31 October 2018


Happy Hallowe'en! Apologies for the lack of blogging -- it's been a busy year and I've let this blog lapse a little. Fully intend to get back on it now though.... A couple of quick updates I can share with you ....

1) BOTB is now on Untappd. I say "now" - I've been on it a while but completely forgot about it until August; so you can now add me as a friend and find out what I've been getting up to by going to my profile : https://untappd.com/user/BOTBuntappd

2) My side project #BeerWales is now live at www.beerwales.com - if you're unaware, it's a project to catalogue and provide an online presence for every brewery, venue and beer shop in Wales all under one roof. It's an immense work in progress and will probably take up a lot of my spare time over the next 12-18 months, but when it's done it will be worth it. As usual there's also a Twitter feed @beerwales, a (fairly useless) Facebook page /beerwales and you can email me direct michael@beerwales.com if you have any suggestions or comments.

3) #Stoptober - gave my liver and wallet a rest this year once again for StopTober which will make the beer taste all the sweeter during the November Autumn Internationals. I also plan on a mini crawl of some of Cardiff's finer venues to celebrate the end of November so look out for a report or video on that.... speaking of....

4) YouTube - the YouTube channel is slowly receiving more content; I've started a new series called Swift Halves where I look at unusual or more offbeat beers or alcoholic beverages.... plus there's the usual mishmash of stuff. The next big video for that will be a look at Sweden's beers following on from a road trip I made there in September; in particular how Scandinavian drinking culture has shaped the laws over there so that any given beer can have one, two or even three different versions! YouTube channel is at : https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClUR6Lt2AKyGxRsx6uLNVsA

5) General stuff .... I'm still not a fan of IPAs, I still love my red and dark ales....and I still won't recommend anything, review anything or endorse anything! I'll just keep telling you what I like and you can tell me what you like. Simples.

6) Twitter - new followers every week - thankyou SO much, you make this all worthwhile - join in the fun at @bringonthebeer

oh and 7) MERCH!!! Yes I've succumbed to the Merch bug and opened up a Zazzle store - at the moment there's just a handled glass, a tinny holder and some badges and stickers on there but more stuff will be added soon - not least because I want some of it!! Merch store at https://www.zazzle.co.uk/bringonthebeer

and finally as alluded to earlier 8) AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS - four weeks of rugby, beer, pubs and fun.... plenty of content to be generated from that no doubt - will be frequenting some of south Wales' finest locations and sampling some of their best stuff.... including Brains' Bread of Heaven.... can't wait to sink my teeth into that again.

Stay safe, enjoy your beer responsibly, and I'll see you out and about online and in the pubs.

11 March 2018

Being a drunken pain in the arse

Yesterday was one of those days I just desperately needed to get out of the house and have a beer or three.

Or twelve as it turned out.

<< Brains Dark

There was some half-decent sport on the TV and not much could have kept me away from Cardiff.

So I decided to give the Old Arcade a proper go, given my very sporadic visits in the past.

<< Brains SA Gold

And I wasn't disappointed - Brains Smooth £2 a pint, a loyalty card scheme and pretty much every other Brains available, including guest Ale Wyn, named after and brewed in collaboration with Wales captain extraordinaire Alun Wyn Jones.

So, as I usually do, I started at one end and worked my way to the other. Smooth, SA Gold, Bitter Cask, Dark, Ale Wyn and Black all went down nicely.

<< Ale Wyn

I was even joined in an SA by a work colleague who just happened to wander in which was a nice surprise, given I owed him a pint or two!

<< Brains Black, my "free" pint after completing the loyalty card.

Then as one half of the rugby ended with Ireland well on top I trotted down to Womanby Street to the City Arms for a few guests.

First up, from Redemption, was a very nice dark called Urban Dusk. There was also another Redemption ale called Hopspur, but not being a Tottenham fan, I didn't fancy that!!

