Tuesday 18 December 2012

The Park, Barry

Park, Park Crescent, Barry, CF62 6HE

Open all day

The Park is situated on a steep hill, a short walk from Barry railway station and was built in the later-part of the nineteenth century, as many of the town's larger pubs were in order to cater for the trade and expansion of the town brought about by the construction of the docks. Locals claim that the building was once used as a bible college and a book even says the building was originally a church, however the Park does have the appearance of a late-Victorian brick-built pub, albeit a very grand one. Originally there were 5 doors to the pub, each leading to separate and distinct areas such as the lounge, smoke room, public bar etc, some of these doors have been blocked up over the years and the main entrance today is is on the corner and this leads to a large room with a centrally-situated dark wooden bar with a gleaming brass footrail around it.

Six handpumps are on the bar, serving Brains Bitter, Dark, SA, Rev James, a guest beer and a guest cider. There is also a stillage for casks behind the bar with up to four beers being served straight from the barrel. The guest beers change frequently but the Park is an unusual local outlet for beers from Vale of Glamorgan Brewery, situated in nearby Cadoxton. Other breweries that have featured here have included Gower Brewery and the pumpclips of the previous guests beers are displayed on the bar back, either side of the central pub clock.

To the left of the bar is another smaller room, whilst to the right the bar area continues into a corridor which leads to a separate room with another bar. This part of the pub also has some original features such as ornate moulded plasterwork and a large wooden staircase. The staircase leads to a first floor function room with views across Barry. The Park also features a skittle alley.

The Park is decorated throughout with old breweriana, beer bottles, photos of old Barry and rugby memorabilia, the decoration is familiar to anyone who has visited the City Arms in Cardiff recently and it appears that Brains are trying to make the Park the premier alehouse of the Vale of Glamorgan as they have done with their flagship Cardiff pub. The Park features flatscreen televisions throughout and there is a quiz night every Tuesday.

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Monday 17 December 2012

Vote for your favourite Welsh real ale

Although the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival is not until June next year (6th-8th June, Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff) the process for choosing the Champion Beer of Wales has begun and CAMRA Members have until the end of January 2013 to nominate their favourite beers.
In order to vote for your favourite Welsh ales go to here and log in with your membership number and use the same password that you use to login to the member's area of the CAMRA national web site.

The list of beers that appear on the site are the ones reported to CAMRA by the Brewery Liasion Officer for each individual brewery. Beers also have to conform to CAMRA rules etc etc to be in the running for the competition.

Friday 14 December 2012

Re-inventing the Wheel

I don't normally post advertising emails but this one is a gem:
I wanted to get in touch to introduce a new piece of technology to you which has the potential to significantly increase footfall to pubs up and down the country. While this is not a sales pitch, I am just seeking to promote the technology to a wider audience.
Go On you have me interested:

Lifesynk is a “real-world social media enabler”, essentially a tool to help pubs turn the tide of dwindling support by connecting online social activity and actual social activity, with the ultimate aim of restoring them to their traditional place at the heart of our local communities. By installing a Lifesynk terminal, a pub enables customers to swipe their phones or an RFID card (similar to an Oyster card) and send a message to their Facebook friends or Twitter followers, telling them where they are and what they’re doing. Pubs can configure these messages themselves, for example “I am at the Red Lion in Ipswich, claiming a free drink/earning a loyalty point, etc”. You can also use Lifesynk to keep customers updated on news and events – a single swipe will promote the pub to each customer’s network of social media contacts.
Wow, millions of people can and already do this with Foursquare and Untappd via a smartphone so why would anyone wish to install an RFID reader in a pub? Chaverspoons even offer a reduction on your food bill if you become 'Mayor' of one of their pubs on Foursquare. RFID technology has been used on Oyster Cards since 2003, technology has moved on since then and Transport for London are now usung contactless technology on their buses.
Which leaves the question, just why would any pub want to invest in a decade old technology when cloud-based applications are the way forward?

Lifesync and Alie at CK Publicity, you know where the complaints department is located.

A visit to Gloucester

Gloucester Victorian Market was the other weekend and it gave me the perfect opportunity to visit some of the pubs in this historic City. Gloucester is a place I had not been to for about 15 or so years so I was looking forward to discovering some of the old pubs here. Only 45 minutes by train from Newport as well!

