Friday 24 August 2012

Cwmbran pub wins award

The Greenhouse in Cwmbran has been named the Best Managed Pub in the East & West Midlands & Wales region. But the pub is still in the running to become the UK's Best Managed House and goes up against four other finalists from across the UK at the awards ceremony next month.

Now in its ninth year, The Great British Pub Awards are recognised as "the one to win" by licensees; attracting hundreds of entries from thriving pubs around the UK. The awards will be announced at the Hilton on Park Lane on Thursday 13th September 2012

On the outside is an unique stone pub sign, written in Welsh which says:
The Greenhouse


Good Beer

And Cider for You

Come in you shall taste it

The pub has had a number of owners through the years - Phillips Brewery of Newport, then Symonds and Courage before it ended up as a Greene King pub when it was quite awful. I used to work nearby so would go in here regularly as the bus stop was outside. Brains have improved this pub no end and it is now a pleasure to drink in this pub, rather than being a convenience whilst awaiting the next bus.

Thursday 23 August 2012

Cherry Tree Update

The Cherry Tree in Tintern was an historic pub that was closed a few years ago. The policy decisions of Monmouth County Council seem a bit bizarre to say the least - I suggest you pop over to the Friends of the Cherry Tree website and read what is written there.

Beer Festivals around South Wales this weekend

First up is a mention to Swansea Bay Beer Festival
Beer & cider list is available here

If you are ever near Aberdare the Red Cow, Llwydcoed, home of the Grey Trees Brewery, is well worth a visit but tonight (Thursday 24th) they are holding another one of their 'Hop Rocket' nights in which a beer is forced through a device on the bar that is packed with fresh hops.
Tonight Castle Rocks Harvest Pale and Amarrilo,Citra, Cascade (US), Goldings, Challenger(UK),Pacific Gem(NZ) hops will be used in the rocket!

Next up, one of my favourite pubs, the Clytha Arms is also holding a Festival over the weekend

Further West in Carmarthenshire, the Royal Oak in Rhandirmwyn will be holding their first ever beer festival between Friday 24th-Monday 27th August 2012. More details on their Festival Site here.

The Bell in Caerleon is holding a Festival this weekend

CAMRA National Cider Pub of the Year 2011 so expect a lot of good ciders and perries as well as real ales there. It was also a winner in the Echo Food & Drink Awards 2011/12 and does not smell of fish.

The Bell at Glangrwyney, between Brecon and Abergavenny, will be holding another one of their successful festivals again with
Beers: Brains SA, Bitter, St Austell Tribute, Timothy Taylor Landlord, Skinners Betty Stoggs, Brecon Brewing Bronze & Beacons, Batemans XXXB, Shepherd Neame Canterbury Jack, Adnams Explorer
Ciders: Gwynt Orchard Gold, Firey Fox & Black Dragon. Mole's Black Rat, Weston's Old Rosie
The Bell, Glangrwyney, Crickhowell, NP8 1EH

The Temple Bar in Aberamen is also holding a festival with a beer/cider festival and live bands.

Tilers Arms in Blaina is holding a festival with 11 different beers and 2 ciders, all £2/pint.

Conwy brews best Pale Ale in Wales

Conwy Brewery Win Welsh Pale Ale Competition Hosted by The Beer Academy

Above: Beer Academy sommeliers leading a panel of Judges in the ‘Welsh Pale Ale Competition

Conwy ‘Honey Pale’ has won best Welsh Pale Ale at a new festival competition held in Caerphilly RFC hosted Jointly by The Association of Welsh Independent Brewers (AWIB), The Beer Academy and The Celt Experience Brewery.

The beer style was brewed by 15 Welsh breweries and was put together by AWIB to typify a drink consumed historically and today within the country of Wales. Beer writer Melissa Cole also assisted AWIB during the category preparation.”It’s always exciting and inspiring to see brewers grasp the roots of their local brewing history and I very much look forward to seeing and tasting the different interpretations that will be available within the guidelines. Some people think defining styles is like putting handcuffs on brewers but, in my experience, it can bring out the both the scientist and the alchemist in them to produce something truly lip-smacking”

Breweries such as Brains, Welsh CAMRA Champions ‘Heart of Wales’, North Wales’ Purple Moose and many more were involved in the event. But the overall winner, judged by a Beer Academy led panel of experienced judges was Conwy ‘Honey Pale’. The runner-up was local brewery and joint hosts The Celt Experience with their Welsh Pale Ale.

The festival also featured a number of other exciting beers from around Wales including new breweries Tiny Rebel and Pixie Spring, who both excited people with their high gravity and IBU beers.

Local Brewer, Beer Sommelier and one of AWIB directors Tom Newman commented “The event proved a great success with promotion of both Welsh beers and unity as a beer loving nation. We hope to make this an annual occasion. Profits from the event will be shared between AWIB and Macmillan Cancer charity”.

AWIB Chairman Buster Grant also added “It has happened now and we have set a benchmark for an annual event. Hopefully as a brewing nation we can also gain some recognition for a genuine beer style’”

The Saturday afternoon featured Beer and cheese tying by three Beer Academy Sommeliers Tom, Beer Academy director Nigel Sadler and Ric Brown of Dean Swift in London.

