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By beerrevhay, Mar 1 2017 11:34AM

There’s no better way to toast Wales’ patron saint than with a glass, or a few, of Welsh beer. Traditional breweries abound, of course, but Wales is noisily playing its own part in the craft beer renaissance, staking its claim on the demand for flavour-packed, inventive exciting. Here’s our guide to the little guys making a splash in Wales’ beer world. Iechyd da!


Crafty Devil (Cardiff)



What started out as a two-man band operating from a B&Q garden shed is now a 2000 litre-a-week brewery employing nine people, but the next step in Crafty Devil’s journey will take more than the incendiary ambition of founders Rhys Watkins and Adam Edinborough. Currently they’re sending all their beer to contract canners for packaging, but they have a long term goal to get their music-inspired brews to their adoring fans quicker and fresher by installing their own canning line. In the meantime, they’ve expanded production and moved premises to a shiny new brewing facility.


Seren (Pembrokeshire)

Small scale brewing is a license to experiment and as Wales’ smallest outfit, Seren has that freedom in spades. Operating from a converted scullery deep in the Preseli hills of Pembrokeshire, brewer Ali Kocho-Williams has reaped accolades for his legendary Bluestone IPA, but the slow-beating heart of Seren is its sour beer and barrel aging programme. Ali cultures his own house strains of beer-souring critters, resulting in wild ales with unusual depth and earthy complexity. In June, Seren will be representing Wales at Italy’s Arrogant Sour Festival and Ali plans to build on his success in barrel aging by releasing a sour brown ale aged in the UK’s only maple barrel.


Tiny Rebel (Newport)




Tiny Rebel’s roughed-up bear comes of age this month, cementing five whirlwind years of success with a £2.6m expansion to a brand new brewery and event space with the capacity to produce 5 million litres of beer a year. They’ve already christened the new facility with the release of their first canned beers, but despite the innovation and investment in new packaging technologies they plan to keep a foot in the old school: while other craft breweries have called time on the production of cask beer, Tiny Rebel have pledged their allegiance to traditional dispense by expanding their cask range.


Geipel (Conwy)


In a scene largely dominated by US-inspired, hop-forward pale ales and IPAs, Geipel stands out as a beacon of European brewing tradition, drawing on German lagers and Hefeweizen for influence. Ohio-born founder Erik Geupel is on a mission to rescue lager’s reputation from the bland offerings of the big-beer, macro breweries, and his hazy, unfiltered and unpasteurised brews are a lesson in just how flavoursome this style can be given the right care, ingredients and attention.


Lines Brewing (Caerphilly)




Fully recovered from the bruising demise of Celt Experience, former head honcho Tom Newman is back with a new project focusing on high-end, experimental brews with a strong Belgian influence and aimed at the most discerning beer connoisseur. Caerphilly-based Lines has had an impressive start, bagging best new Welsh brewery and best Welsh beer for their imperial stout at the annual Ratebeer awards in the States.


Buy Welsh beer online




By beerrevhay, Dec 14 2016 08:09AM


September saw us with our journalist hats on, this time on commission for Ferment magazine and reporting from the judging session for the annual National Homebrew Competition.


This is the UK’s premier comp for amateur brewers, organised by Ali Kocho-Williams of Welsh nano-brewery Seren.


We learnt loads about homebrewing, but - more importantly for anyone who likes a bit of shiny - we came away with a steaming mashtun full of insights on how to do well at the National.


You can download the full piece in PDF format here, but in the meantime here’s three tips for would-be homebrew heroes.



Style guru


The national is run along Beer Judges Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines, which means judges are essentially ticking boxes as they assess beers against established style criteria. It’s not ‘do I like this beer?’, it’s ‘does this beer meet the style guidelines’. So - read up on the styles and their characteristics at the BJCP website, sample a few classic examples and try to emulate the best of the best.

