In honour of Wales reaching 100 breweries in 2017, I will be seeking to review/profile 100 Welsh beers which you should try, with the intention of covering 100 different Welsh breweries… With no further ado, here are the first ten!
Brains - Dark
A fitting place to start. This beer is something of a Welsh - or at least a south Walian - icon. A beer of historic significance, harking back to the days of heavy industry, Brains Dark - a traditional dark mild - was a favourite amongst miners, steel workers and dockers. Some might consider the dark mild an unfashionable beer style, but Brains Dark is a cultural significant beer which still enjoys relatively high popularity. At 3.5% on cask, this is a solid session beer. Flavour-wise, notes of coffee, dark chocolate and a hint of liquorice give an interesting palate.
Conwy - Clogwyn Gold
Clogwyn Gold from leading North Wales brewery Conwy is a traditional golden ale with a modern twist, utilising high quality North American hops. This beer has a very pleasant nose with tropical juice, kiwi fruit and grapefruit. The palate is well balanced with fruity and floral notes giving a refreshing character. A slight hint of sweetness leads to a mellow finish.
West by Three - Gose 4 Ways - Sea Salt, Seaweed and Lime
The Gose beer style originates in the German town of Goslar near Leipzig. Something of a curiosity, this wheat beer is traditionally brewed using coriander and salt, with sour and salty flavours coming though. Small-batch brewers West by Three’s take on this style is excellent. Citrus fruit, soured fruits and a note of sea salt all come through on the nose. The palate is very interesting… the first taste is of the sea, salty and fresh. This is followed by a cutting note of citrusy sourness, giving a sharp, tangy flavour.
Tenby - Black Flag Rum Porter
Tenby’s excellent Black Flag Rum Porter is a very memorable beer. The nose is rich with sweet molasses giving a strong rum-like scent, with a smokey note also coming through. The flavour is malty with a background of coffee and tasty little hints of raisins and dark rum. A fantastic porter, well worth seeking out.
Monty’s - Dark Secret
This beer comes from mid-Wales brewers Monty’s Brewery. Dark Secret is a gluten-free dark ale with a sweet malty nose and a full-bodied rich palate. Main flavours are dark chocolate and black coffee with a notable burnt bitterness to the finish.
6. Untapped - Ember
Raglan-based brewers Untapped’s Ember is a seasonal brew, a winter ale to be precise. This warming beer brings delicious flavours of dark cherry, coffee, liquorice along with a rich earthiness. The nose also has a hint of smoke, and the finish is well rounded. Just what you want on a cold winter’s evening.
7. Pipes - Pineapple Berliner Weisse
The Berliner Weisse is a well-known sour beer style… So sour, in fact, that often in Berlin you would drink them with the addition of a sweet cordial to take the edge off. This offering from Cardiff craft brewery Pipes is first class: tart, tangy and puckering with a refreshing sharpness. An excellent example of a sour beer, this is particularly thirst-quenching on a warm day. The low ABV of 3.7% makes this a very sessionable drink.
8. Heavy Industry - Pigeon Toed Orange Peel
An unusual name for an innovative beer, from North Walian brewers Heavy Industry. This is a Hefeweizen style beer, which is essentially a yeasty German wheat beer. This is a great example of the style, with notes of orange peel and coriander coming through along with a background hint of spice. Fruity aromas on the nose. This is a very well-balanced wheat beer.
9. Big Hand - Appaloosa
Big Hand are another excellent North Walian brewery and Appaloosa is an excellent American pale ale. The nose is floral and sweet - flavours which carry through to the palate, with hints of summer fruits also coming through. This crisp beer is very refreshing and is well-hopped with Centennial and Mosaic hops form North America bringing bitter balance to the malty body.
10. Brew Monster - Leviathan
Brew Monster are relative new kids on the block, although the Cwmbran brewers boast impressive brewing pedigree and experience. The brewery specialises in IPAs, of which Leviathan is a shining example. The nose bursts with scents of berry, flowers and fruit. The palate is bright with tropical flavours such as kiwi and lychee, with dry orange peel coming to the fore on a hoppy bitter finish.
For the first
time since probably the 1930s, Wales now has over 100 active breweries. The last decade has
seen a dramatic increase in the number of Welsh micro-breweries, with growth
outstripping all other parts of the UK apart from London.
Over the past couple of years, it has regularly been predicted that Wales would
soon break the 100 brewery barrier, with 88 independent breweries recorded in 2015.
It now appears that we have reached that landmark figure. Below, we have
listed all the active breweries in Wales – giving a total of 115. Four of
those breweries are not yet brewing commercially (denoted by *). However, even discounting those 4 companies still leaves a total of 111 breweries operating in Wales. The geographic
footprint of the breweries is impressive, with every local authority area in Wales (yes, all 22) having at least one brewery! In
terms of size and scale, the list is very diverse – including long-standing
giant Brains alongside newly established microbreweries. The r…
Here is the second post for the ‘100 Beers from Wales you must try’ series, taking us through numbers 11 to 20:
11. Crafty Devil - Safe as Milk Canton’s Crafty Devil are establishing themselves as a prominent player on the Welsh craft beer scene. A really high quality stout. An earthy and slightly smoky nose which leads to a strong flavour of black coffee with an almost charcoal-like flavour in the background. A smooth and creamy stout with a rich earthy finish. 12. Hopcraft - Profits of Doom Pontyclun brewery Hopcraft’s Profits of Doom is another very good Welsh stout. Woodsmoke and earthiness on the nose, which follows onto the palate with the interesting addition of dark fruits (berries and cherries), giving a slightly sweet malt kick. A slightly sharper finish than you might expect. An interesting beer. 13. Grey Trees - Afghan Pale Ale Aberdare’s Grey Trees are one of Wales’ most acclaimed breweries of recent years and deservedly so. Afghan Pale is an awarding winning ale which uses v…
A few years ago the Guardian produced a list of the top 10 craft beer pubs in Cardiff. Walesonline has produced a couple of similar lists, but inevitably such lists become outdated as some bars close whilst new ones open. The purpose of this post is to provide an up to date guide to the craft beer pubs/bars in Cardiff. I've decided not to rank them, or to limit the list to 10 because I believe it's important to try to present a holistic depiction of the thriving craft beer scene in Cardiff. In the last few years I've visited quite a few cities in the U.K. and Europe, as well as a couple in North America. I genuinely believe that Cardiff stands out as a high quality craft-beer destination. More needs to be done to promote Cardiff as a great destination for a city break, and the city’s flourishing craft beer scene could be a key element of its appeal. Before I start, one caveat: I've not included bottle shops - although there are some great ones in Cardiff. The focus here…