Friday, 14 October 2016



I've decided to jot down a few of my thoughts about my first visit to IMBC (Indy Man Beer Convention) 

I was asked by the lovely Matt Gorecki to talk about various topics on a very grown up panel type thing. Think Question Time but with lesser well known people who have been consuming beer for several hours and you get the gist.

The beer festival itself was a marvelous affair. Housed as it was in a gorgeous venue, The Victoria Baths, it was one of the most beautiful beer festival homes I have ever been in ( apart from St George's Hall in Liverpool have to say).

Having started with beer from Rob at Blackjack, with what was my beer of the festival, and possibly the year - (no idea what it was called but it was a saison, and I generally have a huge dislike for them!) I then had a good sample of various delights from around and about, including a great beer from the guys at Mad Hatter. Later in the evening I had Brewdog beer from a very disinterested bar staff member, who really did look like she would rather be sticking very sharp pins in her actual eyes than serve me beer. I did tweet Mr Watt who 'liked' my tweet, not sure what to make of that but a response none the less.

 A quick bit of judging of the cuckoo brewers, and beers from those of small equipment size (no bloody innuendo managed in the actual debate, but bingo!) was next up and I got to meet the others on the debate panel, to discuss the merits of the three finalists. I disagreed with most with regards the winner, but took a great deal of interest in what Jenn from Beavertown had to say and found her a very lovely person. Respect to the fellow female brewer!

On to the debate, behind a curtain......

Looking back, the atmosphere was pretty lively from the off. To be honest, I don't like a dull and boring debate, so for me it was a good start. There were various subjects I was keen to discuss - sexism in the brewing/beer industry being one, as I have encountered none, and have actually found that in the circles I move in, it is one of the least sexist industries I have had the pleasure of working in. As things turned out, and even with Matt's constant attempts to move it on, the talk stayed firmly attached to the What is Craft Beer and Where is it going, Money, Big Brewers blah blah blah type of thing. 

The one point that was being held on to and shaken like a tiny terrier would with a half dead rabbit, was the subject of bigger breweries with more money than smaller or poorer breweries spoiling things for the little guys, stomp stomp, quivering bottom lip.  Whilst this could be a case of small breweries feeling a jealousy for larger brewers, it is not quite that simple. 

While I will not deny that I am jealous of Jopen in Haarlem, a brewery that we visited  to brew a fantastic collaboration, and their ridiculous brew kit, absurdly amazing bars and generally annoying greatness, I also now hold them in the highest regard, and thank them for all they are doing for the European beer scene. Some of the best people I have met since starting commercial brewing seven years ago. If it were a straight forward jealousy of those with more, they would be top of my hit list. No, more it is about the issues the small brewers are facing more recently with the flooded market becoming more flooded. 

We are faced with a situation where, not only are pubs and bars being offered 'buy six get one free', but 'buy three and get one free' at around £50 a go. That in turn is not only squeezing out the rest of us, who use hops in our beer and good quality malts, but taking the offering back to bland, uninteresting beer, with a shed load of marketing behind it, because even at this lower level there are many people starting up breweries with lots of money and not a lot else. This is a fact at the local level that the likes of myself and numerous other breweries I talk to work at.  

Take it up a level to the wider market, and you get a similar situation but on a bigger scale. Breweries who can come in, spend a large amount on brew kit, to get themselves in a position to kick out volumes, get the hype out there before the beers hit the shelves, ride the early months with a back up of cash, open a bar here and there, and make half decent beer, are in a great position from the off. The smaller brewer, without that cash at the beginning has had to plough all available cash made (a brewer makes money?!) straight back in to grow, streamline, meet demand, hopefully open and kit out a bar, which can be a slow process,  even if they do make amazing beer. Add to that the fact that they are often doing pretty much every job in the brewery themselves, with maybe a part time person here and there, rather than having an accounts person, a sales person, a driver etc, it is near-impossible to get traction quickly enough to compete.

Now, that could be deemed as life. I could be told to like it or lump it and just get over it, but I think I do have the right to be a little irked by the situation. For us, no amount of hard work and brewing of great national award winning beers, that appeared in some of the best craft beer houses all over the UK, was ever going to be enough in the last couple of years, with the influx of the money-laden start up 'hipster' brewers. I in no way aim that at anyone in particular in reality but a lot of us have seen it many times. 

