and welsh area news and reports
Fox & Hounds (September
Bad news from Eyton. A planning application has been spotted
to convert the hamlet's former cosy pub, the Fox & Hounds,
into a private dwelling. Seeing as it's been closed since the autumn
last year and is now a rather dilapidated eyesore, we can't possibly
imagine there being enough locals prepared to object let alone put
up a fight to save it.
defeatist talk, if anyone's interested search for case no P/2014/0668
on the planning applications page on the Wrexham Borough Council
Planning Applications >>
Overton Fezza (September
Overton Community Council will be staging a beer festival on
Friday October 3rd (7:30pm - midnight) at the Village Hall. This is
to help raise money to buy a new playground in the village.
Admission is by ticket which includes half a pint of beer and a
gourmet sausage in a roll. They can be purchased at £6 each from the Corner
Shop and Woodlands Café or alternatively from Pene Coles 710598 or Peter Lynch 710556.
The beers will all be from local breweries - Big Hand, Axiom, McGivern's, Cwrw Ial
and Stonehouse. 'Bandjack' will be playing live music on the night.
Please try and attend to support this worthy cause.
Buck Stops Here (September
Well, that was bad timing. No sooner has the 2015 edition of
the Good Beer Guide been popped through the letter box than we need
to submit a GBG deletion notification to CAMRA HQ. Sadly the Buck
House Hotel at Bangor-on-Dee has closed suddenly. A notice
pinned outside thanks customers for their support over the last 25
years but they have ceased trading forthwith. While the local gossip
is all about financial reasons, it is rather poignant that this has
happened almost a year since popular landlord Alan Hayes died.
We presume the Buck
now goes on the market. With Bangor race track down the road, surely it has
a viable future so we're optimisitic we'll see it back in business sooner
rather than later. In the meantime, Bangor's other pub - the Royal Oak
- continues to be worthy of a visit not least for its riverside location and
guest ales typically from Stonehouse and Purple Moose.
Gone for a Burton (August
A sad sight currently in the hamlet of Burton Green, tucked
away in farmland at the back of Rossett, is the boarded up Golden
Groves. Despite a (uncomplimentary) review on the
pub as recently as August 17th, judging by the state of the
weed-strewn car park, the place has been shut longer than that. After a succession of managers and
temporary closures, local residents think this time the allegedly
13th century inn, complete with low beams and flagstone floors, is
doomed. They believe Marstons have sold the property and it is lined
up for conversion into a private residence. It was summed up as a
painful, lingering, inevitable death thanks to a combination of
relative isolation, drink-driving enforcement, the smoking ban and
poor management. The days when cars queued up down the
lanes to get there are but a distant memory. Shame. Let's hope it's not the end.
Marford / Llyn-y-Pwll (August
It's good to see the eye-catching Trevor Arms in
Marford back trading after a worryingly lengthy period of closure.
Extensive refurbishment has seen little alteration to the rambling
multi-room interior. What you see now is lots of the expected pine /
parquet / tile floors, plush seating and enough pre-laid tables
(wine goblets de rigueur) to make one suspect they've got an advance
booking to cater for the feast of Belshazzar. Cask wise, it looks to
be still tied to Star Inns (ex S&N, Heineken etc) with
Theakstons Best and a house brew called Lady Blackbird
("ghoulishly good ale") which is from Caledonian.
up, down and along several roads but still relatively nearby, a
reminder to not necessarily whizz past the Holt Lodge Hotel
when you're driving along the Wrexham - Nantwich Road. The extensive
modern bar continues to sell two cask ales with Stonehouse Station
Bitter usually as regular and an alternating guest often from Purple
Black Lion Revisited (August
We've got to admit to having consigned the Black Lion
in Newbridge to history as far as real ale was concerned. It used to
be in the GBG yonks back but then ran into neglect and decline with
the cask ale - surprising for a Lees tiedhouse - becoming an early
casualty. Happily, while we've had our backs turned, things have
been steadily on the up since new owners arrived about two years
ago. After lots (and lots) of hard graft and TLC the pub is now
looking a lovely, cosy, three-roomed affair. Even the side garden,
buried under weeds and rubbish, has been restored. The
transformation is all captured in a photo album that's kept behind
the bar. Also enjoying a revival is cask ale - usually Lees MPA.
It's still Lees despite the Lion now being free of tie. This is
because the regulars are hooked on the Manchester brewer's
Smoothflow and it would kill trade to get rid of it! Despite this
the cask still sells well. Keg or cask it's marvellous to see the
pub postively back on an upward curve.
Award for Community Run Tyn-y-Capel (August
All smiles from the some of the folk behind the re-opening of the
Tyn-y-Capel in Minera as they are presented with the branch runner up certificate in this year’s
Welsh Pub-of-the Year competition. Following a two year period of closure, locals fought a long and ultimately successful campaign to get the pub
reopened and, in April 2013, the Tyn joined a small but growing group of pubs in the UK that are owned or leased and managed by the community. To have achieved an award in such a short time says much about the enthusiasm and commitment of the management team, some of whom are featured in the photo. From left to right; Kath Jones, Dai Tilston, Sarah Luckett, Carol McIver.
Internally the pub has several seating areas served by a split bar, and also has an outside seating area with spectacular views of the adjoining hillside where you can watch the distant sheep grazing while supping your ale. In addition to the house beer, there are up to four changing guest ales, mostly from local breweries. Good quality food is available at most times, and the Tyn features band nights on some Saturdays. Great atmosphere, and so good to see it progressing from a closed pub to where it is now.
Long Live the King (August
Good news for a change on the pub front. The King's Head
at Bwlchgwyn has re-opened meaning the residents of the
self-proclaimed Highest Village in Wales finally have somewhere to
walk for a drink.
Even better news is
that the King's is now a freehouse having been bought, free of tie, from
Hydes by locals Ray & Carole Miller who used to run the Royal Oak in
Coedpoeth (now alas a kebab shop). It's all early days at the moment but
plans are simply to create a community focused pub, maybe with darts
and doms teams, plus the possibility down the line of Sunday lunches. For
the opening night the pub served two real ales - Big Hand Melyn and Cwrw Ial
Limestone Cowboy. Wrexham lager was the biggest seller but Ray says, even if
the cask doesn't take off, he'll always have one on if only for himself!
Erddig Brewery (July
What Silicon Valley does for computer industries Wrexham
Industrial Estate surely does for the art of brewing. Becoming the
fourth micro on the business park, joining near neighbours
Sandstone, Big Hand and Axiom, are Erddig Brewery. Launching
their website they have revealed that their first two ales will be
Squire's Best and Penny Farthing - both names having connections
with the eponymous stately pile and National Trust gem just south of
say, as with all our local brewers, we wish them the greatest
success with their venture and look forward to sampling their wares
in the near future.
Local Brewers >>
Swan Wrexham (June
Interesting developments at the Swan on Pen y Bryn in
Wrexham. The pub, until recently part of the Marstons estate, has
been bought privately and re-opened earlier in the month as a freehouse
heavily promoting cask ales. Early beers to feature have come from
Marstons, Big Hand and (by request) Black Jack. All very encouraging
and let's not forget that near neighbours the Bowling Green
and Oak Tree also serve up the proper stuff.
