Saturday, 20 December 2008

Is this the last jukebox in Newport?


As the chav-palaces of the JD Wethersoons aggregation do not allow music in their pubs and the Hornblower closed after previous land"lady" alchy Karen drank the pub dry, it is has been difficult if not impossible to find a good jukebox with good beer in the City. Even Sam Smiths got rid of music in The Murenger. So the Pen and Wig ends up as being the last pub in town that offers good beer (Otley O2 @ mo) and good music. And people wonder why pubs are in trouble. Well at least the state-funded and now EU loan-funded BBC are taking an interest. Jukebox now playing Louis Armstrong - what better on a saturday night?

Christmas Heaven


A good pint of Otley O2, a good pub to drink it in, the Pen & Wig in Newport, and a decent paper to read are all the ingredients one needs for an excuse not to do any christmas shopping. I will do some, but not today. The city centre is too packed. There is only one shop I use and that's Thorntons for christmas shopping, luckily everyone I buy presents for likes chocolate. Meanwhile back to the Otley O2 - its a golden beer, slightly less hoppy than 01 but still with a good amount of bitterness. A good way to spend an afternoon in the shopping maelstrom that is christmas is in a pub, in my case the Pen & Wig. The reasons I like this pub are varied: I like the fact that it sells Bass along with Flowers IPA, Original and two guest ales (brains rev James also on today). I like the fact that a single member of staff in this pub serves people quicker than 3 "serving operatives" can do in the chav palaces that are JD Wetherspoons. I even like the decor, a sort of late 1980s style with wallpaper on the ceiling and odd bits of wooden signs on the walls. But the main season I like this pub is that the beer is good. So that calls for another pint of Otley O2 and lets leave the christmas shopping for another day!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

O-HO-HO in the Bunch


Another day another BBC Radio Wales interview, this time a pre-record for Country Focus. The programme features both Otley and Ffos-y-ffin breweries and of course Brew Wales was there to offer opinion on the beers. The 5% Towy Ale had a bitter-sweet taste but the most unusual beer was the Otley O-Ho-Ho which is made with blueberries. At 5% this golden beer is suprisingly easy to drink for its strength. The blueberries provide a fruity nose to the hoppy aroma, as well as a bitter-sharp initial taste which mellows to a dry, bitter aftertaste. Good level of astringency which makes you want another glass! According to Nick Otley, "The perfect beer to go with turkey". Think I'll stick with 01.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Is your MP sober?

I see that the Australian Parliament is planning to introduce breathalysers to make sure their MPs are sober in Parliament. Now I don't know if the Aussie Parliament has more bars than the 19 in the Houses of Parliament but is drinking in Parliament such a problem down under?

With the Australian Members of Parliament being stuck in Canberra I can see nothing wrong with a few tinnies of Fosters or more preferably a few stubbies of Little Creatures to make the business of legislature run easier.

Wonder what the bar or bars are like in the Australian Parliament? No doubt based on the Oz Theme bar we have in this country, but a bit more upmarket, there being 2 spittoons on the floor Down Under, “One for the Sheilas”. We don't see any coverage of the Australian Parliament here in the UK and for some reason all I can think about when I hear it mentioned is the Monty Python sketch of a certain outback academic centre. The only differences is that Members would be referred to as “The Honorable Bruce”

If there is one Legislature in the world where alcohol should be compulsory then it is in the Welsh Assembly, where debates have reached a new level of tedium. I've tried watching it, but without any success in the debates interesting me, it is proving difficult. Now if an Assembly Member was, for instance , to use Parliamentary language, say “Tired and Emotional”, during a debate then the glorified Parish Council of Cardiff Bay may succeed in raising the interest level in the electorate who did not vote for it in the first place. Even the AMs look bored during the debates, but at least they have computers to use, no doubt one of the AMs biggest decisions is which iTune to download to their publicly-funded iPods.

There is a bar in the Welsh Assembly, or “Tea Room” as it has to be called. When it first opened the best alcoholic drink it served was Budweiser Budvar from the Czech Republic with no Welsh products on sale at all. That has now changed and Welsh beers are available. Now the Tea Room is on an upper floor of the old building, when it first opened the view was of a building site, today the view is the back end of Millennium Centre, the expensive Slate Slug. No sprawling vista of Cardiff Bay, not even a view of the debating chamber is to be had from this Tea Room which a resembles an airport departure lounge, though not as good as Munich airport and its brewpub. In fact it is quite a depressing place, one of the reasons why the pubs surrounding the Welsh Assembly do so well, both with hacks and politicians.

The one advantage of Welsh beers being available in the Welsh Assembly Tea Room is that it is the one place in Cardiff Bay where you can be assured of finding some Brains.

But back to the question , should MPs be breathalysed? Definitely not due to the entertainment value a MP always gives when “Tired and Emotional”. Alan Clarke famously presented a bill to the House of Commons after a serious wine-tasting. That was back in 1983 when the licensing hours of the Palace of Westminster were as long as the House sat for. But how many other debates from 1983 does anyone remember?

With all-night sittings the various bars Press, Strangers, Annies etc would carry on serving as long as an MP or Lord was still drinking there. Now they normally shut at eleven and the Palace is strangely empty at night. Even the smoking ban has had an effect on the Strangers Bar, for some reason it looks smaller. Okay in the old days you could not see the end of the room for the smoke from the Honorable Members cigarettes, now the wood paneling, old etchings, old pumpclips from the guest beer pump, including an old Reckless Eric pumpclip from 12 years ago and even the Members themselves are visible . Honorable and Right Honorable Members now have to go out the door and onto the Terrace to have a ciggie. No great hardship there then, as the Terrace in the summer is one of the best places to have a drink in London. I do know of one hack who, when he is waiting for an MP on the Terrace, always waves to the boats of tourists going by. Sometimes they wave back but nearly all of the tourists shoot away with their cameras. No doubt when those tourists get home they try and identify the photos of this MP they thought was waving to them! It's a great game to play and with the subsidised bar adjacent to the Terrace can get quite fun.

So if we breathalyse MPs then they would cut down on their drinking and this would cut down on the amount of alcohol drunk in Parliament. Our MPs would be up in arms as the bars in the Palace of Westminster start closing down to be converted into coffee parlours and smoothie outlets. Politics would get less interesting, its bad enough at the moment with the teetotal Jockocracy we have running the country (Brown, Darling etc). But if all of our MPs had to remain sober all of the time?

