Monday, 22 December 2014

Waen Brewery 'Pamplemousse'

In the Vale of Glamorgan is the town of Cowbridge, previously mentioned here because of the food and drink festival usually held in late October.
On the high street has been for many years an excellent deli, which I only learned the name of recently, shame on me, the Elephant and Bun.

Amongst the amazing food, they've always stocked some Welsh beers, mostly Otley, but recently have expanded their line up which I learnt from new Cardiff brewers Crafty Devil via their twitter feed.
I promptly headed off and see the shelves now includes the aforementioned Devils, Purple Moose, Grey Trees, and Waen Breweries.

I picked up two from Waen, the other being 'Alright Treacle?', a lovely smooth stout, 4.% with a lingering bitterness. A little google search revealed to me that Pamplemousse is the french word for grapefruit, although french slang apparently would have it also refer to women's breasts.

'Pamplemousse' is a pale ale, 4.2%, and was a lively starter. Not surprised at that because it had so much gorgeousness in the bottle that it wanted to get into a glass and be admired.
Wonderful tropical aroma from the US and NZ hops used, a hazy gold colour with a frothy head.
Great body to it, dry, grassy and a little herbal but mostly your relishing in the juicy tropical fruits, and obviously, grapefruit. A lovely good long dry bitterness follows, leaving you wanting more.
I really enjoyed this pale ale, and certainly would get it again when I see it on any shelves or any tap.

I am sure i read somewhere that Sue at Waen adds grapefruit pith to this brew, which if it's true obviously means it sits in the class of being a 'Juicy Banger'!!

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Directory of Welsh Breweries pt 1

 I looked at the (now removed) sidebar on my blog which had a few dozen Welsh breweries listed, with links, and noted it was pretty out of date, a few no longer existed, or changed names since I last updated it.

The current number of breweries in Wales is always increasing, so I thought I'd try to give an up to date list as far as I could find.

There were quite a few new to me, a fair few micro-breweries in pubs, but I'm sure I've not listed every one. I've listed almost 70 but I'm sure I heard recently there was approx 80 in total.

I searched a few sites on line including quaffale, beermad, then crosschecked with other blogs, and used the beer list for the GWBCF for 2014 as it was for the first time an all Wales list.
There are a few breweries I have not included, as I've not been able to verify if they are still in production, some seem to have no contact details (web, facebook, twitter). An unscientific method but useful one was to see if anyone is checking their beers in on Untappd or Ratebeer.

The links I give with the breweries were ones I found, mostly web, some facebook and twitter.
If any details are incorrect or missing please leave a comment below and I'll edit accordingly. If you want me to add a brewery,  please provide details, and if you'd prefer for example your twitter account rather then the website I link to, again let me know.
I'm going to try to add in additional links anyway but yours will get updated quicker if you help!!
I am also going to add another page on the site with all the details on it.

Here are the breweries listed A- M
Link to breweries N - W

Axiom Brewing Co.
Brains Craft Brewery   
Brecon Brewing co  
Big Bog Brewing co   
Big Hand Brewery
Bluestone Brewery   
Buzzard Brewery
Boroughs Arms 
Bryncelyn Brewery 
Celt Experience  
Caffle Brewery 
Cerddin Brewery
Coles Brewery
Crafty Devil Brewing Co 
Cwrw Ial  
Cwrw Cader Ales
Cwrw Llyn  Brewery
Denbigh Brewery  
Erddig Brewing Co 
Evans Evans Brewery
Facers Brewery
Felinfoel Brewery 
Geipel Brewing
Great Orme Brewery
Gwaun Valley Brewery  
Gower Brewery 
Grey Trees Brewery    
Gwynt y Ddraig 
Hafod Brewing Co  
Handmade Beer Co   
Hapax/Kingstone Brewery
Heart of Wales/Neuadd Brewing Co  
Heavy Industry Brewing
Hopcraft/Pixie Spring Brewery  
Jacobi Brewery
Kite Brewery    
Llangollen Brewery   
Mantle Brewery  
McGiverns Ales 
Mountain Hare
Mumbles Brewery
Monty's Brewery 

Directory of Welsh Breweries pt 2

 I looked at the (now removed) sidebar on my blog which had a few dozen Welsh breweries listed, with links, and noted it was pretty out of date, a few no longer existed, or changed names since I last updated it.

