Sunday, 9 December 2012

A little oasis in a Brains desert.....

EDIT: Pub is under new management and the beer range has changed. 

Just wanted to pull together a little post to trumpet the latest developments at my local, The Three Elms on Merthyr Road in Whitchurch.

Now Whitchurch has several pubs, most of which are Brains houses, and this is great if you only ever want to drink Dark, SA, Black or the like - all of which I enjoy, but none of which I want to drink in isolation.

So it has been with increasing pleasure that in recent months, the far sighted landlord of The Three Elms, which is after all a Greene King food led operation (a hungry horse themed outlet) has persuaded the guys at GK to allow him to stock a few different real ales, and what a choice he has made.

Huw, for tis he who manages the pub, has built up a relationship with two local based brewers, the ever wonderful Otley brewery and the superb Celt brewery.

This now means that at all times you now have a choice of at least two, and more generally three offerings from these breweries - which is great news for real ale lovers in North Cardiff.

Tonight, as I visit, there's a choice of O3 Boss and O-Ho-Ho from Otley Brewery, and Native Storm from the Celt Brewery.

Having sampled both the latter, the are in excellent condition, kept well, and are a delight to drink. I shall have a drop of the O3 later, but I was keen to put pen to paper (so to speak) to tell you all about this little drop on non Brains beer in a vast Brains wonderland... It's a great move from Huw so all power to his elbow, and visit here soon if you want to seek out some award winning and superb drinks from Wales.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Christmas at ffresh

Diners at ffresh Restaurant at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay will be served carols alongside their Christmas pudding at a festive Christmas Music Night.

The evening on Monday, December 3, is the latest in a series of live music nights where members of the Welsh National Opera Chorus entertain customers as they enjoy a three-course menu using the best award-winning Welsh produce.

The menu for the Christmas Music Night menu includes a three course dinner with a choice of cream of parsnip and honey soup; smoked salmon mousse, brown toast and horseradish crème fraiche; ham hock and parsley terrine with piccalilli relish or Shaun Hill’s twice baked soufflé with spinach puree to start. The main course selection includes slow cooked shoulder of Welsh lamb, cassoulet of white beans with sage and rosemary; fillet of black bream, herb risotto and tomato salsa; loin of pork and braised belly, mustard mash, curly kale and café au lait jus and Jerusalem artichoke pudding and deep fried flat bread. All accompanied with a generous serving of vegetables. And to finish there’s a choice of traditional Christmas pudding with Penderyn whiskey sauce; dark chocolate and Merlyn tart with Sub Zero ice-cream; iced mango parfait with passion fruit milkshake or a selection of Welsh cheeses with Daffodil Cottage oat cakes.

At intervals during the courses live music will be performed at by PEDW4R. Its members Meriel Andrew (soprano); Sian Meinir (mezzosoprano); Michael Clifton Thompson (tenor)  and Martin Lloyd (bass) are all in the Chorus of the Welsh National Opera and their programme includes popular Christmas classics such as Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland, White Christmas, When a Child Is Born and Mary's Boy Child; traditional carols Oh Holy Night; Away in a Manger, In the Bleak Mid Winter, Hark the Herald Angels and Oh Come all ye Faithful plus Welsh seasonal favourites Si Lwli and Seren Nadolig.

Tickets for the Christmas Music Night are £39 per person and include a welcome drink, three courses, coffee, half a bottle of wine and entertainment. To book tickets visit: or call 029 2063 6464

The music night is part of the Centre’s Taste Christmas programme of events which includes a Christmas Craft and Food Market on Saturday December 8, Sunday December 9, Saturday December 15 and Sunday, December 16 and Afternoon Tea with Father Christmas.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Ancre Hill Crowned World Champions

Now I've been saying this for a long time to anyone who will listen to me (easy now), but in Wales we have some of the best sparkling wines I have tasted - and in my opinion, in Ancre Hill Estates produce the very best of the best.

Quite simply, to my taste their sparkling rosé is the best sparkling rosé I have ever tasted, and now I am pleased to see that their 2008 White Sparkling Wine has been voted as the best in the world !