Big Hand Wind Down Weekends (June
Replicating the popularity of similar events at Offbeat and
Peerless, Big Hand Brewery is to launch Wind Down Weekends on the
first Friday of the month commencing this 4th July. Dave from the
brewery based on Wrexham Industrial Estate explains the concept:
"Our inaugural monthly brewery open
evening is free entry. We're open from 3pm to 11pm with at least
four ales on draught at ex-brewery prices. There will be free soft drinks for Designated
Drivers so why not car share and save the environment whilst having a beer. Bar nibbles and other snacks will be present. Sorry no debit card facility so good old fashioned hard cash. Quiz the brewers on why they left perfectly decent jobs to start a microbrewery!"
The brewery address
is Abbey Close (Off Abbey Road), Redwither Business Park,
Wrexham LL13 9XG. You can get the bus from Wrexham - 41A / 41E / 42 services (GHA
bus timetables)- get off Redwither Tower opposite Hoya. A
shared taxi ride from town wont cost you too much.
Hand Facebook >>
Aqueduct Discount (June
Commencing weekly from the 7th July, the Aqueduct in
Froncysyllte will be launching Mad Monday and Crazy Wednesdays. From
6-8pm all cask ales will be £2.50 which not only apply to the
regular ales from Stonehouse but also to the recently introduced
Anchor Update (May
Some pleasant news for a change. It seems the threat to the Anchor
in Saltney (reported Oct 3rd 2013) has abated as the pub has been
bought locally from Admiral Taverns and is now operating as a
freehouse. A spokesman for the Anchor commented "It has been a long haul but now the customers know that there is a positive future for
'their' pub which stocks a variety of lagers, Bass Bitter, Guinness and the increasingly popular Stowford Press cider. There is also the facility to re-introduce some
real ales should the interest be generated."
Stocking cask ale is the least of our
concerns when a pub's very survival is at stake so we're positively
delighted that this community local hasn't yet been added to the
litany of pub closures.
Head on the Chopping Block (May
In 2011, the Boar's Head at Ewloe was a rare outlet
for Draught Bass and was listed in the Good Beer Guide. Fast forward
three years and now we find its name in far less happier
circumstances on Flintshire.gov.uk's planning register for prior
notice of demolition. And, sure enough, root around and you'll
discover Lingfield Homes and Property Development have designs to
turn the site into affordable housing after the pub was off-loaded
by a heavily debt laden Punch Taverns.
Is there strong enough local feeling to
launch an objection and campaign to save this local landmark, dating
back to 1703, from the bull dozer? What a shame it would be to lose
this cosy local just because, as one suspects, Punch was more
interested in property speculation rather than running the pub as a
business. It deserves a chance as a freehouse run by savvy,
enterprising new licensees. Updates to follow.
on Deeside.com >>
Prince of Wales (May
Good news from Llangollen where we learn that the Prince
of Wales on Regent Street - shut since early this year - is soon
to re-open. It will be operated by Llangollen brewery who are based
at the Abbey Grange hotel at the foot of the Horseshoe Pass.
They also own the Railway at Pontybodkin and the idyllically
located Sun at Rhewl.
Long Live the King? (May
Hopefully good news from the highest village in Wales.
Apparently the King's Head in Bwlchgwyn has been bought by a
local man from Coedpoeth. The rumours have it that, once the
necessary form-filling has been completed, work can commence on
re-opening this former Hydes tied-house. Currently it's a rather sad
sight with the pub name abandoned in the car park and accessible to
any light-fingered collector of large pieces of breweriana. At least
there's some hope for the Kings. As for the Westminster Arms,
further up the road and derelict for years, this pub is surely
Bangor Bike Ride (April
Another glorious spring day gave an opportunity to cycle out to a couple of my favourite pub gardens. The first stop was at the
Royal Oak in Bangor-on-Dee. Whilst the ‘garden’ isn’t exactly an oasis of green it does boast a splendid setting right next to the River Dee with fabulous views of the old Bridge and Church. It’s a great place to soak up the sun and watch out for grey wagtails and dippers on the river. On the beer front the Stonehouse Station Bitter was very good and the landlady was also keen to let me know of the upcoming ales from Purple Moose.
Just next door is the Buck House Hotel. No spectacular views here but still a nice outside courtyard where you can soak up the rays. Four ales were on the handpumps of which I went for the Cambrian Gold and Monty’s mischief. Look out for their Beer & Blues festival May 9th and 10th, they’re offering generous discounts for CAMRA members too.
After a leisurely wander along the glorious lanes of Cloy and Overton (White Horse wasn’t yet open) I was running a little late so sadly skipped the
Cross Foxes at Overton Bridge. This is another pub with a fabulous setting beside the
Dee though, for me, it doesn’t beat the Boat at Erbistock
for magnificence. There are picnic tables lined up all the way alongside the pub so you can’t miss out on the spectacular
riparian setting (pictured right). Inside were Weetwood Cheshire Cat, Weetwood Best and Black Sheep.
Hard to beat this location on a sunny day.
Surprisingly steep lanes then took me up to the main road and to my final destination the
Bridge End at Ruabon. Sadly I had 20 minutes before the train back so only had chance to down a very good pint from Offbeat. A quick taster of the McGivern’s new Spring Ale shows that should be popular with the regulars, drinking very easily at 4.5%. All in all a fabulous day out but time doesn’t half fly when daydreaming by the river.
West of Mold Social (April
With strong interest in a minibus trip from Deeside CAMRA members, we decided on a route which would take in the rural pubs around the periphery of Mold. It was a good turnout from the
Central Hotel in Shotton and it was a full minibus that headed up the hills into North Wales.
The first stop of the night was at The Oak in Hendre. This is a lovely old inn and many must drive past it along the Mold-Denbigh road without realising what a gem it is. Beers were the light Conwy Hop Infusion and dark Hafod Moel Famau ale. Good to see all the CAMRA-supplied info here alongside many Welsh tourist information leaflets. If you’re planning on walking in the Clwydians this is a great place to have a pint afterwards.
A short drive away we next came to the
White Horse at Cilcain (pictured). This is a long-standing destination pub for walkers and now also looks popular for the food. For once we didn’t stay in the bar but went over to the ‘posh’ side and took advantage of the comfortable lounge. On the bar were Frodsham Buzzin’, Banks Bitter and a very good Adnams Ghost Ship.
We then crossed the River Alyn and up the very steep climb to
The Crown at Pantymwyn. This was a new pub for me and it was great to see it packed out. The pub is split into three distinct areas – a dining room, bar and games room - and each was very busy. Locale beers were represented by Facers with Splendid and the house beer Crowning Glory. Brains Reverand James and Thwaites Nutty Black were also available.
There was a complete contrast at the We Three Loggerheads when our coach party turned out to be the only customers! This would normally have us worrying for a pub’s future but I’m sure their weekend and lunch trade make up for the quieter times. No issues with the beer as the Hafod Hoppy Extra was very good. Look out for their excellent Loggfest again this year from June 6th to 8th.
