August 18, 2016 by Kay Byrne
Locally brewed ales will take pride of place at the 30th annual Swansea Bay Beer & Cider Festival at the Brangwyn Hall next weekend.
The brewing scene in Swansea has exploded over the past few years and beers from six local producers will be on offer, plus many more from brewers across south Wales.
In a record year for local brewing, micro-brewery pioneer Rory Gowland celebrated 20 years of his Swansea Brewing Company with a gig at The Joiners Arms in Bishopston – but several of our more recent start-ups also had something to sing about.
Gower Brewery installed a bottling plant at their new premises in Crofty, having rapidly outgrown their first home from 2011 at the Greyhound Inn in Oldwalls. Demand for their flagship beer Gower Gold takes up most of the plant’s capacity, but there’s still plenty of room for their other ales and speciality brews.
Mumbles Brewery, which also started in 2011, settled into new premises in Swansea’s enterprise zone where a new bottling plant is allowing brewer Rob Turner to produce small ranges of beers to meet specific markets, such as the popular Hopkick and Triple Hop Pale.
Boss Brewery, which opened for business only last year, has already made a big impression on the local real ale scene and recently launched its first brewery tap in Castle Square, Swansea. The bar, named Copper, sells Boss beers alongside speciality coffees and local, artisan food.
The success of Gower, Mumbles and Boss breweries is evident from the fact that their beers were selected to go into CAMRA’s biggest beer event, The Great British Beer Festival. GBBF drinkers had the chance to taste Gower Gold, Mumbles Oystermouth Stout, and Boss Black at the event in London’s Olympia earlier this month.
Meanwhile, staff at the longer established Tomos Watkin brewery, also based in Llansamlet, Swansea, are not resting on their laurels. Their core range of beers includes OSB, Blodwen and Cwrw Haf, but they recently launched a new range of craft ales, designed to satisfy the increasingly sophisticated tastes of real ale drinkers.
Last, but not least, the Pilot Brewery in Mumbles usually only brews beer for sale on the premises, but visitors to the festival will also be able to sample two special ales from brewer Richard Bennett.
The Swansea branch of the Campaign for Real Ale has sourced the most exciting brews from up and down the land. Altogether, visitors to the 30th annual beer and cider festival will have more than 150 real ales and ciders to choose from. They also include beers from one of the festival’s main sponsors, the award winning Newport-based Tiny Rebel.
“It’s an exciting time to be organizing a real ale festival due to the amount of new breweries that are constantly starting up. It makes choosing the beer list a challenge as we want to keep up-to-date with the best new real ales on the market, as well as some old favourites,” said Debra White, one of the beer festival organizers.
“This year marks our 10th anniversary at the Brangwyn Hall, as well as our 30th anniversary overall. We’ve been growing steadily over recent years so this year is likely to be the biggest ever,” added festival chairman Chris Radford.
Regular attendees will remember that the festival was first based at the Patti Pavilion, before moving to the Ostreme Hall in Mumbles and then to its current home at the Brangwyn Hall.
The Swansea Bay Beer & Cider Festival will be open from 5pm-11pm on Thursday, 25 August; and from noon to 11pm on Friday, 26 August and Saturday, 28 August at the Brangwyn Hall, St Helen’s Road, Swansea, SA1 4PE.
Entry is £3 per day for Camra members and £5 per day for non-Camra members and that includes a glass and the festival programme and tasting notes.
There will be live musical entertainment on all days as well, plus a range of hot food.
Live music line-up:
Nomadic Ways 9pm
Rock and pop covers and some original songs
Soul Skunks 9pm
Playing classic and contemporary soul & ska
Gypsy Jazz 6pm
Playing a mixture of French café-style music
Juzu Kings 9pm
Rock covers from the 60`s to present
Food will be served at the following times: Thursday 6pm-9pm, Friday 1pm – 9pm and Saturday 1pm – 9pm. There will be a variety of burgers, fish and chips, a hot dish of the day (including a vegetarian option), and a selection of sandwiches.
Festival FAQ – click here
2016 Beer list and tasting notes – click here
2016 Cider list and tasting notes – click here
Layout of the festival hall – click here
2015 festival in photos – click here