The first guests arrive around half 12, ready for the Association of Welsh Independent Brewers meeting. The meeting goes well except for one major factor - recently an independent report was sent to the Welsh Assembly, including a list of recommendations regarding alcohol production in Wales, effectively listing ways the W.A. could support the industries - could they encourage farmers to grow Welsh barley and hops? Could a form of 'made-in-Wales' quality control be introduced and marketed? Could a more uniform approach to planning permission across Wales be looked at?
The minister had replied. No, it seems. Not really interested in any way. Don't want to support Progressive Beer Duty as it clashes with one of their aims with a fancy title along the lines of 'Inappropriate Mis-use of alcohol and controlled substances'. We'll be taking them to task on that, but lets not get side tracked - one of the few suggestions they did 'approve in principle' was a Progressive Cider Duty scheme to aid small cider producers. I'm sure the collective sigh and shaking heads was felt through-out Hay on Wye.
Moving on from the meeting - there's certainly another blog post's worth there for a later date - we started the trade show. One of the things I wanted to make sure of was the quality of the ales, it's a difficult enough looking after multiple ales, but 50, outside, is something else. Having a selection of the brewers all keen to quality control was a bit of a boost!
By 5pm we were ready to open to the public - guests had arrived and the Chair of the local CAMRA group was on hand to open it officially. A low key affair, but within an hour people who were still finishing work had made it over and we got onto the tutored tastings, with Buster Grant of Breconshire brewery talking us through the Champion Ales of Wales (or wAles).
This was followed by Vernon and Peter Amor from Wye Valley Brewery giving a tutored tasting of their ales, which were available in the bar. Peter took us through the Dorothy Goodbody stories, which was great fun! It seemed when they launched the Dorothy Goodbody as a brand to save them just calling an ale 'stout' (Dorothy Goodbody's Wholesome Stout is what your after - now available in draught til end of January I believe. Try it and thank me later) they developed risque stories about the fictional character. Of course they later got into trouble over the pump clip as somebody suggested it was using sex to sell ale. She may have not been wearing any underwear you see. I have it good authority that there's no 'may' about it!
|Adrian, Pete & Tim|
With my usual skill for getting lost enjoying the events and tastings as opposed to watching the time, we merged the last two events into one - and I must thank Pete, Adrian and Tim for their flexibility. Questions for the audience (which famous Belgian lager marketed as French is actually brewed in Wales? with a prize of a bottle of the brew in question) and the 3 authors talking about a few of their favourite Welsh ales. All of which went down extremely well.
The night continued with some excellent music provided by the Mad Hatters, and by half 11 the few of us who remained decided it was the perfect time for extensive tasting of Ysbrid Y Ddraig, a 6.5% whisky aged ale from Breconshire and Otley O8, an 8% barley wine. This developed into an ale & curry matching after midnight, and shortly after we all retired.