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.
The largest brewer and packager of beer in Wales by far is the Budweiser Brewing Group (BBG) Brewery in Magor. The brewery was built in 1979 by the Whitbread brewing group and is now operated by the Budweiser Brewing Group, part of AB-InBev the worlds largest brewer. The brewery is one of the largest in the UK producing over 5 Million hectare litres every year.
List of notable Welsh breweries
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- "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."
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