The current number of breweries in Wales is always increasing, so I thought I'd try to give an up to date list as far as I could find.

There were quite a few new to me, a fair few micro-breweries in pubs, but I'm sure I've not listed every one. I've listed almost 70 but I'm sure I heard recently there was approx 80 in total.

I searched a few sites on line including quaffale, beermad, then crosschecked with other blogs, and used the beer list for the GWBCF for 2014 as it was for the first time an all Wales list.
There are a few breweries I have not included, as I've not been able to verify if they are still in production, some seem to have no contact details (web, facebook, twitter). An unscientific method but useful one was to see if anyone is checking their beers in on Untappd or Ratebeer.

The links I give with the breweries were ones I found, mostly web, some facebook and twitter.
If any details are incorrect or missing please leave a comment below and I'll edit accordingly. If you want me to add a brewery,  please provide details, and if you'd prefer for example your twitter account rather then the website I link to, again let me know.
I'm going to try to add in additional links anyway but yours will get updated quicker if you help!!
I am also going to add another page on the site with all the details on it.

Link to breweries A- M
Here are the breweries listed N - W

North Wales Brewery 
Neath Ales
Bragdy'r Nant Brewery  
New Plassey Brewery
Otley Brewing Co 
Purple Moose  Brewery
Pipes Beer 
Pen-lon Cottage/Bay View Brewery 
Preseli/Tenby Ales 
Radnorshire Brewery
Red Stone Brewery
Rotters Brewery
Rhymney Brewery  
Sandstone Brewery
Seren Brewing Co 
Swansea/The Joiners  
Tudor  Brewery
Tomos a Lilford Brewery
Tomos Watkins Brewery  
Tiny Rebel Brewery  
Untapped Brewing Co.  
Violet Cottage 
Vale of Glamorgan Brewery
Waen  Brewery 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Penarth Bottle Shop, and Brains Craft Brewery 'The Crafty Chairman'

Another from the Brains Craft Brewery.
This was bought from what has easily become my go-to beer shop, its five minutes from work and one staff member must be now used to having a nurse coming in grumbling to himself about patients and the look of desperation and hunger for beer in his eyes.

The Bottle Shop in Penarth is the second opened by the team that started in Roath, Cardiff, (a shop I've looked for on a couple of occasions but never found!).

It is situated next to the train station in Penarth town, the shop used to be Arth Wines which had unfortunately ceased trading the year before. They have a great choice of Welsh, British and import beers, and frankly at some extremely reasonable prices, I know a few places in Cardiff where I would be paying more, another reason I've been there back several times.
I've picked up plenty from Flying Dog, Beavertown, Left Hand, Brooklyn, Siren, Kuichi, Founders, to mention a few, and the last time I went in they had a record player set up and stacks of vinyl.
Choosing beers to The Cure was such a great way to wind down!!!

On one of my visits I bought 'The Crafty Chairman' from Brains Craft Brewery, it was described on their website as
 "a vibrant golden beer with a Belgian twist brewed by the Chairman of Brains, John Rhys. Pale Ale, Cara and Wheat malts combine with three British hops – Phoenix, First Gold and East Kent Goldings – and Belgian golden ale yeast"
Originally released last December on cask only, it has now had a very limited edition run in bottles, the Penarth Bottle shop being one of the very few who had a case to sell.
Certainly lively, and a Belgian yeasty aroma on the nose, it certainly looked the part.

It was however let down by slightly confusing nature, it was to light and thin for a good Belgian beer, as a golden ale the Belgian yeast is distracting, you want something quenching, fresh and hoppy but it isn't quite those things, and your left thinking what am I supposed to be drinking. Perhaps it drank better on cask although ratings on Untappd were average too.

Well worth a visit, friendly dog, friendly staff, you really should be going to the Penarth Bottle Shop for your beery needs if in that part of South Wales, and being next to the train station means in and out of Cardiff is so easy as well. No excuses!

Roath -
Penarth -

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

A trip to Italy

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front, school holidays, trips away and my wife completing her dissertation which meant a snarl and a sharp word if I even looked at the laptop all contributed to this hiatus.