My first visit was to the New Inn, one of the oldest pubs in the UK. A medieval galleried inn, built between 1430-1450 on the site of an older inn. A remarkable survivor, this Grade I listed building fell on bad times in the 1990s but was later bought by a local pub group, the Chapman Group, who have been restoring the building. Blackened oak beams and angled doors add to the atmosphere of this pub.

Unfortunately there was scaffolding up in the inner courtyard on my visit so will have to visit again for better photographs. The beer range was a bit disappointing with 5 national brands on and nothing local.

On Southgate Street there was a pub that I walked past a couple of times as I had not realised it was a pub! It had a sign but no brewery logo on it and I could not see a bar through the windows so thought it might be a restaurant rather than pub. This was Robert Raike's House, a stunning Sam Smith's refurbishment that reopened in 2008 after a reported refurbishment cost of £4.5 million. The building dates back to 1560 but only became a pub, the Golden Cross, in 1975. Sam's could have easily done a cheap refurbishment on this building but instead have restored it to much of its original layout with separate rooms and wooden panels restored. The new wooden beams are a different colour to the old so the distinction between the old and the new is clearly visible. The history of the building and cutaway architects drawings mounted on the walls illustrate the story of this pub. The rear of the building features a Georgian brick fa├žade. A stunning pub, although no real ale as the only pub South of here they supply real ale to is the Murenger in Newport. No website for the pub as its Sam's but Rob has been there on his travels so check out the photos on his site.

The docks area, where the Victorian Market was held is a mix of retail, marina, museum and residential, an odd mix made even more weird by featuring a brewery at the site, the Gloucester brewery, housed in an old industrial building behind the engine shed. The last time I visited Gloucester Docks, the area was in a state of dereliction so it was a refreshing change to see this bustling conversion. The brewery is a 10 barrel-plant with a shop attached and the friendly and knowledgeable staff were very keen to show us around and answer our questions. Just a shame their beers were not available in more pubs in the centre of the City.

Whilst in the Docks area I paid a visit to the Whitesmith's Arms, a pub I used to frequent some years ago, this pub has since expanded into the next-door premises and the fifteenth-century ceiling of this building can be seen. The pub is owned by Swindon brewers Arkells but only one of their beers was on when I visited.

Back into the City Centre and finally found a locally-brewed beer on in the Dick Whittington, another building with fifteenth-century origins, although it only became a pub in 1982. Also owned by the Chapman Group this was the first pub where I found a beer from Gloucester Brewery on the bar. A shame their beers are not widely available throughout the City as they are very good. Also on the bar was a 9.3% beer from Three Tuns brewery which was surprisingly drinkable, dangerously though.

A short walk northwards towards the Cathedral and I came across the Pelican, a pub Denis Gwatkin had recommended to me as it is owned by Wye Valley Brewery and stocks his cider. Dating from 1679 this two-room pub stocks a range of beers from Wye Valley Brewery, the roaring wood fire was very welcome on a wet Gloucester night! Only opened earlier this year, the Pelican did have the best beer quality during my 3-day visit to the City.

I also found a new book (2012 reprint) on Gloucester pubs whilst visiting, “The Story of Gloucester's Pubs” by Darrel Kirby is a well-researched and interesting book, packed full of maps as well as contemporary and vintage photographs, its the type of book that should be on sale in all these pubs, unfortunately rather like the local brewery it was rather difficult to find!

Thursday 13 December 2012

Kite Brewery relocates and expands

The Kite Brewery, formerly of Gorslas in Carmarthenshire is expanding with a new 35 barrel brew plant being built at the new home of their parent company, the Glamorgan Beer Company, who relocated to Llantrisant near Pontyclun earlier this year. At the moment the head brewer Iain Masson is brewing the Kite beers on the Rhymney Brewery plant in Blaenavon so those beers should keep the tickers happy!

There is also an expansion into London with the formation of the Portobello Brewery being formed by Richard Anstee (Glamorgan Beer Company) and Rob Jenkins (Ex-Wells & Young) together with Iain Masson as head brewer.
This new London brewery will have a capacity of 4000 barrels and will produce both cask ale and craft lager. The Portobello Brewing Company will be the largest capacity brewery in this part of London since Whitbread closed the Notting Hill Brewery in 1922. The brewery will have two permanent ales, Portobello Pale, ABV 4%, and Star, ABV 4.3%. During January and February the Portobello Pilsner Craft Lager will be launched alongside a seasonal London Market Porter. The brands will be targeted at speciality beer houses, cask ale pubs, bars and restaurants both within London and nationally, in cask, keg and packaged format.

