“ Brand: Tomos Watkin / / ABV: 4.2% / Type: Ale „
I don't drink beer. At the risk of sounding like a Wurzel, I am a cider drinker. However, when I was in Tesco recently looking for Shepherd and Neame's Spitfire Ale for my other half, I spotted a daffodil, then the Welsh language, and being a sucker for a taste of home I had a closer look. "Cwrw braf!" it said, 'lovely beer', named after the reaction that it got in taste tests. It also says on the back label that it won a gold medal at the World Beer Championships, USA, in 2009. I thought that I'd risk a bottle to see what it was like, in an occasional series of guest beers to see if I can find one, just one, that I actually like.
The brewery that produced this ale, Tomos Watkin, was founded in 1995 in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire by Simon Buckley. It was acquired by the Hurns Brewing Company of Swansea in 2002, and now produces a range of cask and bottled beers (and a cider, which I'm now intrigued to find) including Cwrw Haf (Summer Beer), Cwrw Gaeaf (Winter Beer), and Cwrw Idris: "Dedicated to the memory of Idris Parry AB, who established the Hurns Mineral Water Co., after he'd survived being torpedoed and sunk by the Kaiser... twice!"
In case you haven't already worked it out, by the way, 'cwrw' is the Welsh word for beer. Braf, although translated on the bottle as 'lovely' also means 'fine', but both suit, so that's, er, fine!
The first appealing thing, apart from the daff and the Welsh, was the fact that it's bottled. I won't drink any alcoholic drink from a tin, the sole exception being Jack Daniels and coke, which has a chemically taste anyway so it sort of negates the effects. I suppose it's the 'drinking tea from bone china' mentality leaking out - the perception that in a bottle or a glass it has a purer flavour somehow!
Anyway, the bottle-opener having been applied, careful pouring revealed a rather lovely, deep amber and slightly opaque ale, and a very subtle, slightly sweet aroma. There was very little in the way of a head, any foam quickly dissipated. Flavour-wise there was a certain amount of bitterness, but it was very well balanced by a roundness of flavour which I immediately liked - much to my surprise! It is reminiscent of a dry cider though, there's an appley aftertaste. It has a very smooth feel in the mouth. This is the first bottle of beer that I have ever finished - normally they get passed over to my husband for 'disposal'. Not only did I finish this one, but I enjoyed it, which from me is praise indeed!
I found this in amongst the British varieties of beer in Tesco. It's a 500ml bottle, and is currently priced £1.67. The alcohol content is 4.7%, and the bottle contains 2.1 units. Their produce can be bought directly through their website, which is here:
I'm somewhat sceptically expecting Tesco not to stock it for long, since most new things that I find that I like seem to get discontinued, so next time I drop in I'll have to make sure that I get a couple, just in case...