Their wine has been voted the best White Sparkling Wine in the world at the Bollicine del Mondo international competition held annually in Verona, Italy.  The competition is in its fifth year and is organised by the leading Italian wine magazine, Euposia.  This is the second success for an English & Welsh wine following Nyetimber’s win in 2009.

This success came against some of the best Champagnes in the world, including Bollinger, Champagne de Saint Gall (a close second), Baron de Rothschild, Pannier, Feuillette and Paul Bara amongst others.

An international panel of 24 judges from Italy, France, Spain, Argentina, USA, Sweden and UK adjudicated under the rules of the Grand Jury Européen.

Richard Morris of Ancre Hill Estates commented: “We are delighted with this result which is a massive plus for Wales and the Welsh Wine Industry.  It proves quality sites exist in Wales capable of growing the best quality fruit which can be made in to world class wine. Our vineyard site, sitting in its own meso-climate in Monmouth, together with our bio-dynamic farming practices undoubtedly points the way forward for the Industry.”

This is great news for Richard and Joy and their team at Ancre Hill Estates, who are passionate about wine and Welsh Wine in particular, and it's great news for Wales and the drinks industry here.

So, as Christmas approaches, I can think of no better way to celebrate at your party, or over Christmas Dinner with a bottle of Welsh World Champion Winning Ancre Hill Estate Sparkling White Wine... go on you know you want to ..... you can buy Ancre Hill Estates wines at Fine Wines Direct or Tanners Wines.

Cheers and many congratulations !!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

An Evening of Whisky and Wonder at The Conway

Occasionally we get asked to push out details of events... and we are happy to let you guys know about this one coming up.......

Michelin Pub Guide entrant The Conway in Pontcanna will be hosting an evening dedicated to whisky and gastronomy on Tuesday November 27th 2012.

The evening, which will be led by a Gordon & MacPhail whisky expert, will match a six course tasting menu created by The Conway’s kitchen team, with a specially selected selection of six whiskies designed to enhance each and every dish.

The menu includes classic Celtic favourites including Rarebit and Haggis, combined with slightly more exotic fare including spiced soy chicken thigh with shallot purée and Jamaican ginger cake served with vanilla ice cream.

The six whiskies on offer include Island Malt 2000 which has a sweet nose combining orange peel and vanilla, whilst the twelve year old Campbeltown Malt has an oaky palate with hints of figs and nuts. The Highland Malt bottled in 1993 has a vibrant nose combining shades of cut hay, mixed fruit, menthol and caramel, which develops into a flavour of sherried fruit and winter spice with herbal notes on the palate.

Serge Luceau, Director for Knife & Fork Food who own The Conway, commented: “We know from our regulars that whisky has a large and loyal following, especially quality brands like Gordon & MacPhail, who are legends in the whisky world.

“It seemed like a wonderful idea to host an evening dedicated to the amber nectar and combine it with some incredible dishes that would really bring out the best in the different whiskies we will be serving our guests. What better way to spend a cold November evening?”

Gordon & Macphail who are regarded as the world’s leading malt whisky specialists, are located in the north-east of Scotland in the heart of the world famous whisky producing region of Speyside. Gordon & MacPhail is an independent family owned and managed firm which has been bottling Single Malt Whiskies for over 116 years.

Whisky tasting evening: six course, food matched, whisky tasting menu £35. Call 029 2022 4373 for more information and to book tickets.

Knife & Fork Food Website

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Let the train (or bus) take the strain for a pint !

Starting tomorrow (27th April) The Old Swan Inn in Llantwit Major is holding a beer festival which I am happy to help promote.

The pub, which dates back to the 12th century, is issuing an open invite to ale lovers across South Wales to come and sample the 25 different types of beer and cider on offer, including the famously strong Firebox beer, back again this year by demand. There will also be beer from breweries like RCH, Wye Valley, Wickwar, VOG, Breconshire and Otley.