Don’t be clever - be smart


Clever, tricksy beers can sometimes struggle as they often involve merging or straddling styles. A mango IPA is both an IPA and a fruit beer in BJCP competition terms - but it can only be entered in one category and might not push enough buttons in either to do well. The overall winner in September was a straight-up Munich Helles. No bells, no whistles - just very well done and to style.


Odds-on


One way of improving your chances of taking home a medal is to look at the odds. In BJCP comps, first, second and third gongs are dished out to category winners. In this year’s contest, your American-style pale ale would have been up against 34 other entries, giving you a roughly one in ten chance of placing. In a less popular category such as Strong British Ale, you’d have been duking it out with just six other beers - giving you an almost one in two chance of winning a medal!










By beerrevhay, Sep 17 2016 12:54PM



Omnipollo // Beavertown // Dugges // Magic Rock & more…


Multiple new beers have hit the shelves at Beer Rev HQ - here’s the lowdown:


From our fave Bristolians, Wiper and True, we have Bread Pudding - a rich amber ale brewed in collaboration with Toast Ales using surplus bread. Brandy-soaked currants, cinnamon and vanilla are in the mix as well - emulating the classic British dessert, in liquid form!


We’ve also got Wiper’s new Citra pale ale, with bold citrus, mango & papaya flavours.


New cans from Huddersfield’s Magic Rock have landed. Inhaler is a juicy pale, perfect for quenching your Indian summer thirst. Meanwhile Rapture is a hoppy red - full bodied with aromas of grapefruit and pine, and a pithy orange flavour.


Omnipollo are back with Fantamorgana, an 8% double IPA, naturally cloudy and double dry-hopped for bags of flavour.


Their fellow Swedes Dugges are making a debut on our shelves with Tropic Sunrise - a sour fruit ale with mango, pineapple and raspberry - and Orange Haze, a US-style IPA loaded with citra, cascade and columbus hops for a sweet, citrus aroma and orangey taste.


From US stalwarts Stone we’ve got Mocha. We’ve heard great things about this beer - a double IPA with coffee and cacao - and it scores a whopping 98/100 on Ratebeer!


Morello Theory from Bristol crew Good Chemistry is back in stock - this is a rich and decadent dark ale aged on Morello cherries. Very moreish!


Fresh goods from Beavertown in the form of Lupuloid - this brand new addition to their core range is a straight-up, no messin’ IPA. Also back for a second time around is their collab with Boneyard Beer - Bloody Notorious, a blood orange Double IPA. If you missed it earlier this year, jump on the DIPA train and get some liquid sunshine in your face.


Brand new cans are in from London’s Brodies Beers. These guys were one of the original innovators and they’re not afraid to move with the times. It’s the Old Street pale ale and Jamaican Stout from them.


Finally Pressure Drop are back with a re-brew of their ENZ Southern Hemisphere IPA. 330ml of New Zealand-hopped awesomeness at 7.1%











By beerrevhay, Feb 27 2016 09:37AM

No St. David’s Day celebration is complete without a Welsh beer - or several - to toast the nation’s patron saint, and we're bringing the cheer with some of the finest around. From hop-bomb pale ales to award-winning Welsh red’s, we've got it covered. Here’s our guide to quenching your thirst on March 1st.


Tiny Rebel



Welsh craft beer was cast into the spotlight in 2015 when Tiny Rebel took the Supreme Champion crown at the Great British Beer Festival with their Welsh red ale, ‘Cwtch’. Hoppy, malty and easy-drinking, Cwtch - Welsh for ‘hug’ - cemented the Newport upstarts’ rise from beer-geek garage homebrewers to big time.


