Beer in Wales
At least as early as the 6th century, the Druidic legendary person Ceridwen is associated with cauldrons and intoxicating preparations of grain in herbs in many poems of Taliesin, particularly the Hanes Taliesin. This preparation, Gwîn a Bragawd, is said to have brought "science, inspiration and immortality".
The Welsh Triads attribute the introduction of brewing grains barley and wheat to Coll, and name Llonion in Pembrokeshire as the source of the best barley, while Maes Gwenith in Gwent produces superior wheat and bees.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for 852 records a distinction between "fine ale" and Welsh ale, also called bragawd. Bragawd, also called braggot, is somewhat between mead and what we today think of as ale. Saxon-period Welsh ale was a heady, strong beverage, made with spices such as cinnamon, ginger and clove as well as herbs and honey. Bragawd was often prepared in monasteries, with Tintern Abbey and the Friary of Carmarthen producing the beverage until Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1536.
In the Laws of Hywel Dda, meanwhile, a distinction is drawn between bragawd and cwrwf, with bragawd being worth twice as much. Bragawd in this context is a fermented drink based on cwrwf to which honey, sweet wort, and ginger have been added.
Wales, along with the rest of Britain, came under the influence of the temperance movement, along with a burgeoning Welsh moral code based on presbyterian and other non-conformist beliefs in relation to alcohol. This rested against a background of places where there has historically been a lot of heavy industry such as coal mining in south Wales and the north east. This has given some people[who?] the impression that all Welsh beers have been very weak. However, as with beers all over Britain, alcohol percentages vary.
Wrexham was one of the first places in the UK to brew lager. Homesick German immigrant brothers from Saxony started the process in 1882. Its demise came in 2000, when the site of Wrexham Lager was sold and subsequently demolished. Investment by the Welsh Development Agency has helped establish a large number of breweries in Wales in recent years.
Felinfoel Brewery was the first brewery outside the US to sell beer in cans.
List of Welsh breweries
- Artisan Brewery, Cardiff
- Black Mountain, Llangadog, Carmarthenshire
- Big Hand Brewing, Wrexham
- Border Breweries, Wrexham
- Brains Brewery, Cardiff
- Brecon Brewing, Brecon, Powys
- Bryncelyn Brewery, Ystalyfera, Neath Port Talbot
- Bullmastiff Brewery, Leckwith, Cardiff
- Buzzard Brewery, Ruthin, Denbighshire
- Carter's Brewery, Machen, Caerphilly
- Celtic Experience, Caerphilly
- Bragdy Ceredigion Brewery, New Quay, Ceredigion
- Coles Family Brewery, Llandarog
- Conwy Brewery Ltd, Conwy
- Cwmbran Brewery, Upper Cwmbran
- Dare Brewery Ltd, Godreaman, Aberdare (Brewpub)
- Wm Evan Evans Brewery, Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire
- Facer's Flintshire Brewery, Flint, Flintshire
- Felinfoel Brewery Company, Ltd., Felinfoel, Llanelli (oldest regional brewery in Wales)
- Ffos y Ffin Brewery, Capel Dewi, Carmarthen
- The Flock Inn Brewery, Brechfa, Carmarthen
- Bragdy'r Gogarth, Colwyn Bay
- Hafod Brewing Company, Mold
- Heavy Industry, Henllan, Denbighshire
- Hopcraft Brewing Company, Pontyclun
- Bragdy Gwynant, Capel Bangor, Aberystwyth
- The Jacobi Brewery of Caio, Penlanwen, Pumsaint, Llanwrda
- Jolly Brewer, Wrexham
- Kingstone Brewery, Tintern, Monmouthshire
- Llangollen Brewery, Llangollen
- Lord Raglan brewery, Merthyr Tydfil
- McGiverns Ales, Wrexham
- Monty's Brewery Ltd, Montgomery, Powys
- Nags Head Brewery, Abercwch, Boncath
- Bragdy'r Nant, Maenan, Llanrwst
- Neuadd Brewing Company, Llanwrtyd Wells, Powys
- Newman's Brewery / The Celt Experience, Caerphilly
- North Wales Brewery / Bragdy Gogledd Cymru, Abergele, Conwy County Borough
- Otley Brewing Company Limited, Pontypridd
- Penlon Cottage Brewery, Penlon, Pencae, Llanarth
- Plassey Brewery, Eyton, Wrexham, Wrexham
- Bragdy Mŵs Piws Cyf / Purple Moose Brewery Ltd, Porthmadog
- Pixie Spring Brewing Company, Pontyclun
- Rhymney Brewery Ltd, Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil
- SA Brain & Company Ltd, Cardiff (regional brewery)
- Sandstone Brewery, Wrexham
- Seren Brewing Company, Rosebush, Pembrokeshire
- Snowdonia Brewery, Waunfawr, Caernarfon
- Swansea Brewing Company, Bishopston, Swansea
- Tomos Watkin Ltd (Hurns Brewing Co.), Morriston, Swansea (regional brewery)
- Tiny Rebel Brewing Company, Newport
- Tudor Brewery, Abergavenny
- Vale Of Glamorgan Brewery, Limited, Barry
- Waen Brewery, Penstrowed, Caersws, Powys
- Warcop Brewery, Wentloog, Newport
- Zero Degrees Brewpub, Cardiff
- Edward Davies (1809). The Mythology and Rites of the British Druids, Ascertained by National Documents. J. Booth. pp. 217–220.
- Red Book of Hergest 56, Peniarth MS 54 23
- "that Wulfred should give the land of Sleaford to Meohamsted, and should send each year into the monastery sixty loads of wood, twelve loads of coal, six loads of peat, two tuns full of fine ale, two neats' carcases, six hundred loaves, and ten kilderkins of Welsh ale; one horse also each year, and thirty shillings, and one night's entertainment."
- Brian Glover (2007). Brains: 125 Years. The Breedon Books Publishing Company Limited. ISBN 978-1-85983-606-4.
- Arnold James Cooley (1854). A Cyclopaedia of Six Thousand Practical Receipts, and Collateral Information. pp. 44–45.
- Brewers & Boozers Tour on Wrexham County Borough Council's website
- "Felinfoel Brewery beer can". bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 December 2012.
- Cook, Jonathan (2000-03-12). "Wales claims Guinness as its invention". The Guardian (London).