A couple weeks ago, I took my first jaunt down to North Wales for the weekend so it was a great opportunity to pop in to one of our lovely breweries: Conwy Brewery. Licensed to brew the sought-after Yakima Grande Pale Ale, it's no wonder that head-brewer and founder Gwynne Thomas and his crew are also churning out so many other great brews with their core range and their West Coast Brewing brand.

Officially established in 2003, Conwy Brewery has recently expanded to 2.5 times its previous capacity, which is impressive in and of itself. Even more so if you consider the fact that Gwynne essentially started his brewing career in his airing cupboard while at University. Dry clothes be damned when there's fermentation to be done!

It's always great to take a peek at another brewery that's finding success. I really appreciate the team, especially Janet, for taking time out of their day to show this strange American gal around their new digs. This time around, I didn't get a chance to taste anything at the brewery--they were busy brewing and getting a BUNCH of orders shipped out. AND I was a week early for the Yakima Grande, so I missed out on that too. Nevertheless, I always like looking at shiny vessels and the smell of a mash tun being emptied.

Undeterred, I sought out their Honey Fayre 4.5% golden ale (a beer we don't currently stock, but I've been trying my best to get put on the purchasing rota) while out and about. The Honey Fayre belongs to Conwy Brewery's core range of bottle-conditioned ales--and it is a beauty! I'd put a ridiculous iPhone photo of the beer situated next to a pile of seafood I had paired it with but that would be stupid. Instead, I'll just tell you that the beer is a nice, easy-drinking ale with a smooth mouthfeel and nice balanced bitterness. Its decent malty-sweet character and notes of honey was amazing with our fresh seafood. Gwynne even suggested making mussels in ale with it by frying onions in butter, adding mussels with Honey Fayre, cook and reduce down until the mussels are opened and then serve with crusty bread. Sounds good to me!

So, thanks again to Conwy Brewery for letting me take a little gander at their brewery in the middle of the day. They've got beautiful views of the sea from way up-top the hill! It's no surprise they've got a Riptide Black IPA and a Surfin' IPA American Pale in their arsenal. I, for one, can't wait to get my hands on some.