I've had a few Welsh beers which I will review, but to start with I'm going to give a quick recount of our Italian holiday.
We were staying just down the Tuscan coast from Pisa.

Before leaving I'd joked with my friends that I was hoping to level up my Gondolier badge on Untappd by drinking some great new Italian beers. The truth is instead it was the Das Boot German badge that got the most activity!

We were Eurocamping, and the local shop whilst having a couple of Italian beers, ones anyone could list of the top of their head, it mostly stocked German beers. I assume this was because a large proportion of the holiday makers were indeed from there, close transportation links too, and luckily their beers are ones I particularly enjoy.

 On the second day we were directed to a local supermarket, called Penny market, which seemed in layout and contents to be similar to the Aldi/Lidl model.
This also was selling predominantly German and Dutch beers, and the more mainstream Italian beers. I did however pick up some Kralle brau, Paulaner Munich helles, Franziskaner dunkel. The Kralle although looking like a German labelled beer is actually an Italian lager, not a great one though, a mass produced one in stubbie bottles.

From the site shop I got Kaiserdom unfiltered Kellerbier in bottles and cans, and their Dark lager, and from Weidmann their Schwarzbier and Dunkel. All good beers on hot days, the Paulaner helles was particularly refreshing, and the Kaiserdom dark lager very enjoyable.
The two Kaiserdom cans were 1litre sizes which I'd not seen before, and only € 3.60.

The second supermarket we visited was similar to the first we were told, called co-op, but it was more like a Tesco extra, it was huge. The beer choice obviously was larger but still dominated by imports, slabs of lager, the few 'craft' Italian beers I saw were hugely expensive.
On draft I again found choice limiting, although my opportunity to go looking for bars was restricted somewhat. The one Italian draft beer I did try I had varying experiences, Forst, a brewery with a long history and they do produce a variety of beers but unfortunately the only one seemingly available was their Premium pilsner.
First time it was off, it tasted terrible, the second time was okay, light and crisp if uncomplicated.
The third time (for my wife) the beer was being poured when a English woman approached the bar with two glasses and proclaimed 'this beer is off' offering it to the barman who declined to try it. I took mine and tried it and she was right, eggy pint. So my wife got a bottled euro lager and I bought a Weihenstephaner Vitus which was fantastic.

In my hunt for Italian beer I next went to a shop called Conad which was smaller and quieter than the co-op, but had a great selection of beers and frankly quite a lot at reasonable prices.

Although I was shopping blind I ended picking up and bringing home the following:
Piccolo Birrificio Clandestino Strong Belgian Ale
La Dinda Lallibet Bionda
Birra Brunz Blond beer
Mastri Birrai Umbri Doppio Malto
Birra Rhyton Alt!

Whilst there I also tried a Birra Magalotti Doppio Malto Bionda, slightly fruity and strong malty taste unsurprisingly.

We had a great holiday, and I did enjoy a lot of the beers I drank. And I've a nice few bottles to open at home.

I was also directed to a great article via twitter on the Guardian website, if I had the time then there certainly seems some great places to seek out, a family holiday perhaps not the time!

If you had the time, and perhaps were in a more metropolitan area then the emerging Italian craft beer scene is well worth checking out, judging by some blog reviews and articles I've read online.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Welsh Golden Ales: Otley, Brecon and Celt Experience

A live blogging post last tonight, tasting a few of the more readily available Golden Ales around on the market. (And then it got too late,and I'm sure you've all been there, the post doesn't happen. So this morning it was finished and photos sorted).

Its Pontypridd vs Brecon vs Caephilly.

From Pontypridd it's Otley and their 01, the Brecon Brewing co. 'Gold Beacons', and Caerphilly's Celt Experience with 'Golden'. The Otley is 4% abv, with the other two coming in at 4.2%, all 500 ml bottles and all were bought for about £2.30. Of the three the Celt is not bottle conditioned.

Okay first up.
I love the Celt Experience, I've gushed enough about them in these posts before here.They are about to launch a redesign of their labels, this photo shows the current/old design.
Billowing head at the start, that settles and gives frothy lacing on the sides. Deep golden orange colour, strong citrus, orange and pine aroma.