Otley opens shop doors at new brewery in time for Christmas

Leading south Wales microbrewery, Otley Brewing Company has announced the launch of its new brewery shop which will now be open six days a week.

Located at the brewery’s new 5,500 sq ft unit on the Albion Industrial Estate in Cilfynydd, the shop will stock the full range of Otley’s award winning bottle beers and the latest pressurised mini kegs which hold five litres of beer.

As well as stocking Otley beers the 180 sq ft shop will also house an extensive range of real ales from breweries across the UK and some of the world, making it the first point of call for real ale enthusiasts in south Wales.

The front of house shop is the final part of Otley’s new premises to be completed. The new location has allowed for the brewery to re-instate its in-house bottling facility which will process around 1,500 bottles a day as well as launch brewery tours and tasting sessions, allowing more people to learn about the processes involved in brewing some of the UK’s favourite craft ales.

Nick Otley, managing director of the Otley Brewing Company, said: “It is great to have the shop open and complete the offering that we have at the brewery. Visitors on our brewery tours can now purchase the beers they have sampled on site which we hope will enhance the experience for them.

“We hope that the brewery will now become an essential port of call for any beer and ale enthusiasts and will offer them something unique that they cannot find elsewhere. We’ve opened the doors just in time for Christmas for that those looking to stock up or to give as presents.”

Beer shoppers unable to make the journey to the brewery shop can also purchase Otley beers online at Real Beer Box and, as an added incentive over Christmas, Otley has announced the launch of its golden ticket competition.

Customers who have ordered an Otley Real Beer Box are being asked to look out for a golden ticket among their purchases. Lucky customers who receive a golden ticket are in with the chance of winning either one of six mini kegs, a six-month RealBeerBox subscription and a one-off chance to spend a day brewing at the brewing.
Nick continued: “Real Beer Box is a great way for people to sample our beers that maybe haven’t heard of us before. It makes us even more accessible to the market outside Wales and we hope that our golden ticket competition will not only inspire future beer enthusiasts, but also encourage customers to sample the different beers in our range.

“In particular we are looking forward to working alongside the winner of the brewday ticket and, you never know we might let them brew a beer of their own.”

Follow the Otley Brewing Company on Twitter: @otleybrewingco
Otley Brewing Co
Unit 39
Albion Industrial Estate
CF37 4NX

Google Map:

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Wednesday 12 December 2012

Boilermaker wins IPA Challenge

‘Thinking Drinkers’ Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham (pictured below) are the first winners of Brains ‘Ultimate Collaboration Beer Challenge’, after a judging panel deemed Boilermaker – a Welsh whisky infused beer – to be the best of seven IPAs.

Earlier in the year the Welsh brewer invited beer writers and bloggers to collaborate with them to develop and brew their ultimate IPA in Brains’ craft brewery. Alongside Ben and Tom, guest brewers were Simon Martin, Martyn Cornell, Tim Hampson, Melissa Cole and Marverine Cole.

While Brains handed guest brewers an IPA brief, they were free to come up with their own interpretation, and beers ranged from traditional, to American-style, to tropical.

Seven beers, including one from Brains’ head brewer, were independently blind judged at an event last week. Boilermaker, a 6.5% ABV IPA, came top with the judges, who identified a balanced but complex beer with an appetising bitter finish.

Ben and Tom said: “We wanted to brew something that reflected the Welsh surroundings of our brew, so we decided to create a whisky IPA. This saw us combine the Brains brewing expertise with whisky barrels selected from the Penderyn Whisky Distillery.

“Blending beer with spirits also doubled up as a reflection of the Thinking Drinkers expertise in beer, cocktail and spirits. Indeed the name comes from the serve of whisky with your ale. Judges loved the balance so if you’re not sure about whisky in your beer, rest assured it has a very delicate influence.”

Bill Dobson, Head Brewer at Brains, said: “The craft brewery has given us the opportunity to bring in guest brewers – which we have never before been able to do. It’s great to be able to draw on their knowledge and creativity to come up with a one-off beer.
“The collaboration beer challenge has been such a success that we’ll be making it an annual event. Next up, the ‘Ultimate Continental Beer Challenge’”.

