Members of the Welsh Assembly have come together in their love of real ale and pubs to form a cross-party group. The Welsh Assembly Beer and Pub Group is jointly chaired by Jeff Cuthbert AM (Caerphilly) and Nick Bourne AM (Mid and West
The Group has been established in order to: "To promote the wholesomeness and enjoyment of beer and the unique role of the pub in Welsh society; to increase understanding of the social, cultural and historic role of brewing and pubs in Wales, and their value to tourism; to broaden recognition of the contribution of brewing and pubs to employment and to Wales’ economy; to promote understanding of the social responsibility exercised by the brewing and pub industries; to support Wales’ brewing industry worldwide, and to promote a positive future for beer and the pub.
The first meeting was held in the Assembly building last week and was well attended by brewers, CAMRA members and of course by Assembly Members. Real ales from Breconshire, Otley and Purple Moose were enjoyed by all present before a decamp to the Terra Nova (though some headed to the Eli Jenkins) to support real ales from SA Brain. Other Assembly members present were Alun Cairns AM, Nick Ramsey AM, Mick Bates AM, Andrew RT Davies AM and Mark Isherwood AM.
It was Mark Isherwood AM who asked a question in the Senedd a few years ago as to the lack of Welsh breweries in the members bar of at the Assembly, only to be told by the Minister responsible that the Assembly does not have a bar, it is a tea room that serves alcohol! The situation is now different and the “Tea Room” now serves Welsh produce. The Westminster Parliament has around 17 bars and restaurants with names such as Annies, Strangers, Press, Churchill etc and operate without a license (it is a royal palace after all). Is it not about time to rename the Assembly Tea Room after a prominent Welsh person, perhaps the Lloyd George bar after the teetotal former Prime Minister? Or in the least how about "Rhodri's"?
The Chair of AWIB, the Association of Welsh Independent Brewers, Justin Grant set a challenge to AMs present to encourage them to order beer from their own constituencies at official functions. Well we wait with interest to see what happens with that one.
This is the second time a beer group has been set up in the Assembly, the previous one a few years ago was set up by now former AMs Brian Hancock and David Davies and was once infamous for causing a plenary session of the Welsh Assembly to be disbanded by the Presiding Officer due to the “emotional state of members” after a lunchtime lobbying by brewers. Hardly a Bacchanalian Orgy but perhaps the closest the Assembly has ever got to one. Brew
Assembly Members were also present at the Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival last week, where they were invited to pour a beer from their constituency and Nick Bourne AM, Jeff Cuthbert AM and Andrew RT Davies AM all pulled pints from breweries in their constituencies.