Friday, 29 July 2011
Welsh brewer S.A Brain and Co Ltd has secured a deal with Tesco to supply 600 stores throughout the UK. From mid August Brains Original Stout – which was developed exclusively for Tesco – will be available in all larger stores, making it Brains’ biggest supermarket deal.
The brewer currently supplies all national branches of Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, as well as all Welsh Tesco stores. Paul Harvey, Head of Take Home, explains: “We’ve been working with Tesco in Wales for several years and, more recently, secured a deal to supply 100 English stores with SA Gold. This latest agreement will step change our business with Tesco in line with our ongoing objective of becoming a major player in the off trade market.”
Over the last 12 months the company’s off trade sales have increased by 15%. Major multiple customers have seen the benefit of taking Brains’ award winning ales into their English stores as consumers seek to try different products from all over the UK. Harvey adds: “The quality of our beers has encouraged repeat purchase and data shows that our SA Gold is now in the top 6% of all bottled beers in Britain.*”
Brains Original Stout has been described as a classic, full bodied and flavoursome, with bold chocolate aromas, complex malted flavours and a balanced bitter taste.
Set in the shadow of Caerphilly Castle, the Big Cheese is set to be the biggest and best yet. As well as the funfair there is a Food Tent and I've handpicked the most important producers below:
Celtic Spirit Company
Gwatkin Cider Co
Gwynt y Ddraig Cider
Jacobi Brewery of Caio
Otley Brewing Company
Penlon Cottage Brewery
Spyder Ginger Beer
The Celt Experience Ltd
Untapped Brewing Company
Full list available here.
It looks like a good opportunity to stock up on some excellent beers and ciders.
Open Saturday & Sunday.
If travelling by public transport to Caerphilly use the train as roads are closed and buses are diverted.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
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A pub belonging to SA Brain has reopened after an extensive refurbishment. The Culverhouse, situated on the Western fringes of Cardiff has reopened as with a carvery restaurant, the first SA Brain pub to do so.
This 'roadhouse' style of pub was built in the late 1920s by Sir Percy Thomas, who is more famous for designing Swansea Guildhall than for designing pubs but in the 1920s and up until the 1950s his company built the Birchgrove and the Three Arches pubs in Cardiff as well as a few others.
Culverhouse pub website
Coopers Carvery website
Good to see a local brewery spending money and improving their pubs. Take note Pubcos!
Cowbridge Road West, Cardiff, CF5 5TF
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Wrexham Lager returns to the pub
From the BBC:
Pub-goers in Wrexham will soon be able to drink a pint of one of Britain's oldest lagers as the Wrexham brand is revived.
Local businessmen John, Vaughan and Mark Roberts teamed up with Ian Dale, former brewing manager at Wrexham Lager, to set up the new micro-brewery.
They estimate the first kegs of the lager will be ready by the end of August.
Ian Dale said he would be following the brew's recipe from the 1970s.
That was when the lager was at 4% strength before it was changed to 3.2% after the merger with Carlsberg.
"It's an exciting proposition," said Mr Dale.
"They've gone for the best equipment possible, and the new plant is second to none. The fact that this plant is much smaller doesn't matter.
"We're going to start off slowly though, let the new plant bed in and get established."
The lager will be available only in kegs, and sold to local pubs for the time being.
The brewery is located in one of the old warehouses of the Roberts brothers' distribution firm, F Jones.
"We had a business which had outgrown the premises, and we were wondering what to do with it," explained Mark Roberts.
"I wondered whatever had happened to the previous start-ups for Wrexham Lager, so spoke to Ian about what would be needed to bring it back.
"We travelled to America and round Europe in search of the best equipment, but in the end we decided to go with a German family-run firm which are the oldest makers of [lager] brewing equipment in the world.
"We did our homework because it was an important decision to make."
The new brew will currently only be available in pubs
The new-look Wrexham Lager will sport a logo which Mark Roberts sad encapsulated the town's history.
"We use the Welsh colours, have a dragon and also a football inside a rugby ball, as we do have a great tradition for rugby, be we didn't want to leave out the football fans," he explained.
"Then we've got the gold for hopefully future success and the black for Wrexham's coal mining days."
Brewing of Wrexham Lager had come to an end in 2000.
German engineers from Kaspar Schulz are currently fitting out the new micro-brewery before brewing begins later this month.
Tuesday, 19 July 2011
Monday, 18 July 2011
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The north Gwent valleys' town of Blaina will be playing host to a beer festival at the Tilers Arms this weekend.
