We've asked beer expert Emma Inch to select some of her favourite Welsh craft ales from across Wales. So, take a tour of both ancient and modern and explore the country through one of our favourite drinks.
Multi award-winning Purple Moose Brewery has been based in the harbour town of Porthmadog since 2005. Its Snowdonia Ale is perfect refreshment after a hard day’s walking in the mountains. Purple Moose hosts regular brewery tours, the price of which includes a drink in The Australia, an historic pub on Porthmadog High Street that functions as the brewery’s taphouse.
If you’re exploring North Wales, look out for beers from the critically-acclaimed Polly’s Brew Co. The brewery is based on a farm in Flintshire and was named after the previous resident of the original brewhouse building: a well-loved horse! Polly’s Brew Co. began producing hop-forward, modern beer in 2018 and quickly became the highest rated brewery in Wales on the influential Untappd beer-rating app.
The picturesque town of Montgomery and the remains of its thirteenth century castle, sit around a mile from the Welsh-English border. Monty’s Brewery founder and head brewster, Pam Honeyman, has been brewing beer there since 2009. The brewery now boasts an award-winning visitor centre and tasting room, where the beers – including gluten free varieties - can be sampled. It’s the perfect place to stop if you’re exploring Offa’s Dyke Path as the brewery produces the official beer – Best Offa - and a donation from each pint sold goes to the trail’s upkeep.
If you love beer so much that you’d like to stay in a brewery, you can do just that in Llanwrtyd Wells, the smallest town in Wales. The nineteenth century Neuadd Arms Hotel is also the site of the Heart of Wales Brewery, which produces a range of real ales using water from its own borehole. If you coincide your visit with the town’s annual Bog Snorkelling Triathlon or Man Versus Horse Marathon, you’re certain to want a refreshing pint of something!
If you’re a festival fan, check out the Green Man Festival which takes place in Crickhowell every August. It’s a music and arts festival featuring a beer list of over one hundred beers, all from Welsh breweries.
More than one hundred and fifty years of brewing heritage coupled with the skill of sixth generation family brewers, mean Felinfoel Brewery near Llanelli is a real slice of history. But it’s also a brewery that’s never been afraid to look forwards. In fact, in 1935, inspired by the Welsh tinplate industry, it became one of the first breweries in the world to package beer in cans. Its beer can now be found in a number of Felinfoel pubs across southern and western Wales.
In the few short years since 2014, Swansea’s Boss Brewing - proudly led by ‘female-boss’, Sarah John, and her partner, Roy Allkin - has enjoyed well-deserved success, both nationally and internationally. Boss Brewing produces contemporary beers with an imaginative twist and, in 2018, its stout won the prestigious Champion Beer of Wales award. You can take a tour of the brewery, which is in an historic cinema building, or visit one of Boss’s two taprooms in the city.
South Wales is home to many breweries including Cardiff’s Brains Brewery, the country’s most prominent brewer and pub company. Established in 1882, Brains remains a family business with a long history of association with Welsh sports teams, particularly rugby.
In Newport, you can take a tour of the endlessly creative Tiny Rebel Brewery. In 2015, Tiny Rebel won the Champion Beer of Britain award for Cwtch, their Welsh Red Ale, and you can sample this at the brewery or at the Tiny Rebel bars in Newport and Cardiff, along with the Stay Puft marshmallow porter, Pump Up the Jam jam doughnut pale ale, and more.
The Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival, organised by CAMRA takes place in Cardiff every October. Here you can sample over one hundred and thirty cask ales and be the first to hear which beer has been crowned Champion Beer of Wales.
So, get out there and enjoy a bit of beer tourism. I’ll see you at the bar!
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