Some MPs are unbearable when sober and drinking is the only thing that can give these non-entities a personality. There is one story about one Labour member, who lost his seat at the following election, who was so drunk that he was hardly able to stand and blurted out about who had been contributing to his election campaign locally. One of these donors was the landlord of a Welsh pub who was applying for change of use to private accommodation, despite objections from the regulars. When this appeared in print the Labour MP and his cronies threatened libel action against the publisher and the writer of the article. The libel action never came into fruition, for two reasons, one the MP was too drunk to remember the even meeting the author and two, it was true! That did not stop the New Labour bullies from issuing their threats though. At the next general election this MP lost his seat by thousands of votes and scuttled off back under the rock he used to share in a biblical manner with a similar disgraced badger-loving former MP.

Many an “off the record briefing” has been given to journalists over a drink in the bars of the Palace of Westminster and surrounding area. Nothing is ever off the record, if someone tells you it is then why are they telling you that! Even today, pubs close to the Houses of Parliament are wired up to the Division Bell. It is always a good sight to see MPs rushing off to the lobbys from the Red Lion on Whitehall when the bell rings. Even more fun is watching the tourists traipse out as they think the fire alarm has gone off!

It was Winston Churchill who said “I have taken more out of alcohol than it has taken out of me”. And if that is not a good enough reason not to breathalyse MPs then I don't know what is.

Breathalysers for MPs? Whatever next? Intelligence tests for MPs ? And then where would be?

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Abergavenny Cinema Brewery!

The King's Arms in Abergavenny, which has already been home to a CAMRA beer festival is now home to the only cinema in the town. Owner Ben Jones has converted one of the outbuildings, originally home to Delafields Brewery into a 60 seat cinema. So as well as taking a meal at this ancient brew pub (it's also home to the Tudor Brewery) you can sit back and enjoy a blockbuster with a pint.
Now what films will be shown at this cinema? Brew Wales have already put together a list of what we will like to see there:
Ice Cold in Aber
One brew over the cuckoo's nest
The (Marstons) Empire Strikes back
Schindler's Pist
The Hopfather
Lawrence of Beerarabia
A clockwork Blorenge
Monty Python and the hoppy grail
The Maltese falcon

The 39 Sips/Sups
Four Wadworths and a Felinfoel
National Velvet Stout
Home Brew Alone
The Full Malty (obviously)
Stairway to Heaven (aka A Matter of Life & Death)
The Man With Two Brains
The Spiling
A Room With a Brew
The Third Manns
Oh Mr Porter
Anymore suggestions welcome!
The previous cinema is now a chav-palace called the Coliseum run by JD Wetherspoons.

If you do visit the Coliseum, make sure you have a look at the poster with a member of the Klu Klax Klan on it! I'm not joking, it's near the window. The poster is an advert for the film "Birth of a Nation", directed by DW Griffiths, who was of Welsh parentage.
The controversial poster in your Abergavenny 'spoons
For more information on this film and its view of history, check out the Wikipedia page on Birth of A Nation

The Beer Book

Book review – The Beer Book, published by Dorling Kindersley, Edited by Tim Hampson, £10.00 Asda, £16.99 cover price
Book: Hardcover
| 9.25 x 6.25in | 352 pages | ISBN 9780756639822 | 20 Oct 2008 | Dorling Kindersley | 18 - AND UP

With Michael Jackson having moved to the upstairs bar I had started to think that no one would ever be able to write another big well-written, full-colour book on the world of beer. Luckily Tim Hampson assembled a bevy of beer writers to put this 350 page worldwide beer crawl together, each of them experts in the beers of their own country. Hence from Italy we have Lorenzo Dabove, regular on the ITV Wales Food Show, well he featured in 2 episodes, exploring the weird and wonderful bottle shapes and flavours of Italian craft ale renaissance brewers. In recent years Italian brewers have realised there is a market for individually crafted ales as opposed to the mass produced Euro lager that most people think of as Italian beer. There's more to Italian beer than Nasty Azzuro!

Similarly, experts from other countries provide other chapters; Alastair Gilmour for the UK, Corad Seidl for Austria, Joris Pattyn for Belgium to name 3 of the 13 contributers to this book.

There is a very extensive section on the craft breweries of the USA, which over the last 30 years has seen over 1400 new breweries start up, producing everything from Victorian-style IPAs to Belgium-style brews. Even the multi-nationals are trying to cash in on the craft-brewery revolution, with Coors producing its Blue Moon range of beers which include a a Belgium-style wheat beer and a Czech-style lager. It's just a shame that Coors Brewery closed down their museum in the UK, formerly the Bass brewery Musuem.

Most of the pages of the Beer Book feature reviews of 2 beers from a selected brewery with a bit of history and the photo of a beer bottle. Added to that we have beer trails in selected countries with maps and articles on beer styles liberally spaced throughout the book. It's quite enjoyable in reading the beer book to rediscover old favorites such as Cwmbran Crow Valley Bitter and some tasting notes on something new and interesting sounding. For instance, the Dogfish Head brewery of Delaware produce a beer called Midas touch whose ingredients include Muscat grapes, honey and saffron! Not a beer that I would drink a lot of but definitely one to try.

One minor fault with the book is that it says that Felinfoel Brewery has been in existence since 1878 which should come as a surprise to the Lewis family who have been brewing there since the 1830s!

All in all The Beer Book is an excellent reference book and would make an excellent Christmas gift for the enthusiast or even anyone vaguely interested in the world of beer, my only gripe is where I am going to find room to put another book about beer on my already bulging bookcase!


Above: part of the Brew Wales research libary

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

JD Wetherspoons Customer Service

Some of you may know about my complaint to JD Wetherspoons over the behaviour of a relative of a duty staff manager in the John Wallace Linton pub in Newport City Centre. If not the link and the footage is available here. Well I offered JDW the full right to reply some 5 weeks ago and they have decided not to take this up.
Okay then 'spoons, under the Stalinist Government we all now live in the UK- the right to silence has been removed and if you choose to remain silent I can only assume you are admitting the poor customer service and the fact that you allow your customers to be verbally abused and threatened by relatives of your staff. No doubt this doctrine will soon be enshrined in one of your "customer service" DVDs the staff are for ever complaining about having to watch.
Not that I'm missing going to Wetherspoons (I've decided to boycott all JDW pubs).
There's plenty of other places to drink in which offer good beer, good value and a safe environment, free from being hassled by the "Gangsta Grandad" of the duty manageress. Sam Smith's Brewery is doing very well out of me this year!
Just had an email from Wetherspoons! Unfortunately its there corporate mailshot informing me I can get a Christmas meal for £6.99 at one of their "chav palaces", not an apology or even an explanation into why the duty manageress allowed the Gansta Grandad to carry on with his outrageous behavior.
Whilst on the subject of Wetherspoons, the Brew Wales contact in Pontypridd mentioned that the clientele of the Tumble Inn on Broadway are worse than the usual bunch of Stella-supping chavs that normally inhabit Wetherspoons pubs. It turns out that this chav-palace is next door to the Probation service and their clients regularly use the Tumble as the place to go before and after meeting their probation officers!
The Urban Dictionary gives this description of Wetherspoons:
"Wetherspoons

A chain of pubs throughouth Britain that act as a magnet for chavs and minors. Invariably centre stage for all fighting due to the lack of entertainment allowing low priced alcohol and thus large concentrations of both men and women that enjoy violence.
Dude, Where's Mickey?