Beers and ciders available are:
Red Castle Cream,
Dr Prices Super Hops,
Gwatkin Yarlington mill cider 7%,
Gwatkin Norman cider 7.5%
All the beers are from the local Celt Experience/Newmans Brewery based in Caerphilly as well as Bath, Golden Valley and Hereford breweries.
The Tilers Arms has undergone a transformation in recent years, from a closed and neglected former Welsh Brewers pub (the Tilers was originally owned by the former Webbs Brewery of Aberbeeg) into a thriving local once again.
TILERS ARMS BLAINA - July Beer Festival
Fri 22nd – Sun 24th July
Locally Brewed Real Ales - ALL £1.50
Music, Magic, Comedy, and Singing with Quizzes for the Real Ale Masters!!!
Friday 22nd - Starting at 5pm Saturday 23rd - All Day
Sunday 24th from 4pm WITH FREE BBQ with KARAOKE
For enquiries contact 01495 292000 OR firstname.lastname@example.org
Tilers Arms, Abertillery Road, Blaina, NP13 3EB
The X15 bus - Newport-Brynmawr stops near to the pub at Bourneville Post Office
Sunday, 17 July 2011
Saturday, 16 July 2011
Here are the Welsh results with asterisks representing the number of stars won:
*** Purple Moose Dark Side of the Moose
*** Otley O Garden
** Monty's Sunshine
** Otley O6 Porter
** Otley O8
* Otley Columbo
* Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse Vintage Scrumpy
* Gwynt Y Ddraig Farmhouse Natural Still Scrumpy
* Rosie's Triple D Black Bart
Full details are on the Great Taste website
Friday, 15 July 2011
An 11-day cider festival is currently taking place in the city centre of Cardiff at the Buffalo Bar in Windsor Place, ending on Sunday 24th June.
Buffalo's garden will be transformed including a fully stocked outdoor cider bar, Miniature Music Press acoustic garden stage, bunting, live music, DJs, Kooki Two Bit t-shirt exhibit, afternoon tea/fresh coffee, all day real Sunday roasts, BBQ & loads more!
Their garden draught Cider & Perry bar will showcase home grown, organic, locally sourced cider & perry from Wales & beyond, including:
- Gwynt Y Ddraig
- Blaengawney Farm
- Llanblethian Orchards
Plus a massive selection of bottled cider & perry at the indoor bars from:
- Green Goblin
Not seen the full list yet but almost the entire stock of Llanblethian Orchards Cider and Perry will be on sale during the festival.
That's our Yarlington Mill/Crab apple blend, another blend of sharp and bittersweet and our Hendre Huffcap perry.
Did not mange to get this festival last year so looking forward to visiting this year.
On Wednesday 20th July there will be a CIDER SOCIAL
According to their FB site this will be a Meet up with us at Buffalo and try / discuss / taste and experience all the cider & perry we have on offer.
Open til 3am £free entry.
11 Windsor Place, Cardiff CF10 3BY Tel: 029 2031 0312.
Fresh food served 12pm-9pm. Open until 4am
Facebook event page
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Each country will have its own dedicated bar in the historic courtyard of the sixteenth-century manor house of Llancaiach Fawr, with cidermakers from Wales, England, Germany and France expected to be showcasing their ciders and perries at this event. In addition to cider and perry there will be a series of masterclasses going ahead, full details here and live music throughout the festival.
Llancaiach Fawr Manor
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Traveline Cymru Information
There is a bus stop outside the venue - X5 and X38
Tickets can be booked online here
Friday and Saturday
Adult (over 18's) - £10 per day
12 - 17 year olds - £5 per day*
Under 12's - Free*
Adult (over 18's) - £7
12 - 17 year olds - £3.50*
Under 12's - Free*
Adult (over 18's) - £25
12 - 17 year olds - £12.50*
Under 12's - Free*
*When accompanied by a full paying adult
Camping on Site
3 nights camping on site (Friday, Saturday and Sunday night) - £50 per tent based on up to 4 people sharing. For tents larger than this, two spaces must be booked.
3 nights camping on site (Friday, Saturday and Sunday night) - £60 per campervan.
This cost does not include entry tickets. These must be purchased separately.
