The best pub of 2016 so far – Queen’s Head Chepstow

Not posted on here for a while – but last night I went to a pub that reminded me of what a great pub is about – great beer, great company and it’s tiny so had to tell you all.

The Queen’s Head Micropub in Chepstow – is doing what a lot of pubs used to do – provide a great place to go for a chat and great beer – as long you don’t take 50 friends along.

It’s a single-room bar measuring just 26 square metres – with the opening to the cellar in the small toilet, so when he needs to change a barrel you can’t go!

The landlord Glen has taken over the disused shop (which ironically used to be a pub) on 12 Moor street Chepstow, he’s doing a great job.

The first time we tried to get in last night we could not as it was full – but we went back later and had a great welcome – with a lot of Local real ales on, all kept in tiptop condition.

If you are ever in the town then make sure it’s your first stop, I WILL BE BACK


Great to see us Welsh getting uppity about Half n Half

Buzzfeed did a post yesterday from that London about this amazing new food stuff you can eat – Half n Half

ok they mention that in Wales we have had it for ages – but still has no one NOT HAD it?

but it did cause a mini twitter curry storm from the Welsh twitters and they are right too 🙂

plus some from outside of Wales

The Spiritual Home of Half N Half

Chip Alley Cardiff  Dirty Dots

Chip Alley Cardiff Tony's


Drink Beer for Charity

Beer Tasting of Tiny Rebel Brewing Co. Beers at their excellent Urban Tap House, Cardiff

30 April at approx 18:45

£10 a ticket – to include various samples of Tiny Rebel great local beer.

If you want to go accept this invite on facebook & purchase a ticket by donating via Lorna Doran’s Just Giving page > and mention Beer Tasting 🙂

all proceeds go to Velindre Cancer Centre Fundraising


Happy New Year – Cardiff Fireworks

Happy new year thanks for reading or looking in 2014 and hope you continue in 2015 🙂

Cardiff NYE FireworksCardiff NYE FireworksCardiff NYE FireworksCardiff NYE FireworksCardiff NYE FireworksCardiff NYE Fireworks


16 collaboration beers in Cardiff Brewdog

No that’s not the number I drank – it’s the number of beers they had on Saturday for their collaboration festival at the Cardiff branch of the Scottish brewery.


For the second year running, we have teamed our UK fleet of bars up with amazing local breweries to brew the biggest en masse collaboration effort known to man! And on Saturday 25th October 2014, you will be able to sample their efforts across 16 UK BrewDog bars.

The stand-out beer was White Chocolate Stout let me repeat that White Chocolate Stout (far left in the photo below) – light in colour but so very tasty – I’m a massive fan of Chocolate stouts as it is but this also had great aroma and unique flavour – but this is now in my top 20.


another favourite was the (ok not biased for Welsh Beer) but the Home of the Fruitcakes (6%) Strawberry & raspberry saison from Celt Experience tasted like a thick fruit sorbet that had melted in the glass

the other one that grab me by the collar was the Lovibonds Purple Rain.

so it looks like Brewdog has got me more into “pudding beer” which can’t be a bad thing.

Here is the full list

Aberdeen & Cromarty – Stoater Scotch Ale (7.5%) Scotch Ale w/ Oats, Brambles and Honey

Birmingham & Quantum Hop. Kettle. Black. (4.8%)
Hopfenschwarzweisse (Hoppy Black Wheat Beer)

Bristol & Wild Beer Co Rosa Canina (5.4%) Saison with rosehips and rosemary

Camden & Pressure Drop Syd Strong’s (7.1%) Black Rye IPA

Cardiff & Celt Experience Home of the Fruitcakes (6%) Strawberry & raspberry saison

Clapham Junction & Brodie’s Southside Zester (Livin La Vida Lime Juice) (3.7%) Lime Berlinerweisse

