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NERAX volunteer thank you event

April 13, 2010

NERAX held a thank you event for the volunteers who helped make their recent New England Real Ale Exhibition in Somerville what was probably the the most successful in the 14 seasons of doing these events.  The volunteer session was held at The Independent in Somerville, MA.

NERAX volunteers appreciating Real Ale

There were three casks on hand:  Williams Brothers Fraoich Heather Ale, Williams Brothers Midnight Sun Porter, and Harviestoun’s Bitter and Twisted.

The Bitter and Twisted from Scotland is a nice British Bitter session ale with little “bitter” to it as is the standard for a British Bitter.  It was light, refreshing, and both the aroma and taste were citrusy and grassy.  This is an easy drinker.

The Williams Brothers’ offerings (also Scottish) were nice:  The Midnight Sun Porter was almost pitch black in color with a small head, and low carbonation.  To my liking it did not have a coffee taste or smell (after all, dw i’n casau coffi – Welsh for “I hate coffee”), it was malty, with a hint of molasses and chocolate, and was very smooth.

The Froach Heather Ale is billed as probably the oldest style of ale still produced in the world – now this was a wonderful offering to have as a thank you to the volunteers – a bit like Jesus turning the water to wine, and the governor of the feast recognizing that the best was saved for last – this was a in great cask condition (well for me it was – it was not “bright” enough for the NERAX gang, but poured a bit cloudy and then cleared up to a nice orangey/amber color with a creamier head than the other beers, which left a nice lacing down the glass.  The herbed, fruity flavors jumped out nicely, and the this unique beer which uses heather flowers in the brewing was a favorite of mine on this day.

Was able to spend time with new friends from the NERAX gang, and had a great time.  Nice event NERAX gang – thanks.  Looking forward to NERAX North.


NERAX and Welsh Ales

April 5, 2010

Back in February Phil Wyman from CeltiConnect toured breweries, cider barns, and the lone Welsh Whiskey distillery.  Last week the Welsh Ales and Ciders paid a visit to Phil in return.

NERAX – the New England Real Ale Exhibition, which focuses on cask conditioned ales, and ciders brought 45 British brews on cask to Somerville, MA.  Phil was on hand again.  At the Trade session in the afternoon about 100 people from various New England’s breweries, distributors, importers, and sellers were on hand for a workshop led by Mike Labbe.  Mike happened to be wearing a shirt from the Breconshire Brewery in Brecon, Wales.  Phil had been there last month and met Buster Grant, the Brewer at Breconshire.  Mike spoke on how to run your own cask ale exhibition, and the trade session included a time of cask ale tasting.

During the trade session, Dr. Phil Budden, the Consul-General from the Boston British Consulate arrived to CeltiConnect’s Phil Wyman’s surprise.  After a quick and happy hello at the door, Mark Bowers (president of NERAX) asked the Consul General to say a few words during the session, and Dr. Budden offered his hand in help to support the work of NERAX in whatever way he could.

Cask ale, unlike tap beers, is cask conditioned and served either by gravity or hand pump.  The statement of purpose from CASC (The Cask-Conditioned Ale Support Campaign – the mother organization of NERAX) reads as such “We are dedicated to the sensible enjoyment of top-fermented, traditionally brewed ales that undergo a secondary fermentation in the vessel from which they are served. CASC is a group of like-minded individuals who seek to expand the awareness of producers, distributors, and consumers about the use of traditional ingredients in, and dispensing of, real ales.”

During the tasting session, Phil had a chance to taste all the Welsh Ales which were open for that session, and a few more besides.  Breconshire Brewery had sent four ales, and two of them were available that day:  Red Dragon, and their award winning Rambler’s Ruin.  The Red Dragon was in perfect condition, and was Phil’s personal favorite of all the ales he sampled at the event.