Ric Brown said, “As sommeliers it is part of our job to enthuse and educate people in the ways beer can be drank with diffeent food, and this was what today was about”

The venue for next years event is likely to remain at Caerphilly RFC and will probably be the same weekend in August.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Three Arches, Cardiff

Three Arches, Heathwood Road, Cardiff, CF14 4HS

Open all day

Opened on the day of the Queen's Coronation in 1953, the Three Arches pub celebrates its Diamond Jubilee this year. The pub takes its name from the arches of the nearby railway viaduct which crosses the valley in which the pub is built in.

The Three Arches was designed by the famous Welsh architect Sir Percy Thomas who also designed other Brains pubs such as the Birchgrove, Westgate and the Culverhouse as well as Swansea Guildhall. However this first purpose-built post-war pub of SA Brain is flat-roofed and modernist in design, as opposed to the distinctive 1920s designs of Thomas' with their flowing roof-lines. The Three arches underwent a major refurbishment in 2010 which created a lot more space in the pub.

This large pub is set in its own grounds and has a car park at the rear, alternatively, the pub is a short walk downhill from the Heath railway stations.

The Three arches are shown on the pub sign and the name on of the pub is emblazoned in copper-coloured letters on the front of the pub, which catch the light from the setting sun in the afternoons and evenings. The central entrance foyer features large double doors with large glass planes in them allowing plenty of light to enter and a flagstone floor, this leads to the interior of the pub with a dining area on the left and the public bar on the right. The dining area is surprisingly large with a fireplace and dividing walls separating it into distinctive areas. One area features bookshelves whilst others lead onto the beer garden with its tables and chairs. The dining area features a long, straight bar whilst the public bar features a curved bar, both bars feature five gleaming chrome handpumps serving real ales from Brains Brewery with Bitter, SA, Dark, Rev James and the

Brains seasonal beer, currently British Summer, a light hoppy ale of 4.1% ABV. Both areas are decorated throughout with pictures of old Cardiff, including some old photographs of the railway line to Caerphilly which runs near the pub over the viaduct. The bar area features flat-screen televisions which show sporting events, although the pub is big enough to find a quiet area if you do not wish to watch sport. Free newspapers are available for customers to read.
Food is served all day from a traditional menu together withchalkboard specials featuring 'Pie of the Day' and 'Curry of the Day', as well as a grill menu.

The Three Arches also offers free WiFi.

Google Map:

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Welsh microbreweries to be showcased in Swansea

Welsh microbreweries on show at Swansea Bay Beer Festival defy recession to escape ‘small beer’ tag!

The annual three-day Swansea Bay Beer Festival takes place from Thursday 23rd  to Saturday 25th August 2012, in the Brangwyn Hall, Swansea.

It will showcase more than 100 real ales along with ciders and perry. Many of the ales come from small microbreweries that have emerged all over Wales recently to quench a consumer thirst for new and original beers.

There are now around 45 microbreweries in Wales, and while large breweries and pubs have been closing during the economic downturn, microbreweries have been bucking the trend and seeing rapid growth.

One of the microbreweries leading the revival in real ale drinking across South Wales is the Gower Brewery, which launched in November last year.

“We thought there was a gap in the market for local cask ales and we’ve been amazed by how quickly it’s taken off,” said Chris Stevens, of the Gower Brewery.
Chris, licensee of the King’s Head in Llangennith, set up the brewery with Chris Mabbett of the Greyhound pub in Llanrhidian, which is where the brewing takes place.

Another enterprising individual introducing local ale to South Wales is Jay Thomas. He set up Neath Brewery - the first local brewery in the area for more than 40 years. His beers have no added sulphates, chemicals, flavour-enhancers or preservatives, which helps produce ales with real character and flavour.

Eight lovingly-crafted cask ales are also finding their way into local pubs from the Kite Brewery at Gorslas, which started production in 2010. Head brewer Iain Masson has 30 years’ experience of making great beers, having worked for Greene King and Hardy and Hanson, among others, but is now enjoying himself brewing beer brewed with real hops nad not hop oil.

Other new Welsh microbrewers featured at the festival include Tiny Rebel from Newport and Cerddin Brewery, which is based in Maesteg

Colin Smith, chairman of the Swansea branch of the Campaign for Real Ale, said: “It’s very encouraging to see new local microbreweries doing so well. At a time when the sales of keg beers are declining, sales of real ales are holding up well and finding new fans. For example, the number of 18-25-year-olds and number of women drinking cask ales has doubled since 2008.”

The Swansea Bay Beer Festival is open from 5pm-11pm on Thursday, 23 August; and from noon to 11pm on Friday, 24 August and Saturday, 25 August. It is being held in the Brangwyn Hall, St Helen’s Road, Swansea, SA1 4PE.

The festival is organised by CAMRA and sponsored by Cardiff-based Brains Brewery, who will be showcasing their new range of original craft beers.

Entry is £5 per day and that includes a glass and the festival programme and tasting notes.

There will be live musical entertainment on all days.
Beer and cider list is available here

Google Map:

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Friday 17 August 2012

Brains becomes main sponsor at London Welsh RFC

Welsh brewer S.A Brain and Co Ltd has become the main shirt sponsor of London Welsh RFC, in a major sponsorship deal designed to grow Brains’ business outside of Wales.

The agreement, which officially starts this month, will see the rugby jersey emblazoned with ‘Brains Beer’ for the next three years. The team, who were recently promoted to the top flight Aviva Premiership, will wear the new kit for the first time when they play Leicester Tigers on September 2nd at the Kassam Stadium.

Richard Davies, Sales and Marketing Director at Brains, said: “This is the start of a partnership that will spearhead our strategy to grow our business outside of Wales, and what better way to do it than with a club that has its roots in Wales. The sponsorship deal gives us a great brand fit with London Welsh and exposure to a key market that will enable us to further grow our brand.”