Oh he fancied a fight so he went up to the Wetherspoons"

In the Publican today it was announced that 'spoons have won "Loo of the Year" award, with a special mention for the Tumble Inn. No doubt the "clients" in the pub appreciate the toilets as it is a major trading area for them!

New Felinfoel beer

One of biggest surprises of the year is that Wales' oldest brewery, Felinfoel have launched a new beer; "Chilly Pecker" will be available in selected pubs in Saundersfoot to celebrate the charity festive swim that has been going on for the last 25 years.
The beer is descibed as being "4.3%, malty and suitably hot. Deep and rich in colour, long and smooth on the palate, created with a blend of the finest malt and hops and pure Welsh spring water".
Full article is in the Tenby Observer
Or for more on Felinfoel Brewery visit their website

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Buckley's. It Tastes Awful

Now before the writs start flying from a certain brewery on the Taff I have to point out that whereas Buckley's is a famous Welsh beer, now brewed in Cardiff, in Canada it is the brand name of the major cough syrup containing camphor, menthol, Canada balsam, capsicum and pine needle oil. Sounds inviting doesn't it? Still beer tickers have been known to drink worse in the UK.
What I really like though is the company logo of "It tastes awful". Now that's not something I would use to describe beer, at least not to the brewers I'm still on speaking terms with, but what a great line for a cough medicine. Reminisant of the "love it or hate it" campaign run by the by-product of the brewing industry, Marmite.
For more information and if you have a cough have a look at their website.

Of course to anyone in Wales, Buckley's was the famous Welsh brewery, formerely in Llanelli, part of the site of an Aldi supermarket now. The site of the old Rhymney brewery now houses a German supermarket as well. Is this a trend?

There is another Buckley's Brewery, this one in Australia, this is named after William Buckley (any relation to Simon?) who was an escaped convict (still any relation Simon?)
Buckley's Brewery Australia
Brewery seems to be doing well as they won an award for Best Dark Lager with their Dark Bock at a brewery showcase.

Otley Brewery Receive their Awards

Welsh Members of CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, dished out the awards to the Otley Brewery the other day. After a few pints of O1 , or Thornbridge St Petersburg Stout for those a bit more thirsty, in the Otley Arms, Trefforest, a short journey was made to the site of the Otley Brewery in Cilfynydd, a few miles up the valley. Here we were rewarded with more of the excellent O1 before presenting the family with a collection of certificates from various competitions they had won, including, Champion Beer of Wales 08/09 for Otley O8.
After a few more pints of O1 it was time to head for one of their other pubs, the Bunch of Grapes in Pontypridd for a buffet and a quiz.
With all those certificate it looks like the Otley family will have to buy another pub just to have room to put them up on the walls.
For more information visit the Otley Brewery website

Friday, 5 December 2008

Hereford Arms Newport


Looks like the recession may have saved the Hereford Arms in Newport. This very popular free house in the east of the city is able to sell beers from any brewery it chooses to and is under threat of closure and conversion to residential use. But a hard fought campaign by locals, CAMRA and an MP, though not the local incumbent has resulted in a stalemate situation where no one seems to the future of this succesful pub. Anyway tonights guest beer was Burton Bridge bitter and in the run up to christmas we have lots of Wye Valley coming on. Another pub not superpub I will be supporting. Oh and the above photo is of behind the bar with some of the breweries that have been supported here over the years.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Fullers ESB in Wales

The latest edition of First Draught, the free quarterly newsletter from Fullers Brewery, gives the addresses of some pubs in the free trade that sell my favourite real ale, Fullers ESB. Imagine my surprise on finding one listed in the beer desert that is Aberdare. Great, Aberdare is easily reached by public transport (train and bus) but I could not think of any pub called the Red Lion in the town. A quick look on the internet and I found that the Red Lion is actually in Penderyn, on the road to Brecon. Oh well looks like I'll have to make do with another trip to the Old Fishmarket in Bristol to sample the ESB, where the other day the Fullers London Porter was actually on better form than the ESB. Now Bristol or Penderyn for a pint, think the answer will be Bristol.
You can sign up for the Fullers Fine Ale Club and receive their quarterly newsletter and money off vouchers for beer here.


The Red Lion Inn
Church Road
Penderyn
Aberdare
Mid Glamorgan
CF44 9JR
01685 811914

Old Fish Market
59-63 Baldwin Street
Bristol
Avon
BS1 1QZ
Tel: 01179 211515

Failing a visit to the Old Fishmarket I'll have to do with a pint of London Pride in the Green Dragon, St Thomas' Square, Monmouth.

Monday, 1 December 2008

True taste Winners 2008

The True Taste Awards for 2008 have been announced.
The full brochure is available as a pdf here but here are the beery highlights:

Alcoholic Drinks Section







1st Place went to Penny & Stefan Samociuk from Penlon Cottage Brewery in Ceredigion, with their Gimmers Mischief Premium Ale – Export.







2nd Place went to Steve & Marc Evans at Rhymney Brewery (Dowlais) Ltd with Export.

With the first two winners it seems that only beers meant for drinking outside of Wales would win awards but







3rd Place went to Otley Brewery with 01. A Highly Commended award also went to current Champion Beer of Wales, Otley 08. Well done to Nick, Charlie and Matt for brewing such excellent beers.
Other Highly Commended awards went to Breconshire Brewery with Red Dragon and Golden Valley, Hurns Tomos Watkin Cwrw Haf , SA Brain with Reverend James and Purple Moose with Dark Side of the Moose.

Now I'm not a fan of non-alcoholic drinks but well done to Alan Wordsworth at Springfield Cider for winning a Highly Commended with his Llangovan pure welsh apple juice. I prefer my apple by-products fermented though.

