North Wales Microbreweries and TaproomsPublished on 13 Oct 2021 by Gwion Llwyd
As a keen real ale enthusiast, I find there is nothing better to do on a sunny day (or a rainy one, come to think of it) than pop down for a nice refreshing pint at one of North Wales Microbreweries and Taprooms. However, living in North Wales, this has become a particular joy of late thanks to the number of locally brewed bevvies on tap. At present, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) estimates that over 100 people in North Wales are employed by microbreweries, bringing a diverse mix of flavours and textures to the market, and I for one could not be more delighted – especially as this figure is set to grow thanks to the huge popularity of local real ales.
A great starting point is the Purple Moose Brewery. Bragdy Mws Piws / The Purple Moose Brewery is a ’40-Barrel’ micro-brewery based in the historic harbour town of Porthmadog, North Wales, close to the mountains of Snowdonia. Commencing brewing in 2005 they now sell everything from beer, cider, gin and wine from a wide selection of Welsh producers as well as Purple Moose Brewery’s beer and merchandise, the ideal gift for any real ale enthusiast worth their hops.
Alternatively, those seeking a Snowdonia microbrewery which has truly deep local roots should head to Cwrw Llyn – a small business started in May 2011 by 12 friends from a diverse range of backgrounds. The bragdy (brewery) has become a huge success and many local pubs now serve Brenin Enlli, Seithenyn and Cochyn as standard. In fact, after visiting the brewery, popping in to Y Plu in Llanstumdwy and saying: “Dau beint o gwrw os gwelwch yn dda” (or “two pints of beer please”) will help round the day off nicely.
At the other end of the scale is Big Bog Brewing Company, whose owner Paul Jeffries has over 25 years of experience in the British and International Brewing Industry. I found his dedication to using only the highest quality local produce impressive, and this commitment to quality really shines through in the brewery’s Quagmire Premium Ale especially. Furthermore, the microbrewery is a great excuse to visit one of my favourite villages in North Wales, Waunfawr – tell me a better way to spend an afternoon than with a delicious pint and picturesque views and I’ll buy you a pint of Bog Standard Bitter myself!
Next on my list of personal favourites is the Bragdy Nant Brewery in Llanrwst, mainly because this microbrewery has done so much to raise the profile of real ale production in Snowdonia. I highly recommend testing out the Mwnci Nel particularly – after all, if it’s good enough to take home the silver medal in the CAMRA Champion Beer of Wales 2010 competition, you know it’s worth investing in a pint or two. The dark ale is particularly tasty during the winter months, and the slightly chocolaty but not overly sweet bite leaves everyone wanting more, including myself on more than one occasion.
Heading south a little, Cader Ales in Dolgellau is the ideal pit stop for those looking to explore more of southern Snowdonia. For the more adventurous real ale enthusiasts, the microbrewery’s location at the foot of Cader Idris makes it an ideal trip in which to work up a thirst – although, to be perfectly honest, I chose to gaze up at the mountain and beat a hasty retreat inside for a nice pint of Red Bandit after seeing the dark clouds rolling overhead. I did wear walking boots, if that counts…
Wild Horse Brewing Co’s tagline is simply Iechyd Da, or Cheers. And we’ll happily say cheers to a pint of anything that this five year old craft beer microbrewery puts in front of us. Located in an industrial unit on Builder Street in Llandudno, Wild Horse have had an incredible rise to fame over the past few years. Their flagship pilsner style lager, Buckskin, and hazy IPA, Nokota, can be found on tap in many bars and pubs across North Wales. Delve deeper into their range and you’ll find superb special releases such as Fatlamp and Divebomb, or creative collaborations with local coffee roasters Heartland Coffee on a superb coffee stout – Mr Mills’ Circus. The taproom may be closed for the time being, but their online shop and local delivery service is fantastic.
Set up by a group of friends in 2018, the Gaerwen based Bragdy Mona is a popular brewery on Ynys Môn. Focusing on handmade, small batch brews, this Anglesey brewery focuses on sustainability and awesome beers. With three ranges on offer, Core, Saints and Specials, you’ll be sure to find something to your tastes. From the Core range, there’s the fantastic full bodied Mona IPA and the Mona Helles – a refreshing crisp craft lager. The five beers in the Saints range offer an interesting variety of styles, including a citrusy American Pale, a Blonde, a Belgian style Witbier, a light Welsh Session Ale and finally Dwynwen – a sweet and fruity Strawberry Beer.
With a micro-brewery and taproom in the heart of Colwyn Bay, Black Cloak Brewery have become a popular drinking spot in the seaside town, for locals and visitors alike. With more than ten cask and keg ales on tap – at least three of these being Black Cloak brews – there’s something for everyone. You’ll find the core House Pale and Black Cloak IPA on the pumps, along with a number of other superb beers available on tap or in cans. For IPA lovers, try Big Corruption and Take it Easy or if you prefer a good stout, sample An Evening of Long Goodbyes. The taproom has an awesome atmosphere, friendly service and regular events.
Anglesey Brewhouse’s motto is Brew the Truth. This family run microbrewery, established in 2017 use this ethos to produce only the best brews they can be proud of, using the best ingredients. Located in Llangefni, they relocated to their current premises in 2019, creating a ten barrel brewhouse. Producing five vegan friendly beers, 2021 saw them open a popular taproom within the brewery. So popular it seems, that they weren’t able to keep up with the demands of the drinkers with regular sell outs. Their five beers include the Beaumaris Session Ale, the Rhosneigr India Pale Ale, a Hazy Pale Ale and two American Style Pale’s – Plain Sailing and Pump Truck. So if you’re in the Llangefni area, check out the taproom opening times on their socials and head over for a sample, or two. Or three.
Finally, for those who enjoy a little experimentation with flavours, no microbrewery in North Wales will satisfy your taste buds quite like Conwy Brewery. Injecting aromas with a citrusy tang and taking influence from American IPAs by using fruitier blends allows this brewery to provide some of the most unique cwrw (beer) to be found in the Snowdonia region. In fact, experts will attest to the quality of products on sale here, with the bragdy’s Honey Fayre , or Cwrw Mel, taking the bronze medal at the Great British Beer Festival in the speciality beer category. With outlets and shops scattered throughout the area surrounding Conwy and most local pubs featuring guest ales, Conwy Brewery is truly one of the gems of the North Wales beer industry.
For anyone who enjoys a nice pint on a hot, cold or (as we’re in Wales) rainy day, a microbrewery tour is the ideal day out as this is the optimum method of identifying exactly which flavours and consistencies match your taste, as well as introducing you to a whole world of beers not often found in local supermarkets. With all the information required to hand, the only remaining task is to choose the designated driver…!