This week we welcomed ITV Wales in to the microbrewery to film the story of our Moel Arthur Bilberry Beer, a limited edition seasonal craft beer that we produce from the small bilberries (or winberries) which grow locally in the Clwydian Range, north Wales. If you’re wondering what on earth a bilberry is then you wouldn’t be alone! Put simply they are a small native relative of the blueberry and grow wild on high ground in the UK.
Bilberry picking up a mountain is a pretty time-consuming and sticky activity; when you add that together with the potential for falling down a slope or in to the many gorse bushes, some people might wonder why we bother making a bilberry beer. We think the resulting beer is worth it: a copper-coloured ale, with a touch of bitterness, a subtle malty fruit finish and a nod to the beautiful local mountain range.
Crafting small batch beers like this one is something we started out doing three years ago; the Bilberry beer sits alongside our other locally inspired beers, Moel Famau dark ale (infused with heather from the Clwydians) and Moel Fenlli honey ale (made with heather-honey from hives up in the same hills). Since then we’ve obviously moved on to brew many other types of beer, from pilsner, trappist-style, and IPA to stout, amber and pale, but we’ve always kept the locally inspired beers in the range because of local demand. People like to know the story behind their beer and we’re proud to share it. When you’ve spent the day hiking up that mountain, quenching your thirst with a pint crafted with ingredients from that same hill is quite a novelty!
If supporting and buying from local producers is your thing then take a look at the many fantastic producers and retailers who’ve linked up to form the Clwydian Range Food & Drink Trail: http://www.foodtrail.co.uk/horizontal/ We can vouch for the freshness and deliciousness of the products they make and the stunning scenery of North East Wales you’ll get along the trail is an added bonus! The Food Trail news report will appear on ITV Wales at 6pm, Friday 14th August. meanwhile it’s back to cask washing for us – don’t worry, the fame hasn’t gone to our heads. A brewer’s work is never done…
Last weekend’s 2015 CAMRA North Wales Beer Championships turned out to be quite a nice surprise. Due to brewing commitments we were unable to make the trade session on the Friday night so only found out through Twitter our entry for 2015 Hopper had been awarded Supreme Bronze 2015!
We did make up for it the day after by getting along and tasting the great beer selection chosen by James from Axiom Brewing Co and Matt from McGivern Ales – thanks guys. Here we all are, brewer included, with our Hopper pump clip.
Thanks to Alison from Purple Moose, whose lovely Ysgawen Elderflower Ale won the Silver Award, for the photo. Congratulations to Gold Award winner Tom from Heavy Industry Brewing Co for his excellent ’77’ brew, completing a hat trick of Gold Awards.
A blog for all things beginning with B. Ready?
Testing brewing on the Hafod big kit commenced in April. Head Brewer Phill has been twisting the taps on the new brewkit, putting it through its paces with a brand new recipe. The results are sitting in our conditioning tanks, well, conditioning! A probable early appearance for the beer could well be Wrexham Food & Drink Festival 16th & 17th May in the beer tent. As for the name and style…you’ll have to wait and see just a little longer 😉
Further work has continued on the rest of the conditioning tanks and their cooling systems in addition to keeping the little brewhouse running at full capacity.
Over the Easter period two of the team (myself & Suzanne) visited New York and paid a visit to the famous Brooklyn Brewery tasting rooms over in Williamsburg.
During the visit we sampled many local beers including several Captain Lawrence Brewing Co beers, an excellent schwartzbier from Catskill Brewery, Blue Point Breweries Mosaic IPA and even some hand pull beer from Smuttynose Brewery at the tremendous Mugs Alehouse in Brooklyn http://www.mugsalehouse.com/
I had some concerns prior to visiting Brooklyn Brewery that it might disappoint due to their commercial success (that hipster problem!). Delighted to say I was very wrong. Although it took a rather long wait to get into the tasting rooms, the beers on offer inside more than made up for it.
All of the beers we tried were in excellent condition. Two absolute stand out beers were the Sorachi Ace pale ale (so good I tried it twice) and Wild Horse Porter (fermented with wild yeast). We have a stock of Sorachi Ace at the brewery, which I now have even greater plans for!
Another feature we loved about the tasting rooms was the mix of people spending their Saturday afternoon in there. Brooklyn’s tasting rooms were a bouncing mix of everyone including, we reckoned, more than 50% women.
So unsurprisingly craft beer is alive and well in NYC. Brooklyn Brewery is flying the flag with style and there are a tremendous number of interesting beers and breweries over the pond. Now Phill, about that Sorachi Ace you’ve been saving…
Quite literally, it’s a sign. A busy few weeks for us continued with the brewhouse getting it’s final chimney fitting for the copper and the outside sign going up at long last.
One or two tweaks to the steam boiler and we’re off brewing this week! You should see some pictures from our test brews appearing next week 🙂
Elsewhere the bar team visited Chester Food & Drink Festival over the Easter Weekend and met lots of lovely, thirsty people. We also had a great time chatting to fellow brewers Crafty Devil from Cardiff (love the Triple AAA by the way) and Elliswood Brewery, all the way from Hinckley.
We hope you can make it to Mold on Tuesday 14th April – we’re having a Meet The Brewer night at The Gold Cape with the team from ‘spoons. Five ales on handpull and a chance to see Phill’s famous beard, how could you resist?
We had a great couple of days out this weekend at The Palm House in Sefton Park courtesy of the Artisans team. Fantastic weather for March and a lovely venue to work from. We met lots of new customers as well as a few old favourites 🙂
In fact the Saturday went so well we sold out all our beer for the whole weekend. It turns out Liverpudlians are a friendly and thirsty lot! Now we’re looking forward to going back to the Palm House later in the year and hopefully one or two more appearances in the Merseyside area quite soon.
We’ve been twiddling with the website recently. Hope you like the recent facelift! Still no online shop but you know us 🙂 Slow and steady wins the race etc.
Behind the scenes at Hafod Towers we’ve been rather busy bunnies. Who knew quite how much you needed to upgrade in a new brewery before it can make the beer you really want to.
Over the next few weeks we’ll be letting you lovely folk into the secret world of Hafod and showing you round some of the new features inside the new brewhouse.
In the meantime here’s a sneak preview of something we’re having kitted out right now…