The Cardiff branch of Fourtharch.com certainly embraced “Dry January” this year. Mainly because the local Brains Brewery slashed the price of a pint for the month and topped up their £40 gift cards with a free £10 voucher that could be used to buy beer in any of their pubs. For the brewery at the end of the day is a business and not a charity and the free beer and cut price promotions were put in place to encourage punters back through their doors in January, a month that is traditionally quiet for trade coming so soon after the festive season.
I congratulate Brains for totally ignoring a pressure groups blanket campaign suggesting the whole country should give up booze for a month. I wonder what the reactions would be to maybe a similar campaign suggesting the nation stop eating pies, pasties and cream buns for June to assist with the obesity crisis? So before some human rights equality pressure group demands that our women are injected with Testosterone so that they too are able to grow a moustache for Movember, maybe the Alcohol Change UK charity would like to know that even with free and cut price beer all Fourtharch.com members drank no more or no less beer during the “Dry January” campaign.
The good news is that we all saved around £50 each that will now go towards the props budget for this year’s Fourtharch weekend official video production, the theme this year is most definitely Canada and will feature everyone’s favourite cuddly character Barrie the Beaver and watch out for details soon on the new Fourtharch theme song and Morris dance.
As we count down to our 2018 annual trip, I reflect back to brewery tour #2 from our 2017 annual trip, acknowledging that we were fortunate enough to go on two brewery tours on one trip and you can read about our first tour, of Theakston’s Brewery here. Our second tour of the day was Black Sheep Brewery. You have to love a town with a population of about 1,200 that has two breweries, I love the fact that a town of that size has this sign:
The founding of Black Sheep Brewery is also a great story, with Theakson Brewery no longer under family control, Paul Theakston left them and eventually set up his own brewery. The original plan having set up in the former Lightfoot Brewery was to resurrect that name. Unfortunately for Paul, the name had already been trademarked and in fairness to Theakstons, Lightfoot is a nice pint. The next idea was to use something about sheep given their link to Masham and the Masham Sheep Brewery was considered as an option. It was Paul Theakston’s wife who suggested that since he’s the black sheep of the family, leaving the family brewery, that perhaps Black Sheep Brewery might work. It certainly did, the brewery is doing very well and producing some great beer!
What I enjoyed about the brewery tour (as well as the story of the founding of the brewery!) was the wonderful contrast between modern and traditional. Black Sheep is a modern brewery in the sense that it was only founded in 1992 but most of the equipment was bought up from breweries across the country and is traditional, set in an area with a history of brewing.
The tour starts in a modern room with a video of some of the history and information from a guide on the founding of the brewery and information about their wonderful range of beers. As you go around the brewery however, you see that the methods of brewing are traditional and use the local Yorkshire Square Method. The brewery shop and accompanying bar and restaurant and very modern and serve the range of Black Sheep Beer, which is largely traditional Yorkshire bitter. All in all, a great tour followed by an extensive sampling session!
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I’m starting to realise just how little research journalists seem to do. I keep reading about a possible beer shortage due to a lack of CO2 and people coming up with different drink options. The one they seem to forget is cask ale- there seems to be a perception that all beer has CO2 in it, while those of us that prefer our beer without fizz haven’t noticed a shortage at all. The one that particularly got to me was the BBC’s Dead Ringers topical comedy show that actually suggested Nigel Farage wouldn’t have been able to get a pint of London Pride because of a CO2 shortage…
Bit of a rant but as a beer website I feel we have a duty to educate the world about beer! There are some really great craft ales out there but for now at least, cask is king for us and we are glad it’s not affected by the CO2 shortage!
Cider with Ronaldo
[To be read in a Cardiff accent]
Hello Playmates as Arthur Askey used to say, I was in Portugal back in May to report on the Champions league final in Kiev and I tell you what folks my hotel room on the Algarve with balcony and wide screen TV was so good that I decided to cover the game right from there! The only thing missing was beer, so while I left the TV warming up I headed down to the local Minipreço to stock up for the match. Now I don’t actually take seriously anything that fourtharch founder members Great Paul and Mogi usually tells me but they were absolutely spot on about the choice of beer in Portuguese supermarkets that is Superbock, Superbock or Superbock – no proper British beer at all! I did manage to find one can of San Miguel hidden away on the top shelf but just as I was considering wine as a possible alternative my luck was suddenly in. At the very end of the beer (or Superbock) isle I discovered a very healthy display of English Ciders. Look out Mr Bearing, I thought as I recalled the time I picked up one of those industrial size plastic containers of homemade cider from a farm in Somerset back in the 60s – one swig of that and suddenly the whole lot was gone. I lost two days and even forgot I was married… so it wasn’t all bad. The fine people of Portugal have acquired a real taste for English Cider of late that these days is more of a pleasant soft drink compared to the Scrumpy of years ago. If there were any hallucinations to be had while drinking the stuff watching the game such as the world appearing in slow motion and turning upside down well that was provided by Ronaldo’s pace and the spectacular bicycle goal scored by Cardiff’s very own Christian Bale. I finished off the evening up on the 6th floor hotel bar with a couple of those Emoji cocktails. You know the ones with garden mint in them and that with the cider earlier on may have been responsible for a very strange dream I experienced involving Ronaldo and the Wurzels all singing “I am a Cider drinker” that was originally set to the tune of Una Paloma Blanca the song we all came back singing from our Spanish Holidays in the 1970s – funny what goes around comes around init? British beer is never going to break into the Portuguese market so come on CAMRA instead of wasting time debating the “L” word [that’s Lager to you and me] let’s all get behind the cider boys and blow an even bigger hole in the Portuguese Superbock shelves and fill it with Somerset’s finest – probably brewed in Dublin. Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1 by the way as for me I cannot seem to get the image of Ronaldo, the Wurzels and that cider song out of my head – I think my grandson calls it an “Earth worm” See you next time folks.
[ASSISTANT CONTENT MANAGER’S NOTE: Why are we employing this man?]