Cardiff Craft Crawl

This weekend I went to Cardiff to visit my Dad and his wife. They moved there about three years ago and I always love going to stay, as there is loads going on for a city that is so walkable. There are plenty of great pubs in Cardiff, so I’m sure I’ll write about my visits again at some point, however I’m just going to focus on a handful of places in this post.

thumb_IMG_2559_1024It was a lovely day on Saturday, so we decided to begin our afternoon crawl in The Pen and Wig on Park Grove, which has an excellent beer garden. I’ve been there a few times before and they always have a wide selection of cask beers available, as well as a few keg options too. I chose a beer I hadn’t had before which was recommended to me by one of the lovely bar staff – Mr Mojo Pale Ale from local brewery Crafty Devil. I always try to sample local breweries when I can and this American style pale did not disappoint. Mr Mojo is intensely hoppy and full of tropical flavours and left my Dad and boyfriend jealous – I would highly recommend.

Next on our mini crawl was Zero Degrees Microbrewery and Restaurant, which as well as having a large venue in Cardiff, has bases in Bristol, Reading and Blackheath, London. We had not been here before so I was keen to check it out. I chose a Belgian Witbier which was very much up my street. I would say it has quite a subtle taste but if you like a wheat beer, as I do, then you will like this. I would like to visit Zerodegrees again at some point to try the food, as there were amazing aromas coming from the kitchen during our visit.

Our last pub stop is one of my favourites in Cardiff – Tiny Rebel Brewery. The brewery itself is based in Newport and I’ve not had the chance to visit yet, however the bar in Cardiff is somewhere I try to go to every time I’m there. They always have an extensive selection of beers on tap, mostly their own but a few others too, and I’ve visited before when they’ve had tap takeovers as well. I had the Dutty Vermont Session IPA – a cloudy and golden beer with lovely notes of grapefruit and citrus. I’ve heard some say that they find this a bit hazy, but I like hazy beers personally. My Dad had two pints of Tiny Rebel’s Stay Puft Nitro – a marshmallow porter and probably one of his favourite beers ever. He first discovered this far too easy to drink porter on our last visit to Tiny Rebel and he has been raving about it ever since. My boyfriend also opted for the Stay Puft Nitro and gave it an equally glowing review – commenting on how easily it goes down. I’ve never been much of a porter drinker – I do like it but I always find I can’t drink too much of it – however this one could change my mind.

To finish this blog I want to mention two great bottle shops in Cardiff, which we visited on Sunday to stock up before our trip back up to Manchester. The first is one that my Dad has taken me to before and is a bit of a hidden secret (well, that’s what my Dad says anyway). It’s called Discount Supermarket and it’s on Whitchurch Road. You would never know it without going inside, but this place has one of the most incredible beer selections I’ve seen. It has a huge amount of Belgian beers, as well as lots and lots of beers from UK craft breweries and American breweries. I picked up loads from there, including an old fashioned lemonade IPA from Evil Twin Brewing (Brooklyn, New York), a ‘Wanna go to the Sun’ citra and mosaic pale from Lost and Grounded (Bristol, UK) and a brewery I’d never heard of before called Whiplash who brewed this particular beer at Larkin’s Brewing Company (Wicklow, Ireland).

While on our way to visit Discount Supermarket, we also discovered another gem on Whitchurch Road – Pop’n’Hops. We’d never seen this little place before, which sells both records and craft beer, despite it being there for over a year. It has a great selection of beers from the UK and from across the world and the staff are super friendly and helpful. My boyfriend had a quick peruse of the records, but I was a bit too over excited by the beer selection. We chose a Guerrilla IPA from CR/AK Brewery (Padova, Italy) that I had been keen to try for a while, as well as a few from Welsh breweries West by Three (Swansea) and Rival Brewing Company (Cardiff).

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If you live in Cardiff, or are just visiting or passing through, these bottle shops are not to be missed. If you do find yourself there at some point, please do get in touch and let me know what you picked up!

I haven’t tried most of the beers that I bought in my haul yet so look out for a feature on those in an upcoming blog…

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Coming soon…

 

“You like beer?”

I used to hate beer. Well, at least I thought I did six years ago before my journey from beer-loather to beer-lover began. Naively, I used to associate beer as something groups of “lads” would drink at festivals – crate after crate of Carling, Fosters and the rest. I believed that all beer tasted the same and that none of it was meant for me.

My journey with beer really began in the summer of 2012 during two city breaks I took with my boyfriend. I was studying in Sheffield at the time and he was down in London, so we decided to take the opportunity to spend some time together.

Our first trip that summer was to Budapest, where we frequented many of the city’s unique ruin pubs. It was in one of these pubs when I went to order my usual white wine and was amazed to be charged more than 1,700 Hungarian Forints (around £5) when my boyfriends pint of beer had cost a mere 140 Forints (40p). As a student at the time, I was envious of how much cheaper it was to drink beer in Hungary, so after some persuasion I decided to give it a try. This reluctance to order a beer seems bizarre to me now, but at the time it felt like a huge deal.

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I don’t think this was the first, but it was one of many enjoyed that holiday

I ordered half a Staropramen and to my surprise, loved it. It wasn’t anything like what I’d come to imagine beer to be. From there I had a Soproni, a Borsodi, a Dreher – as many beers as Hungary could offer. My eyes were opened.

Our next trip that summer was to Berlin – one of my favourite cities. Having so recently discovered the wonderful range of beer on offer, I was excited to sample more in a country renowned for its beer.

Many pilsners and hefeweizens were sampled on that holiday and wheat beer is still one of my favourite styles (even now, six years into my beer journey).

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My first German Hefeweizen

I think its fair to say that since those trips to Budapest and Berlin, my appreciation of beer has grown and grown. It has become a passion and a hobby. I seek out new beers, frequent brewery taprooms and bottle shops, follow updates from my favourite brewers and fellow beer lovers and try and support as many local businesses and events as possible.

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First attempt at brewing in my flat!

I have even started to brew – my boyfriend and I dedicating the spare room in our Manchester flat to our latest attempts. It’s become more than just a dalliance – it’s become a huge interest and part of my life.

Over the last six years, my increasing love of beer has surprised a lot of people. The view that I used to hold that “beer isn’t for me” is still something I feel today, but not from myself directly but from others. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve heard “You’re drinking a pint?!” or “You like beer?!”.

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Beavertown Brewery, Beaver My Valentine 2016

This is one of the reasons why I have decided to start writing a blog about women and beer. Although I do believe that attitudes are changing and that more and more women are openly enjoying beer and getting the recognition they deserve in the industry, I still think there’s a long way to go.

It’s obviously very early days, but as well as writing more about my own beer journey, I hope that in time I’ll be able to write about other women and their experiences with beer. I’d also love to write about some of the amazing women involved in the brewing industry and how they got to where they are!