A short way up the hill was our last stop at the Colomendy Arms in Cadole. This has been a many-time CAMRA Pub of the Year winner and remains a cracking place to drink. Five beers were available as usual including my beer of the night – Heavy Industry Diawl Bach (Little Devil). This was a superb brew with good hop character and a fitting way to round off an excellent social trip. It was great to meet our new friends from Deeside and hope they enjoyed it as much as the rest of us!
Llangollen Closure (February
Feedback from WhatPub tells us that the Prince of Wales
on Regent Street (aka the A5) in Llangollen has shut. Hopefully it's
only temporary but signs are up advertising it for sale.
Meanwhile there are rumours that
Wetherspoons are contemplating opening an outlet in town. Maybe
they've got an eye on the HSBC bank scheduled for closure this
month. Any info on this will be gratefully received.
It was a shock when the Hanmer Arms in Hanmer closed last year so it was something of a relief that it
re-opened at the end of 2013. Custodians Andy and Emma took over after a successful stint at the
Sportsman's Arms in Tattenhall and seem to have hit the ground running. Eight handpumps are on the bar, of which
two are for cider, with most of the beers supplied by Thwaites including a house-badged brew. Also on this visit was Conwy Telfords Porter and Stonehouse Station Bitter. The
spicy aromas from the restaurant were fantastic on what was a trial Thursday curry night.
Judging by the number of diners it wont be a one off. The pub may be at the southern end of the branch between Overton and Whitchurch but is well worth a visit if
you're down that way. It’s great to celebrate a once-closed pub thriving again so please support them.
Details are updated on their facebook page at www.facebook.com/hanmerarmsinn.
■ Wrexham Wanderlust
Granted. A stroll on a late Saturday afternoon around the
pubs of the north Wrexham suburbs in gusty winds and slanting rain
probably lacks appeal. But then again, anything, anything, to escape
the town centre with its frenzy of Christmas shoppers and seasonal
drunks in Yuletide fluffy sweaters.
We begin in the Pant-yr-Ochain
which, despite being seemingly set in a rural idyll, is in fact a short walk
via footbridge from Borras Park. As expected the pub is frightfully well
heeled and busy with diners including a group of Eleven Day Prematurists
wearing paper hats tucking into Christmas meals to celebrate the birth of
baby Jesus. A flawless, delicious pint of Hawkshead Windermere Pale is enjoyed before
moving on from this exemplary Brunning & Price establishment.
The umbrella takes a ferocious battering but makes it intact to the Cunliffe
Arms. A strange looking modern community pub, it consists of two halves.
The split level lounge with carvery is quiet but the spacious bar side is
bustling with punters including a post-match assembly of Borras Park Albion FC players and staff. A reliable Marstons outlet it offers Banks Bitter,
Ringwood Fortyniner and Ringwood XXXX Porter. The latter is absolutely
gorgeous. The temptation is to stay but the mission presides.
heading into Rhosnesni territory, we enter a very quiet mock-Tudor Gate Hangs High - a Marston outlet
partitioned into two parallel areas one with darts room at the rear.
Apparently the regular cask drinkers often select which ale they'd like on
and that the
current choice of EPA is one of their favourites. Looking at the pump clips,
they're also partial to the Jennings range. After overhearing a selection of
amusing Tommy Cooper jokes it's off to the Greyhound (pictured)
which is another
thoroughly agreeable Marstons pub. Good to see the traditional two room
layout of (totally empty) lounge and public bar where a slightly older
clientele discuss issues of the day. We weren't sure whether we could expect
it but cask is on. Banks Bitter. Not brilliant
but we like the place with its red and black chequer floor tiling and plush
red bench seating.
Off down the Holt
Road now to the Hand Inn which is a pub with an "Oooh. You
don't want to go in there." reputation. Nevertheless this was rare
unexplored licensed territory and simply had to be done. The redundant handpumps here
have probably seen as much action as Anne Frank's drum kit so, when in Rome
and all that,
it was half of Carlsberg. Gassy as hell but drinkable. Then the floor show
began as a rowing couple went outside for a punch up culminating with the
"rum lass" shattering one of the windows.
Quitting while we
were ahead it was a long meander across Acton to pop our heads inside the Four
Dogs. No real ale, and not fancying any more FKS (work it out yourself),
we finished off our peregrination virtually next door at a large and packed Acton
Park. Fair play to the Ember Inn group of which this pub is part;
they're very keen on their guest cask ales to supplement
Thwaites Original and Wainwright. Of the two guest ales we had a
rip-snorting Great Western Edwin's Ruby Porter.
So there you have
it, an odyssey that might not float your boat but certainly did ours.
Turbulent times at the Trevor
Arms in Marford. This attractive gothic looking pub at the foot
of Marford Hill was closed around the turn of the year, re-opened in
March but has been closed again since the autumn. It's now back on
the market to let with Star Pubs and Bars (previously Scottish & Newcastle Pub
Co), the leased pub division of Heineken UK.
Gresford Gadabout (November
With a temporary break in the poor weather it was a chance to wheel out the bike for a mini tour and check out some of the pubs around Gresford. The
Pant-yr-Ochain was on its usual good form with a good selection of ales, although the Purple Moose Snowdonia wasn’t quite tip top, presumably nearing the end of the barrel. The dark Hawkshead Brodie’s Prime was superb though, just the ticket when the cold weather gets you moving away from the summery blonde ales.
A short pedal along Pikey Lane (soon to be renamed Gentle Travelling Folk Lane) and across the old Wrexham Road took me past the Wonder of Wales Gresford Bells and onto the
Griffin. The usual offerings from Courage and Adnams were supplemented by Caledonian Autumn Red for this visit. I went for the latter two ales and both were very nice, indeed I must have lingered longer than intended as it was suddenly dark when I got outside!
With lights on it was then time to play dodge the pothole whilst speeding down Marford Hill and onto the
Alyn in Rossett. With it being Halloween all the staff and many punters had dressed up in spooky outfits and even several of the six ales were themed too. I went for the single hopped Wakatu which was a good session ale, but more interesting was the Marston’s Howling Wolf, a darker ale with a nice citrusy hop flavour.
The final stop was just along the road at the Nag's Head in Lavister. This has appeared on the radar for selling much-loved brews such as Salopian Shropshire Gold and Wye Valley HPA. Sadly on the evidence of this visit the beers are not reaching the heights we know they’re capable of, so it’s one to keep an eye on.
Sandstone Brewery Sold (October
Trading for over five years, and having brewed almost one hundred and fifty gyles,
Sandstone Brewery now has new owners. The Deeley family have acquired the business from the original founding partners, but will continue to brew and sell beers from the same Wrexham premises, and plan to carry on brewing the award-winning Sandstone Edge, Onyx and Postmistress beers, whilst introducing some new styles and names along the way.
Commercial Partner Keith Porter remarked, "it has been a lot of fun and hard work to take Sandstone to where it is today, but we now feel the time is right to hand over the business to new owners who will have the drive and enthusiasm to take it to a new
The new owners’ debut beer, Racing Dragon, will be on sale shortly alongside the well-known regular beers, and plans are in hand to develop a wider customer base.