Great body and this drinks and feels like something so much stronger than 4.2% it must be said. The pine is accompanied by floral bite, and a medicinal/herbal edge too. It reminds me too of my mother-in-laws homemade orange marmalade, juicy but the lingering bitterness that's more  grapefruit than orange, a superb quality beer. Enough gushing??!!!

After amazing me with their Dark Skies III raspberry and vanilla sea salt infused Saison at the Welsh festival, my wife and I stayed in Brecon not long after and I bought a case of their Gold from the brewery which is based on an industrial estate on the outskirts of the town of Brecon town.

Gold Beacons pours again a golden orange although perhaps a little clearer than the Celt beer.
Big pop and smoke on opening, lighter in body than the first beer, a toasty and caramel aroma, with hints of orange and pine.
Light and fruity in the mouth, a light bitterness stays with you, its lighter and more refreshing than the Celt. A great beer, and I enjoyed everyone in that case I bought.

Otley with their great beers and distinctive branding have firmly established themselves as many peoples favourites, they have three pubs in Pontypridd, the Bunch of Grapes being a must visit if your in the area, great food accompanying their beers.

01 opened with little fanfare shall we say, and scant carbonation. Colour is a much lighter gold than the other two, with little lacing from the head.
Now I could tell you that I've had this beer many times, and its dry but fruity, some grass and pine, and quite refreshing. Unfortunately this bottle doesn't seem to hit that description, its got a slight sour aroma and green apple rasp to it, its a duff bottle. A real shame because this is a great beer, usually, as all Otleys beers are.

It did start me thinking though about how long it had been on the shelf in my local Spar shop, I don't see a huge turn around on their 'premium/craft' ales. Perhaps its just been there far to long, it wasn't past its date though. I'm grateful that the owner sells the beers he does, Otley, Kite, Brecon and Celt, I wouldn't get these in the village elsewhere, I'd have to travel a little further out, but if they're going past their best sitting there then perhaps I should exercise more caution and watch the shelves from this point of view.

Coincidentally whilst editing this post this morning Boak and Bailey posted their weekly round-up which included a detailed piece from the Pete Drinks blog on a very similar thread, worth a read if you already haven't.

Under normal circumstances I'd be very happy to drink any of these three beers, the Brecon and Otley are great examples of Golden Ales, and the Celt  is excellent too, even if one foot is in the IPA camp with the superb use of hops in it, and if I'm honest I'd choose the Celt over the other two as my favourite.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Gwynt Y Ddraig 'Autumn Magic' cider

I always eyed people who had ordered a 'cider and black' with suspicion. And this is from someone who only started drinking cider a year ago.
The same went for those who put a splash of lime in their lager.
Why put blackcurrent into cider? (perhaps its something to do with the fact I dont like blackcurrents).
To me its all wrong, just wrong.

However fruit in beers really does work, there are so many examples I'm not even going to start listing some. So double standards, yes.

Autumn Magic is a cider from the Welsh cider makers Gwynt Y Ddraig, its a medium 4% cider, light by their standards really, which has blackberries in it. I like blackberries so its ok in my book.
(So again my rationale makes no sense).

The intial aroma really is full of squashed blackberries, the label mentions apple and blackberry pie, and that first hit is just when your making that pie, washing those berries, the water running red and the aroma of cleaned berries thrown into the pie dish.
Its not as sweet or syrupy in the mouth as I thought it would be, a good sharpness comes through on its light crisp body, moderate carbonation. As you get further into it the sharpness seems to dominate more but there is always that dark fruity hit just lingering in there.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Kite Brewery 'Cwrw Gorslas'

The Kite Brewery have been around since 2011 and were based in Llanelli in West Wales, producing a core range of beers such as Thunderbird and their Welsh Pale Ale, I've seen them at the GWBCF and in the Hope and Anchor in Tenby.

In 2013 they decided to relocate and chose a place down the road from me in Talbot Green. Before our trip in May to Cornwall I'd been down to their new site to the brewery shop and bought a case of their Pale Ale which went down very well with my friends and I.

Soon after their beers appeared in the local Spar shop, and a local Marstons pub had been recently having them on as guest beers too.