Dundee & Alechemy Smoked in History (5.2%) Smoked Porter

Edinburgh & Tempest False Provenance (6.8%) Borders Belgian Black ale

Glasgow & Fyne Ales SameWerking (5.1%) Rooibos Red Ale

Leeds & Ilkley Brewery Westwood Stout (6.5%) White Chocolate Stout

Manchester & Tickety Brew Coffee Wit (5.2%) Coffee-Infused Wheat Beer

Newcastle & Tyne Bank Amba Necta (6.5%) Honey and Apricot Amber Ale

Nottingham & Buxton Rough C’s (5%) Oatmeal Amber Lager

Sheffield & Red Willow Shut Up Meg (7%) IPA hopped and dry hopped with Simcoe & Citra

Shepherd’s Bush & Lovibonds Purple Rain (5.8%) Foraged Fruit Sour

Shoreditch & Five Points Smoke & Mirrors (7.8%) Smoked Porter


Wetherspoon’s International Real Ales Festival 17th October 2014 Beer List

Not sure why they don’t just post a list of all the beers instead of using a PDF or pageturner 🙁

beer list from Spoons website

NEW ZEALANDIan Ramsay has returned to EverardsBrewery, in Leicester, to brewhis second beer especially for aWetherspoon real-ale festival. Thiswell-balanced copper-coloured sessionbeer is brewed with English pale maltand a generous quantity of caramelmalt, plus New Zealand hops foraroma and English hops for bittering.

2. BATH PROPHECY3.9% ABVThis crisp, light, pale ale has a fruity(yet pine-like) aroma, whose notescontinue into the flavour, resulting in adry, bitter and complex character anda finish to fulfil all your expectations.

3. SHEPHERD NEAME WHITSTABLEBAY PALE ALE3.9% ABVThis pale ale has glorious grapefruitand pine aromas, leading to a sweetmaltiness, balanced by a subtlebitterness imparted by late-hoppingduring brewing. This results in athirst-quenching character.

4. BREW MOON ANTIPODEAN ALE4.0% ABVBelinda Gould has travelled to Hook
NEW ZEALANDNorton Brewery, in Oxfordshire,to brew this beer especially for thisWetherspoon real-ale festival. Thisgolden beer has a lemon and citrusaroma, from the New Zealand hopswhose notes continue into the flavour,with moderate bitterness, balancedby rich flavours from the English maltsused. The addition of wheat malt leadsto a full head and pleasing mouthfeel.

4.0% ABVThis popular beer made its nationaldébut at our 2009 autumn real-alefestival. It is dark amber in colour,with hints of popcorn and softtoffee on the aroma, a balance ofnuts, toffee and tropical fruits in theflavour and a dry, grainy malt finish.

4.1% ABVThis frighteningly good red rye aleis brewed using a complex blendof hops, imparting a hoppy, citrusaroma and balancing the roastedmalt flavours, before supplyinga sharp, crisp aftertaste.

7. MARSTON’S OYSTERSTOUT4.1% ABVThis rich, dark and exceptionallycreamy stout has a fruity, floraland spicy character, derived fromEnglish aroma hops, balancedby a roasted malt bitterness.

8. BANKS’S BOTANICAL BEER4.2% ABVThis beer harks back to a time whenale was brewed without hops, usinggruit – the medieval term for aherb & spice blend. It is copper incolour, with the gruit complementingthe hops used, resulting in floral,spicy, citrus and peppery notes.

4.2% ABVThis light golden ale, availableexclusively in cask at this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, has a floral aroma,with orange notes, followed bya rich and luscious flavour, withmalt sweetness, balanced by ahop bitterness bite in the finish.

10. JW LEES JOHN WILLIE’S 1004.2% ABVThis new beer, named after oneof the first tanks used in battle,commemorates the start of the WorldWar I. It is mahogany in colour, witha floral, spicy aroma, the spicinesscontinuing into the flavour, beforeresulting in a pleasing, rounded finish.