Matthew Deeley, Marketing Director for Sandstone Breweries,
commented "Everyone is very excited here about moving the company forward with both new and existing customers and would like to thank the previous owners for their work and commitment so far, and in the future. The founders will continue working with the new management for the time being to help ensure the consistent high quality and continuity of product that the Sandstone customers have come to
The new owners would also like to encourage anyone who would like any information about the current range of products or the future plans for the brewery at Sandstone Breweries to contact them on 07581001118.
Anchors Away (October
Bad news is emanating from Saltney in the shape of rumours
about the imminent demise of the Anchor on High Street.
Apparently Admiral have put the
one time Greenalls outlet up for sale and three companies have shown an interest and looked around the
premises. There's no sale yet. Rumours are that these include a developer whose intention is to demolish the building and
replace it (and the big juicy car park) with some lovely new flats.
One of the would-be new owners are alleged to be Bell Developments who
have achieved local notoriety for their involvement in the controversial
plans for a student village on green belt land between Blacon and
Mollington. The pub remains open for now.
a stroll from Trevor along the Llangollen Canal to Llangollen and
back via the Offa's Dyke the other Sunday. Intermittent showers
broke out about a mile from completing the round trip forcing an
unplanned pub crawl. Yomping downhill from Garth it was into the Aussie Rooster
on the main Llangollen-Ruabon road for cover. Shame it was empty.
It's an incredibly tidy pub done out in green decor with a
rooster and poppy theme plus a few pop star pics above the fancy
looking juke-box. The barmaid says there's always one ale
(occasionally two) and that usually it's Brains SA Gold. Very
Another deluge forced me - fortuituouly as it transpired - into the
Wellington set back off the road on the edge of Acrefair. What a
cracking, friendly, genuine, little local this is! Only two small rooms
so on busier days I suspect you tend to get involved in the
chit-chat. The landlady told a few good yarns inbetween serving up
the Sunday roasts. Wells Bombardier sells well apparently but opted
for the Brains Bitter which was very good. Delighted to see the pub
has a rare outside toilet. Get a preservation order on it!
Not too far away, but a bugger to find if you don't know the area,
is the Mill in Cefn (left). CAMRA bods know where it is as it's GBG
listed. The 'B' stands for beer as the pub hardly has any creature
comforts. It's just a cluttered, scruffy, three room mess and all the more
endearing for it. More unusual, basic bogs. Accessed through a
colourful plastic strip curtain they had a trough urinal with
perspex splashback. All gents should have them. The landlady at the
Duke said Colin has "a reputation for a perfect pint".
True. Just one ale -
Facers Clwyd Gold - but it was faultless ... and only £2 a pint.
was the Telford standing prominent at the Trevor canal basin. It's OK
but you feel it really ought to make more of its location as a
tourist honeytrap with all the narrowboat activity and Pont Cysyllte
aqueduct so close by. They sell a changing guest ale, usually from
one of the bigger brewers (this time Gales Seafarer), and a house
ale called Telfords Tipple (from 'Tetleys' wherever
'Tetleys' is made these days). A good impromptu crawl that.
Well done rain. (Reg
Vaulting Ambition (September
Well, it's happened. The rumours, as far fetched as they
seemed, were true after all. The Roundhouse in Ruabon was at
times an uninviting, noisy, keg-only, local scoring high on stare
factor. It's closure earlier in the year was greeted with apathy
and inevitability. Talk of a comeback as a cask house seemed
utter piffle but that's precisely what's happened. It's now been
re-born, returning to its former name of the Vaults and real
ale is indeed its raison d'être.
Inside it's a tidy, single-roomed, rectangular affair with plenty
of shiny, polished wooden floorspace between the tasteful, chintzy
furniture around its periphery. Always an attractive and well
appreciated feature is a collection of framed local prints
decorating the walls. The bar, complete with wooden bar-back, is set
at the rear and here you'll find two regular ales in Thwaites
Wainwright and Brimstage Trapper's Hat backed up by changing guest
ales on the handpumps. On this occasion they were ....
It would seem the new owners have taken the gamble that they'll
pick up a fair bit of passing trade from their nearest neighbouring
freehouse. This so happens to be the immensely popular, multi award
winning Bridge End - CAMRA's national Pub of the Year in
2012. (And lest we forget the Bridge End was itself once a
down-at-a-heel lagering hole the Pub Co couldn't wait to sell off.)
The logic seems sound so hopefully the Vaults will do well and thus
further enhances Ruabon's reputation as a real ale hot spot
resulting in a similar spin-off in footfall to the village's two
other deserving pubs - the Wynnstay and the Duke of
Spins Again (September
Coming as a bit of a surprise we've been told that the Spinning
Wheel in the Old Warren near Broughton is back up and running.
It's still owned by Mike and Maggy Vernon, as it had been for the past few decades.
It seems they had no interest in a prospective buyer when they
closed the pub and put it on the market and, now they've got bored with retirement,
its doors have re-opened once more.
Initially they are just selling drinks, but if all goes well they'll probably start doing food again
should things go well. Reports are that they have had two cask ales
on and these were Wychwood's Hobgoblin and St Austell's Trelawnyn.
Why not call in especially as there are some pleasant country
woodland walks from here through Bilberry Wood and Hawarden park
(and on to the pubs of Hawarden).
■ Rossett Roving
Being hardwired for adventure, and wishing to avoid the inevitable self-loathing
were I to stay in to watch football on a sunny Sunday afternoon, it was
decided to head off to Rossett to see what its three hostelries had
to offer by way of titillation.
First up was the Butchers
Arms looking very attractive in red-brick and bedecked by
colourful hanging baskets. Alluring on the outside maybe but not so
seductive inside. A quick glance in the public bar revealed it to be
lorded over by boisterous lads shouting amongst themselves so as to be
heard above the jukebox. The separate small lounge was marginally
quieter but it was to a vacant trestle outside where I supped the
only cask offering of Jennings Cumberland.
More or less directly opposite is the similarly eye-catching,
white-washed Golden Lion. This belongs to the Woodward &
Faulkner chain (cf Goshawk, Stamford Bridge et al) who
do a good job of trying to emulate Brunning & Price without ever
reaching the latter's giddy heights of excellence especially with
their beer range. The pub comprises dark wood floors and a veritable warren of
low-lit rooms, nooks and crannies for the all-important diners to
squeeze in. As with B&P the walls were covered with
attractive prints (albeit of little local reference) and pleasant
food aromas suffused throughout. At the bar,
mainstream brewers featured - a mix of familiar and seasonal
offerings including Greene King Hurdy Gurdy, Old Speckled Hen,
Theakstons Bitter and Caledonian Fringe Benefit. Ale of choice
though was a thoroughly pleasant Shepherd Neame Whitstable Bay Pale.
Meanwhile, outside amongst the lawn gardens, wasps were dying by
their hundreds. Sugary deathtraps on the tables were presumably
intended to stop the blighters from pestering you but merely served to
attract them in giving the dubious pleasure of watching
their frantic, futile attempts to avoid drowning. The
Bhuddist in me rescued a few before moving on. Hymenoptera pogrom aside, an enjoyable visit.
