Extreme Sailing
Extreme Sailing

Extreme Sailing Series

 

Beer-Searcher's Scott Lloyd travels west to report on:

 

ACT 5 - Extreme Sailing Series - Cardiff Bay and to track down some Welsh Beer, Welsh Breweries and the Harbour Festival.



Brains Brewery - Beer Searcher
It's official, the Race Village opened bang on 11am; a harbour like no other, a harbour with a tight racecourse in a stiff westerly breeze that probably felt stronger and cooler than official stats would convey.  Vibrant colours both on water and off, as Continental markets jostled with yachtsmen carrying distinctive logo's, raising multi-colour sails.  All this to a background of music and commentary that was to accompany the first of the OC Sport Extreme Sailing Events - Act 5, presented by Land Rover.  There is also an opportunity to test a Land Rover's capabilities in their Twin Terrapod Challenge Zone.
 
The public Race Village is free all weekend, where the Extreme 40 fleet will continue to race close inshore during each race window.  Saturday is the first public Cardiff Harbour Festival Day.
 
Scott has been keeping an eye on the JC Morgan BAR Team, helmed by Sir Ben Ainslie.  Despite the light winds, with a generous sail area, an Extreme 40 can achieve remarkable on-water speeds - in just 15 knots of wind, the Cat is capable of travelling at over 25 kts. No problem for Sir Ben and the crew:  Nick Hutton, Paul Campbell-James, Bleddyn Mon and Matt Cornwell.  Under Bright skies and varied winds, JP Morgan BAR finished 1st after nine races.
  
Now, what would the Rev. James 4.5% make of all this commotion on his doorstep! 
 
Striking North from the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre on Lloyd George Avenue, brings us close to the home of the good Reverend.  Not a Rectory, but to an established icon of Welsh brewing, Brains, in Crawshay Street.
 
'There is not much that needs telling about Brains that is not already known. Established in 1882 by Samuel Brain and his Uncle, Joseph Benjamin Brain. They acquired the old Thomas Brothers Brewery, and after additional acquisitions and moves retained Cardiff as the main production base, moving south of Cardiff Central railway station in 2000. Their support of the Welsh Rugby Team is legendary as are their beer brands.'
 
With recent additional hopping, Brains SA remains the company's flagship brand, a malty best bitter that accompanies Brains Dark, Brains Bitter, Brains Smooth, Brains IPA, the four hopped SA Gold and the good Rev. James, the dark best bitter continued after the Buckley merger.  He was also much in evidence at the recent GBBF in Olympia.  Other seasonal beers can be found on the Brains website http://www.sabrain.com/beers.
Now, within the main brewery, is a 10 barrel capacity craft brewery, a Tardis if you will.  A size, most mico-brewers would love to get their hands on.  It is but a tenth of the size of the main plant, but has allowed Brains to experiment with a diverse range of cask, keg and bottled beers. Launched in early 2012, it was in direct response to their own pub estate, of which well over 250 are in Brains ownership - and a demand by both younger and mature drinkers seeking a more diverse range of beers.
 
Coming 130 years after Brains was originally conceived, the craft brewery allows different brewing techniques, ingredients and style that would otherwise hamper production in the main plant.
 
The first beer emerged in May/June 2012 - 'All at Sea'.  Clearly they were not 'All at Sea', as this traditional 5.2% IPA with Admiral and Bramling Cross hops, continues to excite with spicy notes and berries to the nose.  Other master brewers let loose among the mash tuns have also brought their own interpretations to the classic IPA.  'Barry Island' 6.0% was next up, bursting with citrus and a notably bitter finish.  Presented at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival in Cardiff, the first firkin sold out in 20 minutes!  Colonel Williams' 6% Triumphant 5.4% followed. Consult the Brains Craft Beer website and an astonishing 80 new and innovative beers have since come off the production line. http://brainscraftbrewery.com/beer/
Frisco - Brains Brewery
Whilst the Rev. James and others are enjoying the Swansea CAMRA Beer festival this weekend, I must pop in to the Terra Nova, in Mermaid Quay to track down Brain's  Frisco 4.4% - an extreme-sailing-watching-must!  SFO larger yeast, a trio of American hops, a steam beer that hides both caramel and fruit within an amber glass. 
 