Sifting through the food results, in the Baked & Confectionery – large producer section, Lewis' Pies in Swansea came joint first with their Steak & Ale Pie made with Tomos Watkin Cwrw Gaeaf, whilst Peter's of Bedwas came in second with their Steak and Brain SA pie.



Odd that none of our award-winning ciders or perries made it through to the final but if the judges prefer beer to cider then they will choose the beers!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Axe the Beer Tax

The British Beer & Pub Association together with CAMRA have got together to Save the Pub and oppose plans to increase beer duty.
As you know, the British beer and pub industry is under severe and sustained pressure. Sales of beer in pubs are now at their lowest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s, and 36 pubs are closing every week. More than 44,000 jobs were lost from the industry between 2000 and 2005 – and further redundancies are inevitable.

The situation is being made worse by the impact of the wider economic slowdown, and the Chancellor's announcement of yet another increase in duty this week - on top of plans to increase the tax on beer above inflation next year and for the next three years.

With tax already taking up a third of the price of a pint of beer, further hikes can only accelerate the decline of the pub and hit the pockets of ordinary hard working people.

We think its time to stand up for a Great British tradition and save the pub.

The “Axe The Beer Tax” campaign aims to give a voice to ordinary British pub-goers and consumers, and send a strong message to Whitehall and Westminster that we've had enough.

Please join our campaign. Go to www.axethebeertax.com and sign up as a supporter.

The campaign is being promoted by both industry and consumers - the British Beer and Pub Association represents the pub and brewing industry and CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, champions consumer rights.

There's also a You Tube site for Axe the Beer Tax

Write to your MP from the Save the Pub website - hope you have better luck than I did - I had an out-of-office reply from her, no doubt Jessie is still off on maternity leave and all her staff have bunked off!

Newport Pub Closures

Since Labour have come to power in 1997 the following Newport pubs have closed:

Simpsons, High St, Closed – empty building

Chartist Arms, High St – closed – premises converted into a restaurant

Carpenters Arms, High Street – closed – freehold for sale

Lloyds, Cambrian Rd, became Jarcals, then Tesco Extra

Breeze, Cambrian Rd, closed, lying empty

Newport Brewhouse, Market St, now a nightclub

Trout, Market St, became Can-Cans, closed, building derelict

Ale House, ex-Sovereign, John Frost Square, closed and demolished

Welsh Prince, Commercial St, closed – premises converted into a Thai restaurant

Langtons, Charles St, closed – premises auctioned 11.08

King William IV, Commercial St, closed – derelict building

Scrum Half, Commercial St, closed, retail premises

Westgate Hotel, Commercial St, closed, part retail premises

Royal Exchange, became Harveys in Pill, Commercial Rd. Closed, building derelict

Mariners Hotel, Commercial Rd, closed

Welcome Home, Commercial Rd, closed, residential accommodation

Black Horse, formerly Celtic Bar/Falcon, Commercial Rd

Waterloo Inn, Alexander Rd, closed and re-openend as a restaurant and hotel

Cumberland house, Courtybella Tce, - closed -residential

Orange Tree, St Michael St, - closed and demolished

White Hart, Tredegar St, closed, business unit

Old Rising Sun, Malpas Rd, closed, building derelict

Pentwyn House, Bettws – closed

Chaplins, Caerleon, demolished, residential development

Three Salmons, Rogerstone, now an Indian Restaurant

Jolly Roger, Rogerstone, now an Indian restaurant

Globe, Rogerstone, closed awaiting change of use to residential permission

Victoria, Corporation Rd, closed – converted into restaurant

Crown Inn, Albert Avenue, closed

Friendship, became Harveys of Ringland, -closed

Seven Styles, was Lliswerry Hotel, closed and demolished, residential development

King, Somerton, closed, awaiting demolition, residential development

Black Horse, Somerton, closed, awaiting demolition, Tesco Extra

Pullmans, Spytty, demolished, KFC on site

New Inn, Bishton, now residential


Under threat

Roman Lodge Hotel, Ponthir Road, - planning permission applied for conversion to apartments

Hereford Arms, Maindee, planning permission applied for residential apartments

38 pubs have closed in Newport since Labour came to power in 1997. Taking this number in context in the previous 18 years under Conservative Governments only 14 pubs closed down in Newport. It is a fact that in the last 11 years of Labour rule we have seen more pubs close in Newport than in the previous 30 years.

Pub openings:

Dragonfly, Cardiff Rd,
1995 Wetherspoons, became John Wallace Linton
1999 Godfrey Morgan, Maindee
2002 Tom Toya Lewis, Commercial St
Banc, Maindee
Page, High St

Reopenings/refurbishments:

Seven, was Yates Wine Lodge, converted from the Tredegar Arms, High Street
Walkabout, converted from the Queens Hotel

All the above apart from the Dragonfly are superpubs. Is there a connection here? If we believe the statistics the Government are pushing out then alcohol consumption is up – then is the reason - the superpub? Okay they can offer us exotic African bushmeat made to look like a steak, cheap drinks and cheap coffee but let us think of the true cost of these modern-day gin palaces. The places are so large that the management cannot keep on eye on what the customers are up to – selling illegal cigarettes, drinking too much, causing trouble, selling drugs etc, so that these places have to rely on bouncers, sorry security staff and CCTV to do the job. At weekends you won't even have a proper glass to be served out of and have to put up with plastic, sorry polycarbonate, as we now have to call them. Great idea, apart from the fact that the glass washers are designed for washing glass, not plastic, so these polycarbs become easily scratched on the inside and the resulting pint you are served takes on the appearance of something served from the sloptray. Oh and if you do want to glass someone, they still allow bottles over the bar or you can scold them by throwing hot coffee over them. But look on the bright side, if you are the victim of an attack at least it will be on CCTV and you can rest assured that it will feature on a staff training DVD for years to come.

Newport City Centre has always had the touch of the Wild West about it, it's exasperated now as on Friday and Saturday nights we now have uniformed marshals patrolling the town. Marshals! I did not think that anything could get lower down the food chain than a PCSO. What ever happened to the old days (well about 10 years ago) when uniformed police officers used to go into pubs at night? Some of them were even doing their job and not just collecting a large envelope of donations for the Gwent Police Widows and Orphans Fund.

Nowadays the police are to be seen in their cars and vans parked in strategic, well-hidden, places around the City Centre, just waiting for that moment when they can jump out, arrest someone and spend the rest of the night in the nice warm police station, drinking coffee, eating kebabs and doughnuts and colluding as they write their note books up together. Sorry, they call it doing paperwork.