International Craft Cider Festival website
Thursday, 14 July 2011
Still a good selection below:
India Pale Ales
- Wanderer by American master brewer Mike Hall and perfect for summer, 3.5%
- Harviestoun American IPA fabulously hoppy with citrus fruitiness, 5.0%
- White Horse Saracen crisp bitterness and biscuit flavours, 4.5%
- St Peter's IPA first in The Independent's Top 50 Beers, 5.5%
- Thatchers Heritage moreish medium dry cask cider with a slight bite, 4.9%
- Freeminer Speculation a multi-award winner with rich, malty flavours, 4.8%
- Black Beauty Porter dark and intense malt flavour from the Vale Brewery, 4.3%
- Ringwood Boondoggle its name means perfect reason to have a pint, 4.2%
- Caledonian Nectar with a real fruity and citrus taste, 4.3%
- Hadley's Blonde from the brewery owned by Spandau Ballet's Tony Hadley, 4.0%
- Northern Star ultra pale, ultra modern and ultra hoppy, 4.1%
- Golden Pippin a former CAMRA Yorkshire Champion ale, 3.9%
- Fuller's Summer Ale light, smooth and refreshing served cold, 3.9%
More on this over at the BBC
He said: “In Llyn many of us already have the experience of running a successful co-operative venture in the community – the local pub, ‘Y Fic’ in Llithfaen, near Pwllheli.
“When friends in the Conwy Valley decided to develop their micro-brewery business, their small scale brewing equipment became redundant.
“Over a pint at the Fic, I introduced the idea of setting up our own micro-brewery using their equipment. Everyone was keen on the idea!”
Cwrw Llyn members come from various walks of life – some farm, one is a coal man, another is a national chaired bard. Maths teachers, stonemasons and accountants also make up the mix.
Casked Brenin Enlli ale is currently sold in four Llyn pubs, with orders being lined up at another six.
Already demand is outstripping supply and there is talk of expansion. Members are assessing plans to bottle the brew and are examining whether to introduce more lines, including a lighter coloured ale and a form of mild beer.
All are likely to maintain local themes in their names.
Cwrw Llyn member Euron Griffiths, a builder from Nefyn, said it had been a steep learning curve.
“You can imagine the party we had when the first ale was brewed,” he said.
“We currently source the malt barley from a company in Nottingham, but as we have Llyn farmers in the co-operative, we are keen to grow the barley ourselves.
“We already have eight acres of barley planted, which will make us more self- sufficient and lower our food miles.”
The co-operative has received support from Cywain, an RDP-funded project spearheaded by Menter a Busnes set up to add value to agricultural produce.
Alwen Eidda from Cywain said: “We brought in an expert consultant to advise on different aspects of their product, including financial planning, marketing advice and branding.
“The initial success and customer response to ‘Brenin Enlli’ bodes well for ‘Cwrw Llyn’s future plans.”
These include the purchase of a building to be adapted as a micro brewery. Visitors would be encouraged to witness the brewing process.
Two members have already been on fact-finding tours to micro breweries in Pembrokeshire and Copenhagen.
Myrddin ap Dafydd said the group had been astounded by customers’ initial reaction to their first ale.
“Because our beer is produced naturally, the taste is completely different to the mass product you usually buy from supermarkets and pub chains,” he said.
”We don’t add any chemicals to the beer, which more often than not, cause the dreaded hangover the following day.
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Wednesday, 13 July 2011
The village pub, set on Bulmore Road, a short walk over the Usk bridge from the main part of the village, has gained a reputation for cider since the previous tenant decided to start offering up to 20 different ciders and perries, both on draught and in bottle. New landlord Lee Taylor has kept and expanded the range and the Bell is now firmly established as the cider drinking pub in this part of Wales.
Article I previously wrote about the pub:
My only visit to the pub was in about 2005 when I had a half of Brains Bitter and was quite surprised at the scale of the place, as I discovered later a lot of Barry pubs were built on an immense scale due to the docks trade. The pub has its own car park as well as a skittle alley, is situated in a residential area and is one of those pubs that had everything going for it apart from the fact it was owned by a pub company.
I do hope this building will reopen as a pub, however even conversion to flats would be preferable to decay and eventual demolition.
stage coachcoaching inns, travellers' gossip and rumour exchanged between two The Cock and The Bull in Stony Stratford, England. These inns were a main stopping point on the turnpike road from London to Birmingham , Chester and North Wales (for Ireland).
Stony Stratford is sited on the Old Watling Street, now the High Street and this road contains some fantastic old coaching inns which I once spent an afternoon researching some years ago.
However one Stony Stratford Councillor, Paul Bartlett, has decided to take it on himself to introduce a smoking ban in public places.
"Stony Stratford is a historic town which is blighted by cigarette butts," said Herr Bartlett.
"The plan that I am trying to put forward is for smoking to be banned in public in the High Street, surrounding streets, and preferably elsewhere as well."
"Why should people be able to smoke in my face and spoil the environment?," he added.
