The Celt Experience – Relaunch
A Celt Experience Background
The Celt Experience came into being back in 2007 when the brewery based in the Pontygwindy Industrial Estate, Caerphilly was opened.
Prior to this, Tim Newman (Managing Director) was brewing beers in his Fathers garage.
His vision for The Celt Experience reflects the backbone of Welsh spiritual culture and passion for life.
The Celt Experience quickly grew to the point of exporting beers to over 20 countries around the world.
Their range included a number of core products such as Golden Age – Golden Ale, Dark Age – Dark Ale, Bronze – Bitter, Brigid fire – Smoked Rye IPA and more.
A range of higher strength Ogham beers later brought some special offerings to the table including their Willow – Powerful IPA, Ash – Imperial Russian Porter and Oak – Exotic Tripel.
They also did a number of fruitier variations including a saison packed with strawberries known as Home of the Fruitcakes and a pomegranate farmhouse saison known as Hallstatt Deity.
Something for everyone.
Their range has won several awards, where in the summer of 2013 alone 12 individual awards were offered, including overall winner at the Society of Independent Brewers Association (SIBA) exhibition and 2 gold awards at the International Beer Competition in Tokyo.
In May 2016, the sudden news broke that The Celt Experience would be ceasing production but would keep the brand going.
The news was met with shock and awe. Social media users took to the internet to offer their words of support.
Fans of Celt (Myself included) took to the Celt online shop and supermarkets to stock up on what they could until things settled.
In June 2016, A larger brewery company based in Wales stepped in to pick up the brand. Evan Evans refined their kit and brewery, brought in Tom Newman to advise and started brewing beers as Celt Experience.
Tom has since moved on and Real Ale Craft Beer reviewer Simon Martin has been brought in as the brand ambassador for Celt.
On the 23rd November 2016, Celt Experience hosted a comeback with their own relaunch.
A planned event took place at Evan Evans bar, The Cricketers – based on Cathedral road, Cardiff.
The Plans For The Relaunch
As a part of the relaunch, Celt Brewery offered three tasters including:-
- Chieftain – An Everyday IPA
- Silures – A Golden Pale Ale
- Bleddyn – A Rustic Rye Ale
The brewers themselves popped by, along with Simon Martin (Celt’s Brand Ambassador) and ITV Wales.
The plan was to offer tasters of the above beers and offer food pairings as well as a chance to chat with the brewers and Evan Evans staff about the development and plans for Celt Experience.
How The Evening Went
After navigating the busy Cardiff roads, we made it to The Cricketers on Cathedral Road.
On arrival we were offered with tasting notes for the beers, a background to the event and signed ourselves in for the evening.
The place was already bustling at around 6:30 in the evening, but we found a table and setup base for the evening.
Without hesitation, we got to the bar and ordered the first option in the list.
Chieftain is Inspired by American IPA’s and has a complex malt flavour balanced with citrus aromas from Chinook hops.
There was plenty of hop forward action here, giving citrus and spicy notes. The hops balanced well with the grains which offered quite a prominent biscuit\toasted flavour.
This led to a subtle an easy bitterness at the end.
Most certainly an everyday beer that would accessible to real ale drinkers and craft beer fans alike.
Next up was Silures which is described as a powerfully hopped beer, brewed with sweet Caramalt. Delivering delicious tropical fruit flavours.
Another hopped up beer offering obvious grassy notes with just a hint of the tropical. A touch of malt sweetness is present with a dry bitter kick at the end.
Finally, and just in time for the end of the session, we ordered Bleddyn. Described as a ruby Red beer brewed with five different malts. Bleddyn has a smooth bitterness with floral and citrus hop aromas.
This the beer that gave me the biggest concern due to the original Bleddyn being an American Pale Ale whilst this new variation is a Rustic Rye Red Ale.
Airing more on the side of malts this time, this beer was darker and fuller than the other two. A distinctive rye flavour mixed with a grainy/breadiness along with spicy and floral hops.
This was actually the first of the three to sell out before the end of the session which shows how far rye style beers have come and in particular this one from Celt Experience.
All three of the beers were perfectly clear with plenty of colour and body behind them.
The heads on all three stuck around for some time after pouring too.
The beers were on the house between 7pm and 8:30pm, which gave us an amazing opportunity to try the beers and form our own opinions.
Celt Experience have provided us with many a good time and some awesome memories.
From the Home of the Fruitcakes launch at Brewdog where they offered us tickets to the Welsh BAFTA’s and got us into some terrifying pirate singing to my stag do at the brewery where we enjoyed copious amounts of beers, bowling, loud metal tunes along with my family and friends in one place.
As a result, I feel that I personally was a little defensive about the beers and the brand.
We were lucky however to be approached by Simon Buckley who took my criticisms really well, giving some really honest and open feedback.
One of my concerns was the variation of beer style when comparing the new Celt Experience’s Silures and Bleddyn with the original Celt Experience.
Simon explained that Celt tended to produce various versions of these beers and it was difficult to pick one style. This led them to taking the beers down a different path and retaining certain flavours that made them what they were.
This was true of Silures where there was a strong tropical and grassy flavour which is similar to the original Pine infused variation.
Simon was keen to get across that the beers are nearly where they want them to be. With a little more tinkering and recipe development, they feel that they can get the new Celt Experience beers to really shine, bringing them into the forefront of craft beer awesomeness.
This development will see the beers released in bottles which will be perfect for the “drink at home” market.
I commented on the clarity of the beers as the original Celt Experience kept the beers unfiltered which resulted in a haziness in the finished product.
Simon was completely open to the fact that finings are used in the current line-up of Celt Experience beers and went on to say that Evan Evans are producing a vegan friendly range.
More news coming soon.
It was great to get a chance to speak with Simon Buckley, who was very open and passionate about the brand.
Along with his business card, he offered us an opportunity to visit the brewery and see how things have moved forward first hand.
Something that we will most certainly be arranging real soon!
Towards the end of the night, We managed to get an opportunity to speak with Simon Martin AKA Real Ale Craft Beer AKA Celt Experience Brand Ambassador.
We had a chance to discuss some of Simon’s favourite beers including his first and foremost answer, Barry Island IPA from Brains Craft Brewery.
Methinks he was after some brownie points with that answer!
There was also some chatter about the breweries he has collaborated with including Northern Monk and their Custard Cream Pale Ale back in April of 2016.
You can see how he got on by clicking this link.
The chat was brief and I couldn’t let him go without getting a cheeky selfie with the main man himself.
To end what was a great night on a greater high, I discovered that I had won a #craftbeerhour competition to receive two beers from Eight Arch Brewing ready for the next Craft Beer hour, Tuesday 29th November between 9PM and 10PM.