It's coming up to Christmas, the season that really brings the nutters out. I for one will not be drinking in superpubs this year and if I do pop out for a drink I will be supporting real pubs. Samuel Smith's Brewery will definitely be doing well out me this Christmas. Seasons greetings and have a pint in the Murenger, the Haven in a Superpub Ghetto.

Join the Campaign to Save the Pub at: www.axethebeertax.com


Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Darling closes more pubs

After the "pre-budget report" which in truth is just spin so that the Government can raise taxes twice a year, we have seen another duty increase. At this rate, in a few years time all we will have to drink in will be Superpubs. Yes, we have a 2.5% cut in VAT so we can all go out and buy Chinese electrical goods for Christmas but this is being paid for by an 8% increase in alcohol duty. This means that this year, we have seen an increase in alcohol duty by 17%. Now if you are a teetotal bible-bashing Jock living in Downing Street this is not going to effect you, especially when you're already banned from every pub in the country (something Alastair Darling has in common with gypsies), but for the average pub goer this is another hit in the wallet.

According to Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, “The Chancellor's refusal to allow beer drinkers to benefit from a VAT reduction means that 7,500 pubs could close by the end of 2012. The Government's failure to support pubs will undermine community life, ruin livelihoods and deprive people of an affordable night out at a local pub.”

Whilst Shepherd Neame boss Jonathan Neame said before the budget"The Chancellor would be guilty of “gross cultural vandalism” if he did not cut duty on beer in his Pre-Budget Report to help save community pubs".

So under Labour our pubs are being destroyed.

Also check out the Drinkers Alliance, who have this online petition:
A message from the Drinkers' Alliance follows:

Drinkers will be paying the price for bailing out the economy thanks to this Government. The Chancellor has just announced that ordinary drinkers like you will be unfairly hit with even higher tax rises. The rates of duty for alcohol will be increased by 8 per cent, making the increase this year a whopping 17 per cent!

Click here to sign our petition to say no!

Despite a cut in VAT, the politicians have singled out alcohol as one of just a few items that will see no price relief at all. And even more, when the VAT cut is suspended, alcohol taxes will go even higher!

That means you'll pay more for your favourite drinks because the Chancellor doesn't think you'll fight back.

But we know you will. So sign the petition here:
http://www.drinkersalliance.com

And when you are done, ask five friends to sign up to the Drinkers Alliance. The more people we have signed up, the harder it is for politicians to ignore us.

Thank you for your support.

Drinkers Alliance
There are some very good points on the Publican site as well, link here
and of course Fido gives it a good report

Personally after this latest tax rise by the Government, no one in the right mind should be voting labour in the next General Election. The Labour Government have ruined our pubs, our economy and our country. My local MP is not even in Parliament at the moment, having dropped another sprog and is taking maternity leave again. Photo at the top of this page is the former Seven Styles, ex-Lliswerry, which was demolished last month and is in the constituency of Jessica Morden, sprog dropping new labour apologist and apparatchik and for Newport East.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Yard


Popped into the Yard for an excellent pint of Brains Dark and yes I am old enough to remember the place as the Albert - a spit and sawdust pub where they used to run out of sawdust! However after moving the brewery to the old Welsh Brewers/Bass Hancocks site, the brewery quarter of Cardiff has now blossomed. Brains dark, SA, SA Gold, Bitter all available on the unique handpumps and the the beer tastes good as well! Also handy for a bite to eat in Caroline st!

Cottage Cardiff


Another surprise in the city centre is this small-frontage building that stretches back a long way. Typical of a burgess plot there has obviously been something on this site for @ least 1000 years. Today it is a pub, in fact the first pub in the centre of Cardiff to have air-conditioning, but that was back in 1995! Today the Cottage offers Brains Bitter, Dark, SA, rev James, SA gold and the seasonal beer top notch. Support British pubs - drink in them not superpubs!

Zero Degrees Cardiff


Best to visit this place between 1700 and 1900 hrs as its happy hour so beers are £2 a pint. Cardiff`s 3rd brewery offers on the site brewed beers, pizzas cooked in their open kitchen and arty uncomfortable seating. Art-deco building gives rise to a boutique brewery which is a bonus for Cardiff but it does have a rather clinical ambiece.
The beers , well they are all carbonated (admitted by zero degrees staff) so we are left with fizzy "keg" beers. But its a brewery and they do a taster of all 5 of their different brews for £2.50. My own personal tasting notes follow:
Pale ale - not that pale, slighty hazy, well over-carbonated but an excellent dry finish.
Black lager - very coffish in fact almost overpowering. Wow a breakfast beer if ever I tried one.
Wheat ale - for some reason part of an orange was put into the glass (hint its lemon in a wheat beer but only in the North of Germany) spicy fizzy yeasty and cloudy - dreadful if you want a decent British wheat beer then go to a Sam Smiths pub.
Mango beer -yeasty cloudy and, well Crap.
Last one to try is the Pilsner - sparkling clear and after half an hour after being poured is still fizzing proving that the so called "real ales" are under CO2 pressure. Actually the pilsner is very good - smooth, good ,hoppy aftertaste despite being under blanket pressure something the Campaign for Real Ale is willing to allow now in the Good Beer Guide as they allow Bristol Zero Degrees in.

Cheapest pint in Wales - pt2


The Queens Vaults, Westgate st, Cardiff, is currently selling Felinfoel Best Bitter @ £1.49 a pint. The pub is run by the JW Bassett pub co so hats off to them for offering 3 real ales below £2 a pint. Best sign in the pub was a job offer for "a pub sing song pianist required" can a pub get any better? Support pubs not superpubs - this place is still a real pub in the centre of Cardiff. It may be a bit too far for hacks to walk to now Thomson house has been demolished - too many distractions with all the coffee bars on the way but for a real Cardiff pub you can't do better.

Goat Major Cardiff


Brew Wales is out rediscovering the pub again. Today was a visit to the Goat Major in Cardiff for a superb pint of Brains SA Gold. Served in a branded glass, this is a truely fantastic beer @ 4.7%, a golden hoppy beer which is not just different from the usual range of Brains beers but is an added complement to the Bitter, Dark and SA. The pub itself has a tiled floor and plenty of brass fixtures and fittings giving the impression that the last time it was refurbished was the 1930s. The food also features Welsh produce and bottled Welsh cider is on sale. Oh and the name Goat Major - the pub was originaly called the Goat until 1813 then the Bluebell until 1995 before attaining its present moniker, which refers to the mascot of the Royal 41st Regiment of Wales. During the Crimea War the regiment adopted a local goat after a skirmish at a farmstead and the tradition has carried on since into the 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh. Altogether an historic pub that is well worth popping into if you are near Cardiff castle or shopping nearby.

