Mighty mites make best Welsh brews

If you like your beers imported and exclusive, try getting your favorite enabler to order you some of the winners from the recent Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival competition.

Three of the smallest breweries in Wales carried off top honors in the contest run by the Campaign for Real Ale. Son of a Bitch, an ale as strong as its name, was No. 1. It's produced by the Bullmastiff Brewery in Leckwith, Cardiff, Wales. No. 2 was Merlin Stout, brewed by Tomos Watkin of Swansea, and No. 3 was Oh Boy, from the Bryncelyn Brewery at Ystalyfera in the Swansea Valley.

Bullmastiff (seen here) is owned and operated by brothers Bob and Paul Jenkins, who established the brewery in 1987 and have won numerous competitions since then.

"It feels marvellous to have won again," Bob Jenkins told IC Wales, the national Website of Wales. "We just carry on doing what we're doing, doing our best to produce decent beer with natural ingredients. We feel what we can offer is much better than the heavily marketed designer lagers that are expensive and contain chemicals and artificial flavorings."

The "Good Beer Guide 2006" (Camra Books) describes the top three beers as follows:

Bullmastiff Brewery, Son of a Bitch: 6% alcohol by volume. A warming amber ale, easy drinking for its strength. An aroma of hops, fruit and malt and a similar blend of flavors with a warming alcohol presence; the finish fades.

Tomos Watkin Brewery, Merlin Stout: 4.2% alcohol by volume. A satisfying blend of roast, malt, caramel and hop flavors. A malty, roast aroma and moderate bitterness in the finish. Dark brown in color.

Bryncelyn Brewery, Oh Boy: 4.5% alcohol by volume. An enticing hop and fruit aroma, a golden color and a taste full of hops and fruit. Good bitterness and underlying malt add to the flavor, with a long, hoppily-bitter finish.

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