Cwrw Gorslas, Cwrw means beer, and Gorslas is a village located in Carmarthenshire near to their previous location.
Its a bitter, 4%, amber gold in colour, an aroma of fruit and malts. Frothy head at first, good lacing on the glass. Dry, good spicey hops and toffee, with a good body its well balanced and has a nice bitter end.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The Celt Experience & the Wheatsheaf Rooms

Whilst at the millennium stadium beer festival and standing at the Celt Experience bar buying their excellent Brigid Fire I noticed a few flyers of theirs about the Wheatsheaf rooms.

The Wheatsheaf hotel was a pub in Llantrisant, a town at the top of a steep hill in south Wales only a couple of miles away from me, some friends live there to.
I had visited it a few years ago when it was a Newman's pub,  a Caerphilly based brewery.

I'm not totally clear on their history but Celt seems to have been born as a side project/passion and has now superseded Newman's over the last couple of years becoming the main focus/brand, with Tom Newman at the helm.
Their focus on quality, always providing excellent beers, and great branding has seen them become one of the leading craft breweries in Wales. I dont think I've had a beer of theirs I didn't like.

The pub itself closed about a year ago, in its last working year it also housed it's own brewery which moved on and is now the Pixie Spring/Hopcraft brewery which remains very local also.

Last week however saw the reopening of the Wheatsheaf as the Celts brewery tap. I had briefly spoken to Dean at the stadium, the new bar manager, unfortunately due to work commitments I was unable to attend the launch night.

A newly painted front and then your into a large multi roomed establishment, lots of wood, old
building features mixed with modern bar styling. It works well, the rooms could be quite dark but have large windows and subtle lighting.
Large wooden bar with taps behind, chalk board with current offerings keg and cask and as you'd expect their range of bottles in the fridge.

When I saw this beer on untappd last month I thought what a brilliant name, and so I went for Celts 'Bristol Meth' 7. 4%  double IPA. Full of pine, toffee, a smacking bitterness, and hints of lemon, it was the right choice.

Dean and I chatted about our thoughts on the recent festival, music and the bar. They're starting to serve food from next week (early July). You can found out the latest news and beers on via their Twitter feed @CeltLlantrisant.

Hopefully this bar will be a huge sucess, outside of Cardiff I'm struggling to think of other bars that offer the same experience in South Wales, its easily accessible literally only 5 minutes drive of J34 of the M4, and I'll be back there soon too.

 Thanks to Dean for his time, a top bloke.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

One day - Two Welsh Beer festivals

The first weekend of June had great weather and Cardiff hosted two beer festivals, namely the CAMRA Great Welsh beer and cider festival, AKA W-Ales 2014 festival, and at the Tiny Rebel bar 'Urban Tap House' hosting their own one.

The start of these festivals had already seen the top accolade, the
Gold medal for best Welsh beer as voted for by CAMRA, going to the Tiny Rebel beer 'Fubar'.

Personally I feel this is really quite important for the Welsh brewery scene, their clean sweep of the top awards last year was amazing, but I think taking the gold for a second year is even more so, something blogger Chris Hall also succinctly points out in his review of the day and the Welsh scene.

I was worried that last year could easily be seen as CAMRA giving a slight nod towards the microbrewery and craft market, a slap on the back for Tiny Rebel, and then awarding this years Gold to, say, Evan Evans for 'Boring Brown', a dishwater bitter at 3.3%.
The heaving Evans Evans bar. Other bars had the customers.

 But retaining the top award hopefully acknowledges the ever growing small brewery culture that's booming in Wales. With Tiny Rebel, Celt Experience, Waen and Otley leading the way, numerous new breweries are making a name for themselves also, Heavy Industry and Grey Trees to name but two. A measure of the number at this festival was that this year ALL the beer's were from Wales, usually they are from all over the UK, but now the industry is large enough to support and supply it totally, which is fantastic for the country.

About 1pm Friday, roof off.
I'm not going to do a complete review of all the beers I had, more a pro's and con's of the day, and I'll split it into the two festivals separately.