11. LIBERATION AMERICANBROWN ALE4.2% ABVThis new beer, exclusive to thisWetherspoon real-ale festival, isbrewed using amber and brownmalts to produce a smooth,nutty flavour, while the Americanhops blend supplies an excellentbalance and full hop aroma.

12. MORLAND OLD HOPPY HEN4.2% ABVThis golden beer has been madeavailable again in cask form, especiallyfor this Wetherspoon real-alefestival. Pale and crystal malts givebiscuit and toffee notes, with ryeadding a touch of spiciness, while thehops impart fresh grapefruit, citrusand tropical fruit characteristics.

4.2% ABVThis golden-coloured ale has asubtle hop character from itsdelicate combination of hops, withthe finest Yorkshire malted barleygiving a full-bodied balance, resultingin a memorable, satisfying ale.

14. BATEMANS COLONEL’S WHISKERS4.3% ABVExclusive to this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, this is a 21st-centurycrafty higher-strength rework ofthis brewery’s award-winning mild.Dark, rich and creamy, with a full-
bodied, velvety subtle hop character,its style is somewhere between atraditional mild and a modern stout.

15. BUTCOMBE CRIMSON KING4.3% ABVThis new red beer is brewed usingrye malt to give distinctive spicy,dry flavours, while the hop varietiesused combine to deliver a fresh,fruity aroma and refreshing flavourbursting with hop character.

4.3% ABVThis new beer has been developedespecially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, using a new Americanhop variety, in collaboration with hopmerchants Charles Faram. This deepgolden beer has powerful, zesty fruityhop notes in the aroma, plus hintsof grapefruit, citrus and lychees.

17. ROOSTER’S UNION GAP4.3% ABVThis new pale beer, brewedexclusively for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, showcases three hopvarieties from America’s northwestand is named after a town in theYakima Valley. Expect a full hopcharacter, with aromas and flavoursof lemon peel and orange.

18. EVAN EVANS ARTISANCLUSTER NUT4.4% ABVThis new mid-coloured seasonal alehas an inviting floral hop aroma, leadingto a spicy hop character, balancedby a smoothness from the torrifiedwheat, with a lasting fruit finish.

19. STRATHAVEN FIERY CAULDRON4.4% ABVThis light amber seasonal alehas a distinctively spicy gingeraroma, leading to a complex,richroasted character, from the firsttaste to the finish – balanced bysubtle, underlying hop notes.

20. TRING HAZY HOEDOWN4.4% ABVThis has been brewed specially forthis Wetherspoon real-ale festivalas a collaboration between TringBrewery and Michaela White ofUpstairs Brewing, duty manager atWetherspoon pub The Masque Hauntand a qualified part-time brewer. Itis in the style of an American wheatbeer, pale and naturally hazy inappearance, with a full aroma leadingto a refreshing character, imparted byits blend of wheat and hop varieties.

21. TWO BIRDS GOLDEN ALE4.4% ABVJayne and Danielle have travelledto Banks’s Brewery, in the West
AUSTRALIAMidlands, to brew this beer especiallyfor this Wetherspoon real-ale festival.It uses ale, wheat and Vienna maltsto provide the rich golden colourand light honey character, whilethe hop varieties provide melonand apricot notes in the flavour.and citrus aromas, leading to spice

22. HARVIESTOUN OLD ENGINE OIL4.5% ABVThis midnight-black porter iswickedly smooth, with hints ofdark cherries, roasted malt andcoffee on the nose, leading toa rich palate of dark chocolate,coffee, toast and sweet caramel,balanced by a bitter, hoppy finish.

23. MAXIM THESIMCOE KID4.5% ABVThis new golden ale, brewedexclusively for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, has a tropicalfruitaroma burst, leading to pleasingbitterness, with plenty of citrus notes,resulting in a long, refreshing finish.

24. OKELL’S IPA4.5% ABVThis light-coloured beer has asurprisingly full-bodied taste, with aninitial sweetness offset by generoushopping, resulting in an overallroundness, with plenty of spicy,lemony notes and a fine, dry finish.