Yes that is correct, this health Nazi has invented his own Cock and Bull Story by wanting to ban smoking in public, not content with thousands of pubs being closed in this countrythis idiot is now proposing to ban a perfectly legal pastime form the streets of his town, though it is more of a surburb of Milton Keynes now.
Where to start with this authoritarian idiot? Well over at Dick's Place place a protest has been organised for this Saturday at the Vaults Bar, High Street, Stony Stratford, Buckinghamshire, MK11 1AQ.
There is a Facebook Group
A number of articles have been written about this:
Pro-street smoking rally in Stony Stratford - Joshua Lachkovic
For once I'm missing England - Angry Exile
On manoeuvres in Stony Stratford - Misanthrope Girl
A day in Stony Stratford - Devil's Kitchen
Is there honour amongst thieves? - Frank Davis
Stony Stratford, the sequel - Filthy Engineer
... and there are a collection of posters at Lawson Narse's place.
The speakers so far confirmed are as below (others may follow):
Bill Etheridge - Midlands representative for The Freedom Association
David O'Dell - Head of Stony Stratford Chamber of Commerce
Patrick Hayes - Journalist at the Institute of Ideas and columnist at Spiked
Nigel Farage - Leader of UKIP
So if you fancy satnding up for civil rights this Saturday in Stony Stratford, pop along and give the smokers your support.
First they came for the Smokers, next they came for the drinkers. The health Nazis are out there - time to start hitting back now!
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Image courtesy of Lawson Narse at Flying Warpigs
An award-winning Mid-Wales brewery, Monty's has managed to secure the talents of Miss England finalist Amy Wollerton to promote their Award winning Monty’s Mischief.
Monty’s Mischief is a strong golden bitter with initial punches of hops on the pallet, subtle malt character aftertaste, refreshing and easily quaffable for a 5% ale. It is a SIBA 2011 regional award winner, getting a bronze in the strong bitters category at Ludlow in the Wales and West competition.
Monty’s want to wish Amy every success in the Miss England competition!
Tuesday, 12 July 2011
Cardiff Council does seem to have covered their pubs well, take for instance Cathedral Road and the scores available for those pubs:
The Cayo Arms is owned by Marston's and scores 3, 'Generally Satisfactory' - FSA link here
Further up the street the Evans-Evans flagship pub, the Cricketers fairs less well:
FSA link here
The pub also had a disapointing review of its food here.
Now to take this in context a quick look at the search for Caroline Street, Cardiff's 'Chip Alley' reveals these scores:
Finally the Halfway, owned by SA Brain, FSA link here
Check out the cleanliness of your favourite pubs via the Food Standards Agency website here
NB: The above screen shots were taken from the Food Standards Agency website on the 11.07.11. and are subject to change and alteration dependent on future surveys by Cardiff Council.
Monday, 11 July 2011
I started with a bottle of Goose Island IPA from Chicago – a beer recommended to me by Glynn from the Rake last year. An excellent IPA to start the day off, packed with citrus and hop notes. Very enjoyable, I could have gone for some more of this but in the interests of research I decided to try a few more beers. Probably the best beer brewed by Inbev or whatever they are calling themselves this week - AnInBev, AnBev?
One of my drinking companions had chosen to go for a beer from Flying Dog Brewery of Maryland and the bottle label intrigued me – it featured the unmistakable artwork of Ralph Steadman on it, so I ordered their Raging Bitch – a Belgium IPA, weighing in at a hefty 8.3% ABV. The glass it came in was decorated with the company logo and featured a quote from Hunter S Thompson on it, “Good people drink good beer”. Can't argue with that! And the beer – a hop bomb on the tongue, dangerously drinkable at this strength, straight away I realised this was to become one of my favourite beers. Could have stayed drinking this all night but thought I'd better go for something a bit weaker next.
Onto the Brooklyn Summer Beer – a bit weaker than the others at 5% - one drinking companion thought it was a bit bland but I thought it was a quite a pleasant and refreshing beer that made a change from the hop bombs tasted earlier.
Decided to change coasts and have an Anchor Summer Beer – another light one at only 4.6%. The San Francisco-based Anchor Brewery were one of the first American breweries I tasted about 20 years ago and their beers never fail to impress.
Perusing the beer list, the Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout stood out and not just because it weighed in at 10% - it's been quite a while since I tried an Imperial Russian Stout so that was the next beer to try. Rich, dark and tasty, this is a beer meant for sipping. By now my tastebuds were becoming slightly tired so had to decide on one last beer to go for – went for a bottle of Flying Dog Raging Bitch, my favourite beer of the festival.