Mark Kemp, Commercial Manager at London Welsh, said: “It is great to welcome Brains on board and to have them as our main shirt sponsor is a tremendous boost to the club as we take on the might of the Premiership. They have demonstrated their commitment to Wales and Welsh sport, which they are underlining with this deal. We look forward to working closely with them over the next three years and know that they will be a huge asset to the club both at Old Deer park and the Kassam stadium.”

Brains has been involved in top level sponsorship since 2004 when their ale became the first Welsh brand to sponsor the Welsh Rugby Union senior team jersey – and has since remained one of the WRU’s key partners.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Swansea Bay Beer Festival - beerlist

One for the diary next week:
Opening times:

Thursday 23rd - 5pm to 11pm

Friday 24th and Saturday 25th - Noon to 11pm

Admission £5 for non-CAMRA members, £3 for card-carrying CAMRA members

Admission includes glass and programme: tokens for beer to be purchased separately within the Festival.

No advance tickets: pay on the door at the Brangwyn during opening times.

Please note: due to venue restrictions, imposed by on-going renovation work within the Guildhall buildings,

no children can be admitted to the Festival this year

Thursday 9pm - The Brothel Creepers

Friday 6pm - Andy and Goss

Friday 9pm - Swansea Hit Squad

Saturday 6pm - Afternoon in Paris

Saturday 6pm - The Hoggs.

Beer List & Tasting Notes
All subject to availibility etc
ART BREW, North Chideock, Dorset, England. (
Spanked Monkey 6.4% SB
A proper I.P.A., so stuffed with hops it will make your tongue tingle. This spanked version has root ginger and chilli added to the cask
BLACK FALLS, Neath, Wales
Civil Unrest 4.2% B
Brewed at Neath Ales, a bronze ale with a distinctive fruit hop aroma and flavour.

BLACK JACK, Manchester, England.
New Deck 4.2% G
Traditional golden bitter, hopped largely with Goldings
Shuffled Deck 3.8% B
Hoppy Pale ale with a slight grapefruit flavour

BRAINS, Cardiff, Wales. (
Barry Island IPA 6.0% SB
Brains Craft Brewery: an American style IPA brewed using three types of US hops
Dark 3.5% M
Treacle-coloured, brewed with Chocolate malt; hints of liquorice and ground
coffee. Runner up Mild in Great Welsh 2012.
Organ Morgan 4.0% G
Brains Craft Brewery: A thirst-quenching golden ale, crafted with a harmony of hops, to produce a clean, floral aroma and delicate citrus flavours
Reverend James 4.5% B
Full-bodied and warming. Rich spicy aromatic palate with a deeply satisfying finish.
SA Gold 4.3% G
Full-flavoured hoppy golden ale with complex refreshing citrus aromas and flavours.
BRECON BREWING, Brecon, Powys, Wales. (
Beacons to the Sea 4.1% G
Zesty pale golden ale with a superb light, refreshing flavour
Genesis 1.ii 5.6% PS
A dark porter beer.
Wandering Beacons 5.0% B
A dark chestnut hued strong best bitter – full bodied and well balanced.
Runner up in the Old Ale category at the Great Welsh 2012.

BRECONSHIRE, Brecon, Powys, Wales. (
Ramblers Ruin 5.0% SB
Dark amber, malty and well hopped.

BRYN CEYLN, Ystradgynlais, Swansea Valley, Wales.
Buddy Marvellous 4.0% B
Dark brown with an inviting aroma
Holly Hop 3.9% G
A dark golden beer, initially sweet but leading to a dry buttery finish.
Oh Boy 4.5% B
An enticing golden colour with a taste full of hops and fruit. Winning Best
Bitter at the 2012 Great Welsh.

BULLMASTIFF, Cardiff, Wales.
Son of a Bitch 6.0% SB
Amber-coloured, rich and warming. A complex blend of malt, hops and fruit with good bitterness and lasting finish.
Special Reserve 6.5% S
A mead like beer in quality & natural honey taste, reminiscent of a fine port.
Thoroughbred 4.5% G
A tasty premium bitter with hops strong on the aroma and flavour, balanced by fruit and malt with a bitter finish.
BUTCOMBE, Bristol, England. (
Blonde 4.4% G
A refreshing golden bitter brimming with citrus hops and fruit

CERDDIN, Maesteg, Mid Glamorgan, Wales. (
Cascade 4.8% B
Pale amber, rich body with a citrus hop flavour

COTLEIGH, Wiveliscombe, Somerset, England. (
Golden Sea Hawk 4.2% G
A fragrant aroma with a background of honey flavour offering a fruit filled
smooth finish
COTSWOLD SPRING, Chipping Sodbury, Glos., England. (
Codger 4.2% B
A dry, crisp, chestnut, perfectly balanced beer with a subtle hoppy finish
Aviator 5.0% S
The Cotswold Spring take on a Cologne K├Âlsch-style lager. Cool, crisp and refreshing.
Stunner 4.0% G
A straw coloured ale with mouth-filling malt complemented by a tropical fruitiness on the nose and palate, and a long refreshing finish
CROUCH VALE, Chelmsford, Essex, England. (
Brewers Gold 4.0% G
A pale, refreshing and hoppy beer with gorgeous aromas of tropical fruits

DARK STAR, Partridge Green, Sussex, England. (
American Pale 4.7% G
Maris Otter malt complements the crisp taste and full aroma of the hops.
Hophead 3.8% G
Pale golden ale, strong floral aroma and elderflower notes
EVERARDS, Narborough, Leicestershire, England. (
Tiger 4.2% B
Chestnut brown in colour; spicy hop aromas with toffee undertones.