25. VALEThis straw-coloured beer, brewedMETAMORPHOSIS 4.5% ABV
exclusively for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, is crafted from ablend of American, English andNew Zealand hops, imparting afruity, citrus aroma, pleasing hoppyflavour and clean, fresh finish.
fine pale malt and a touch of wheat,while its hops impart the rich fruityflavour and fruity, citrus finish.

26.WHITE HORSE CAMARILLO 4.5% ABVThis new, pale, seasonal beer derivesits colour

27. ARUNDEL AUTUMN BREEZE4.6% ABVThis new seasonal beer is brewedin the style of a dark old ale, with apleasing roast malt aroma continuinginto the flavour, combining withberry fruit and chocolate notes,resulting in a smooth, fruity finish,with some hop bitterness.

NETHERLANDS Roel Wagemans has travelled to Caledonian Brewery, in Edinburgh, to brew this beer especially for this Wetherspoon real-ale festival. This India session ale is deep gold in colour, with its New World hops offering a floral, bitter character which develops into a tropical citrus finish, enhanced by the addition of lime and underlined by a firm malt base.

29. MOORHOUSE’S BLACKCAT RESERVE4.6% ABVThis dark beer is a stronger versionof this brewery’s award-winning mild,intense in character, with complexnotes of roasted coffee, chocolateand mocha balanced by hints ofdark cherry and blackcurrant.

30. ADNAMS 1659SMOKED RUBY BEER4.7% ABVThis new light brown beer, exclusiveto Wetherspoon in cask, has a subtle,sweet, smoky aroma, with its smokyflavour containing hints of raisins, datesand coffee, along with a restrainedbitterness, leading to a dry finish.

4.7% ABVThis new pale-coloured beer, brewedexclusively for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, has a sweet citrusnose, with emerging hints of grapefruit,leading to further citrus notes in thepredominantly hoppy flavour, resultingin a delicate, smooth, bitter finish.

32. THWAITES HOBNOBBER4.7% ABVThis beer is available on anoccasional basis only, brewed againespecially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival. The flavour isdominated by a malty moreishness,while the biscuit notes continuethrough to a pleasing nutty finish

33. BANKS & TAYLOR’SHITCHIN OLD DARK4.8% ABVThis new black porter has beenbrewed exclusively for thisWetherspoon real-ale festival. Ithas a strong malty aroma, leadingto a rich flavour, enhanced bysubtle chocolate undertones andleading to a long, nutty finish.

ITALYFabio Brocca and Mattia Bonardihave travelled to Marston’s Brewery,in Staffordshire, to brew this beerespecially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival. This amber-colouredbeer has initial notes of mandarinand orange (imparted by theAmerican hops), leading to citrusnotes which balance the delicatetaste of malt, resulting in a moderatebody and pleasing dry finish.

35. OAKHAM GREATGUSTAV4.5% ABVThis new, pale golden ale hasbeen brewed exclusively for thisWetherspoon real-ale festival,packed with generous quantitiesof German hops to give zesty fruitaromas and a refreshing flavour,balanced by a subtle sweetness.

36. COACH HOUSE TOFFEE BITTER5.0% ABVThis pale, straw-coloured beer is oneof the most popular of this brewery’ssuccessful range of flavoured ales, witha pleasing toffee note evident in thenose and palate, complemented by agood balance of malt and hop flavours.
37. EVERARDS TIGERTRIPLE GOLD5.0% ABVThis popular seasonal brew isusually brewed only for Everards’own pubs, yet has been brewedespecially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival. It is deep copper incolour, with a malty, spicy nose anda well-balanced fruity flavour, leadingto a clean and refreshing finish.38. LONG MAN GOLDEN TIPPLE5.0% ABVThis deep-golden-hued beer, brewedagain especially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, has aromas of lime,fruit and pineapple, leading to ahoppy flavour, with hints of citrus andlemon, plus a full, medium-dry finish.

