STATE OF THE INDUSTRY I – Beer

Beer is without doubt the strongest drinks category in Wales. At the last count there were around 50 breweries in Wales, the largest number for quite some time. At one time there were plenty of local brewers but the chapel revival and large brewers from across the border buying, and in many cases closing, Welsh breweries led to a steep decline.

Happily, as the figures show, this trend is in reverse and beer is without doubt Wales’ national drink.

Brains is the biggest brewer and indeed the biggest drinks producer in Wales by some distance, own a number of pubs and produce a wide range of beers. They produce some of the classic ales of Wales such as Brains Dark and SA Brain. Not content to sit on their laurels they have recently produced a craft series of innovative brews. Fantastic, shows innovation is alive and well even at Wales’ biggest brewer.

Although Brains is the biggest it isn’t the oldest and a link with the old brewing tradition in Wales can be found out west in Llanelli at Felinfoel Brewery which dates back to the 1830s.

Apart from Brains, the other producers are quite a bit smaller but some are keen to spread their beers far and wide whilst others are happy to retain a local focus.

A quick round up of the most notable names illustrates how well spread brewing is around Wales. Starting in the south there’s Rhymney Brewery, Celt Experience and Otley. Apart from Felinfoel the west boasts Tomos Watkin in Swansea, Evan Evans in Llandeilo run by Simon Buckley a 7th generation brewer – remember Crown Buckley? Also in the west is Coles Family Brewery in Carmarthenshire.

Mid Wales has Monty’s Brewery in Montgomeryshire and Breconshire Brewery and Brecon Brewing in south Powys to name but a few. Four of the bigger North Wales brewers – Bragdy Nant, Conwy Brewery, Great Orme Brewery and Purple Moose have come together to open the Albion Ale House in Conwy, a unique venture and a pub that deserves the many accolades it is getting.

Apologies to all the other great breweries not on the whistle-stop tour above, if you would like to be featured on the blog, do get in touch.

Throughout Wales there are great pubs in which to enjoy this great brewing renaissance so, when it comes to beer, no matter where you are in Wales, you won’t be that far from a brewery or a chance to sample its beers!

 

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