Dylan Thomas Ale to celebrate life of poetic genius at Llangollen food fest

A brewery is celebrating the life of poet Dylan Thomas and the 60th anniversary of his famous visit to Llangollen – by unveiling a brand new beer named after him.

Dylan’s Ale will be launched at the Hamper Llangollen food festival  which is on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20.

The launch of the beer by Llangollen Brewery coincides with the anniversary of the radio broadcast made by the beer loving literary giant about the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for the BBC Home Service in 1953.

Business is booming at the brewery which is based at the Abbey Grange Hotel on the outskirts of the town.

It was set up five years ago by the landlord Steven Evans and his nephew, Ynyr Evans, the head brewer.

They currently make 800 gallons a week and sell their range of beers across the UK. They are now planning to quadruple capacity and take on another three members of staff, taking the total workforce to seven.

Ynyr said: “I’m very excited about the way things are going.

“We’ve been doubling production every year. We’re looking at the possibility moving to other premises so we can have a bigger brewery to cope with the demand.

“I’m hoping that Dylan’s Ale will be another winner for us.”

The historic 10-minute broadcast is a perfect example of the magic Dylan Thomas was able to weave in words.

He describes the one of the town’s most iconic features as the “greybeard bridge” and the big eisteddfod tent – forerunner of the present pavilion – as “an airship crewed full of choirs”.

It also contains the memorable phrase “pig-tailed angels” Thomas used to paint a pen portrait of the Obernkirchen’ Girls Choir who topped the charts around the world after appearing at the festival that year singing The Happy Wanderer.

Dylan Thomas was accompanied on the trip to Llangollen by the late Aneurin Talfan Davies, the then BBC Head of Programmes Wales.

He recalled “The week was spent in apparently aimless meanderings through the streets of the town, occasional half hours in the Eisteddfod marquee and many hours standing at the bars of the far from few pubs of the town.”

The broadcast went out from Swansea on July 13 and Thomas’s fee was 20 guineas.

Next year it’ll be a 100 years since the beer-loving wordsmith was born.

Ynyr Evans felt the new beer was the perfect way of honouring Thomas’s  memory.

He said: “As well as being a magician with words, Dylan Thomas was also famous for liking his pint. He spent a lot of his time in the pubs when he was here for the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

“I hope he would approve of Dylan’s Ale and that it would have been to his taste.

“All of our beers are very hoppy, so it’s going to follow the same line. But it’ll be a light refreshing beer but still with the classic bitter taste.”

This year’s Hamper Llangollen is being supported by the rural development agency, Cadwyn Clwyd.

Cadwyn Clwyd’s contribution came via the Rural Development Fund for Wales 2007-2013, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and the Welsh Government

Hamper Llangollen Chair Colin Loughlin is delighted the Dylan’s Ale is being launched at the food festival.

He said: “The timing for it is perfect. It’s the 60th anniversary of Dylan Thomas’s historic visit to Llangollen as well as being the centenary of his birth next year.

“The quality of the beers that Llangollen Brewery are bringing out are fantastic so I’m very happy. It is yet another good reason to visit this year’s Hamper Llangollen.

“This year Graham Tinsley, the star of ITV’s Taste the Nation and a former captain of the Welsh Culinary Team, will be joined in the show kitchen at the festival by the ever popular Dai Chef.

“We have a wonderful array of fantastic food and drink producers clustered in the area and the festival is the perfect shop window for them.

“Hamper Llangollen is celebrating its 16th anniversary this year and is firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK’s culinary calendar.”

Robert Price, Cadwyn Clwyd’s agri-food project officer, said: “In addition to many favourites, we have lots of new food producers wanting to come this year.

“The location of the Pavilion is absolutely  spectacular – I can’t imagine that any other food festival in the UK has a more beautiful setting.

“It’s also brilliant news for the local economy. If you buy from a local producer, all that money is recycled through the local economy and that sustains employment in our rural areas.”

For more information about Hamper Llangollen 2013 go to: www.llangollenfoodfestival.com

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