Starting with the big one, at its new venue the Millennium stadium. 
I'm still undecided about the choice, it had loads going for it, the size, it was lovely, cool and airy. The huge amount of seating was appreciated.
The roof was open to start with but closed at some point and we never noticed!
The layout was fine, alot more breweries had their own stands, emphasing their branding and beers. It did mean some of the other casks kind of got lost behind all this though.
The two bigger boys, Brains and Evan Evans had been pushed out on the sides and seemed a bit detached, although the Brains one was busy enough as the day went on.

However I got a real schizophrenic atmosphere in there as the day went on. Someone had just picked up a festival and dumped it into the place, it felt like it was uncomfortable, maybe the venue is just too big?? Perhaps some of the elements out of Camra's control added to that, such as the corporate advertising on the big screen, and the Heineken area.
Yup, in a Camra festival you could get your cooking lager fix!!

Foster's stand, next the Heineken one. Out of shot is the Molson Coors one.
As my friend and I discussed, it's probably contractual stuff with the stadium itself and Camra had no say in their presence. No foreign beer bar this year either.

Was that the same for the food stands then? The 'international street foods' was hugely disappointing for a festival of this size.. A hotdog stand, burger van, crisps stand and I forget the rest. I'm sure they were all very nice and good quality, we bought Pipers crisps, but so limited in overall food choice.

What about the beer then.

On walking in (£10), clutching my plastic glass (which cost my friend another £2), the Celt Experience bar was right in prime position so I went straight in for their Castle Coch, 4.7% a red coloured bitter, lovely and lemony, creamy and fresh. Great start.
Later I went back to them for the Brigid Fire, a 5.6% smoked rye beer, 'brewed with oak smoked wheat and borrowed Biere de Garde yeast Dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin'. This was fantastic, pine full on, great smoked and big bitterness.
Other highlights were Grey Trees and their 5% Black IPA which was excellent, really juicy and spicy. 
Tiny Rebels 'One Inch Punch' a 3.9% 'session IPA' is brilliant, balanced and well worth looking out for.

My friend is not big on strong darker beers but we were both equally  impressed with Zero Degrees and the Imperial Russian Stout, 9.1% as our last beer of the day there.

 Otley impress again, with their Sakura 4.8%, a Belgian wheat beer with cherries which were so ripe and funky it zinged and remained fresh. Loved this one.

My favourite beer of the day inside the stadium was by Brecon Brewing, their 'Dark Skies' from the Genesis series.This is a dark Saison made with raspberries and vanilla sea salt. Sounds weird but is great, the musty and funkiness hit with the tartness form the raspberries, to be backed up with sweet notes of vanilla and a good body and carbonation.

 Onto the Tiny Rebel festival then, or rather lets start at it, which is what we did.

Tiny Rebel LogoGo to the home page

Meeting up at the Urban Tap House opposite the stadium for their 4 day festival seemed absolutely logical, just up from the train station in Central Cardiff. We planned for a couple of hours here first and then onto the W-Ales one.

Where to start? They had so many good beers on, stillage in one end of the bar area, a rotation system on the taps and pumps with a list provided so you could judge when a particular beer was on so you could look out for it rather than it appearing randomly at the next available tap and you miss it.
The beer's currently on was listed on the TV screen to help also.

I thought I'd start with something to liven and refresh the palate and the Tiny Rebel Lemon and Lime sour Berliner Weisse (4%) sounded like the one for the job.

And it certainly was. Wow. Crisp and lively, the lemon and lime zinging around, sherbert, and a tart and dry end. Excellent, my friend tried it and went and got his own one.
It was the first of the day and I dont think any bettered it.

I think it also started a taste for the tart, the sour and the fruity that day, several others I bought went down that route.

After that I went for the Magic Rock 'carnival' which was okay, and then we shared one I'd seen other bloggers talk about, Kernel's 'London Sour'.
Certainly more sour than the Tiny Rebel Berliner, but theirs had the delightful lemon/lime combo, the Kernel had that green apple element, dry and slightly salty, slight carbonation.

After we had been to the stadium for several hours we started to miss the Tap House, as I said before the atmosphere seemed odd and we both kinda just wanted to go back, we'd seen beers there that we really wanted to try, and this was over the vast choice in front of us.

So we did, and whilst I tried my Birrificio Italiano 'Nigredo' we wondered if the money spent on getting into the W-Ales festival would have been better spent in staying at the Tap House.