A short walk down the main road led to the Alyn with its
lovely terraced garden alongside the eponymous river. Lots of
attractive chintzy / Laura Ashley style fabrics and furnishing in
here as well as diners waited on hand and foot by an army of
enthusiastic youthful bar staff dressed in black. On the pumps beers
are usually from the Marstons portfolio and this included a very,
very good drop of Wychwood Thrasher. That half, enjoyed in a quieter
side patio watching a flotilla of butterflies on the buddleia,
swayed it for me. Pub of the Day! (Aubrey Sheringham)
Wrexham Micros - Now We Are Three (August
Wrexham Industrial Estate is transforming itself into the
brewing capital of Wales. First
brewery to set up there was Sandstone in 2008 and then, in spring
2013, along came Big Hand. Well now there's a third.
The latest addition is called Axiom and is
the brainchild of James Bendall. If you weren't aware, James is very much a
local aficianado on beer and brewing in all its guises. He's also been
heavily involved at neighbour Sandstone since its inception.
James calls his venture a micro
"in the true sense of the word" and his aim is to produce both traditional
and idiosyncratic beers destined for cask, keg and bottle.
There will be a few small batches finding their way into the wild from
the end of August but main production isn't scheduled to start until
November. Cask and keg first, bottles around the start of next year.
The set-up involves a 4BBL [British Brewers Barrel] kit, but with a large mash tun enabling
him to do strong beers if he ever feels the need with "as much variable control as
I can fit in with an aim of getting more consistency than most micros of the same
Starting beers will be "New Dawn" and "Dusk" respectively in cask format
only while "Red Mist" will be turning up at a couple of festivals in August
(again cask only) although a keg might find its way to Kash in
Chester at some point.
Other beers will depend on season and hop availability.
Keg beers will be mainly naturally carbonated, unfiltered and unpasteurised (but not cloudy).
Bottles will be naturally conditioned, but not in the bottle.
Web-Ed footnote: The branch would
welcome a volunteer to serve as Brewery Liaison Officer with Axiom.
Award to Heavy Industry (June
The presentation of Champion Beer of North Wales has taken place at the Heavy Industry
brewery in Henllan near Denbigh. Heavy Industry Collaborator was
chosen by a panel of beer experts at the North Wales Beer Festival held in the Centenary Club at Wrexham
FC in early May.
CAMRA's Wales Regional Director Ian Saunders did the honours and he is pictured
alongside Tom McNeil of Heavy Industry receiving the Gold award.
Phil Blanchard from Mold-based Hafod brewery was also present to
accept the bronze award for Hafod HE.
Without Prejudice (May
The Offa's Dyke in Broughton has been declared the branch's
Outstanding Community Pub for 2013. The estate pub on Broughton Hall
Road is part of the John Barras group and hosts many sports teams
including football, darts and pool. On Wednesday evening
there's a free pool table with Poker League on Thursdays. It
also stages quiz and karaoke events plus occasional live music and
always show premier sporting events on TV. It is especially popular
amongst the racing fraternity.
Built in the 1970's along with the
surrounding estate, the pub comprises an unusual timbered effect, low-ceilinged
bar designed to fancifully resemble a fort on the Offa’s Dyke. The lounge is
typical estate comfort with a large conservatory style extension slapped on.
There's also a large car park plus lawned garden.
Easily accessible by buses from Chester and
Mold, it has three handpumps on the go. Recently they were Ruddles County, Abbot Ale and Adnams Broadside with Morland Brewery's Old Speckled Hen and Theakstons Old Peculier on sale next week replacing of the first
Champion Beer North Wales (May
On the Friday afternoon,
prior to the opening of the first North Wales Beer Festival held at the Centenary Club, Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium [Wrexham Football Club]
a panel of judges set to the task of selecting the winner in the Champion Beer of North Wales competition for 2013.
Entries were welcomed from all North Wales breweries with eleven ales submitted
froma cross the region. The Gold Award went to the Heavy Industries brewery
from Henllan near Denbigh for their Collaborator which is a 5% deep red best
bitter with chocolate and liquorice aromas. Silver went to a brewery from
our branch, McGivern ales from the Bridge End pub in Ruabon. Bridge
Pale, weighing in at 3.9%, was described as being brewed with plenty of
intense American hops with a pleasing residual sweetness. Bronze was award
to the Mold based Hafod brewery with HE - a 4.3% light straw coloured ale
dry hopped to give it a freshly hopped aroma and flavour but without the
intense bitterness of an IPA. Well done to all.
Well done too to all the organisers and
staff for all their hard work in hosting this inaugural event which featured 44 beers and 12 ciders
with around 700 people attended the festival over the weekend. Live music was provided at all sessions, and both hot and cold food was available throughout. Pub games, and tombola added to the fun.
Feedback from visitors suggested that the event was hugely enjoyable, and everyone is looking forward to seeing the event repeated next year.
Aqueduct Revived (May
The good folk of Froncysyllte are said to be happy. As from this
weekend (commencing May 25th) they don't have to fork out on taxi fares to
go for a pint as their local pub, the Aqueduct, boarded up since late
last summer, is to re-open.
In fact new owners, Paul and Steve, have
consulted Fron residents as part of their plans to run the place with the
community very much in mind. It will be interesting to know if they agreed
on the new outside colour scheme though which is now a vivid lemon yellow -
intentionally unmissable to passing motorists on the A5 or for day-trippers
looking up from the Llangollen canal and eponymous Pontcysyllte aqueduct.
The initial plans for real ale are to have Greene King IPA and Hancocks HB
on handpump - the latter a 3.6% session bitter originally brewed by Hancock's
but now contract brewed at Everards with the possibility of a proper west country
cider also appearing. Food will be of the hot snack variety. There are no
internal changes to the three room layout. .
We're sure Paul and Steve would be happy to see you. We wish them success.
For the first 72 hours following the re-launch there will be a "discount drinks promotion" (i.e.
a very big happy hour ) with beer at £2 a pint
Wrexham Ramble (May
With fine spring weather finally here it was time to take advantage with a cycle round some of
rural Wrexham Borough pubs in the branch. Sadly my first stop revealed that the
Hanmer Arms Hotel at Hanmer is now closed. Local chatter informed me that it closed a week after Easter due to a change in circumstances of the previous managers. Hopefully new managers will be found soon to get the
hotel opened again.
A quick change of plan and it was off to Overton, by now gagging for a beer. With it being a little before opening time I took the opportunity to stop at the church and recreate a photo by Albert Winstanley on his cycle tour of the Seven Wonders of Wales (Overton Yew Trees). That’s one for the real cycling buffs amongst you! The
White Horse is always a welcome rest stop and with the bike safely locked in the courtyard a pint of Joules Blonde was soon flying down in no time at all. The other two beers were the Pale and Slumbering Monk, while a new Joules seasonal ale will be trialled sometime soon (a strong IPA by the sounds of it).
A delightful downhill stretch past Bangor-on-Dee racecourse brings you to the door of the
Buck House. Six Bells Taurus, Stonehouse Station Bitter and Stonehouse Cambrian Gold were waiting for me on the handpumps, with the Cambrian Gold being an excellent choice.
