I love motorbikes.
I love the feel of donning my leathers, pulling on my lid (that’s a helmet to the unconverted), and riding to wherever I feel at that moment in time. But what I love most is riding out with friends on a week long tour. And at the end of each day when we check into our accommodation nothing beats relaxing in the local pub, chatting about the ride, having a laugh and supping some locally brewed ale.
Every year our group of friends (we call ourselves the Riders of the Lost? Ark) head off into the great unknown and to make it even more worthwhile I try to raise a bit of sponsorship along the way for a worthwhile charity. The summer of 2012 saw the Riders of the Lost? Arkventure across the Irish Sea to Wales.
Should you ever feel the desire to board the ferry from Dublin to Holyhead, what awaits you on the other side is a world of wonderful mountain roads, breathtaking Snowdonia scenery, the most accommodating hospitality and of course, some great beers.
And if you’re in North Wales as we initally were, then there’s no better place for cask ale than the Golden Fleece Inn, Tremadog. They have the most enticing cave bar which used to be the cellar until it was transformed into a welcoming alcove for the public to enjoy their favourite brew. When we were there last summer I was very pleased to see Purple Moose brewery’s multi-award winning Dark Side of the Moose on tap. Available at last year’s Belfast Beer and Cider Festival, it’s a delicious dark ale with a deep fruity bitterness that hits the right spot after a day’s riding along stunning mountain roads.
Also of note in the bar were two of Conwy brewery’s offerings; Welsh Pride – a copper coloured malty bitter with a suggestion of orangey spice as well as the 2012 Speciality Beer of Wales winner Honey Fayre – a light summery golden ale with a pleasantly not overpowering honey aftertaste.
And to top it all off when we had our fill of ale and delicious food from the kitchen, we all retired to one of their 5 plush, luxurious bedrooms. This biking lark’s great craic eh?
Since our visit there last summer I’ve been told The Golden Fleece Inn has bought Tremadog’s Royal Madoc Hotel across the road. So I expect their ale repertoire to increase as time passes.
Leaving the village and riding down the coastline on a gloriously sunny day (with the odd mechanical glitch along the way) we were glad to finally arrive at our next destination.
Sixty miles south of the Golden Fleece, just west of Aberystwyth, we paid a visit to what is claimed to be the UK’s smallest commercial brewery.
Bragdy Gwynant Brewery beside The Tynllidiart Arms, Capel Bangor used to be an outside toilet! (Insert your own loo-based pun here please.) Known to the locals as The Tyn, this charming pub is over 300 years old and reputedly home to a local ghost. And before you ask, no they don’t serve York Brewery’s Centurion’s Ghost Ale. However they do have four local ales including its own brew – Cwrw Gwynant – a 4.5% amber bitter with a slightly sweet taste that certainly goes down well on a summer’s day. The Tyn is most definitely worth a visit – even just for the quirkiness of the tiny brewery beside the pub’s front door.
Right that’s it for now. I’ll let you know soon how the Riders of the Lost? Ark got on for the 2013 tour – a 1,200 mile charity trek of the Irish coastline from County Antrim through Dublin, Cork, Galway, Donegal and back home. We’ll be visiting some brewpubs along the way and of course sampling the best ales this island has to offer.