With St Patrick ’s Day looming, it’s enough to make the Irish cry into their beer.
The reputed Welsh origins of the iconic Irish brew Guinness have inspired a new dark ale that’s being launched by the Anglesey Brewing Company.
Head brewer Tom Adamson will be unveiling the porter-style beer at the inaugural Anglesey Food Festival that’s being held on the Anglesey Showground from Thursday, May 30, to Saturday, June 1.
Tom, who’s based in Carmel, near Llannerch-y-Medd, has called it Gwin y Gwan which was the slogan used by Guinness in a series of Welsh language adverts in the 1950s which which was translated as Guinness for Strength in English.
According to Tom, a keen student of brewing history, Arthur Guinness developed his taste for the dark beer when he stopped off at a coaching inn in Llanfairfechan, near Bangor, on the last leg of his journeys back to Ireland following business trips to London.
The establishment where he stayed was called Gwyn Du which, allowing for some misspelling or corruption, translates into Black Wine.
Tom said: “When Arthur Guinness was staying over at the inn, the owner of it had been brewing this dark beer and apparently after a few years of travelling back and forth he actually asked for the recipe from the owner.
“The owner gladly gave it to him which led to the creation of the Guinness we know and love – and the rest is now brewing history as they say.
”With Gwin y Gwan, I’m paying homage to a brewing legend and its Welsh roots.
“It’s made from hops, barley and its secret ingredient – a special yeast – and the taste is earthy and chocolatey and at 4.8% it’s not too strong.
”I chose to call it Gwin y Gwan because that’s the affectionate name Welsh speaking people have for Guinness ever since those famous adverts because of its fortifying qualities.
“It even inspired a popular Welsh rock band, Eliffant, to use Gwin y Gwan as the title of their album that was released in 1980.”
The news that Guinness was invented by the Welsh is enough to drive the Irish to drink, especially on St Patrick’s Day on Sunday, March 17.
Appropriately, they’ll be raising a toast to their patron saint who was also said to be Welsh.
Patrick, or Padrig in Welsh, was born around 387 AD and was known as Maewyn (Welsh for devoted friend) Succat (a Pagan term for warlike).
He is believed to have come from Bannavem Taburniae, which could be Banwen in Neath Port Talbot, where every year a service is held in his honour.
The Anglesey Food Festival will also be the final destination for a new Ale Trail that’s across Anglesey being organised Shelley Barratt, director of North Wales-based The Real Ale Trail Company.
Gwin y Gwan will be available at a number of the pubs featuring as part of the trail.
Ms Barratt said: “The Anglesey Food Festival is a fantastic way for local micro brewers to promote their beers.
“We have people coming on our ale trails from all over the UK specifically to sample and taste these beers. North Wales is a real hotbed of unique and inspiring beers like Gwin y Gwan.”
Food festival organiser Davina Carey-Evans, managing director of Beaumaris-based Sbarc Event Management, said: “I wanted to give local and other Welsh producers an opportunity to show off the incredible foods, drinks and produce to a wider audience as possible.
“I believe there’s a real appetite for an Anglesey Food Festival and the public are going to have the opportunity to get a real taste of the very best of North Wales and Anglesey.
“It is the perfect location for a food festival because Anglesey is also known as Mn, Mam Cymru, or Anglesey, the Mother of Wales, because its fertile land, provided sufficient food for the whole of Wales.
“Appropriately, the festival will be taking place at the Anglesey Showground, the home of the island’s agriculture.
“We will be bringing together local fishermen, farmers, producers, restaurants and hotels to display the amazing variety of food and other produce source from the area.
“There will also be a range of cookery demonstrations with art and craft, music and children’s activities.
“The level of interest has already been huge so we’re looking forward to a great event.”
For more information about the Anglesey Food Festival go to: www.angleseyfoodfestival.com