Name that Beer!

Otley brewery and Fagins Ale & Chop House have got together and are asking customers to come up with a name for their new beer. Described as "a pale coloured bitter at 4.8% with hopefully plenty of hop character" this beer will become the house beer for the pub and is provisionally called O-F but all suggestions for the new name from customers will be considered.

Fagins Ale & Chop house
8 Cardiff Rd
Taffs Well
Cardiff
CF15 7QD

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Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Cheapest pint in Wales


Ye Olde Murenger House is able to sell a pint of old brewery bitter for £1.86. Why you may ask? Well it's owned by Sam Smith's brewery in Yorkshire not some pubco who regard themselves as a property speculator. This means that Sam Smith's brew their own beer and supply it to their own pubs to sell at a reasonable price. Unlike the majority of pubcos where the price is hitting almost 3 quid a pint in their local pubs. So well done to Sam's for putting on a good real ale at a good price. Oh and wednesday night is quiz night! Definetly the haven in a superpub ghetto for Newport

Pen and Wig Newport


A nice surprise to find a felinfoel beer in a Newport pub. Alongside other real ales from bass and brains the Pen and Wig also offers food lunchtime and is a welcome change from chav filled Wetherspoons pubs that dominate the centre of Newport. Situated on Stow hill this pub has regular guest beers and is well worth going into even if the NUJ do have the odd meeting upstairs.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Rough Pub Guide


The Rough Pub Guide – Book Review
Paul Moody & Robin Turner £9.99 (£7 Tesco Extra)

I was surprised to find this book on offer at my local Tesco Extra, though it was almost hidden by books by chefs who are more famous for being famous rather than their cooking. The Rough Pub Guide is a compact (15cm x 15cm) book put packed into its 194 pages are excellent colour photos and some very witty descriptions of “50 of the most extraordinary drinking experiences in the UK”.
The criteria for selection in this guide is:
-The pub has been open for at least 10 years
-The pub has not been refurbished recently
-The pub has “an independent spirit”
Although the last criterion seems a bit ambiguous, authors Paul Moody and Robin Turner, founders of Socialism Magazine, have successfully managed to include the 50 best pubs in the UK, from the 55,000 or so still left open in Brown's Britain.
Flipping through this book I was reminded of quite a few pubs that I already knew – the Cornubia in Bristol, Plough & Harrow at Monknash, Vulcan in Cardiff, Bessies in the Gwaun Valley, even Rodger Wilkins cider farm gets a mention. What struck me though, was not just that I had been to these pubs before, but they were pubs that I liked and had returned to, time and time again. Perhaps the only exception is the Green Man, situated in a corner shop in South West London. Don't think the personal chauffeur of the owner is allowed to drink in that bar he owns. Still that is my only gripe and the authors do put an apology in for it. Another pub that features in this guide is the Ellangowan Hotel in Creeetown which became the Green Man in that documentary film on traditional Scottish religious practices, the Wicker Man.
All in all this is a well-researched book featuring some of my favourite pubs from across the UK. A bit of a disappointment that there are no Sam Smiths pubs in the guide, but they deserve a full book for themselves. Moody & Turner have produced a well-documented snapshot of British pubs in the twenty-first century and the problems they are facing. If there is a message from this book, it is that the British pub is under threat – so if you don't want to lose it -use it. I just hope that there will be enough pubs still open for future volumes.
www.roughpubguide.co.uk

Friday, 14 November 2008

Wetherspoons

For years I have been a regular customer in JD Wetherspoons pubs but finally after being threatened have decided to boycott the lot of them. It all started on Wednesday night, when meeting up with Fido after work we went about trying the different beers at their real ale festival in the John Wallace Linton, Cambrian Rd. Now this pub has improved in the last year since the disappearance of the former manager, a former bankrupt (pub was in his girlfriends name until the bankruptcy was discharged) whose previous premises had been closed down due to gun running! Oh and his dodgy mates used to use the pub to sell cigarettes by the carton out of shopping bags. In the last year since the former manager has been gone there have not been any burglaries nor any suspicous fires which some might say is a coincidence, or not.
Anyway to get back to the story - JDW pubs have always had a no music policy which applies to customers. I politely asked some local chav sat behind me not to whistle, it was disturbing our conversation. Unfortunately this chav, after visiting the bar to top up on his gallon or two of Stella which he had already downed decided to bump into me, despite there being more than ample room for his more than ample fat chav gut to get past. I told him to watch where he was going and him and his Stella-sodden partner launched into a tirade of abuse and attempted to attack me. They don't call Stella wife-beater for nothing. Both fat chavs were escorted out of the pub by JDW staff, as in the somewhat shaky video below:

Now the duty manageress did apologise to us but unfortunately the stella-supping chavs had a friend in the pub, an OAP who insisted on joining in. Rather than ask this geriatric gangster to leave, the duty mangeress, who referred to him as "Grandad", allowed him to be served again and he continued to abuse both myself and Fido. Finally when complaining to the duty manageress we were the ones asked to leave, not the geriatric gangster who was being allowed to phone up his sons "to sort me out".
Fido has down a posting on this event as well
Further videos of the events of that night are below



Suffice to say I will not be going back into Wetherspoons again, despite being a customer for 20 years. A complaint has been made to JDW head office and I will give them the full right of reply on this website, in the meantime, why not join the Avoid Wetherspoons Facebook site.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Newport pub to improve


A former Newport city centre pub is to reopen with a better beer range and offering much improved quality. Lloyds on Cambrian Road, okay went under the name of Jarcals for a while, has been completely stripped out and refitted and will open as..........a Tesco Extra! Offering bottles of Theakstons Old Peculier, Czech Budvar and Black Sheep this will drastically improve the beer range in the half-derelict half built ghetto that Newport City Centre is at the moment.
Can't say I'm sad to see the pub go - beer used to be awful even in the days they did real ale. It was an Ansells house as the Brummie Brewery had bought up Newport brewers Lloyd & Yorath in the 1950s. After demolishing the brewery - it became an open-air car park for years as Newport was never improved by the Luftwaffe to any great extent, we had to rely on post war demolition to get our town to look like a bomb-site - Ansells had their local HQ above the Lloyds pub. Ansells Best was the standard beer or if you were lucky a warm pint of Tetleys could be found. Occasionally, the very rare Burton Ale would be found, even rarer would be finding it drinkable!
Ansells once dominated Newport, now very few of their former pubs are even open. Photo below is of the Tredegar Arms, Pill, taken in about 1997 before the area was "improved" ie, demolished.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Tetley To Close

Press release from CAMRA over closure of Tetleys below. Sad to see it go but the beer from Yorkshire never went down very well with customers down here in South Wales. About 10 years ago every ex-Ansells pub used to serve Tetleys and the quality of the product was average to poor to say the least. It was nearly as bad as the Brummie canal water that masqueraded as beer under the name of Ansells Best.