FULLERS, Chiswick, London, England. (
ESB 5.5% SB
A liquid legend – winner of three CAMRA Beer of the Year awards, amongnumerous other gold medals.
GLOUCESTER, Gloucester, England. (
Gloucester Gold 3.9% G
A distinctively crisp, hoppy an thirst quenching golden ale
Mariner 4.2% B
A smooth, malty and hoppy ale, and regional SIBA 2012 silver winner
GOWER, Oldwalls, Gower, Swansea, Wales. (
Gold 4.5% G
Thirst quenching golden ale, refreshing citrus flavours and the lovely aroma of Cascade hops.
Lighthouse 4.5% S
A light thirst quenching continental style lager packed with flavour.
Sampson’s Jack 4.2% B
A classic traditional British ale, copper colour, brewed with traditional floor
malted barley crystal malts and the stalwarts of British hops Fuggles & Goldings.
HARVEYS, Lewes, East Sussex, England. (
Sussex Best Bitter 4.0% B
A superbly balanced session bitter with a prominent hop character.

HARVIESTOUN, Alva, Clackmannanshire, Scotland. (
Schiehallion 4.8% G
A true pilsner-style beer; dry, crisp, refreshing and flavoursome.
HEART OF WALES, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys, Wales. (
Corinthian 3.9% G
A revival of an 1850 traditional Welsh Pale Ale recipe. Pale gold in colour, an
initial burst of bitterness rapidly fades to allow the malts to come through with
light and fruity tones and a smooth finish.
High as a Kite 10.5% BW
When Bass (or Coors) stopped making their No1 Barley Wine, Aur Cymru had
a go. This potent brew was Supreme Champion Beer at the Great Welsh in 2012.
Welsh Black 4.4% PS
A fine, complex, particularly smooth stout, full of flavour with notes of liquorice.
Winning Stout and No 2 beer overall after High as a Kite at the Great Welsh 2012.
HOBSONS, Cleobury Mortimer, Worcestershire, England. (
Best Bitter 3.8% B
A bitter with warm tones of malt that linger on the palette, the complex malty flavours give richness, balanced by the clean hoppy finish
Mild 3.2% M
A smooth character and taste notes of chocolate malt, which gives this beer plenty of flavour and aroma that belies its strength.

HOGS BACK, Tongham, Surrey, England. (
T.E.A. Traditional English Ale 4.2% B
A deep golden colour, TEA is refreshing, hoppy and well balanced.
HOOK NORTON, Hook Norton, Oxfordshire, England. (
Gold 4.1% G
A very pale crisp beer, displaying its hop character, a fruity aroma and
a pleasant light taste.
Old Hooky 4.6% B
A beautifully balanced beer, fruity by nature, and well-rounded.
HOPBACK, Salisbury, Wiltshire, England. (
Entire Stout 4.5% PS
A rich dark stout with a strong roasted malt flavour and a long, smooth aftertaste.
Summer Lightning 5.0% G
The original Summer ale. Straw coloured beer with a terrific fresh, hoppy aroma.
KELHAM ISLAND, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England. ( )
Pale Rider 5.2% G
Well balanced strong and fruity ale flavoured with North American Hops.
KITE, Gorslas, Carmarthenshire, Wales. (
CPA (Carmarthenshire Pale Ale) 4.1% G
This is last year’s Cwrw Haf renamed, a blonde ale with fruit and sweet malt,
followed by a refreshing dry finish.
Thunderbird 4.5% B
Mid-brown, with a subtle touch of sweet fruit aromas.
MIGHTY OAK, Malden, Essex, England. (
Oscar Wilde 3.7% M
A wonderfully mellow, moreish dark mild. Champion beer of Britain 2011
MONTY’S, Montgomery, Powys, Wales. (
Midnight Stout 4.0% P/S
Dark creamy stout, full of dark fruit and roasted malt flavours.
MOORHOUSE’S, Burnley, Lancashire, England. (
Pendle Witches Brew 5.1% SB
Full-flavoured with a crisp sweet fruity aftertaste and soft citrus nose.
NEATH, Baglan, Neath-Port Talbot, Wales. (
Black 5.5% SB
A very dark ale – much as the name suggests!
Witch Hunter 4.2% B
Ruby-coloured ale with fruit aroma and flavour..

NETHERGATE, Clare , Suffolk, England. (
 Umbel Magna 5.0% P/S
Coriander added to Old Growler wort to give a spicy, deep ruby porter
OAKHAM, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, England. (
Attila 7.5% BW
Fruit and elderflower aroma, with citrus and berry taste leading to a bitter fruity finish.

OAKLEAF, Gosport, Hampshire, England. (
I Can’t Believe it’s not Bitter 4.9% S
Clean and crisp with a fruity aftertaste, a lager with a citrus finish that lingers on.

