I hear the rattle of rubble under tyres as I pull off the road and into a small layby where I can park for a moment. I roll my Harley to a stop. The engine roars a protest back at me; the road ahead is long and perfect, the sun is baking, the day is glorious, and I just can’t ignore this view. Reluctantly the bike acquiesces, I pat her tank as I switch off the engine.
The breeze hits my skin as I remove my helmet. Warm air washes over me. I perch the carbon-fibre lid over the handlebars and swing my leg over the frame.
I don’t always pack a beer in my saddlebags, but I knew I would be stopping here, and I’m not in any particular rush to be anywhere. I peel back the black leather lid of my bags and reach in to find the can of Hoppy IPA - still cold - from Bragdy Twt Lol, which roughly translates to Little Fun Brewery, though they are known more simply in English as the Trefforest Brewery.
I’ve seen this view before, many times, but I never tire of it. Behind me, a slight walk up the hill is the remains of an old castle, Pen’tre’r Castell. Reputedly the site of the old Gower Castle, though the Gower is somewhere to the East. Beyond the rolling fields you can make out Swansea and the azure sea on a clear day like today. In the other direction is Carmarthen, I think, roughly anyway. Up here you can see for miles, undisturbed.
"I don’t waste precious units on any old mass-produced beer. That’s where a little local searching helps."
I like to pair a beer with the day. For a ride around Brecon on a Harley Davidson, during a blisteringly hot Summer’s day I knew the beer had to be refreshing, fruity, bold, it absolutely had to be from South Wales, and a little rebellious. Bragdy Twt Lol have adopted an attitude towards maintaining a small operation so that they can focus with impeccable detail on their award winning, hand crafted ales, “honed at such a small scale we’ve been able to truly push the taste experience of real ale.” They are taking on the macro brewers with a stalwart confidence in their craft and skill, “innovating on a small enough scale to be able to try things larger breweries wouldn’t dare.”
"We take time to put forward the best recipe and spend good money on ingredients others wouldn’t source." ~ Bragdy Twt Lol
Bragdy Twt's attitude towards beer is exciting and innovative, "We take time to put forward the best recipe and spend good money on ingredients others wouldn’t source," and, as the Welsh version of their name suggests, they "like to have a bit of fun." Both those sentiments are obvious in the IPA I'm holding. A magpie is drawn in a quick and scratchy hand across the can, almost childlike, with an edgy playfulness. The beer's name is Pyncio'r Pioden, which doesn’t entirely translate into the English name they’ve given it: Pretty Fly for a Magpie, but both Welsh and English names are equally sassy, equally fun, and Pioden has made it into my list of favourite Welsh words. I am also tuned into their championing of the Welsh language, being a Welsh speaker myself. Their beers are named with a cheeky wink at the drinker, and they clearly care deeply about the lands and language around them. Their mission is to "show the World how much fun we find both Welsh and English languages," using "local folklore and interesting stories" to inspire their ales.
Riding and beer is just one of those things that goes hand in hand. Popping a fresh can exudes the same pleasure as hearing the gurgle of a freshly started engine. It's refreshing, soothing, and there's an expectation that something exciting is about to happen. How does it taste? I knew by the list of ingredients on the back of the can, specifically the large selection of hop varieties they use, that this was going to intrigue me. It is bold and fruity, zesty and rich in flavour, a huge citrus kick backed by a complex juicy body. Their passion for pushing flavours, experimenting in small batches, adapting and playing to the benefits that comes with being a microbrewery is clear.
The Welsh Valleys are not only rich with scenic views, but fantastic breweries too. Breweries that don't get the same recognition as those which set up their home in our city centres. Bragdy Twt Lol is one of those I came across during my searching and, I'm ashamed to say, I had never heard of before, despite them being only a few miles from my childhood home. Their beer is challenging, in the most wonderful of ways, the tastes are bold and rich and packed full of flavour.
My only disappointment is I didn't pack two cans. My thirst has so quickly drained the Hoppy IPA I brought with me. But a bike journey shouldn't be rushed and so I lean against the front wheel and enjoy the brief breeze, savouring the lingering memory of Bragdy Twt’s ale.
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Buy craft beer directly from local breweries: At Love Our Craft we support not only our local craft brewers, but all brewers across the British Isles, we promote those craft brewers nearest to you so that you buy the best local craft beer directly from the brewers themselves, and the craft breweries in your area benefit from the support of local beer lovers. During the pandemic we saw the effect lockdown had on our favourite craft producers in our local town of Swansea, Wales, and desperately wanted to help them.
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