Mad Dog



In just eighteen months, Mad Dog has grown from a tiny, kitchen stove operation to an all-singing, all dancing brewery on the outskirts of Pontypool. It’s all down to one man - Al Jones - and his phenomenal work ethic. When you’re waking bleary-eyed, Al is already deep into his first brew of the day, and planning the next. From designing labels and pump clips, to creating recipes, to delivering casks up and down the country, somehow Al manages to do the lot. Mad Dog’s All Day Granola Stout is the stuff of legend in South Wales. Also check out his rich, peach-infused Belgian-US triple, K9 Triplephenia


Waen Brewery



Waen’s restless head brewer Sue Hayward is constantly conjuring up new creations, but hop-forward pale ales (often Ska-themed) and Welsh red ales feature heavily. Her zesty Pamplemousse is a citrus-packed banger of a pale ale, with its lip-smacking tropical fruit flavour aroma derived from copious amounts of Cascade, Citra and Mosaic hops. Also watch out for Snowball - a hefty, 7% chocolate, vanilla and coconut stout. Sounds wrong. Isn’t.


Hopcraft



The clue is in the name - it’s all about the hops with head brewer Gazza. Twiggy brown beer doesn’t get look in as these brews are loaded with New World and southern hemisphere hops. Pales and hopped-up golden ales are the mainstay of Hopcraft’s output, with regular diversions into the realms of maple coffee porters (buy ‘Crema Extrema’ on sight) and delectable stouts.


Crafty Devil Brewery



Big beers combine with a love of big tunes in music-inspired brews, fiendishly crafted from the Devil’s Cardiff HQ. Stand out beers include their ‘Safe as Milk’ coffee milk stout and ‘Devil Man’ IPA. Making a new appearance in cans is their hoppy lager, Born Slippy.


The Celt Experience



Celt’s eclectic output - ranging from dry-hopped bitters to blackcurrant sours to saisons aged on raspberries - is inspired by the warrior tribes who gave the invading Romans a run for their money here in South Wales. Taking a lead from the natural world, Celt Experience put harvested wild yeasts and foraged ingredients to work in their Caerphilly-based brewery, to great effect.

By beerrevhay, Nov 26 2015 11:17PM

Beer Revolution is one year old this week - how time flies!


We opened this time last year as Hay revved up for the annual Winter Weekend, taking over a dusty old storeroom in the castle grounds.


As some of these pics will testify, it sometimes felt like a monumental task getting the place ready for opening - many, many hours were spent cleaning, painting, cleaning again, sign making, nailing lumps of wood together and researching the beers we wanted to put on the shelves.


(By the way - big thanks go out to local furniture maker Andy Dix for building our counter - people ask about it all the time, so if you've ever been in and wondered....well, Andy's the man.)









A year on, we reckon the effort was well worth it.


We had about sixty different craft beers and real ales on offer when we opened.


Gradually, the range has expanded to over 200 and if we had more room we’d probably squeeze a few more in.


The last year has seen us host world-renowned beer writer Melissa Cole, as well as meet the brewer events with Welsh outfits Waen and Lucky 7.


Meet the Brewer with Hay's Lucky 7
Meet the Brewer with Hay's Lucky 7

Melissa Cole hosts a tasting during Hay Festival
Melissa Cole hosts a tasting during Hay Festival

We’ve opened the previously out-of-bounds upper floor and transformed it into a grungy little bar.


We’ve survived the back-breaking long days and nights of Hay Festival and buzzed at wowing the staff at the Groucho next door with some of our favourite and most flavoursome brews.


And we’ve been responsible, I’m sure, for bringing certain beers to Herefordshire and Powys for the first time, ever.


As we move into year two, plenty more new stuff is in the pipeline, or already happening!


This website is part of that, as we take the business online.


Our first ever collaboration brew, with Hereford’s Odyssey, is already out in the wild at a couple of locations and getting rave reviews (we’ll be making a proper announcement on that one soon!)


Meanwhile this weekend we’ll be hosting Caerphilly-based Celt Experience for a beer & cheese pairing event, cementing our commitment to promoting quality Welsh produce.


Anyways, join us - if you fancy it. It’s gonna be great.


2016 is just around the corner. Onwards, comrades - another year in beer awaits!






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