OTLEY, Pontypridd, Wales. (
Croes-O 4.2% GA light golden ale with citrus aromas. Winner Golden Ale at the Great Welsh 2012
O-Garden 4.8% S
A clear wheat beer spiced with roasted orange peels, coriander and cloves. Good hop aromas with a subtle bitterness. Runner up Specialty beer at Great Welsh 2012.
O4 Columb-O 4.0% G
Pale golden ale with high bitterness and aromas of green grass and herbs. Runner up to Croes-O in the Golden Ale category at the Great Welsh 2012.
Oxymoron 4.2% S
Black IPA style bitter. Rich, dark chocolate flavours and a lasting bitter aftertaste
PALMERS, Bridport, Dorset, England. (
200 5.0% SB
A finely balanced blend of malt, hops and quenching citric fruitiness.
PIXIE SPRING, Llantrisant, Mid Glamorgan, Wales. (
Deliverance IPA 5.5% G
A golden, full bodied IPA
PURPLE MOOSE, Porthmadog, Gwynedd, Wales. (
Dark Side Of The Moose 4.6% SB
A delicious dark ale with a deep malt flavour from roasted barley and a fruity bitterness from Bramling Cross hops.
Glaslyn Ale 4.2% G
Golden-coloured fruity best bitter with a well-balanced hoppy finish. Runner up
Best Bitter at the Great Welsh 2012.

RCH, West Hewish, Somerset, England. (
East Street Cream 5.0% SB
Full-bodied chestnut-coloured ale, with a malty, hoppy sweet fruit taste.
Old Slug 4.5% PS
A traditional near-black porter, full-bodied with tastes of chocolate, coffee, blackcurrants & black cherry.
Pitchfork 4.3% G
A golden bitter with a floral hop aroma.

RED WILLOW, Macclesfield, Cheshire, England. (
Headless 3.9% B
Refreshingly floral Pale Ale with a restrained orange-led bitterness and a light,
straw-hued colour.
Wreckless 4.8% B
Pale Ale loaded with Citra and Amarillo hops providing massive amounts of tropical fruit with
a clean finish.
RHYMNEY, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. (
Dark 4.0% M
Champion Beer of Wales 2011, hopped like a true stout, although actually a mild
Hobby Horse 4.0% B
This hand crafted ale was champion bitter and 3rd overall at the Great Welsh 2012
SADLERS, Stourbridge, West Midlands, England. (
Golden Gremlin 4.4% G
A cheeky golden ale, deep in richness, soft, fruity and very quaffable

SALTAIRE, Shipley, Yorkshire, England. (
Blackberry Cascade 4.8% G
American style pale ale with the floral aromas and strong bitterness of Cascade and Centennial hops, infused with a hint of blackberries
Raspberry Blonde 4.0% G
Refreshingly blonde ale delicately infused with raspberry flavours.

SIX BELLS, Bishops Castle, Shropshire, England. (
Cloud Nine 4.2% G
Robust, well hopped beer, having citrus notes throughout its aroma, flavour and dry lingering finish.

SKINNERS, Truro, Cornwall, England. (
Betty Stogs 4.0% B
Easy drinking copper ale with a balance of citrus hops, malt and bitterness
ST AUSTELL, St Austell, Cornwall, England. (
HSD 5.0% SB
Full-bodied, strong and Cornish, brimming with a kaleidoscope of flavours.
 Proper Job 3.7% G
A powerfully hopped golden bitter that explodes with citrus grapefruit flavours

STONEHOUSE, Oswestry, Shropshire, England. (
Station Bitter 3.9% B
Traditional amber coloured bitter. Full bodied session beer, with a perfect balance of fruity hops and roasted malt
Wheeltappers 4.5% S
Refreshing, golden wheat beer with hints of coriander and lemon zest.

SWANSEA, Bishopston, Swansea, Wales. (
Bishopswood Bitter 4.3% B
A delicate aroma, balanced taste, with bitterness growing in the finish.
Deep Slade Dark 4.0% M
Dark bitter, with a roasted barley flavour.
Original Wood 5.2% SB
Full-bodied, with complex flavours with and a firm bitter ending.
Three Cliffs Gold 4.7% G
Golden beer, with a hoppy, fruity taste and quenching bitterness.

TATTON, Knutsford, Cheshire, England. (
Blonde 4.0% G
A blonde beer with a hoppy fruity taste and a fine fruity aroma.
Gold 4.8% G
A full-tasting, satisfying deep golden ale.
Lazy Haze 3.7% S
A light, refreshing summer ale with subtle honey undertones, brewed with a unique infusion giving a delicate aroma.
Obscure 5.7% SB
A dark, hoppy strong ale with a complex malt blend giving an intricate aroma.
THORNBRIDGE, Bakewell, Derbyshire, England. (
Jaipur IPA 5.9% SB
A wonderfully hoppy, full flavoured IPA.

THWAITES, Blackburn, Lancashire, England. (
 Nutty Black 3.3% M
A bittersweet dark mild; one of only four beers to win Champion Beer of Britain twice.
TIMOTHY TAYLOR, Keighly, West Yorkshire, England. (
Landlord 4.3% B
A Classic Strong Pale Ale with a complex and hoppy aroma, Landlord has won more awards nationally than any other beer.

