An award-winning brewery is raising a toast to one the UK’s top food festivals with a “heavenly” new beer to celebrate the event’s 20th anniversary.
The foaming ale, called Ambrosia which means food and drink of the gods, will be launched by Llangollen Brewery at the town’s popular two-day food festival which gets underway on Saturday.
Head brewer Ynyr Evans explained it was their way of thanking the festival for providing them with an important shop window every year.
Llangollen Food Festival was founded in 1997 and since then the event has gone from strength to strength, annually attracting around 8,000 food lovers from far and wide.
Another beer, Holy Grail Ale, which launched by Llangollen Brewery at the festival back in 2012, is now one of their biggest sellers.
It was inspired by a local legend involving the nearby Cistercian abbey of Valle Crucis and Dinas Bran Castle, on the hilltop towering over the town.
According to the story, the castle is the final resting place for the Holy Grail, the cup that Christ drank from at the Last Supper, and that there is a tunnel all the way down to the abbey below.
Ynyr is hoping for similar success with the new Ambrosia Ale which he describes as “quite hoppy with a medium sort of bitterness.”
To come up with the new brew, Ynyr has brought to bear years of brewing experience which began when he and his uncle Steven Evans, who owns the Abbey Grange Hotel and a number of pubs in the area, went into the beer making business together back in 2010.
Their brewery is based in what had been the Abbey Grange’s farm shop on the road up to the Horseshoe Pass and close to Valle Crucis Abbey.
Ynyr, who had previously obtained a degree in geography and a master’s degree in countryside management, recalls that in the early days they were producing just 250 litres of ale per brewing but that expansion of the operation rapidly followed.
He said: “We extended the brewery into the old stables behind the hotel and gradually upped our production to our current 8,000 litres a week.
“We sell to scores of pubs across North Wales and into the North West of England but concentrate very much on looking after our local customer base.
“We only use the finest ingredients and local underground water source to produce our distinctive country ales, which include Llangollen and Welsh Black Bitter, Wrexham Borders pale ales and Llangollen Bitter and Llangollen Lager.
“Back in 2012 we created a beer named Holy Grail and that is now one of our core beers which is very popular, so our quest for the perfect pint has been a success.”
“Apart from launching Ambrosia Ale on our stand at the food festival we’ll also put some of it into local pubs to see what people think of it. If it does well we’ll consider keeping it too and with a bit of luck it will be as popular as our Holy Grail Ale.
“We’re really looking forward to being at Llangollen Food Festival because it is so important to us.
“Festival goers are always keen to try something new and different so hopefully our new Ambrosia Ale will go down well and help the event celebrate its 20th anniversary in style.”
It was a sentiment echoed by festival committee member Pip Gale, who knows a thing or two about alcoholic beverages, as he runs the family-owned Gale’s Wine Bar in the town.
He said: “We’re delighted that we will be able to raise a glass to the festival with our very own and appropriately named beer, Ambrosia Ale, which I must say tastes heavenly.
“It’s a proper craft beer made by a local brewery so it sums up what a lot of the festival is all about really, supporting indigenous producers.
“In addition to Llangollen Brewery, we have a wonderful array of fantastic food producers clustered in the area and this year the festival is going to be bigger and better than ever.
“We’re heading for a record number of around 130 stallholders with a fantastic choice of produce, along with demonstrations from the region’s finest chefs so there will be plenty to tempt the taste buds.
“Some of our top culinary stars, TV chef Graham Tinsley, the Michelin maestro Bryan Webb and the ever popular Dai Chef will be doing cookery demonstrations, while Dai’s son, Daniel, who is the UK’s youngest head sommelier, will be sharing his expertise about wine.
“I’m glad to say we’re also making a positive contribution the local economy with food lovers travelling from far and wide because the festival is now firmly and rightly established as a major highlight in the UK’s culinary calendar.”
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