Getting into it cost me a tenner, my non Camra member friend £12, which seems an awful lot for this festival, especially when you consider that the Great British Beer Festival pre-ordering tickets now costs £8 this year, has over 3 times as many beers (900+), and has got to have better food options I imagine.

But overall we had a great day, some really great beers, and the futures bright for Welsh beer.
 dark Saison brewed with fresh raspberries from Court Farm, Tillington (our neighbours at the Brecknock Farmers Market!) and Halen Môn’s sublime Vanilla Sea Salt - See more at:
A dark Saison brewed with fresh raspberries from Court Farm, Tillington (our neighbours at the Brecknock Farmers Market!) and Halen Môn’s sublime Vanilla Sea Salt - See more at:

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Tiny Rebel make it two in a row!

Fubar labelNewport brewers Tiny Rebel make it two years in a row by taking gold again at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider festival in Cardiff this year.

The results were
Gold - Tiny Rebel 'Fubar'
Silver - Purple Moose - 'Dark side of the Moose'
Bronze - Great Orme - 'Welsh Black'

Fubar is a 4.4% American Pale ale that is bloody gorgeous, a great choice to be honest.
Huge congratulations to Gaz and the team.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The W-Ales Beer Festival 2014

Early June means time for the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival, this year its been re branded as the W-Ales Beer festival, in a new location also.
Earlier in the year I noticed that the Motor Point arena in Cardiff had a band listed as playing on the dates the festival is normally held there leading me to wonder if it had either moved dates or venue.
Turns out its the venue as they've upgraded to the Millennium Stadium, and also advertising "an emphasis on international ‘street’ foods" which, lets be honest, can only be an improvement on the dreadful food at the Motor Point. Looking today on the website though I still cannot see any vendors listed so it'll be interesting to see what is there.

 Beer List here
What looks interesting that they all appear to be Welsh beers, usually there are ones from all over the UK.

Dates are June 5th- 7th, with Thursday being the trade only day, open to public at 5pm. Friday & Saturday 12.00noon – 10.30pm

Price has increased again, day ticket is now £10, other deals available, and you get to keep the commemorative glass if your a CAMRA member.
(I'm fine then but what about my friends, are they to be charged if they want the glass, on top of the tenner to get in?)

Some great beers are listed, several new breweries to me that I'll try to seek out, it looks like a good beer day for me.

Tiny Rebel Beer festival 5th- 8th June

Starting this Thursday until Sunday is the NOT SO Tiny Rebel Beer Festival, at their Cardiff bar The Urban Tap House.
You gotta love a spreadsheet and it looks like they needed one here to list the beers schedule so you know when the beers you want will be on tap!!
I'm studying Fridays list as that's when I'll be going.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

To Cornwall and back again

Last week was our annual trip to Cornwall, we join our friends and their families for fun, food, sun (sometimes) and yes drinking.
The boys see it as a great opportunity to get reacquainted with breweries we have discovered over the last five years, local beers and have done a pub crawl around a new town each year, Padstow, Wadbridge and Bodmin being the last ones. This year we thought about doing a brewery tour and plumped for Skinners in Truro, who were very helpful when contacted, more on that later.
Due to the general poor mobile reception in Cornwall, really bad in so many places, and the ultra slow wifi at the farmhouse I didn't check into Untappd as many of the beers as I could have, but as usual I bought a few bottles home to blog about.

The first cask beer of holiday for me however was from a more well known company, namely Sharp's brewery from Rock nr Padstow.
A lot of people are down on them since their acquisition by Molson Coors a few years ago, but I still like their beers, and from what I've read about Stuart Howe, chief overlord or some such similar title, he seems a bloke who hold very high ideals and integrity, certainly someone who knows his own opinions.
Whatever, judge them on the beers.

We stopped for lunch on the way from South Wales to Cornwall just of the A30 past Exeter into a village called Ide for a pub called the Poachers Inn.

