A Second Chance for Celt Beer – Part 2

A Second Chance for Celt – Part 2 – The Beers Relaunched

In May 2016, Tom Newman of Celt Brewery announced that he would be selling up the brand. Now, a little more than six months on, Celt was relaunched on 23 November by Evan Evans at their pub in Cardiff, the Cricketers. The Celt brand will form another aspect of the Evan Evans portfolio.

Along with the Celt name, Tom Newman gave advice, recipes, and his hop percolator to Evan Evans. There was a lot of experimentation with making the hop percolator work alongside the Evan Evans kit. For some reason, the existing kit seemed to reject it at first, and at one point it blew up. They bent it back it into shape by running a forklift truck over it and now I’m told it’s working fine. The things people do in the pursuit of hoppy beer, eh.

Three beers were on tap at the launch: Chieftain, Silures, and Bleddyn. They represent the core range will be rolled out on cask first, then keg, and by Easter it will be in bottles. The bottles will be filtered and not bottle conditioned. After the core range has been established, seasonal beers will be introduced. Simon Buckley mentioned blueberry lagers, cranberry wheats and maple porters forming part of next year’s line-up.

Unlike the Silures and the Bleddyn, the Chieftain Everyday IPA is a new creation but, ironically, tasted the truest to the Celt brand as I remember it. Bending that hop percolator back into shape has paid off here, with Celt’s signature hop style coming through. At 4.2% it was the easiest going and certainly achieved the Everyday target it aims for.

(Gazza Prescott of Hopcraft Brewery, who was present at the launch, and I argued over the use of the term IPA. Gazza, a purist and professional brewer, refused to accept that it could be called an IPA as it wasn’t strong or hoppy enough. Meanwhile, I’m a lazy wanker who thinks IPA can mean whatever the fuck it damn well likes as long as I get to drink some damn beer. I’m fairly confident my learned colleague, Chris Hall, has already covered this point.)

The Silures Golden Pale Ale, 4.6%, was a heavier beer, with a sweet and fruity flavour. It was too young at the time of serving to properly comment (a little too sweet and raw) but there was enough coming through to make me want to seek it out for a second sampling when it’s on peak form.

Bleddyn Rustic Rye Ale, 5.2%, was a big, rich, storm of malts and a difficult one for me to unpack. It was certainly smoother than Bleddyn has been historically. It was an enjoyable beer that will benefit from a few minor adjustments. A few more turns of the screw, so to speak.

So that’s the taste, how about the look? Tom Newman loved his Celtic mythology, of druids conjuring on rain swept hillsides, making offerings to nature to infuse his beer with the spirit of – lost my train of thought there.

Evan Evans have retained the original Celt logo, swept away the previous runic folklore and adopted a clean, bold, striking Celtic knot work style. They’ve retained an essence of the original but put their own stamp on it. Unlike Marston’s recent rebrand, I don’t think the Celt redesign is going to cause any upset.

On first contact with the new brand I am cautiously optimistic. So what do they need to do to make Celt a safe bet?

This feature concludes with Part 3 tomorrow, which considered Celt’s future.

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