Meanwhile close neighbour, the Royal Oak (pictured top) was serving up Tetleys Gold
Cask and Stonehouse Sunlander.
Some stiff uphill sections next into the village of Worthenbury and what a sad sight the
Worthenbury Arms (left) makes. Five years closed and with planning for development into houses
(rejected but subject to appeal) it is a huge shame to see. Some lovely country lanes then took me
across the border to the Queen’s Head at Sarn. Shamefully in my thirsty rush for the excellent Tim Taylors Golden Best I didn’t notice what the other beer was. The peaceful large garden area was a great place to take in the late evening sun while hoping for the quick flash of azure blue as a Kingfisher speeds along the brook. Sadly none obliged so it was back on the steed
and returning to Wales for a final stop at the Peal o'Bells in Holt. The light was beginning to go so a very quick half of Robinsons Dizzy Blonde rounded off a very enjoyable evening of sun, cycling and beer.
and Ewloe Bus Dawdle (April 25th 2013)
With a relatively late 9pm Pub of the Season presentation scheduled at
the Glynne Arms in Hawarden, it seemed a no-brainer to pop into some other
near by hostelries beforehand. And so, making full use of an Arriva bus Deeside Day Ranger ticket,
it was off on the X44 with first disembarkation at Ewloe Green. After
confirming that the
Boars Head alas remains firmly tinned-up, and by-passing the Marston's
new-build Running Hare, it was a case of re-tracing the bus's tyre
tracks to the GBG
listed Crown & Liver. Marstons beer range here where a leisurely
half of Ringwood Old Thumper was enjoyed surveying the quirky, eclectic
somewhat decadent decor before lazily hopping on board the No.4
for the short ride back into Hawarden.
of the Hawarden Three was the Fox & Grapes (left). A
pleasant spacious and contrasting three-room layout with bare-boards and
half-panelling, it was selling Hobgoblin, Bombardier and Weetwood Cheshire
Cat. The latter was on very good form. Right next door, and unlike before,
now independently owned from the F & G, the Blue Bell was a very
strange affair following a re-fit that has seen the bar shifted over to the
front window. Decor was, shall we say, open plan and minimalist with a
purple decor theme. Surely designed with the local youth in mind, music and
TV was prominent. Surprising therefore to see cask ale being plugged with
one handpump continuing the no doubt coincidental purple theme with Purple
Moose Glaslyn Ale. Bit hazy but tasted OK. Hope it lasts but see it being a
And so finally, to the warm atmosphere of the Glynne
Arms which was busy throughout its rambling interior which includes
separate dining room, rear informal seating, snug and a round bar where
several ales were on including Conwy Rampart, Spitting Feathers
Thirstquencher and Stonehouse Sunlander. Eventually bar manager Rob found
the time to listen to a few informal words of commendation from the branch
chairman before accepting the branch's Pub of the Season award on behalf of
owners and staff (main pic). A well deserved accolade to what is now
a great asset to Hawarden. And, after a few more slurps, it was all aboard
the bus home which stops virtually outside the front bar door. Bravo.
What to Find in Brymbo (April
First of the four pubs in this community synonymous with its sadly
now closed pits and steelworks to the west of Wrexham, is the Y Tai
on Railway Road. This cream coloured, low-lit Marstons pub is a regular
outlet for Brakspear Bitter. Inside you'll discover a typical lively bar
with pool, darts and TV. The cosier quieter lounge, with less obtrusive TV
and fish tank, has some older fittings and a stone fireplace.
the only keg pub in the village is the Miners Arms on High Street.
Unattractive and dour on the outside it's nevertheless a pleasant, welcoming
single square roomed local with sports TVs. It also has a big darts
following with some of the big names from the arrows world making regular
Railway Tavern, another with unprepossessing exterior, is tucked away
off High Street and is a surprising outlet for cask ale as well as
traditional cider - on this occasion it was Conwy Welsh Pride. This is an American bar in the Wild West of NE Wales. A roomy affair of little areas and Brewer's Tudor remants, darts, pool
and foreign Sports Channel. A fantastic little stove in the corner of the offshoot lounge is
particularly charming. An apricot-coloured pub with splendid valley views,
it is also the home to Brymbo Invitation Pigeon Club.
Finally, the one-time Good Beer Guide listed George & Dragon on
Ael-y-Bryn. A Lees tied-house, it was serving Lees Bitter and Drayman's Promise
from the pumps. A stone-built, smallish, two room pub showing foreign Sports Channel,
it consists of a lounge and cosy bar with an iron stove. An airy bay area looks onto the pretty beer garden from which there is a spectacular view over to Hope Mountain. Centralised servery, stuffed trophy cabinet & entertainment every Saturday.
The pub is on CAMRA's Heritage Pubs Regional Inventory for its 1930's
remnants (click here
and search via North East Wales).
Back From the Near Dead (April
The Tyn-Y-Capel at Minera, a 13th century coaching inn, was one of the oldest and finest pubs in the region. It was an historical pub with records dating to 1250AD. described as a 13th century monks retreat. The monks on their pilgrimage from Valley Crucis Abbey would visit the site and it is thought that they would stop to feed the lepers who lived on Minera mountain in the caves, through the mullion window in the wall of the pub. The oldest part of the pub is the stone flagged porch entrance. Unfortunately this historic traditional local was closed overnight in February 2011 by the owner/landlord and was converted temporarily into a Day Care centre. An application was then made for a change of use. Local people set up an action group to get the pub reinstated, and considered trying to buy it and run it as a community pub, but the owner was resistant to this.
A high profile Action Committee against the planning application with support from a number of other groups including CAMRA, ultimately resulted a successful appeal against the planning application for conversion of the building, and following on from this the committee sought to lease or buy the building and reinstate the pub. Much help was provided in examining the feasibility of this venture by the team who re-opened the Raven in Llanarmon-yn-Ial a few of years ago. The owner rejected this approach but was required to put the pub on the open market in order to demonstrate its alleged non-viability, and appealed against the planning decision. The appeal went to central (Wales) government in Cardiff and was rejected.
At this point, the committee set out to raise funds to buy the pub, and, with the help of The Wales Co-Operative, created Minera Community Limited (MCL), an Industrial Provident Society, as a vehicle to progress this. This idea was that shares in the venture (nominal value £1 per share ) would be issued, making the pub a truly co-operative owned venture. It did not prove possible to raise enough funds to buy the pub at this stage, but the owner, Keith Roberts, agreed to lease it for a period, with the option for MCL to buy at some future point.
Over 90 shareholders have raised in excess of £39,000, including shares issued to Co- Operatives UK. This together with a substantial grant of £48 000 from The Village SOS Lottery fund, (which specifically supports rural areas to battle back and keep their local services running) and a European Funded, Tourism Grant from Wrexham Council have resulted in an agreement to have the lease assigned to MCL
After a lot of hard work by the community, MCL are very pleased to announce that The Tyn will reopen the bar at the Grand Opening on the 20th April 2013 at 1.00pm April. The restaurant will open a few weeks later. The Tyn is to be staffed mostly by volunteers and run as a not for profit venture. It is intended that the pub will be put to a wide variety of uses for the benefit of the community.
thunderously applaud everyone who brought the Tyn back from the dead. Now
it's time for us all to use it.