Sitting in the sun in the lovely beer garden we enjoyed a well prepared and reasonable lunch, my daughter (and the rest of us) loving the huge whitebait she had ordered. I went for a classic lunch, and got large slices of ham and beautiful fresh eggs with chips.
To drink they had several south west breweries on but I went for the Sharp's Six Hop IPA, which at 3.8% you could put it into this new 'sessionable IPA' category that seems to be mentioned more and more.
Light golden yellow, good carbonation. Minimal head retention. Light citrus aroma, which on taste seems a little light also, nice balance with the malts. Subtle bitterness afterwards. With the six hops I was expecting something a little more upfront and punchy in the mouth, this was gentle but refreshing and certainly sessionable.

Then it was onto Cornwall.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Preseli Brewery 'Powder Monkey'.

Powder monkey is a 4.2% abv bitter brewed by the Preseli brewery based in Tenby, and which they now label as 'Tenby Ales'. As I mentioned in a previous post on Tenby you can buy their beers in some tourist shops in the town at quite a price too, over £3 for the bottles I saw.

I wasn't going pay that price for them, they were quite ordinary all those years ago when I reviewed them in my first month on this blog in 2010. This bottle I found in a garage shop outside of Tenby at a much more reasonable price so thought I'd give them a second go.
Preseli Brewery Powder Monkey

Going back to that first review there are two things I will mention.
Firstly I said that their website was basic and untouched. 4 years later there seems to be little change showing how much they value/need their online presence.

The second thing is, and this is sort of backing up the first point also, a while back I looked at ratebeer and noted the commercial description of their beer 'Even Keel'.
This is it:

Even Keel is a 3.4% bitter probably what you would term a ’session ale’ and it went down very quickly. With a light malt taste and some hop aroma, pleasant enough but not terribly exciting. The kind of drink you would have again but if there was something else on offer you would try that first.

If you go back to my original review you note this has been lifted straight from it! You have to ask why?!!! It's not even that complimentary, I'm suggesting try other beers instead!
I don't know how ratebeer allow descriptions to be placed beside beers but it's possibly not that a stringent process. And I'm not suggesting that a brewery should monitor every aspect of their online presence but a complete lack has probably meant that this 'description' has been tagged to their beer for a couple of years now, something most people would want to remedy you would think.

Anyway back to the current beer.
Not flat but little carbonation. Light fruity aroma which follows through into the taste. Light to medium body, very slight bitterness afterwards. Umm and thats about it really, not really much more to say about it.

Here's a nice picture of Tenby instead.
2014-03-01 11.06.04

Friday, 25 April 2014

Stackpole Inn, Pembrokeshire, and Bluestone brewery 'Pasg Hapus'.

 How's that for a beautiful country pub! The Stackpole Inn at Stackpole was one of the places we visited on a trip this week whilst staying in Tenby.

The decor inside sat comfortably between modern and country style, a lot of stone and wood but well presented, warm and appealing. Welcoming friendly staff too.

We were headed for a day out to the Stackpole estate for a walk, it's a National Trust property in South West Wales with great walks and nature aplenty, birdlife, lillypad lakes, and otters if you're lucky enough. Within easy walking distance is also Barafundle bay which is regularly voted one of the best beaches in the UK by those who know.

And when my wife suggested going to Stackpole something pinged in that clogged up head of mine that a pub nearby appeared in one of those '10 best Welsh country pubs' lists.
An early lunch before our walk was planned, a nice menu with plenty of local produce on it, and a bar with, aside from the usual offerings, had a good few Welsh beers on.
The barman said that they like to keep their beer and cider options Welsh, although their lager wasn't. I suggested they try the Gower brewery for their Lighthouse which is a nice lager, or try Tiny Rebel as all their beers are pretty good.

Food was ordered, children's meals were pretty standard for what you expect, I opted for the Cawl with local lamb and veg (£9) and my wife went for a mushroom cheese red onion puff tartlet thing with salad (£11).

As you know a new brewery opens up every 93 seconds these days, and currently according to made up figures there are now 29,537 in the UK. By the time you reach for a newly created beer tomorrow that will have topped the 30,000 figure*.

One of those new is the Bluestone brewery based in Pembrokeshire a 10 barrel operation whose beer was on that day.
'Pasg Hapus' means Happy Easter in Welsh, the pump clip gives it as a Pale Ale at 4.5% abv.
Fresh and in good condition it had a a medium body, smooth yet enough life in it, reasonable citrus bitterness from the hops, a good beer in a lovely pub.

 *all bullshit as I'm sure you know