Boilermaker is now available in cask in 30 Brains pubs. For a full list of stockists visit here

Others beers in the challenge:
· All at Sea – Brains’ entry
· Barry Island IPA – Simon Martin, aka Real Ale Guide
· Colonel Williams – Martyn Cornell
· Triumphant – Tim Hampson
· Fruits of our Labours – Melissa Cole
· Destiny – Marverine Cole

Here is the beer review from You Tube reviewwer Simon with Tom & Bill

The elephant in the room

Today CAMRA is holding a mass lobby of parliament to protest about the Beer Duty Escalator, a revenue raising device brought in by Al Darling when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer and continued by Osborne as the present incumbent. Every year this adds 2% + inflation to the cost of beer and since 2008 has seen the price of a pint rise by 40%.

And the result of this is, CAMRA press release below:
3 million fewer UK adults visit the pub on a regular basis as beer duty escalator takes its toll

CAMRA organises its biggest ever campaigning event as over 1,200 members descend upon Parliament

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, has today (December 12th) organised the biggest campaigning event in its 40 year history as over 1,200 of its members – as well as other members of the beer and pub industry - descend upon Parliament for a Mass Lobby, calling for an end to the damaging beer duty escalator.

Members of the organisation have travelled from across the UK to speak to their MP as new figures show that since the beer duty escalator – a policy causing duty on beer to automatically increase by 2% above inflation every year - was introduced in 2008, the number of regular pub goers* in the UK has declined by a staggering 3 million people. During this period, over 5,800 pubs have been forced to close their doors.

Since 2008, tax on beer has increased by more than 40%, with over a third of every pint pulled in a pub now paid in duty and VAT. The nation’s beer drinkers have to endure one of the highest rates of tax on their pint in Europe, and a 106,000 signature Government e-petition has already forced a Parliamentary debate on the issue, calling on the escalator to be scrapped.

Over 400 MPs will be lobbied by CAMRA members throughout today, and Colin Valentine, CAMRA National Chairman, said:

‘Over the past 40 years there have been few threats to the UK pub industry as severe as the beer duty escalator, which is why so many of our members from across the country have travelled to Westminster to participate in today’s Lobby.

‘Even after a Government e-petition reaching 100,000 signatures, and a Parliamentary debate where MPs present unanimously backed a review of the beer duty escalator, the Government do not appear to have woken up to the crippling social and economic impact their actions are having on valued community pubs.

‘With the nation’s pub closure rate back on the increase, what the Government should be doing is looking at ways to alleviate the burden on struggling pubs, and further recognise their importance as community assets. Such a huge decline in the number of regular pub goers, as seen with today’s figures, is a critical reminder that change needs to happen fast to prevent irreparable damage to community life in the UK, and to save the nation’s proud pub going heritage from being taxed into oblivion.’

CAMRA’s Mass Parliamentary Lobby takes place on Wednesday December 12th from 11am, with its members convening at the Emmanuel Centre. At 4pm a Rally will take place at the Emmanuel Centre with leading MPs due to speak. More information here.
Demo and interview with Mike Benner should be on the BBC iplayer later - link here

Now just out of interest can anyone think of a piece of legislation enacted in say 2007 that may have caused 3 million fewer adults to visit the pub? Answers please to CAMRA.

Thursday 6 December 2012

Llanblethian Cider at Dyffryn Gardens this weekend

For those of you who want some cider this Christmas, Llanblethian Orchards will be selling their draught products at Dyffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan this weekend, as well as doing an apple pressing!
Details of the event are here. Saturday & Sunday, 1000-1600 hrs.
Three Saints Cider from Monmouthshire will also be there

Wednesday 5 December 2012

IPAs battle it out on the Thames!

The battle of the IPAs will take place on the Thames tomorrow with 7 different brews by Brains Craft Brewery battling it out against each to see which is the best one. Each beer in the series has been a collaboration brew with a beer writer and all 7 will be judged aboard the paddle steamer Tattershall Castle before an expert panel of judges and Chris from the Goat Major pub as well! Only joking Chris!
I've enjoyed drinking the entire range so it will be interesting so see which one comes out top
And yes I do have a personal favourite but that won't cloud my judging!


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