To finish this little piece off,  I'd like to thank all the amazing people I have had the pleasure of working with over the years in the brewing world, and will continue to do so hopefully for many years to come. The great people are still great, they are all still there, just getting a little overlooked in the pit while the new kids on the block dance in the footlights. I hope you all get your moment to shine before you decide this theater is no longer the place to perform.

If you are in Cardiff, pay a visit to our bar and bottle shop The Gravity Station in Womanby Street (oldest street in Cardiff apparently) and Hopbunker in Queen Street, the Hopcraft brewery bar - support us little guys hey? And find us on Twitter - @thewaenbrewery @thegravitystn -  let's try and get this brewing lark back to the friendly place it once was. 

PostscriptI excelled myself by asking the young trendy DJ playing up on the balcony on the Thursday night (very hipster) if he had any Smiths, and when told no, responding 'but we're in bloody Manchester! What dya mean you have no Smiths? One of my finer attempts at getting Mosser played at inappropriate venues 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Meet the Brewster at Fire Island Cardiff

This Sunday, 28th April sees us travelling off down to Cardiff to host a fab Meet the Brewer (or Brewster!) night at the hippest ale bar in Cardiff at the moment, Fire Island !

Ed Davies, who previously ran Kilverts in Brecon will be doing some tutored tastings and introducing you to a range of our beers, including Chilli Plum Porter and Sick and Twisted, our big hitting and extremely popular dark beers,  Janner's Pride, a 4 % session ale and Landmark, our SIBA gold medal winning strong bitter.... now with more hops than ever before....

I will be talking.  And possibly drinking.

Tickets are available behind the bar at Fire Island and also on the night at the door.

Come and join us for a great beer journey of flavour!

Friday, 22 February 2013

Mad January

Well, there has been a long gap between my blogs as we have been some what ridiculously busy... what I'd like to know is how does one install a new larger plant to enable one to brew loads more, when one is so mad busy one can't stop brewing?

Previously, January and February have been quiet months, however, this year we are being kept on our toes with a busier beginning to 2013 than the end of 2012.....

The new beer we produced in cahoots with Widdi from Downlands Brewery has gone down a storm.  The reason we named it Sick and Twisted was that Widdi decided I was sick and twisted to want to put cocoa and coconut in a beer, how wrong can a man be?!

The Chilli Plum Porter is still waltzing around impressing everyone in its path.  It won Beer of the Festival public vote at the recent Shrewsbury CAMRA  Beer Fest, and I was particularly pleased about that because, well actually, I quite like Shrewsbury....

I am now looking for someone to come and fit the heating elements in a new hot liquor tank and make a burner for our new copper, someone totally brilliant, reliable, clever and cheap.

Let me know if that is you...

Oh and look out for some exciting news in the coming weeks.... bet ya can't guess.....

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Rant Over, Now To Our Opening/Birthday!

Moving swiftly on......  On Saturday we had our new unit official opening and 3rd birthday celebrations!  Yay!  Had some great people turn up including our good friend Buster from Brecon Brewing and much merriment was had by all.

We had a couple of AMs (political types don't you know) and lots of lovely locals.  Nothing but good feedback for the new branding and the bar looked splendid!   Beers all went well, think First of the Summer Waen was narrowly the favourite on the day.

The Llager was also a big hit.  It will be on at The Royal Oak in Welshpool but they are having to wait for the next batch as we, well, sort of used it all before giving them any...  they are willing to wait though, and they'll have a super duper lager tap for it so's you can all spot it immediately on the bar. In the meantime they'll have to make do with having just our fabulous ales!

The band 'The Klezmonauts' were (were, was?  Who knows?  Who cares?), as ever, fab.  Great sunny day music, and they played all afternoon.  The kids all had fun, and so did we :)

Lastly, I feel I have to mention that Paul, who works for us made some fab bread from BB Stout spent yeast, and a veggie chilli.  I made a meat chilli which personally I think was better.  However, I have to take on board the views of our customers and I did get a lot of people coming in to tell me how fantastic the bread and veggie chilli was, and it did run out before mine.....

Hold on though, I was inside serving beer, Paul was outside serving the chilli and bread.....


Photos to follow :)

BT's Unholy Twattinesss

Those of you who follow me on twitter may be wondering why I have been so quiet on the blogging front lately... well, that would be down to the fact that every single minute of spare time, of which I have very little, has been taken up with trying to undo the incredible wrong doings of BT to enable me to actually get back to running my brewery!