CAMRA attacks decision to close Tetley Brewery - the largest real ale brewery in the World

'Probably the worst decision in the World for real ale drinkers'

Issued: Wednesday 5th November

Status: For immediate use

Beer consumer group, the Campaign for Real Ale has attacked the decision by Carlsberg UK to close the iconic Tetley Brewery in Leeds by 2011. CAMRA has criticised Calsberg UK for failing to promote the famous Tetley beers at a time when consumer interest in real ales is growing.

Bob Stukins, CAMRA Vice Chairman and Director of Brewery Campaigning said, "It is unclear where Carlsberg UK intends to brew the famous Tetley beers which remain household names in the UK. Brewed outside their Leeds heartland I fear they would lack the provenance which today's discerning consumers expect. While we recognise the enormous challenges facing the brewing industry at present, I think this is a shortsighted decision. Recent statistics clearly show that real ale is performing better than other beer styles in a declining market. There is an opportunity to respond to this, invest in the Tetley brands and bring them back to glory."

The Intelligent Choice report published in September by CAMRA, Cask Marque, SIBA, the IFBB and Why Handpull shows that real ale sales are moving towards growth while the overall beer market has declined by 8% in the year to May 2008*.

CAMRA is calling on the Government to overturn its decision to increase beer duty over the next four years to give struggling breweries a chance to compete. The group claims that high beer tax is driving beer drinkers out of pubs and into their armchairs as the price gap between the on and off-trade widens.

Bob Stukins said, "The Government has a responsibility to act to save British jobs in brewing and pubs and an urgent review of beer tax is required."

CAMRA is seeking a meeting with Carlsberg UK bosses to discuss a way forward for the brewery. The brewery still has its unique open square fermenters and brews various real ales including Tetley's Dark Mild, Tetley's Mild, Ansells, Best Bitter, Burton Ale and the famous Tetley Bitter.

Mr Stukins added, "We have a two year window of opportunity before the brewery gates are set to close for the last time. We will be supporting anyone who has a plan to keep the mash tuns running in this historic brewery and we'll be looking at every possible option to save the brewery. Jobs and this iconic Yorkshire Brewery should not close due to the development potential of this city site"

For further information-

CAMRA Press Office, 01727 798443

Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive, 07971 591224

Iain Loe, CAMRA Research and Information Manager, 07801 706607

White Hart Beer Festival



The White Hart, Machen, Caerphilly Borough, will be holding their annual beer festival this weekend. 20 real ales and cider. Now, you may wonder what this all has to do with with the photo of the liner the Empress of France above, well the ship was scrapped in Newport by Cashmore's in 1960 and the fixtures and fittings were auctioned off and used to decorate the pub. So the White Hart is in the possibily unique situation of being an art-deco pub with features from the 1920s that were only put in in the 1960s.
The pub is also home to Carter's Brewery and the landlord Alan Carter will be brewing a beer or 2 for the festival.
Thur 6th-Sat 8th Nov 08
White Hart
Machen
CF83 8QQ


View Larger Map
Bus stops on the main road - Newport- Caerphilly service 50

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Smashing Time at a Swansea Brewery!


The VW that caused the accident, after being moved inside the brewery compound.

A kindly soul emailed Brew Wales these photos which give an insight into the business ethics of not only the public relations industry but also a member of a well-known Welsh brewing dynasty.
What happened on the day the new brewery in Llansamlet, Swansea, was opened by Rhodri Morgan could be construed as being amusing if something not quite legal occurred.
Things started to go down hill when the boss of the brewery started to heckle the Welsh Assembly Economic Development Manager during his speech to open the plant – the invited guests were cringing in their seats as the Managing Director raged into the funding policy of the Welsh Assembly. Now the brewery MD was reading from a pre-prepared crib sheet, supplied by his Public Relations firm, Ron Lewis Associates. By this stage, even the local TV stations had given up filming as none of this would be fit to broadcast. Well done Ron, your perfect PR opportunity ended up on the cutting room floor! Fair play to Rhodri – he gave the MD a good argument back.
Having allegedly imbibed of a few samples of wine and beer at the opening – Ron Lewis then attempted to drive his black Volkswagen 2-door back to Carmarthenshire but got all of a few yards from the brewery before crashing into another car - a mauve-coloured Lexus. The driver of the other car was luckily uninjured but seeing the “tired and emotional” Mr Lewis, the other driver went off to call the police.
Now here is where the story gets interesting. The black VW was pushed back into the brewery and the gates of the brewery were locked. Ron Lewis was bundled into another car along with the MD of the brewery and driven away from the scene before the local rozzers could turn up to breath test him. Now that would have made the TV news – a brewery opening and a shareholder (5,250 ordinary shares were held by Ron) crashing his car after allegedly over-imbibing in the lavish hospitality of the liquid type freely available at breweries.
The above photo shows the damaged Lexus and the tyre marks at the scene of the accident.

Damage to the Lexus after being hit by the VW

The brewery concerned went into liquidation in May 2002 owing £641,355 to the Government (IR & HMRC) as well as smaller amounts to 140 other creditors. Estimated total debts were over £2,300,000
The brewery currently flourishes under different ownership.
The Managing Director of the brewing company at the time of the opening and who is mentioned in the article above bears no connection to the website below:
www.simonbuckley.co.uk
Ron Lewis is currently running the public relations for the police in the form of the ITV Wales show “Crimestoppers”. So far no cold-case crimes have been broadcast covering anyone fleeing the scene of an accident or allegedly perverting the course of justice and there's little doubt if the “Swansea Smash” will be covered. So just enjoy the photos and fell free to use them for any purpose.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Otley Oct-O-Bar Fest


The Otley Arms in Trefforest will be holding their annual beer festival this week. The Oct-O-Bar Fest, now in it's 3rd year, will feature the current Champion Beer of Wales, Otley O8, alongside other 5 Otley beers as well as 24 real ales from other breweries including Breconshire, Isle of Purbeck, Teignworthy, Skinners, Keltek, RCH, Cotleigh and others.
Cider, perry and pyder will also be available, no doubt from the local cider maker Gwynt y Ddraig.