(Pics l-r: petitioning - the onset of the campaign; piping in the new sign
in readiness for the Grand Opening)
y Capel Facebook
Forty Years Special Award (April
The party balloons festooned the Griffin in Gresford last Friday as
the branch made a presentation of flowers and a certificate to Jean Williams
to mark her 40th year as landlady. A tremendous achievement and an
outstanding act of loyalty to a pub and community she loves.
It's really no great surprise Jean entered the licensed trade. She's been
around pubs since the age of eight when her father ran the White Lion
in Hope. When she took over the reins of the Griffin with her husband the
price of a pint was 13p. It was also the onset of what Jean considered the
boom years of the 1970s and the 80s when shift workers would drink their way
through an astonishing ten times thirty six gallon barrels a week. Folk
would come from miles around for a choice of Greenalls Bitter or Mild.
Over the intervening years Jean has weathered turbulent times in the
industry having seen pub ownership change hands from Greenalls to Nomura,
Pubmaster and currently Punch Taverns. She also nearly lost her licence
when, following separation from her husband, Greenalls decreed she could not
run the pub on her own. Made to attend an interview in Warrington she was
delighted to learn regulars of the Griffin had flooded Greenalls with
letters of praise and commendation to prompt a change of heart.
And thank heavens for that. The Griffin today is pretty much as it was
all those years ago. Cask ale remains its principal seller while there's no
food, juke box, or TV sport. It's all about warmth, conversation and
conviviality which you get in bucket loads plus of course excellent ale as
reflected by the pub's long unbroken run in the GBG.
Well done Jean. We salute you, keep pulling those pints ... and many
thanks for the lovely sandwiches! (Pics l-r: the Griffin; Jean with
father; with her certificate)
Here Comes the Sun (April
Coming as a great relief to all who know this delightful Grade II listed 200
years old drovers' inn, the Sun at Rhewl has re-opened. We had feared
the worst - "holiday let or second home for the idle rich" - when
it shut up shop in February 2012 and it was stripped of fixtures and
All's well that ends well
though as the new owners are from the nearby Abbey Grange hotel, home
of Llangollen Brewery. Inside, it's still the same small intimate three-roomed pub
retaining the small counter in the public bar and range fireplace in the
lounge. As you'd expect for now, the decor is bare and spartan but this will
quickly change as work gets underway adorning the walls with maps and what
not plus new outside signage. There will also be a new website while the
ramshackle garden gets a major overhaul. On the beer front, two ales are
stocked from the Llangollen range with plans to install a further handpump.
Sun truly is in an idyllic setting in a comparatively quiet backwater of the
Dee Valley and surely the pub, which is back selling food, will exploit the
area's popularity with walkers. Indeed we recommend the scenic 3.5 mile
stroll from Llangollen (slightly more if you follow the off-road Dee Valley
way) which takes in the Chainbridge Hotel en route (now selling cask
ale - Stonehouse and Purple Moose - since the turn of the year) and you
could even visit the Abbey Grange pub itself.
Brilliant the Sun is back. Visit it.
Plough Flattened (April
Coming hot-foot after the Beeston Castle pub was razed to the ground,
we've sadly lost another local to the wrecking ball and bulldozer. This time
it's the Plough at Rhosymedre which is no more after Wrexham Borough
Council granted consent for demolition.
As drinkers continue to drink elsewhere or consume at home, we expect
more such lamentable outcomes to follow. Nearby the Jolly Masons
Seasonal Delights at the Glynne (March
After a tough (well for me anyway!) cycle up to Hawarden from Chester, the
Glynne Arms was a very welcoming stopping point at the top of the hill.
It was also a chance to visit the branch's worthy winner of the Spring 2013 Pub of the Season award.
There are always four great ales to choose from, as usual featuring beers from Purple Moose, Stonehouse, Great Orme and
Conwy and today’s offerings were Snowdonia Ale, Off the Rails, Great Welsh and Welsh Pride.
Having been closed for around four years the pub reopened in May 2012 following a massive refurbishment. Split into multiple areas the style is “modern traditional” with quirky retro posters on the walls. The theme goes further with collections of old radios, coloured glass bottles on the shelves and a set of
seven small antlers (from which animal I’m not sure!) mounted on the wall. Owned by the Gladstone’s who also own the nearby Hawarden Estate Farm Shop, much of the menu contains dishes using their produce along with additions from local Welsh and Cheshire businesses. Being on our bikes we didn’t stop off at the shop this time but it’s well worth a visit for its range of bottled ales as well as foodie delights.
(SW) (see Branch Awards)
PS The branch hopes to make a presentation to the Glynne on April 19th. (Web
Welsh Pub of the Year 2013 (March
Welsh costume stovepipe hats off to the Royal Oak in Wrexham for
winning the branch's Pub of the Year from amongst our patch of Wrexham
Borough, Flintshire and Denbigshire pubs. It is the first time this Joules
tied house on High Street has won the title although it was recently the recipient
of a seasonal award. So, in a simple cut and paste job, this is what we said
of the pub back in January ...
Known locally as "The Embassy" due
to its association with the Free Polish Army garrison during WW2, things had
become a bit extreme by 2007 when it was a very run down, seedy bar known as
the Ambasada serving bottled Polish lagers to migrant workers. Luckily
Market Drayton based brewers Joules took over the reins and, after a
marvellous restoration which involved installation of wood-panelling, etched
mirrors and stained glass, the Royal Oak re-opened in 2009 serving cask
beer. Nowadays you'll find the Joules range on the handpumps as well as a
free-to-choose guest ale (recent examples being from Salopian, Ossett,
Titanic and Waen) plus Weston's Old Rosie cider.
Best wishes to the Oak as
it advances on to the Regional PotY competition. (see English
PotY Winners 2013)
Tyn y Capel to Open Soon (March
After a few recent scare stories about committee resignations, leases
not being signed and the possibilty of a £48k grant being lost, the latest
facebook site for the Tyn Y Capel community organisation reports that they
now have the keys to the Minera pub and plan to host a re-launch opening
party on April 20th. As
one post says "It is so important that we spread the word and make this
venture a success. We all wanted the doors of the Tyn to re-open so let's
show our support!"
Indeed so. Let's hope the branch and its
members make an effort to attend the opening or, if not then, in the near
future. This has been a marvellous
effort (with a few inevitable fractious moments) from the community to
resurrect a pub that was, lest we forget, closed suddenly with ghastly plans
for conversion into a nursing home.
y Capel Facebook
Fat Lady Sings for the Cat (February
Some say it's been on the cards for a while; others that it was a
failed attempt to compete with Wetherspoons food trade ("Two meals from £5.95! All Day Every Day!").