39. MORDUE AMERICANA5.0% ABVThis new beer has been brewedexclusively for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival in the style of anAmerican brown ale, with a citrusand orange pith aroma, leading to afull, balanced flavour, with hints ofchocolate and roast grains emergingto impart a memorable character.

40. 10 BARREL O.G. IPA5.0% ABV USATonya Cornett has returned, this time toWadworth Brewery, in Wiltshire, to brewthis especially for this Wetherspoon real-
ale festival. Wheat beers and IPAs aregenerally considered to be on oppositesides of the spectrum, but 10 Barrel begsto differ. Brewed with 50% wheat malt,this smooth, deep golden IPA balances aslight tartness from the wheat malt withdistinct grapefruit citrus hop notes, thanksto the use of Australian Galaxy hops.

41. TITANIC HOP ABROAD5.0% ABVThe Titanic was built to travel the world– and this beer, breed exclusively forthis Wetherspoon real-ale festival, doesso all in one glass. With its abundance ofhops from every corner of the globe, itis light and refreshing, with a myriad hopnotes sailing out of the aroma and flavour.


42.WADWORTH HEATHER AND HONEY5.0% ABVThis rare golden-coloured beer hasbeen brewed again, exclusively for thisWetherspoon real-ale festival, withheather added during the boiling andfermentation processes and honey fromthe lavender fields of the Mediterranean,creating a distinctive, strong-flavouredhoney ale, with a hint of lavender.


43. OAKLEAF BLAKE’S GOSPORT BITTER5.2% ABVThis deep mahogany beer, not brewedsince November 2012, has been broughtback especially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival, with its smoky liquoricearoma leading to a roasted treacleflavour and a long, bitter finish.


44. BREWSTER’S BREWERS DOZEN5.5% ABVThis rare beer has been brewed againexclusively for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival. It is rich amber incolour with a pleasing roasted maltbase, complemented by plenty ofresinous and citrus hop notes.


45.CALEDONIAN TROJAN HORSE5.5% ABVThis new beer is so named as it is abeer within a beer (an IPA within aschwarzbier), black in colour, with afloral and herbal aroma, leading to asuperb balance of bittersweet darkmalt and citrus hop characteristics.


46. SIXPOINTBKLYN BITTER5.5% ABV USAHeather McReynolds has travelled toAdnams Brewery, in Suffolk, to brew thisbeer especially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival. The abundance ofAmerican hops in this light amber beerimparts a floral, citrus aroma and notesof grapefruit, orange and spice in theflavour, leading to a thirst-quenchingbitterness balanced by a malty backbone.


47.WOODFORDE’S PHOENIX IPA5.5% ABVThis new seasonal beer uses Norfolk-
grown Maris Otter malt as the base forits flavour, then is boldly hopped withEnglish hops to give balance, while thelate addition of the American Amarillohops gives a lasting citrus finish.


48. ABBAYE DU VAL-DIEU ABBAYE BLONDE6.0% ABV BELGIUMVirginie Harzé has returned from thisbrewery (based in the abbey grounds)to Shepherd Neame Brewery, in Kent,to brew this beer especially for thisWetherspoon real-ale festival. Thisis pale yellow in colour and slightlycloudy in appearance, with a beautifullyperfumed, slightly piquant aroma.Its flavour is initially sweet, beforedeveloping a refreshing bitterness andfruitiness, resulting in a hoppy finish.


49. ELYSIAN NIGHT OWL PUMPKIN ALE6.5% ABV USADick Cantwell has returned to brewhis second beer especially for aWetherspoon real-ale festival, this time atWychwood Brewery, in Oxfordshire. Thiscopper-coloured ale is spiced with ginger,cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice,together with pumpkin concentrate,providing a distinctive, complex flavour,with a subtle, underlying bitterness.