On 2nd of May this year I turned up to the brewery to find my business phone and therefore internet was disconnected.  There began 2 weeks of no phone, hour upon hour of phone calls, going round and round in circles to actually try and find out why this had happened...

I so badly want to bore you with every minute detail of this total disaster as it unfolded,because it does make me feel a little better to rant about it, but I also know you probably don't want to know.  Needless to say, having realised their mistake, they set about trying to put it right, hastily, as if the 'Oh shit, we've ballsed this up' moment had hit.  But in total, I was without a business phone for 2 weeks and only I seemed to know what they had done wrong.

Shortly after re connection I received a bill for 'disconnection and re connection outside of contract' for £523. Upon phoning I spent yet more hours pointing out that I didn't owe them this money as they had disconnected in error.  'Oh yes Mrs Hayward, because it is our mistake, that bill will be cancelled immediately'  I asked 'is that a promise?' 'Yes'.  'You can plainly state and give me your word that this WILL be cancelled and that no payment will be expected?' 'Yes.'  

Approx 2 weeks later the full amount was debited by direct debit from my account, using a direct debit not even associated with my business phone, but my internet account.

Hours more spent on the phone and I am still awaiting the by now promised refund.  I was told it was processed on Friday, 3 - 5 working days, then told 2 weeks, then back to 3-7 days, and today 3/4 hour spent on the phone, armed with reference numbers that meant absolutely nothing to today's billing personnel, to be told I will have to wait for a call back from original staff member, as they could not trace any account with a refund pending....... At the end of my call the operator said, 'Have a really great day'  oh the irony.

I have shouted, screamed, hit my head hard on tables, broken a phone, and more recently cried.  I do however gain some pleasure from retweeting everyone else's issues with @BTBusiness, which did in the beginning prompt a phone call re my complaint immediately.  They have now taken to completely ignoring me.  Do I care? No, I have solicitor :)

Monday, 13 February 2012

Whilst waiting for electrics thought I'd discuss the 'C' word

Yes we are STILL waiting for an electrician. Having been promised and let down by two I'm starting again.... ho hum, at this rate I'll have no beers for the SIBA competition in May... but I digress, today's blog is on a more serious matter.

The 'C' word (I won't actually say it in case I lose some loyal followers) is a word that has changed over the years for me.  And I'm troubled.  When I was a teenager it was a word that I would never use.  Though I am a bit sweary at times, I used to detest the word and found it totally abhorrent. When I first met John back in 1988 it was rarely uttered and he took particular delight in watching my reaction if someone made the mistake of mentioning it in my presence...  but slowly, over the years it crept in to my vocabulary, but saved for the people/moments that produced the most serious anger and frustration in me (also inanimate objects) and thus providing me with the ultimate anger venting tool.

However, over the years this word has become more freely used and has lost its edge on the competition.  It subtly slipped its self into my vocabulary and has been used by myself, with pleasure, for many years. When emptying the mash tun for instance, it is the perfect choice for the shovel, as I catch it on my shin. Also readily used for the copper as I bang my head whilst emptying it of hops. In turn, this has meant I have no way of ridding myself of the pent up anger and irritation that idiotic people and situations seem destined to create, because it no longer has any real punch. In fact I use it in moments of minor irritation and sometimes almost absent mindedly.

Oddly, over the same said years, no word has ever leapt in to take its place.  It seems to have always been the king of the swear words, and as far as I can see there is no other in line for the throne, which makes my day a bitter and angry one at times, so please could I have some suggestions....... perhaps before I 'phone the next electrician? X  

Sunday, 29 January 2012

New Brewery Progress....

Well, everything is IN the brewery but not everything is in the RIGHT place!  After a tiring weekend moving everything over we had a week of painting and this weekend time to fork lift the hot and cold liquor tanks up on to the mezzanine.  We had already noticed that the mezz was larger than the drawings showed and that we would have to remove a strip light run to enable possible pallet manoeuvring. Strip light was removed though, and it became very evident that there was no way a pallet truck would have space to lift on to the higher level.   Hmmmm.... what to do?  Brewing delayed, orders postponed, me swearing a lot :)  'These things, blahdy blahdy blah....' Another week without brewing is going to set us back in a rather frightening way, but I'm hoping that all our customers will be understanding.  And as we all know, Every Cloud, dum de dum.... and in this case the shiny lining in question means that there will be no sales calls for me to do.  Hooray for oversize mezzanine floors :)
My lovely new office

View towards the offices

View FROM my office!

I have also found a new car.......... pictures to follow