TINY REBEL, Newport, Gwent, Wales. (
Cwtch 4.6% B
A blend of 'C' hops - cascade, citra, coloumbo, refreshing zesty, citrus taste and a light summer aroma.
Dirty Stop Out 5.0% P/S
9 malts go into this complex stout. Dark, with hints of smokiness and perfume aromas.
Urban IPA 5.5% G
A golden-brown IPA packed with hops from Germany, US and Slovenia

TOMOS WATKIN, Llansamlet, Swansea, Wales. (
Blodwen 4.5% B
Light crisp refreshing ale with a fruit aroma and easy on the palette.
Cwrw Haf 4.2% G
A blend of golding, fuggle and cascade hops. Refreshing zesty, citrus taste and a light summer aroma.
Summer Storm 4.7% B
Full bodied brown amber ale, sweet with a slight bittering hop and essence of chocolate

WAEN BREWERY, Caersws, Newtown, Wales. (
Blackberry Stout 3.8% PS
Full flavoured stout, distinctive bitter hop at back of the palette and fruity lift in the finish
First of the Summer Waen 3.9% B
Floral and malty dark gold ale

WEST BERKSHIRE, Thatcham, Berkshire, England. (
Dr. Hexter’s Healer 5.0% SB
Three different hops give a balanced beer with a citrus, orange & marmalade finish.
 Dr. Hexter’s Wedding Ale 4.1% G
A light golden-coloured beer with good bitterness and a grapefruit citrus finish.

WYE VALLEY, Stoke Lacy, Herefordshire, England. (

Butty Bach 4.5% G
A burnished gold premium ale. Full bodied, smooth and satisfying.
Dorothy Goodbody’s Stout 4.6% PS
A classic stout with intense roasted barley flavours and a dry bitter finish.
HPA 4.0% B
A delightful smooth pale ale, with a citrus hop aroma and balanced bitter finish.

Cider & Perry
Black Dragon 7.5% ABV Medium
Fiery Fox 6.5% ABV Medium
Happy Daze 4.5% ABV Medium
Welsh Warrior 6% ABV Medium
Sweet 5.5% ABV Sweet
Dog Dancer 6.5% ABV Medium
Pyder Cider/Perry blend 6% ABV Medium
Kingston Black C 7.2% ABV Medium
Welsh Gold Perry Perry 6% ABV Medium
Two Trees Perry 4.5% ABV Medium

Blindgranny Farm
Heart breaker 7% ABV Dry
Blindfold 6% ABV Medium
Hallets real 6% ABV Medium/sweet
National treasure 5% ABV Sweet
Whisky cask 6.5% ABV Dry
Rum Cask 7% ABV Medium
Blakney Red Perry 4% ABV Medium

Raglan Cider Mill, Monmouthshire
RCM 6% ABV Dry
Rum-Tiddly-Um 7.8% ABV Medium
Hanky Panky 6.8% ABV Medium
Barn Owl Perry 5.6% ABV Dry
Tawny Owl Perry 5% ABV Medium
Snowy Owl Perry 5% ABV Sweet
Palmers Upland Cider, Newport
Cheeky Jackdaw 7.2% ABV Dry
Felin Fach 5.5% ABV Medium
Ty Du 7.2% ABV Sweet

+some Somerset ciders as well

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Zero Degrees Lime O Cherry

I'll always give a beer a go if I see it on draught but this latest seasonal offering from Zero Degrees is weird to say the least. A miasma of pickled cocktail cherries hangs around my pint like flies around a dog turd. Its like having a pint of perfume in front of you, Is this beer? No hop character in the aroma or taste but the sickly cherry aroma lasts well into the aftertaste. The only redeaming feature of this Chanel No 5 flavoured beer is the taste - the dry bitter limes take away the overpowering cherry aroma, at least for a short time before the perfumed cherries kick in flr the aftertaste. This is a beer to cook least you won't have to drink it then. Weird, very odd, gets close to De Troch Tropical (banana flavoured) or Minty for being one of the worst beers I've ever drank in my life.
Perhaps I've drunk it too needs maturing in a bourbon cask for a couple of years to make it drinkable!

Sunday 12 August 2012

Rose and Crown, Nottage, Porthcawl

Rose and Crown, Heol y Capel, Nottage, Porthcawl, CF36 3ST

Open All Day
The village of Nottage with its medieval origins is today part of Porthcawl, the nineteenth and twentieth century developments of the later town have now encroached on this once separate and older settlement. A navigable stream once lead to the sea from the village and the Duffryn-Llynfi tramway and later railway once ran through the village and under the village green.

Situated facing the village green, the Rose and Crown is unusual in that it was originally built as a row of stone cottages in the nineteenth-century, two of which became pubs, the Rose and the Crown, before the entire row was converted into one pub.

To the front of the pub there is a small car park and outdoor drinking area which faces onto the village green.

The white-washed building features a slate roof and a weather-boarded entrance porch which leads to the interior of the pub. The dividing interior walls of the original buildings with their large fireplaces have been kept which enables the pub to offer different distinct and unusual bar areas. The bare stone walls add to the traditional atmosphere of the Rose & Crown. Old photographs of the surrounding area decorate these walls. The old cottages have been extended at the rear and this new extension forms a substantial part of the pub today.

The left-hand side of the pub features a traditional bar area whilst the right hand-side features a restaurant, although food is served throughout the pub. Real ales are from Brains with Bitter, SA and Rev James being served together with their seasonal guest beer, at the moment it's the Tour de France themed 'Le Peleton'. The pub is a regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide and hosts a beer, cider and sausage festival once a year. There is also an extensive wine list or alternatively Brains Black is available.

As welll as the front outside drinking area there is another outside area with more tables at the side.

The Rose & Crown hosts regular live music and there is also a function room available free of charge. The pub also offers accommodation.

Food is served all day from a traditional but extensive menu with a focus on Welsh ingredients being used wherever possible and a separate lunchtime menu.

The pub also offers free Wifi.