In sympathy with Scotland, who were getting an absolute shellacking by Ireland, I tries the Beer of the Week in the bottle - Innis and Gunn rum barrel aged Red Beer. 6.8%. Took me a wee while to get through but was worth it in the end. I'm a sucker for spirit-flavoured beers as my penchant for McEwans Champion Whisky Edition shows.

Then I went back on the stout - a Bristol one in fact.

...before finishing up a little bit further up the A49 with a Salopian stout called "Mangata." A lovely pump clip design - I'm a sucker for things like that.

The night finished at Nando's with a MacMahon 2M Cerveca from Mozambique, which benefits Malaria Relief efforts in Africa.

I've said it before on my Twitter feed and I'll say it again - we are truly blessed in South Wales to have such great venues on our doorstep - especially ones like the City Arms who understand beer nerds / geeks like me exist and are patient and understanding as we get overly excited over the little things. I just hope that I never embarrass or disgrace myself with my behaviour on these occasions, as the alcohol takes over.

7 March 2018

Guinness Snobbery

Being a Guinness drinker, it's very hard to not fall victim to what I term "Guinness snobbery" - i.e. insisting on the double pour, insisting on no shamrock and then tasting the pint like a fine wine.

It's Guinness. It's never going to taste like it does in Dublin. Just get over it.

Occasionally though, there are places that get it damned close. I'm lucky in that my local, the Baneswell Social Club in Newport, is one of them. So, luckily, is one of my local JDWs.

And on the personal recommendation of my mates Tink and Dav, I tried the Flute and Tankard just off Queen Street in Cardiff.

I wasn't disappointed. I'll be back here for more!

EDIT: While I was there, I also tried a Vale of Glamorgan Conversion Pale Ale, and then went on to the Duke of Wellington to try a Phonics Ale, a special brew created as a tie-in for the Stereophonics' concerts at the CIA in Cardiff.

6 March 2018

Gool Peran Lowen / Happy St Piran's Day

Happy St Piran's Day to all those in Cornwall and all those who love Cornwall. I'm one of the latter, although I went to university in Falmouth but I didn't sample any of the local stuff back in those days - in my youth I was strictly a Budweiser and Strongbow drinker!

However a later trip in 2007 introduced me to Tribute from the St Austell Brewery, then Doom Bar started appearing in pubs outside of its native land. This was long before Molson Coors got their filthy hands on it, started brewing it in Burton and making it a staple of JDWs up and down the country.

This year I nipped into the Cambrian Tap in Cardiff for a pint (and a half) of St Austell's beautiful sulphite-free lager, Korev, which is the Kernewek for "beer". It's quite possibly the best lager I've ever tasted. But I'm biased. Kernow bys vykken!!

4 March 2018

VIDEO : Guinness Surger System

A few years ago, Guinness made the best attempt yet to try and bring that pub-pint quality to the home market with the launch of their surger system.

Didn't quite take off as well as they'd hoped, although the pub trade version has found a foothold in some venues who don't get through enough Guinness to justify getting it on tap, such as that House venue I was at in Oxford last week.

Anyway, they're now only available for home use through eBay or Amazon etc, new old stock or second hand, and expect to pay a pretty penny for them. But are they worth it? I decided to get one and test it.

25 February 2018

Ireland v Wales - in OXFORD.

Two Swedish friends have flown over this weekend to visit my brother and sister in law who live in Oxfordshire so I think it's best that we show them the best beer this lovely part of the world has to offer, no? Oh and take in some rugby at the same time! (Wales lost to Ireland but much to the chagrin of the English dominating the venue, the Scottish beat them to win the Calcutta Cup!)

Last night I brought a few of the Xmas left-overs including Felinfoel Double Dragon, Anchor Steam Beer from San Fran, some Box Steam Brewery bottles and some Brains Dark. That set us up nicely for....

Venue 1
TurtleBay Restaurant, Oxford
Island Records Jamaican Porter

Then it was on to what is quite possibly one of the best pubs I've ever been in, with 10 ale pumps! I started at one end and worked my way to the other! There were a couple on that I'd had before, like Titanic Plum Porter, so I passed on those and went straight for....