All in all this was a good little festival at the City Arms, giving customers a chance to try beers not usually available in Cardiff. With German and Belgium beer festivals being planned for the pub, the City Arms is becoming the best beerhouse in the City.
Popped in again on Monday night (tonight) for another bottle of Flying Dog Raging Bitch.
The beer festival is continuing this week until the beers are sold!
Popped into Zero Degrees in Cardiff to see what their monthly beer is, it turns out to be an Elderflower Wheat beer. Now I'm not normally a fan of wheat beers but this one works and the elderflower is noticeable in the aroma and taste. The floral notes of the elderflower compliment the vanilla tones of the wheat beer quite well. A bit on the sweet side for me but very drinkable, especially at only 4.2% ABV
or on Freesat tune in in non-freesat mode
Its on the ITV Wales Blog here
Tuesday, 5 July 2011
Situated in a residential area of Cardiff, the Crofts was built in 1957, replacing an earlier pub known as the Crofts Hotel that dated back to 1867 but had been destroyed during the Cardiff Blitz between the 2nd and 3rd January 1941. Built out of brick, today the Crofts is a two-story street-corner pub with sash and dormer windows and is slightly larger than the original building on the site, the rebuild encompassed two neighbouring properties that were also destroyed. Originally owned by local brewers Hancock's, the Crofts later went into decline under Welsh Brewers and a pub company before an enterprising local company bought the pub and have set about improving this back street community local.
This Thursday (07.07.11) will see a Players, Poets and Pints night with free admission. More details via Facebook here.
The pub is on the corner of Croft Street and Partridge Road, the Google Map is only slighty out!
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The supplement from last year can be found here.
A good bit of pr for the pub trade despite the rubbish written about the Skirrid Inn in Monmouthshire - check out some fisking of the Skirrid stories here.
That aside the photographs of the pubs are excellent and I hope the same quality publication will be forthcoming this autumn.
All the pubs that make it into the supplement will be awarded a commemorative plaque and there is a prize of a trip around the Famous Grouse distillery to be won by someone who nominates a pub.
More information from the Telegraph here.
Nominate a pub here.
Monday, 4 July 2011
Award-winning publican Rob Jones has recently celebrated 20 years of managing one of Newport's finest pubs, Ye Olde Murenger House. A regular entry in the CAMRA Good Beer Guide, the Murenger is famous as the 'Haven in a Superpub Ghetto' - with its no chav policy and sportswear being banned - polo shirts and rugby shirts excepted as, of course, they would be - the Murenger is one of the best pubs in the City. The Murenger does not have bouncers outside on weekends as other pubs do - the main reason for this is that if Rob does not think the customer is suitable they do not get served - a policy that has served Rob and customers well for 20 years in this grand old Tudor building.
Some history about the Murenger House is available here.
Saturday, 2 July 2011
The big problem it seems on Saturday Kitchen is that the presenters are always suggesting wines to go with the food - even today suggesting wine with curry! Now all beer lovers know that hoppy ales, IPAs, even King Cobra are far better to match with a curry than wine - but the presenters and most probably the producers of the show still promote the grape over the grain.
Today beer drinkers took over the #Saturdaykitchen and suggested their own beer matches to the food being prepared.
He has also made a complaint to OfCom, the basis of which is below:
Beer is deliberately omitted from Saturday Kitchen
Wine is almost completely an imported product
Beer can be matched with food very successfully
By omitting beer in favour of wine, the BBC is deliberately and unreasonably biasing its content to a foreign import
The BBC, our national broadcasting authority, which is paid for by a tax on television ownership, is deliberately and recklessly damaging the UK economy by its unreasonable and deliberate rejection of beer as a beverage to drink with food. The vast majority of beer consumed in the UK is brewed in the UK using British grown ingredients
Drinking alcohol when eating is a much more responsible activity than heavy drinking sessions when no food is consumed. The BBC, in omitting beer from one of its prime time food programs is alienating beer drinkers from the healthy activity of moderate drinking whilst eating; therefore the BBC is being reckless with the nations health
With many eating and family pubs it is disingenuous to suggest that beer does not form part of the British dining culture
Promoting brands of wine in named supermarkets without also giving air time to quality British beer brands is unacceptable bias for a public funded organisation
Beer is an inclusive beverage. Choosing wine in favour of beer is divisive and deliberately seeks to engage with a much narrower section of society than is acceptable in todays cosmopolitan and liberal Britain.
A good start to a campaign to get the BBC to put more beer on our screens.