Google Map:

View Larger Map

Saturday 11 August 2012

Brains - the Old Brewery

The Old Brewery in Cardiff will always be remembered by me as a complicated but compact maze. Tours were few and far between and varied as to where they started – sometimes in the upstairs bar of the Albert, sometimes in the sample room just off the brewery yard and quite often one tour would miss something out another one would include – for instance I only saw the open fermenters on one particular visit – other visits we were only shown the 'new' enclosed fermenters which became operational in 1979, after the rebuild of the entire brewery that started in 1975.

The Albert is today called the Yard and is a lot larger than the original pub as it has been expanded into the what was the brewery. The traditional date for the brewery is 1713 as this was a date carved into the stonework, this was still visible when Alfred Barnard visited the brewery in the late 1880s but these buildings were demolished in 1919, when another rebuild was carried out. Oh there was another rebuild in 1887 in which the site was expanded to the East and South (Caroline Street entrance).

All the following photographs were taken by me on a couple of visits in the late 1990s, on the Canon A1, looking at the negatives, it seems that the tour was not a logical progression of moving from mill to cask but for clarity here I've put the photos into the order you would expect to see them in if following the usual brewery tour. I've also put in some drawings from Alfred Bernard's  viist to Brians from his Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland so that the 1890 equipment can be seen.

 Above and below: A couple of shots of the grist mills

Above: Mash Tun 
Below: Brains mash tun 1890

 Above and below: The coppers
Below: the coppers in 1890

Below: The 'new' 1979 fermenters, South side of the brewery, Caroline Street side
 Below: The old open fermenters, copper-lined

 Above: the fermenter on the left has been enclosed whilst the one on the right is still open, with a good head of yeast on it!
I seem to recall the 'old' open fermenters were in a different part of the brewery to the new block, if memory serves me right they were along the north wall of the site, immediately behind the Albert pub.

 Above and below: fermenters in the 1890s

 The racking area for the beers was in the cellar of the brewery, underneath the brewery yard and now home to restaurants

 Having the racking area in the cellar was not ideal as the beer then had to be hoisted up to the yard and onto the drays for delivery, however this was the best option available on this compact site.
Of course the any brewery tour would not be complete without a visit to the sample room! Seems this photo was taken with the Swansea & Neath CAMRA Branch visit!

Friday 10 August 2012

Ivor Gwatkin

Some sad news came through to me this morning that Ivor Gwatkin, father of cidermaker Denis Gwatkin had passed away in the night. Ivor, who was 85 and was known as Lester by family and friends alike, was a real character and always had a warm welcome for visitors at the farm, especially if you asked him questions to do with farming. On my first visit to the farm, almost 20 years ago, he showed me around the orchard, a bit bemused that anyone would be interested in the cider and perry made by his son! On subsequent visits we were shown his prize-winning turkeys, with their fantastic plumage, Ivor still had an interest in poultry right up to the end as only the other week I was in the car with him going to a local poultry show, although after driving around Pandy we eventually discovered we had the wrong date! Lester had found the rheas on the farm a bit too exotic for him though, he preferred his geese and turkeys to the odd-looking South American birds!

This year Gwatkin Cider celebrate 20 years of commercial cidermaking and only last month Ivor officiated at the opening of the new ciderhouse at the farm by cutting the ribbon at the opening ceremony and having a half with friends in the bar.

 Above: Lester and Denis in the ciderhouse
Ivor had been a farmer all his life and had farmed not just at Abbeydore but also near Pontypool, where Denis was born.

 Above: Ivor opening the new ciderhouse at the farm a few weeks ago

Ivor will be sadly missed by all who knew him and he leaves a wife, Iris, and two sons Denis and Eric.

Thursday 9 August 2012

London-brewed beers to feature at the Bunch

The award-winning Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd will this weekend be featuring a number of rare London brews at their 'London Beer Weekend'.

This weekend our pumps will feature a selection from three London Microbreweries (available from Friday 11am):
•The highly revered Kernel Brewery – massively hoppy beers with massive depths of flavour, you’re unlikely to find these on tap anywhere else in Wales - Pale ale, India Pale Ale and Porter.

•Sambrook’s Brewery – brewing in Battersea since 2008, playing a big part in bringing Brewing back into the centre of London - Wandle Ale (3.8%) named after the Thames tributary, a golden ale with a clean fresh sweetness and delicate lingering bitterness. Also their“1st anniversary” ale, Junction (4.5%), a traditional full bodied traditional English bitter brewed for anyone who thinks “theres too much flowery aroma in beer these days!”. Lastly, their Pale Ale (4.2%), with a light, dry and zesty taste and a citrus aroma.

•The Tap East Pub and Brewery – Looks like Cardiff missed a trick when building St. David’s 2 – situated in the middle of the Westfield Stratford shopping mall in East London, this pub and microbrewery surely offers the ultimate respite from shopping - Coffee in the Morning (5.7%), brewed with freshly ground coffee beans this is a full flavoured beer not necessarily intended for breakfast – bitter, roasted coffee bean flavours dominate. Also Poplar Pale Ale (4.1%), an American Pale Ale with a light golden colour, aroma of biscuity malts and classic citrus, grassy finish.

On top of this, one or two Otley beers may try and elbow their way in to the mix depending on how sales go, look out for O3 Boss and O-Garden making a sneak appearance.
The Bunch now offers custom made Beer Flights, where you can try Five different beers at a time in 1/3 pint glasses.