Anyone who chooses to travel to Llantwit Major by train or bus will be able to exchange their ticket for a free pint at any point over the weekend.  The pub is just a short walk from the station, which is well-served by trains every hour from Cardiff.

Your round !

The Welsh beer and cider line-up will be complemented by bands from the local area, who will be playing live music throughout the weekend.  While the event lends itself to the outdoors in the large beer-garden, rain will not stop play, with a specially erected marquee lined up to accommodate the festival goers.

This is the first of a programme of festivals the pub, which is part of the Knife & Fork Food Group, will be laying on over the course of the summer with plans for similar events to coincide with the Queen’s jubilee and the National Eisteddfod.

Landlord Sean Murphy said of the event: “Beer festivals really do indicate the start of summer and we are looking forward to welcoming both our regular patrons and some new faces. The public transport to Llantwit serves us very well and we hope our offer to buy any travellers a drink will encourage people to go a little bit farther afield that weekend.

“We are confident that our line up of the great and the good of beers and ciders is the best we’ve seen yet, and we are looking forward to getting feedback on the ones we have chosen.  It will be a fantastic weekend, whether you are a beer drinker or not, and there is plenty of entertainment on offer.”

The Festival runs until Sunday 29th April.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Project Venus 4

Earlier this week, the Huffington Post ran an article entitled 'Where are all the Women Brewers ?' - well I can tell Jane Peyton that tomorrow, a fair chunk of them from the UK and Ireland will be in Wigan at the Prospect Brewery undertaking the fourth brew of Project Venus.

Among them will be our own Sue Hayward from the Waen Brewery in Mid Wales, who is one of the driving forces behind Project Venus and will be off to Wigan tomorrow to take part in the fourth brew day.

Inspired by the Pink Boots Society in America. This project aims to promote women in the UK brewing industry by collaborative brewing.

Involved in the project are Sue Hayward (Waen Brewery), Sara Barton (Brewsters), Sara Carter (Triple fff), Kathy Britton (Oldershaws), Patsy Slevin (Prospect), Michelle Haylock Kelsell,(Offbeat), Jennifer Nicholls, (Northcote), Sophie De Ronde (Brentwood), Grainne Walsh (Metalman), Angela Wurges (Zero Degrees), Tracy Brown (Molson Coors), Janine Shorrock (Ashover), Pene Coles (Sandstone/Jolly Brewer), Claire Monk (Kelham Island), Catherine Bate (Flowerpots), and Nicola Hughes (Happy Valley).

Project Venus UK and Eire was originally the idea of Sara Barton at Brewster's Brewery, to raise the profile of female brewers (Brewsters) in the brewing industry using collaborative brewing.  Each brew recipe is decided amongst the brewsters (usually using Facebook and twitter!). 

The early brew days consisted of 5 or 6 brewsters brewing a beer at one of the breweries, the first one being at Brewster's Brewery, the second at Oldershaws and the third at Triple fff.  The 4th is happening tomorrow (Saturday 14th January 2012) at Prospect Brewery, home of Brewster Patsy Slevin.  

In a short time the numbers of Brewsters involved has grown to more than 16 members including one from international brewers Molson Coors, Tracy Brown, who will be attending the brew day tomorrow. Tracy has had to have a sense of humour to cope with the friendly banter from Project Venus watchers who are wondering if us craft brewers will be able to teach Molson Coors a bit about 'flavours'!  

Launches of each beer are usually held near to the brewery used to host the brew but two London launches have also taken place at the 'The Rake'.  The last brew went National, appearing as an Ember Inns promotion.

2012 looks like being a big year for Project Venus with a possible BBC2 appearance coming up in the spring and lots of brew days and launches planned.  Who knows, there could even be a 'Project Venus Bar' at the Great British Beer Festival one day!   Lets get the word out that women brew great beer!! 

Happy 2012

Well a Happy New Year to one and all !!
I've been a little off the ball in updating the blog in recent months so please forgive me for that.. normal service will be resumed shortly.
I'm also hoping to make 2012 a year where Drinks from Wales grows, so if you want to be involved then do get in touch.