There’s never been a better time to be a beer drinker in the UK – there are now over 2000 breweries operating on these shores, up from just 500 at the millennium. In Wales, this revolution in brewing takes its place within the much broader boom that’s happening everywhere you look in food and drink.
Evidence of brewing in Wales dates back to the seventh century. Back then, the standard beer was a mix of mead and ale, flavoured with exotic herbs. The further reaches of modern Welsh craft brewing are closer to these origins than you might think, with ingredients from lemon to granola and seaweed inspiring brewers on a relentless search for innovative flavours.
But that’s just one end of the spectrum. Many of Wales’s best pubs are a century or two old, and people visit them in search of living tradition. While some people think of beer as just bitter or lager, a decent range will include golden ales, ruby ales, porters and stouts, all sourced from brewers just a few miles away.
As a Yorkshireman who was lucky enough to marry a native of South Wales, I’ve championed Welsh beers at the Abergavenny Food Festival for many years, and even paired them with the music of bands playing the Green Man Festival in the Brecon Beacons. Every year I worry I might struggle to find something new and interesting, but the well has never run dry yet – there’s always a clutch of fantastic new beers to explore and fall in love with.
Pete Brown. Author, Broadcaster, Consultant & Beer Lover is currently Chair of the British Guild of Beer Writers,
which exists “…to improve standards of beer writing and extend the public knowledge of beer.”
The South West of England is often heralded as the heartland of cider country in the UK, but a little dig in the history books will show that Wales has just an incredible a cider pedigree. Boasting regions of fabulous apple growing, over the centuries, many farms would have had an orchard to provide cider for the labourer, the family and the merchant.
This fantastic heritage is still felt today. A two year research project, completed in 2019, identified 73 ‘new’ Welsh specific varieties, boasting wonderful names such as Tanat Reviver and Anglesey Sweet Jane.
Today, award winning ciders are made right across the country, from the Valleys in the South, to the Mountains of Mid Wales and all the way up to Anglesey. Monmouthshire can also lay claim to being one of the finest perry making regions in the world, with many rare specimens of classic perry pear varieties being found in the County, some more than 200 years old!
Explore what Wales has to offer.
Gabe Cook hails from Dymock, a small, historic village on the Gloucestershire/Herefordshire border, right in the heart of Ciderland. Having spent a lifetime in the Cider industry with Westons Cider, HP Bulmer Ltd , Peckham’s (NZ) as well as various roles with many of the industries bodies, Gabe has amassed significant knowledge that he is now using to spread the gospel on the wonderful world of cider and perry