Archive for the ‘Producer Profile’ Category

Aerona – a special liqueur from Dwyfor

17/03/2014

Aerona is a liqueur made from Aronia berries and is a result of a serendipitous meeting of a farm diversification project and a great idea.

Rhedynog Isaf farm is near to Chwilog in Gwynedd and it is here that Hazel a Gwilym Jones make Aerona . The Aronia berries came to the farm thanks to the MENTERRA project. This project sought to find out which crops could be grown in Wales for future possible farm diversification. A number of different crops were grown as part of this project on different farms and it was Aronia came to Rhedynog Isaf.

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When the project concluded there were 200 bushes in a field, so what to do with them? They aren’t the best tasting berry but they are strong in vitamin C and antioxidants.

Hazel experimented with making jam and so forth and considered making country wine but then she had her ‘lightbulb moment’ and thought about developing a liqueur.

To make Aerona liqueur the berries are harvested by hand at the end of the summer up to early autumn and then are frozen to keep until it’s time to use them. To make Aerona ,the berries are put into plastic tubs containing neutral spirit and stay there for three months in an old barn. During this time the spirit breaks down the berries and the flavour and colour infuses into the spirit. The liqueur is then bottled by hand on the farm.

Hazel busy bottling

Hazel busy bottling

Aerona has been a success. They now need to expand and another barn will be pressed into action. Also, as well as the original 200 bushes a further thousand have been planted.

Once the liqueur is made the berries aren’t wasted, they are dried and are used to make a delicious chocolate.

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It appears that there is a bright future for Aerona.

Between 9-10 on the evening of Wednesday 26 March I’ll be hosting a tweetasting of Aerona, buy a bottle and join in using #drinkswales

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Hurns Brewing Company

26/06/2013

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.