Pub 2
The Royal Blenheim, Oxford

White Horse Brewery Oxfordshire Bitter (served in a Nonic glass! Heavenly!)

White Horse Brewery Wayland Smithy

(White Horse was the house tap)

Portobello Central Line Red (this was nice and spicy)

Everard's Tiger Copper Ale - nice but unremarkable.

Milestone Brewery - Cupid

It was about this time that old beers were being taken off and new ones put on... so I tried a new one before it ran out -- Holy Cow from the Bridgehouse Brewery.

Pub 3
The House, Oxford

The night ended with a Guinness Surger.

I will definitely be coming back to the Royal Beaufort. What a pub!

20 February 2018

TinyRebel takeover of Harp, Covent Garden

For St David's Day this year, the Newport-based Tiny Rebel brewery are doing a tap takeover of one of my favourite London venues, the Harp in Covent Garden. I'm working that day, so I can't go, but perhaps you could!

19 February 2018

18 February 2018

Otley Brewing

Unbelievable news about the apparent demise of Otley Brewing Co ... enjoyed some really nice drops from their range over the years and their iconography / graphic design was top notch. Here's hoping it's not quite the final curtain the media are making it out to be.


11 February 2018

England v Wales

Another new drinking venue this week - I've gone back to my roots and up the valley to BLACKWOOD.

Pub 1
The Sirhowy (JDW), Blackwood

Gwynt-Y-Ddraig Black Dragon
Guinness Draught
Doom Bar (sent back due to overpowering odour of vinegar!)
Sneck Lifter

Kelham Brewery Pale Rider

Venue 2
Blackwood RFC Rugby Club
Guinness Draught x3

Pub 3
Baneswell Social Club, Newport
Guinness Draught x2

25 January 2018

VID: Combining TRYanuary with DRYanuary

The beer industry, naturally, wants as little people as possible to do DRY January and instead promote their own version which is TRYanuary - i.e. try something new. Well I've got the rest of the year to try something new, so I'll pass on that for now.... but you can still try new stuff even if it hasn't actually got any alcohol in it. I tried Cobra Zero, Nanny State, Budweiser Prohibition Brew, Heineken Zero Alcohol as well as Kopparberg Non-Alcoholic and even a G&T. The results were pleasantly surprising. Cobra wasn't quite good enough and Nanny State was a bit meh, but the Bud and the Heineken were fairly decent imitations. The G&T also didn't quite deserve the shade I threw at it in this video, and the Kopparberg was as sweet and fruity as ever. Home market availability of non-alcoholic beers is improving. Now if only we could say the same about pubs....

Anyway my Dry January is ending on Saturday as Newport County are home to Spurs in the FA Cup. No way I'm staying sober for this magnificent occasion!

8 January 2018

Positives and Negatives of Dry January

So, one week into dry January, and let's take stock

Positive: No hangovers

Negative: Caffeine bang head from too much diet Coke

Positive: Bud Prohibition brew is very drinkable and enjoyable.

Negative: there's only 4 tins per pack

When does the itching and the shaking stop?

I've actually done a lot of "months off" the booze - the last was April 2017, before that November 2016 and I actually had 100 days sobriety between January and May 2016 as part of a weight loss kick (I ended up losing 3.5stone!). So this is nothing new, and not actually hard to do, especially now as the range of non-alcoholic beverages is a lot wider than it used to be.

I may do a video on that subject soon....

1 January 2018

Happy New Beer!....or not....

Happy Hogmanay!

It's been a quiet new year after a busy Beermas.... and I'm about to start Dry January which, it would be very foolish to start at the stroke of midnight, so it starts....NOW. 6:00am.

My last alcoholic beverages for four weeks were a nice bottle of whisky-cask-infused Cornish Healey's Reserve cyder, a Fuller's London Pride, some Guinness and, at the stroke of midnight, McEwan's Champion Whisky Reserve.

Time to give my liver a rest methinks.