Wednesday, 27 July 2016

A New Lion, A Vegan Pagan, and a Sprig of Heather

We like a beer or two, it has to be said.  We like the old vino tinto too, but a cold beer is definitely the 'weapon of choice' when it comes to summer time.  We've found some corking vegan choices over the last few months.  Not only does our favourite local brew continue to be delivered on cask to our local pub with a view, but we have discovered three lovely new additions to our 'bottled beer quiver'.

First off is one from over the border in Devon.  We actually ran into the guys from the Totnes based New Lion Brewery at the Dartington Food Fair back at the end of May, but our summer then took on such a spin we didn't get a chance to write about their lovely beery offerings.  

New Lion Brewery was launched in November 2013 by a passionate group of locals.  They wanted to revive the once hugely successful Lion Brewery, which led the brewing trade in Totnes for over 70 years before it ceased trading in the 1920's. The project wasn't just about boosting the local economy again though.  They are serious about making beers that stand out as celebrated and different; beer that indeed enhances and runs alongside the existing reputation that Totnes already has as an alternative and progressive town. If you know Totnes you will know that sustainability is therefore naturally very much part of their ethos too, with links within their team to Transition Network and Transition Town Totnes. Seasonality and collaboration with a wide range of local food producers follows on from this, along with the brewing of limited edition beers in support of various emergent enterprises and projects.  If this wasn't enough already, their brews are pretty wonderful too.  All of their bottled ales are vegan and marked as such but due to the fact that most pubs require fined cask ale, not all of their cask is. We enjoyed the Earl Grey Tea brew on offer, and the Scorpion IPA (created in collaboration with South Devon Chili Farm). In line with the reason why we love Totnes (the vegan capital of Devon), we would very much welcome even more vegan brews appearing on cask in pubs from the New Lion Brewery.

Our next discoveries take us further up country.  We discovered the Kelpaul Brewing Companys' Vegan Pagan Pale Ale in a little shop in Hay-on-Wye.  First off, this was an amazing moment.  Please tell me when you have EVER seen a beer that actually used the word 'Vegan' in its title? For this reason alone it becomes an automatic favourite. 'Vegan blinkers' and all forms of partiality off, it was bloody good and in a taste test would be right up there with the best.  Light, summery and refreshing and we very much regretted not buying more at the time. They seem pretty elusive, with no details on the bottle, but sneak up on them via their slightly off the wall Facebook page to find out more.  We'd love to know more about you guys!

A little further up in North Wales, and more recently, we were after a 'post Snowdon Watkin Path in 25 degrees heat' refreshment. In answer to our quest for a quencher, we found the bottle conditioned Minerva Mountain Heather Ale from Conwy Brewery. All their beers are bottled at source in small batches and undergo the minimum of processing, so are unfiltered, unpasteurised and naturally carbonated (hence our confidence in this one being vegan).  It produces a stunning beer, which in this case, had a delightfully distinct heather taste to it. They say on their 'suitable for vegetarians' marked bottles that they do this 'because we believe this produces better tasting beer.  We hope you agree'.  We certainly do.

Onwards into the summer, rest assured the hunt for vegan beer will continue near and far and we will keep you posted with our discoveries.


  1. Hi, I am Kelvin, The 'Kel' half of KelPaul. Thank you for your kind review of our beer. I will be in touch with details soon.
    Best Wishes.