Teetotaller or sozzled. There’s no other type of Welshman. Times have changed since this nineteenth century English stereotyping, but there’s no denying we have had an ambivalent attitude towards the demon drink. It’s not that long ago — certainly within our memory — that pubs were shut on Sundays. But now the country boasts award-winning craft breweries (Cwtch has just been announced as the Champion Beer of Britain 2015), an upmarket distillery and even vineyards and wineries, creating red, white, pink and sparkling wines.

BEER IN WALES

Craft Breweries
Our local craft breweries are
Purple Moose Brewery / Bragdy Mws Piws
in Porthmadog
Bragdy Nant Brewery
in Llanrwst
Cwrw Llyn (Lleyn Beer)
in Nefyn
There are over 50 micro-breweries in Wales. We haven’t had the opportunity to sample all of them, but a Beer Festival is held down the road in Llanbedr each September.

Way down south in De Cymru (South Wales) in the hideous town of Newport is the Tiny Rebel brewery. It’s only been going since 2012, but this year (2015) its ‘Cwtch’ Welsh Red Ale won CAMRA’s Champion Beer Of Britain award. A cwtch, pronounced kooch, means a huggle.  They describe it thus:

Arguably the coolest word on the planet, Cwtch is our very own untraditional Welsh Red Ale. Six malts, two US hops and weeks of Tiny Rebel love and attention go into making this unique beer. Citrus and tropical fruit dominate the taste that is backed up with caramel malts that balance the moderate bitterness. Drinkability & balance makes this beer.

Bigger Breweries

Brains
The biggest Welsh beer company. Cardiff-based. Beers widely available
Felinfoel
Llanelli-based
Known by generations of greenish English rugby supporters as “Feeling Foul” after their regular thrashings by Llanelli on the Easter Tours.
Tomos Watkin
Swansea-based. Harder to find.

WINE IN WALES
Don’t laugh. There is some good Welsh wine, although it can be expensive and hard to find. There was even a vineyard down the road in Llanbedr until recently. It’s now closed, but you can still get Gwynedd wine. There’s a vineyard on the slopes of Snowdon called Pant Du (Black Valley) which has a visitor centre and shop on the road from Porthmadog to Caernarvon.

SPIRITS IN WALES
Penderyn Whisky
This is an excellent whisky and we would be perfectly happy to drink it daily for the rest of our lives. Unfortunately we are not millionaires.
Brecon Gin
We’re not big gin drinkers, but friends who are tell us this is a very fine gin indeed. It’s made by the same people who make Penderyn.

Here’s a link to some local pubs.

We started drinking at seven
And went out for a breather at ten,
And all the stars in heaven
Said, Go back and drink again.

Harri Webb, 1963

My wife dies of cirrhosis of the liver. She was Welsh, and drink never did the Welsh any good — think of Dylan Thomas and Richard Burton.

Anthony Burgess, 1989

[At Ghent] you saw the peculiar habits of the Welsh. In the very depths of winter they were running about with bare legs … they were great drinkers.

Lodewyck van Veeltheam, 1248

It is time we remembered that England is our messuage and demesne, and that Englishmen were born to rule and not to be ruled, and least of all to be ruled by a bumptious, snuffling, flighty, tiresome, fifth-rate bunch of barbarians like the Welsh.
(On the prospect of David Lloyd George becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain and Ireland.)

T. W. H. Crosland, 1912