How interesting to reflect on how large breweries are responding to this upsurge of craft ale demand. A complex demand that sees large plant breweries having to adapt to new brewing techniques, yet they have the laboratory and technical expertise to fine tune.  Breweries such as Greene King, Brain's and Thwaites have embraced this demand and in recent times, have shown clear evidence of putting flavour first and mass production second.  Brains have made a clear distinction; not just brewers of craft beer, but a craft brewer.

Dancing Man Brewery

Ah, but I hear you say Tiny Rebel Brewing Company is in Newport! So, it is, but their Urban Tap-House Pub; 'Best New Pub in Britain' - of which more later, is in Westgate Street, Cardiff.

 

Somehow the GPS has taken me over the magnificent Severn Bridge and pointed me towards Newport, only some 12 miles from Cardiff with the unavoidable possibility of finding the renown Tiny Rebel Brewery.  It is, after all, practice day in the Bay Thursday, and there is some time for tiny luxuries.

 

The Severn Bridge never fails to amaze, including the £6.50 toll fee, which future Governments may reduce to as little as £2.00 after 2018, when debts are paid and privatisation ceases.  Since it was opened in 1966, over 300,000,000 vehicles have used the original bridge.

 

It is now less than three weeks before Newport becomes a huge centre of interest, as it will become the host for the forthcoming Nato Summit. Weather permitting there will be a Battle of Britain fly-past along the banks of the Usk on Saturday as part of a Nato-themed celebration, ahead of next month's summit. The Red Devils may even sky dive onto the pitch at Rodney Parade... Scott however, will sky-dive into the Tiny Rebel Brewery in the Maesglas Industrial Estate just off the A48 north of the Alexandra Docks.

 

History has it that in a garage way back in 2008, the brothers in law, Bradley and Gareth Williams would spend most weekends home brewing.

 

As refinement came, so did commercial reality. But it would be two years of home brewing research and development before a decision was made to leave their full time jobs and in 2010 the Tiny Rebel concept was born. These self confessed beer geeks launched their micro-brewery in 2012, with a desire to perfect and innovate each and every brew. After only a year of opening, they took the Great Welsh Beer Festival by storm and won Gold with 'Dirty Stop Out', Silver with 'FUBAR' and Bronze with 'Urban IPA' in the Champion Beer of Wales competition!

Of course, retiring was out of the question! Only four months after that, Cardiff saw its first fully devoted craft beer and cider bar, called Urban Tap House, contemporising the centuries old tradition of drinking real ale, described as a drinkers haven!

 

Winning can become a habit, but only a deserving one. Tiny Rebel has won Gold again this year with FUBAR, a win for the 2nd year running in the Champion Beer of Wales competition.

Time to take a closer look at some of Tiny's beers: The ledger reads, up to 18 Cask ales, up to 21 Kegs, and a similar number in bottles, with an output of over 650 casks in the UK alone.

 

Amongst a generous helping of other beers supporting other breweries, Tiny Rebel have Brewery/shop availability - Hadouken 7.4%; Dirty Stop Out 5%; FUBAR 4.4%; Urban IPA 5.5%; The Full Nelson 4.8% and NP10 10% ; Lok-lite 4.5% and unfiltered Bohemium larger BOHO 5% along with 2L Take Out Growlers on certain days. Full specs and availability can be found on their website: www.tinyrebel.co.uk.

 

Fubar
In the Urban Tap Bar (Cardiff): On Tap, amongst others, are cask beers: Tiny's Billabong 4.6%; Tiny's Cwtch 4.6%; and  Dirty Stop Out 5%. Among the Kegs: Tiny's FUBAR 4.4%; Tiny's STOP OUT 5%  and Tiny's USA Wheat 5% first brewed in December 2013.
 
Urban Tap Bar presented an American music vibe last week, as their charity week featured Stav, Breakneck Train Wreck and Les Frotteurs.  Five different rooms span two floors in Westgate street, 'so expect some of the greatest, rarest and damn right caraziest beers from around the world'.
 
Ready for explosive happenings in Cardiff Bay, Tiny's FUBAR 4.4% needed closer examination. Despite being turned away by Swedish consumer import regulations in 2013 for featuring a hand genade and bullet holes on the label, this classic American IPA 4.4%; released February 2013 is, to put it simply, just tasty!
 
Clear, golden, sweet malts, citrusy hops with a dry spicy bitter finish, and beautifully balanced.
Time to cross Cardiff Arms Park, unarmed, and head down the Taff in an Extreme 40 Cat (if available).,.... hopefully to make the official Practice at 1pm in a cool westerly breeze and the occasional shower... no shorts today, other than those available in the Urban Tap Bar...