Archive for the ‘Beer’ Category

January Welsh Drink of the Month – Brains Craft Brewery: Boilermaker (6.5%abv)



In common with many other medium-sized breweries the famous SA Brain of Cardiff opened a small Craft Brewery. This gives them the opportunity experiment by brewing small quantities of innovative beers.

In the US a ‘Boilermaker’ is a beer and whiskey either mixed or whiskey drunk first in one gulp followed by sipping the beer.

This is the inspiration for Brains’ Craft Brewery’s Boilermaker. It is brewed with Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade and Willamette hops and matured in casks formerly containing Penderyn and Penderyn Whisky infused oak chips are added to the casks for good measure.

As usual, you can leave your comments here on the blog and/or …

Join in the live tweetasting on Thursday 23 January between 9-10pm using #drinkswales

Welsh Drink of the Month – Great Orme Brewery: Welsh Black (4.0%abv)


Three North Wales Breweries did well at CAMRA’s Great British Beer Festival – Great Orme, Conwy and Purple Moose.

I might feature them all as drink of the month but I’ll start with the mild category’s Gold Medallist – Great Orme’s Welsh Black.

The Great Orme Brewery-2009 Images

Great Orme is based in the lower Conwy Valley near Glan Conwy and started brewing in 2005. They make cask and bottled ales and their Welsh Black is available in both formats.

The malts used are the key to this beer – pale ale, chocolate, black and crystal as well as torrified wheat. Some bittering hops are used but only to form a filter bed at the bottom of the copper and therefore won’t impart much bitterness. Interestingly no aroma hops are used so the flavours we will taste will all come from the malts.

Well, what’s the verdict, leave your comments here on the blog and/or …

Join in the live tweetasting on Wednesday 11 September between 9-10pm using #drinkswales


Tomos Watkin’s Premier Ale


It’s now a year since Swansea City made their debut in the English Premier League and a beer brewed to celebrate that event also had its own reason to celebrate.

Tomos Watkin’s other True Taste award winner was their Premier Ale scooping a bronze. However it won’t be a drink of the month as this was a special celebratory brew and is no longer part of their range.

Premier Ale among Tomos Watkin's products

Premier Ale among Tomos Watkin’s products

Premier ale is a 4.3% abv amber bitter using pale, amber and wheat malt and hopped with Fuggles and Styrian Goldings.

It has a lovely amber colour and a spicy hop nose. Spice and citrus hop are to the fore in the mouth but joined by some balancing maltiness. The finish is good and dry with lingering spice and again balancing maltiness playing a role.

Overall a very nice ale, shame it was a one-off!

Hurns Brewing Company


The name Hurns Brewing Company might not necessarily be that familiar, however the mention of Tomos Watkin is likely to elicit a much more positive response. The connection between the two is that Hurns beers are sold under the Tomos Watkin brand.

Two of the Tomos Watkin beers won gold and bronze at last year’s Wales True Taste awards but it all started when a brother and sister team bought a brewery from the receiver back in 2002. They already owned a wholesale and delivery company and bought the brewery as ‘a leap of faith’.

The Hurns range

The Hurns range

Having a wholesale company gave them access to distribution and they also had an established sales and marketing team– a good start for any small brewer!

But why take on a failed brewery? The answer in a word is passion. They are passionate about Wales and its food and drink, firmly believing that our food and drink can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best in the world. They felt that Welsh beer should also have the highest recognition for its quality and that Wales deserved a great beer which was a ‘handmade and artisan product’ – Tomos Watkin was born.

Since 2002 the company and its brands have grown to such an extent that they now have worldwide contracts. A recent investment has seen a six-figure sum spent on a new bottling and packaging plant shows confidence in the future and their beers are beginning to see more distribution within Wales and the UK, for example, the London brewer Fuller’s have just taken on their beers.

Their branding is clearly Welsh and the Welsh language is prominent. They brew a wide variety of ales in cask, keg and bottle and they also have a great range of seasonal beers and a cider. I will cover the prize winning ales in a future post but, for now, it’s great to see another Welsh brewing success story.

Purple Moose Expands


A further sign of the microbrewing boom in Wales comes from Purple Moose in Porthmadog.

Purple Moose started life back in 2005. The latest chapter in their history will see a major expansion project to alleviate capacity constraints in meeting current demand and to enable further expansion. They are boosting their brewing capacity from the current 10 barrel plant to 40 barrels by installing a brand new brewing plant.

Inside the brewery

Inside the brewery

This will allow Purple Moose to increase the availability of its award winning ales in Wales and other parts of Britain. It also means that it can start to export its bottled beers. The current plan is to increase the brewing of its current range of ales rather than add new beers. One result is that Ysgawen, an elderflower ale, will now be a regular year-round ale as opposed to a seasonal.

MD Lawrence Washington behind the stick

MD Lawrence Washington behind the stick

Financial assistance has come from Cyngor Gwynedd’s Local Investment Fund and one new job has been created immediately increasing the size of their sales team. The expansion is likely to create further new jobs in the future. All in all, very good news for brewing in Wales and for Porthmadog.

Drink of the Month May 2013: Celt Experience Brewery – Golden Celt


We’re supposedly in Spring and it’s threatening to actually get warm sometime soon so I thought I’d start with a golden ale from one of the Wales True Taste winners. Celt Experience is based in Caerphilly and won a silver award in the export category.

Golden Celt is an organic golden ale and, as the bottle label tells us ‘is named after the golden age of the Celtic people’. It’s part of Celt’s Celt’s Core Range and you can see a great video of Celt’s founder Tom Newman describe the beer on Celt’s website.


Golden Celt has a lovely full gold colour. The first thing that strikes you about the aroma is its hoppiness. The hoppiness is citrussy and the taste is also sharp. The finish has a good and very long lasting bitterness. A very refreshing beer and has more character than many golden ales. A very good beer.

Now it’s over to you, try the beer and add your comments below.

Also, if you have a bottle at the ready or are in a pub serving Golden Celt on Thursday 9 May between 9-10pm why not join in the live tweet tasting using #drinkswales



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!