50. WICKED WEED FREAK OF NATURE7.5% ABV USAWalt and Luke Dickinson havetravelled to Batemans Brewery,in Lincolnshire, to brew thisbeer especially for this Wetherspoonreal-ale festival – their second timeover here to brew for us. This goldenbeer is brewed in the style of a classicwest coast double IPA, with hugeamounts of hops giving strong, citrusand tropical fruit aromas, leading toa big, deep flavour, with a moderatebitterness and dry finish on the palate.


Brains want to scare you into drinking beer

Cardiff Brewery Brains is to launch a seasonal ale for Halloween, complete with motion-effect pump clip – which I’m sure people will nick and put on ebay in November 🙂

Open Casket, a rich, deep-red beer with bite, is available across Brains’ pub estate, as well as a number of key wholesalers and retail businesses, throughout October.

The motion-effect pump clip uses lenticular printing – a first for Brains – so when the pint is pulled customers will see a changing – and spooky – face.

Open Casket is deep-red, full-bodied and gives a reviving bite. Cara Red and Cara Hell Malts offer a deep saturated colour and rousing malt aroma. With just a touch of Midnight Wheat, it is rich in flavour, hopped with Bramling Cross for a spicy sensation.


You remember when you were young? a new LP every other week?

Due to work changes I had to clear out my desk as I’m becoming one of the hotdesk generation.

I’m happy with that as I would prefer to work from my shed anyway, but the downside is that over the last 14 years I have collected a lot of rubbish i.e. personal jetsam

I have tried to hold onto the toys/fancies of digital fun eg Star Wars characters, noise making gadgets and breweriana – that I should have grown out of in my thirties – BTW I’m keeping my TARDIS whatever – but I have given away or recycled the rest.

Digital media is a lot more serious and a gonk is not what separates you from the next twenty year old anymore – even though they were in school when I wrote my first perl script.

But with this last sweep of my late youth – I came about the last LP I ever bought – from 2004, Velvet Revolver’s – excellent debut Contraband.

Three months after I bought it I saw them in Cardiff CIA (see even that has changed)

of course thinking back it was my youth calling when I bought this

Slash was the hero of my youth with his first release on the first tapes I ever bought – G N R Appetite for Destruction,

you can not stop the future – now where’s my DAT of the spaghetti incident.


My top Five Welsh Beers

The nice people (former colleagues) over at Walesonline asked me to come up with a list of great Welsh beers – they were in no particular order so

Here are my Top Five from the list I have had this year – there seems to be a lot of variants on stouts/porters – and no surprise Tiny Rebel come top – 90% of their beers this year have been amazing

1) Dirty Stop Out, Tiny Rebel: A stunning smoked oat stout which rightfully was Champion Beer of Wales 2013. ABV: 5%

Tiny Rebel Beer : Dirty Stop Out

2) Hadouken, Tiny Rebel: A perfect example of an IPA ABV: 7.4%

3) Shining Tsar, Brains Craft: One of the many excellent ‘craft’ beers from Brains – strong but very drinkable ABV: 7.5%

4) O6 Porter, Otley: Very good porter – also look out for the excellent mOtley Brew. ABV: 6.6%

5) Boilermaker, Brains Craft: A hoppy beer matured with Penderyn whisky-infused oak chips in Penderyn casks. Great on keg or bottled. ABV: 6.5%

of course I’m sure you have had others – so feel free to list your top five in the comments 🙂


The perfect bar snack – crisps but not like crisps you have had before hop infused crisps

The brilliant craftbeer bar Urban Tap House in Cardiff is experimenting with bar snacks and the latest edition are the amazing hop crisps.

Made with Maris piper potatoes then cooked in vegetable oil with hops(citra) infused for a few minutes then tossed in a home-made seasoning (secret)

THESE are the best crisps I have ever tasted – ok I have a cold – but they smelt of beer and tasted sweet and salty – highly recommended.

Can’t wait to see that chef Paul has up his white{s} sleeves –

I think mini scotch eggs would be my lunch everyday if they did them – black pudding, boar and Gloucester old spot:)