It's been almost two years since I traveled to Wales to write about handcrafted ciders and beers. By now, the saplings in Andy Hallet's cider orchard probably look a lot more like trees. I imagine the hop bines that Len and Sarah Davies planted on their Kilkiffeth Farm in the Gwaun Valley have matured, too. The one change that surprised me though, is the fact that in the capital city of Cardiff I can now get a Welsh IPA made by Brains, the country's largest brewer, in their new dedicated craft brewhouse.
Dubbed Barry Island IPA, I want to believe it was somehow inspired by Gavin & Stacey, a short-lived BBC comedy partially set in the seaside town of Barry. My fondness for this quirky show actually led me to drive out to the island, walk on the promenade, and snap a few pictures just before dusk at the end of my trip. In fact, the beer earned its name because one of the brewers, Simon Martin, is a Barry resident. Well apparently, much like the TV series, Barry Island IPA was a hit, selling out in record time at the Great Welsh Beer and Cider Festival.
Hopefully this means that Mr. Martin and Bill Dobson, the head brewer at Brains, will collaborate on another experimental beer soon. Meanwhile, the new IPA will go on tap at Brains pubs for a limited time, where discerning drinkers can decide if they like the attributes of citrus and grapefruit supplied by Summit, Zeus, and Cascade hops. I know I would have enjoyed a pint of this American-style ale while I was staying at Maltsters, an upscale pub and inn just outside of central Cardiff. But even if Barry Island turns out to be a one-off, I'd still say it's about time I went back to Wales.