Entertainment throughout
Thursday (acoustic night):
Mea
Ceri Collins
Jam with RoBina
Britt Roberts

Friday Night:
Tattsyrup

Saturday evening:
Beer themed quiz
Isca Morrismen

Sunday night:
The Otley's Not Got Talent!

For more information check out the Facebook site
Otley Arms
Forest Road
Trefforest
Pontypridd
CF37 1SY

View Larger Map
The pub is close to Trefforest railway station and there is a bus stop outside the pub (Pontypridd-Talbot Green service)
Otley-Oct-O-Bar Fest Thursday 23rd - Sunday 26th October 2008.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival


Smaller than Abergavenny Food Festival which can get too crowded at times, the historic town of Cowbridge is home to a very good food & drink festival this weekend. The full range of exhibitors can be found here but here are a few of Brew Wales' favourites:

Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Cider Ltd
Warcop Ales
Rhymney Brewery
Penderyn Welsh Whisky
Handmade Scotch Eggs Co - try the chilli and dark chocolate Scotch egg - absolutely stunning!
Celtic Spirit Company Ltd
Gwatkin Cider
Welsh Brew Tea
Penlon Cottage Brewery
The Garlic Farm

Admission is only £2.50 for the day and it's a great day out.
Whilst in Cowbridge why not check out the historic pubs as well?
The Duke of Wellington will be hosting a cider and perry festival in the rear hall. This historic pub features a well dating from Roman times in what is now the lounge. The pub was named in honour of the Duke after he stayed here on his way to visit the mother of General Picton who died at Waterloo.

The Vale of Glamorgan, once the brewery tap for the brewery of the same name, now offers a beer festival the same time as the Food & Drink Festival.

More information
Cowbridge Food & Drink Festival
If you enjoy the pubs of the Vale of Glamorgan then there is a leaflet avaialable as a pdf here

Monday, 20 October 2008

Prime Minister Asked to Act on Short Beer Measures


CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, visited our teetotal , allegedly homosexual, bible-bashing hypocrite, one-eyed incompetent Prime Minister the other day to hand in a petition calling for an end to short beer measures. Naturally Cyclops could not drag himself from the clutches of Baron Sleaze of Hartlepool and Foy, to actually accept the petition in person so I doubt if we will see a good outcome for this.


CAMRA has today (16th October) visited 10 Downing Street to hand in a 23,361 name petition calling for an end to short beer measures in pubs and other licensed premises. CAMRA launched the full pint petition last year in response to research showing that:

- One in four pints are short measure by over 5%

- Short beer measures cost consumers a staggering £481 million a year

- 81% of all adults support new legislation to ensure pub goers are served a full pint every time

During the 1997 General Election the current Government promised that if elected they would “guarantee drinkers a full pint” and that under Labour, drinkers would get what they pay for. Eleven years on pub goers are waiting for this promise to be fulfilled, during which time consumers have been short changed to the tune of over £5 billion.

Speaking at the Downing Street petition handover, Mike Benner, CAMRA Chief Executive said:
“We urge the Prime Minister to take notice of the 23,361 people who have signed this petition calling for an end to short beer measures. It is unlawful for consumers to be short measured when buying petrol and it should be unlawful for consumers to be short measured when buying a pint of beer. The Prime Minister has a responsibility to stick to his party’s promise that under Labour, drinkers will get what they pay for.”

“The Government takes over 80 pence in tax for every pint sold in a pub. It is about time that instead of simply taking money from the pockets of the pub-going public the Government gives something back by ensuring that consumers are served with a full pint and not 90% or 95% of a pint.”
During the last 18 months petition signatures were collected at CAMRA beer festivals and through an online campaign site.

For further information-

CAMRA Press Office: 01727 798443
Mike Benner - CAMRA Chief Executive: 01727 798441 or 07971 591224
Jonathan Mail - CAMRA Head of Policy and Public Affairs: 01727 798448 or 07720 724733
Iain Loe - CAMRA Research & Information Manager: 01727 798449 or 07801 706607

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Drinks watchdog "bonkers"



The Portman Group, who are funded by multi-national alcoholic drink producers and make up the industry guidlines for alcoholic drink sales, have finally gone bonkers with their attack on a beer named after a Viking King. Rather than go after a multi-national who funds them and makes a lager commonly known as "wife beater", the Portman Group have decided to attack an award-winning beer called Skull Splitter made by the Orkney brewery as the name "implied violence". I'm pretty sure that when some chav goes into the supermarket for his daily 10 cans of super strength lager at 20p a can or whatever the chain is flogging it out at this week, their choice of drink is going to depend on whether or not the beer is named after a Viking. Skull Splitter has be brewed for at least 17 years, as Brew Wales can remember buying bottles of it from the Beer Shop in Pitfield Street in London when he lived there. It was a fantastic beer then and has gone on to win many CAMRA awards since.
Where will this end? Brains SA is commonly known as "Skull Attack", so that obviously implies violence. Gwynt Y Ddraig cider produce a cider called "Barnstormer" which may well encourage pilots to engage in low-level flying!
Bent Bike Cider, made in Monmouthshire, well with a name like that it could be construed as encouraging people to ride bikes after drinking their cider.
And as for Toloja Cider with their Drunk Dewi - obviously encouraging Dragons who may be underage to drink.


Luckily in the midst of this rubbish being churned out by the Portman Group, Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney and Shetland, has tabled a Commons motion calling for a complaint against Orkney Brewery's 8.5 per cent ABV Skull Splitter ale to be rejected.

EDM 2199
SKULL SPLITTER ALE
08.10.2008
Carmichael, Alistair

That this House notes with amazement that the Portman Group is considering a complaint against the name of the Orkney Brewery's Skull Splitter beer, a complaint that claims that the name could imply violence and that its Viking branded bottles have an aggressive theme; recognises that the name would be inappropriate if it were applied to a low price high alcohol content drink aimed at young drinkers; considers that Skull Splitter is not such a drink, but is instead a high quality premium beer, not sold in supermarkets, a past Champion Winter Ale of Britain, which is targeted at and bought by discerning drinkers who appreciate its quality and who drink it responsibly; further recognises the beer is named after Thorfinn Hausakluif, the seventh Viking Earl of Orkney nicknamed skull splitter; believes that the name is an entirely appropriate name for a beer brewed in Orkney with its strong Viking heritage; further believes that to lose the use of the name would be a serious setback to the brewery, undoing years of good work building a market share for Skull Splitter among connoisseurs of good beer; and calls on the Portman Group to reject the complaint.

So well done then to Alistair Carmichael MP for supporting his local brewery and telling the Portman Group to finally get some common sense.

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