Whatever the reason, the Fat Cat in Wrexham has closed with immediate
effect and therefore, almost in its true literal sense, decimated the number
of pubs on the town centre selling cask ale. This is a shame. The Fat Cat,
next to the bus station, was a modern, open plan bar with regular DJ music
nights. On warmer days, the roof beer garden made for a pleasant and unusal
place to enjoy the likes of Purple Moose, Conwy and Plassey served from the
Other bars in the Fat Cat chain are
unaffected including the one in Chester.
Heaven (February 20th 2013)
The Welsh Beer Festival held at Saith Seren / Seven Stars
in Wrexham on February 15th / 16th has been judged a great success by the
organisers. Eight Welsh beers were available with Monty's Sunshine and
Llangollen Bitter on tap in the bar both quickly selling out . On gravity flow,
were Tiny Rebel Fubar and McGivern's Bridge Pale, selling out by Saturday night, and also
Chilli Plum Porter from Y Waen, Hafod Moel Famau, Sandstone Onyx and finally
Snowdonia Madog which were all but polished off by Sunday night last orders.
The festival was attended by many lager drinkers,
including Saith Seren regulars, with several of them admitting to never
having attended a beer festival let alone tasting real ale before. They were all very curious as to what was going on in their pub.
They read the tasting notes and tried tasters of the beers choosing pints of
those they liked. This made for a very pleasing result in the attempt to publicise or (preach the gospel of) Real Ale !
The pub was very busy on Saturday night and the Paul Sturman Band were
excellent. This will probably not be the last real ale festival in the pub.
There is talk of another in August with Welsh Folk Music and even an Octoberfest with a Welsh emphasis. (Pene
in Hope ... (February 16th 2013)
As you travel south from Deeside along the A550 section that hugs the escarpment looking out towards the Cheshire plains and the border country lying along the western borders of our branch area you come to the busy village of Hope (Y Hob).
On entering the village you have to cautiously pass two lions standing guard over its approaches protecting the villagers from unwanted marauders. Both are
there though to welcome the friendly and weary traveller, to quench their thirst and satisfy their appetite, and for those that wish you could first of all visit St Cynfach’s church that keeps a caring eye over both lions.
But is this a game of Punch and Judy? No it’s not. It’s Punch and Admiral.
The older White Lion, owned by Admiral, pull's no punches. Standing on higher ground and looking down on
its counterpart, it is thought to be much older than the 1828 date stone suggests.
You enter the pub from the road, up a small flight of stairs, and into a small lounge with fire place, timber features and leaded windows.
There's also a bar area where you can watch telly. The same bar serves both sides and although it has
three handpumps one is in use. The landlord tells me that this is because he can’t move his beer quick enough to have
two or more pumps on the go. When I was there a fine brew of Thwaites’ Wainwright beer was available.
My overall impression was of a cosy hostelry with lovely ambiance.
The Red Lion, back in the 1800’s, was originally a low thatched building but was later expanded and rebuilt in brick with a tiled roof. It has changed hands a few times over the years and, at present, is owned by Punch.
After a long period of closure it's had refurbishment carried out making it more of a pub/restaurant now. As with pubcos the beer changes every so often and when I was there Jennings Cumberland and Wychwood’s Hobgoblin were on
sale. The Cumberland tasted a bit tired to be honest. (Elved
Phoenix in Penley? (February
Is a new pub to rise from the ashes of the Dymock Arms in Penley?
This 16th century inn - grade II listed no less - was gutted by fire in an
arson attack in January 2010 leaving nothing but a shell behind. It has
since been subjected to weather damage, vandalism and even a visit from
Some good news at last
though. Planning permission is currently being considered by Wrexham Borough
Council over plans to repair and rebuild the pub and restore it, despite the
loss of the original oak timbers, as faithfully as possible. According to
the planning applicant “Some consequential improvements will be made in the course of the reconstruction, but these should not impact the historical or architectural significance of the building."
vast majority of villagers are keen to see the building restored as a public
house. With their nearest pub being the Hanmer Arms in Hanmer 2.5
miles away, let's hope they get their wishes.
Soul for Former Lees Pub (February
There's a new look and a new name to the Albion on Pen-y-Bryn
in Wrexham. It's now re-opened as Soul Suite and, according to their
website, "is unique in Wrexham as it is the only bar / venue solely dedicated to bringing you Motown, Soul Club Classics, Northern Soul Oldies, Funk Anthems and R & B Dancers, EVERY Friday and Saturday evening from 6.00 pm until 1.00 a.m."
The pub had previously belonged to Lees
Brewery and for a while was a regular in the Good Beer Guide being a
relatively rare outlet for cask in the town. It closed in 2010 and had been
boarded up until now. It might not have real ale any more but it sounds an
interesting enterprise so we wish it the best of luck.
Gresford Has the Bottle (February
We have finally found an off-licence in the Wrexham area to challenge those in
Chester! The Clear Black Wine Company in Gresford High Street has a minimum of 45
different bottled real ales and ciders, including Vegan and Organic.
Peter Minshull is passionate about real ales and he sources his ales from the
length and breadth of Great Britain, but never forgets the local breweries. He's so enthusiastic about
it he will be taking a stand at the Wrexham Food Festival in May to try to
persuade others to join us in our love of real ale.
Of course, a wine shop needs wine and there's lots of it, as well as
spirits. Once you've sampled those and are feeling peckish, speciality cheeses
and biscuits are also on offer.
calling in to stock up if you fancy a few beers at home in front of the
telly. (David Samuels)
Royal Oak Presentation (January
A few hardy souls braved the cold and the snow to support the presentation of
Winter Pub-of-the-Season to Sean Corcoran and Tracey Johnson at the Royal
Oak, High Street, Wrexham during the January branch meeting last week. Most will know how the Oak was rescued from a dodgy past by Joules’ Brewery, who have created a warm, comfortable town centre pub with lots of wood panelling, traditional pub mirrors, blazing real fire, and of course friendly service from Sean and Tracey.
It is sometimes difficult to define a good pub, but most pub goers will recognise one when they come across it. The vital ingredient is the enthusiasm and professionalism of the licencees, and these two have it in abundance. Add in splendid, no frills beer from a non-nonsense brewery, and there is the magic mix for a great pub. Sean has been able to persuade the brewery to permit the occasional guest beer, and it is this dimension which adds
greatly to the offering of the Oak; fine as Joules’ beers are, a modicum of choice is always welcome amongst discerning drinkers, and very few brewery-tied-pubs offer this, understandably in view of their investment in their estates.
Our pic shows Tracey and Sean with their
certificate (muggins of a branch chairman forgot to bring the frame). Many
thanks to them also for serving up a marvellous warming chicken hot pot - a
perfect antidote to the brass monkey weather !
Stars Beer Festival (January
The Saith Seren (Seven Stars) in Wrexham will be holding a
beer festival over the weekend beginning Friday 15th of February. As you'd
expect for an establishment set up to promote the Welsh language and
culture, the eight guest beers are all sourced from within Wales. Brewers
you can expect to see are Y Waen, Montys, Purple Moose, Hafod, Tiny Rebel
and Sandstone. Llangollen ales are on tap regularly at the bar and
reportedly selling well.
all folks. Anything
roughly over six months old is entered into our archived records
and not available on the website.