer Lightning,
Brains SA Gold, Brains Bitter,
Otley O1,
Brecon Brewing Beacons to the Sea,
Dales Golden Daffodil,
Wooden Hand Brewery Cornish Gribben

Ciders include:
Moles Black Rat,
Weston’s Country Perry, Old Rosie, Traditional Scrumpy
Gwynt y Ddraig Black Dragon and Fiery Fox.

Easter Beerex at the Coach in Bridgend

The best pub in Bridgend, the Coach on Cowbridge Road will be holding their second beer festival this weekend, starting on Thursday 5th at 1730 and continuing over the weekend.
Facebook Event here
A bit more about the pub here

Titanic Brewery
White Star
Captain Smiths

Saltaire Brewery
Blackberry Cascade
Darwin’s Original

Salopian Brewery
Lemon Dream

Potbelly Brewery
Crazy Daze

Nethergate Brewery
Umbel Magna

Thornbridge Brewery

Salamander Brewing Co
Golden Salamander

Oakleaf Brewery
I Can’t Believe It’s Not Bitter

Otley Brewing Co
O4 Columbo

Oakham Ales
Scarlet Macaw

Moles Brewery
Mole Catcher
Holden’sGolden Glow
Bath Ales
RCH Brewery
Old Slug Porter

Tiny Rebel Brewing Co
Urban IPA

Cider from Gwynt Y Ddraig as well.

Tuesday 3 April 2012

Rickards Arms, Treforest

Rickards Arms, 61 Park Street, Treforest, CF37 1SN

Open All Day from 9am, 10am Sundays

There is no pub sign on the Rickards Arms but the black and white painted exterior and the 'O' symbols on the doors point to this pub being the third pub run by the award-winning Otley family who also run the nearby Otley Arms and the Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd. Situated on a main road, the Rickards dates back some 200 years, although it was rebuilt in the latter part of the nineteenth century. From the 1920s until 1998 the pub was owned and run by the Thomas family before the Otley family bought it in 1998. The pub was named the Rickards after a landowning family from Llantrisant. The pub is a short distance from Treforest railway station and there are bus stops nearby.

The front door with the large Otley 'O' on it leads into a pleasant bar area with a large wooden bar that features intricate carvings. Three gleaming brass handpumps are mounted on the bar with Otley O1 being the permanent beer and two guest beers that change frequently on the other two handpumps. Recent guest beers have included Bateman's Hooker, Worthington Red Shield and Sharp's Doombar. Bottled Otley beers are also available along with bottled Gwynt Y Ddraig cider.

To the right-hand-side of the bar is an unusual stone-walled room with an arched brick roof and niches for candles. This appears to be the oldest part of the pub and was originally a cellar, today it houses the pool table and the big-screen used for major sporting events.

A flagstone-floored stairwell to the side of this cellar leads up to the restaurant/function room with its wood-burning stove and also leads to the surprisingly large beer garden and smoking shelter. The outside area is almost the size of the interior of the pub downstairs and in the summer acts as a sun-trap.

To the left of the bar is another room, entered via a small passageway, this was originally another house that the Rickards Arms expanded into. Unusually there is a painting on the wall of the famous bridge at Pontypridd, this is signed by a certain F. Harris who had a more famous grandson who is also a painter and is named Rolf! Today this room is used as a dining area.

Above: the tobacco-stained painting of Ponty's bridge

Food is served all day and the Rickards Arms opens at 9am for the breakfast menu which is served until 3pm so the students living nearby do not have to get up too early. The day-time and evening menu features the same hand-cut chips as the in the other Otley pubs and a full range of grills and burgers feature on the printed menu, together with daily chalkboard specials.
Free WiFi is also available.

Google Map:

View Larger Map

The Rickards is easily reached by train as the station is near to the pub

Fire destroys former brewery building

Above: the former brewery before the fire
The former Westlakes Brewery building at Cwmavon, near Blaenavon, Torfaen has been gutted by fire, the Grade II listed tower brewery has been used by a plastic manufacturer for the last few years. It had a short life as a brewery, only about 20 years before ending up in the Rhymney Empire.
South Wales Argus has full report on the fire here.
Photos of the fire are taken from the South Wales Argus site.

Monday 2 April 2012

Best Pubs in Wales

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, have today announced the best pubs in Wales, as judged by local members of the organisation. All this for a start of a new campaign, Community Pubs Month, which celebrates the diversity of our local pubs.

In Wales, over 360 pubs have signed up to take part in Community Pubs Month. As the first ever year for this new campaign, Community Pubs Month has been organised to promote pubs as invaluable community assets, and outlets which vast numbers of local people across the UK rely upon so heavily during their daily lives.

In a bid to showcase the diversity and innovation of Britain’s locals at the start of Community Pubs Month, CAMRA has also released a roll call of its local pubs of the year for the first time. Voted for by members of CAMRA’s 200+ local branches, these winners will now go on to compete in regional rounds, with one pub eventually going on to be crowned CAMRA's National Pub of the Year early next year. The local winners are arranged by CAMRA branch areas and are:

Abercolwyn- Pen-y-Bryn, Colwyn Bay   
Chester & South Clwyd- Bridge End Inn, Ruabon  
Vale of Clwyd- Oak, Hendre       
Gwynedd a Mon- Snowdonia Park, Waenfawr  
Ceredigion - Y Talbot, Tregaron
Carmarthenshire - Plash, Llanfallteg
Brecknockshire - Star Inn, Talybont

Cardiff - City Arms, Cardiff

- Country POTY - Star Inn, Llanfihangel Tor-y-Mynydd

- Town POTY - Coach & Horses, Chepstow

Mid Glamorgan - Red Cow, Aberdare

Neath & Port Talbot- Ancient Briton, Pen-y-Cae
Swansea - Village Inn, Killay
Vale of Glamorgan- Vale of Glamorgan, Cowbridge

To coincide with the beginning of Community Pubs Month and to show the vital importance of pubs to society, CAMRA has released new research revealing just under 9 in 10 (89%) young pub going UK adults (aged 18-24 years old) visit their local pub to meet friends and socialise.

To further reinforce the community importance of local pubs, other findings found how over 1 in 3 UK adults (36%) say their local community uses their pub for events such as weddings, christenings and funerals. CAMRA even polled currently married couples – who visit pubs regularly – and found 1 in 4 (25%) first met their partner/spouse down the pub!

Commenting on the new research on the opening day of Community Pubs Month, Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, said:

‘Pubs are the beating hearts of countless communities across the land, and without their existence, society would be a lot worse off.

 ‘With the launch of Community Pubs Month, CAMRA is urging local communities this April to back their local licensees and give them the support they need during these difficult economic times. Pubs are the original social networking sites, and will continue to provide an invaluable community service as long as they are used by the local people that surround them.’


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