Bunch of Grapes
Ynysyngharad Road

CF37 4DA

Moose wins more awards

More awards for the Purple Moose Brewery of Porthmadog, this time at the Great Taste Awards and the Great British Beer Festival.
 Ysgawen, only launched in April, has also picked up a 1-Star Gold at the Great Taste Awards, this 4% refreshing pale ale is brewed using Cascade hops with the added indulgence of elderflowers.

Dark Side of the Moose has been awarded a coveted 3-Star Gold for the second year in a row, this 4.6%delicious dark ale has a deep malt flavour from roasted barley and a fruity bitterness from Bramling Cross hops.

Snowdonia Ale was also crowned the Best Bitter in the UK at the Champion Beer of Britian competition on Tuesday!
This 3.6% ale is described as delightfully refreshing pale ale brewed with Pale and Crystal malt with a delicate combination of Pioneer, Styrian Goldings and Lubelski hops.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Brains launches wheat beer

There is no truth in the rumour that Vanilla Ice was brought into brew this beer! However the staff were under pressure to come up with the name for this beer!

Brains Launches Very First Keg Craft Beer

Brains has launched a new 5.9% ABV Bavarian wheat beer Weiss Weiss Baby, the very first keg beer to come out of their new ten barrel craft brewery.

The craft brewery has enabled Brains to experiment with a diverse range of cask, keg, and bottled beers, and trial a wide range of different beers, including Colonel Williams, and Barry Island IPA.

Following the success of a number of unique beers to come out of the craft brewery, Brains continues to offer an exciting and diverse range. The latest addition is a traditional Bavarian style ‘white beer’ brewed with malted wheat and Hallertau Tradition hops. Naturally cloudy, Weiss Weiss Baby uses distinctive Weissbeer yeast to produce a light, refreshing beer bursting with fruity banana flavours and spicy cloves.

Richard Davies, Sales and Marketing Director at Brains, said “Weiss Weiss Baby is very different to anything we’ve produced before. It’s a perfect keg beer and customers can try it in five of our pubs. But it’s also great in cask – which is why we’ve chosen to take it to the Great British Beer Festival (7th – 11th August), where it will feature alongside seven other Brains beers.”

Bill Dobson, Head Brewer at Brains, added: "We’ve seen in our own pub estate that customers are looking for an eclectic range of beers on the bar. The craft brewery is allowing us to experiment with different techniques, ingredients and styles – from India Pale Ales through to continental style beers. It’s an exciting time for the brewery."

Weiss Weiss Baby will be available in keg from August 8th in Cardiff at Terra Nova, The Yard, 33 Windsor Place, The Pear Tree, and The Lime Tree in Chepstow.

Thursday 2 August 2012

Brains Old Brewery - now and then

Digging out my old photos taken on the Canon A1 many years back I came across this one of the Caroline Street entrance to Brains Old Brewery, now the Brewery 1/4 as the photo below shows. The above buildings date from the 1970s rebuilding of Brains Old Brewery and contained the fermenting vats.
Below: Roughly taken from the same position, the scene today, a mixture of residential and restaurant use.

The interior of the 1970s fermenting block

Wednesday 1 August 2012

Black Falls Hopjam

Black Falls is the name given to the one-off specials produced by Jay Thomas at Neath Ales. Now Jay produces some of my favourite beers, his Green Bullet is an all time favourite both in cask and bottle and he is a bit of a hophead so I know what to expect with his beers which you hardly ever see outside of the Neath area. It was a nice surprise to find this one on in the Commercial in Pontymister, although I had set my tastebuds up for a Tiny Rebel session, unfortunately none of their beers were available so a rather insipid Purple Moose Madog and a diactyl-laden Abbeydale Abbey were sampled before this hop-bomb hit the taste buds.
Colour: Deep golden-yellow
Aroma: Freshly-mown grass, Granny Smith apples and some earthy tones
Taste: Imagine your mouth is an old glass lemon squeezer with the ridges your tastebuds. Now imagine a grapefruit being squeezed over that. Yes that is what this beer does to your mouth, a puckeringly dry grapefruit flavour that then mellows into pineapple and other citrus flavours.
Aftertaste: When the citrus flavours decline the bitterness kicks in, a long, lingering bitter flavour with an astringent finish.
Verdict: Want more!

Otley gets Bigger!

Otley Brewing Company expands to larger premises due to customer demand

 Award-winning Welsh brewery, Otley Brewing Company has purchased a new, larger unit for its brewery to match the surge in customer demand for its cask ales and bottled beers.

The new 5,500 sq ft unit is on the Albion Industrial Estate in Cilfynydd, on the site of the existing brewery.

The larger premises offers twice as much space as the previous premises and will be home for more office space, a front of house shop and will also see the return of the brewery’s in house bottling facility which will process around 1,500 bottles a week.

The new brewery will also open its doors to the public for tours and tasting sessions- allowing more people to learn about the processes involved in brewing some of the UK’s favourite craft ales.

Managing director of the Otley Brewing Company, Nick Otley, said: “This is an exciting time for us at the brewery. We’ve grown so much since first setting up in 2005 and as the demand for our products has significantly grown, moving to larger premises was a natural step for us.

“The new front of house shop will house an extensive range of real ales from some of our favourite breweries across the UK and will certainly be the first point of call for real ale enthusiasts.

“The decision to introduce brewery tours will help us showcase what we have on offer to customers and those interested in beer. We think it’s important we make our brewing methods and processes visible to show how we brew quality ales and it’s a service we’ve been planning to do for a while as a response to customer feedback.”

The brewery move follows Nick Otley’s takeover of the well-loved King’s Arms pub in Pentyrch which took place in February this year.


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