Beside Breconshire Brewery, Otley and the cider brewers Gwynt y Ddraig (The Dragon’s Wind) from Pontypridd also had beers available, as did Great Orme from Conwy, and Purple Moose from Porthmadog.  Not one of these beers (in the case of Gwynt Y Ddraig ciders) was less than superb.  But, unfortunately, not one of these beers is available in the US, whether in a bottle, on tap, or by cask.  This is something, which the brewers, NERAX, and CeltiConnect would like to help remedy.

Great Orme’s “Orme” started off Phil’s tasting session had a full toasted maltiness to it.  Otley’s “Columb-O” was a refreshing session ale, which tasted as though the cider apples might have fallen in the vat.  “Columb-O” and Wye Valley Brewery‘s (a brewery just outside the Welsh borders in Hereford, but with a name like Wye Valley one almost wants to call it Welsh) “HPA” were very similar in this respect, and were favorites of some of the NERAX workers.  Gwynt Y Ddriag was a cider maker Phil visited in February.  On cask the “Happy Daze” cider was excellent, and worth a second trip to the bar when Phil worked as a volunteer for the Friday evening session.  Purple Moose’s “Snowdonia Ale” (another of Phil’s fav’s) had a nice fruity hoppiness and a long dry finish.

Beside these distinctly Welsh Brews, Phil had to taste a few of the suggested favorites:  Salopian Brewery‘s “Oracle” (English), Harviestoun Brewery‘s Bitter and Twisted (Scottish), and Lang Brau‘s “Amber Maerzen” (German).

CeltiConnect would like to give special thanks to gang at NERAX for allowing us to be part of the event.  Mark Bowers (pictured below on the right with Jan Williams), Mark Irwin (volunteer coordinator), and Mike Labbe – thanks for letting us join you.  We will do what we can to help out at NERAX North as well.

Green Initiative and Nuclear Power?

March 30, 2010

Today’s news from the business sector in Wales brings these two large items:

1)  There is a £8.3 million investment initiative which has been unveiled to develop new green technologies in Wales.

2)  Ynys Mon (The Isle of Anglesey) has been tagged as being the location for the next British nuclear power plant.

Some would applaud both announcements, others would find them to be contradictory – not on a carbon footprint basis, but upon a ethical “save the earth” basis.  What do you think?

Weigh in and share your thoughts.  Is this a quicker, more efficient way to diminish carbon output, or is it a quicker, more efficient path toward the continued proliferation of nuclear weapons?

Is it dependable?  Is it safe?  Do you like the combination or fear it?

So what do you know about Ottawa, a sleepy logging town? far from it..

March 25, 2010

When international cleantech companies consider expansion to North America, the typical choices are New York, Boston, Washington and San Jose. The City of Ottawa, Canada’s Creative Economy Capital, is working to change that perception in 2010 with an endorsement from Richard Florida, Martin Prosperity Institute Director and author of the international best seller Who’s Your City? Florida rates Ottawa as the “Best Overall” city in Canada on a “Creative Class Index” based on the 3Ts of economic development – Technology, Talent and Tolerance – and 22 places higher than New York, 2 places higher than Boston, 4 places higher than Washington and 1 place higher than San Jose.

Further, a Knowledge-based Industry Survey released last week by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI) shows Ottawa’s fledgling cleantech sector is the strongest of any of the city’s 13 unique technology clusters. The number of cleantech companies is up from 103 companies to 114 as of December 31, 2009, an increase of 10.7 per cent over the previous year, and the number of Ottawa’s cleantech employees is up from 2,050 to 2,567, an increase of 25.2 per cent.

With 78,000 employees in its 1,850-company technology sector, Ottawa is Canada’s national capital city and is also home to a recession-buffering public sector. As the country’s fourth-largest city with a population of 900,000, Ottawa’s predominant languages are English and French, but many others are spoken on the streets. About 25 per cent of the city’s residents are born in other countries, and more than 20 per cent of residents are visible minorities. Ottawa’s natural environment is another important part of its identity. The city has 850 parks that contribute to Ottawa’s green character, and many are home to some 45 major arts and cultural festivals that take place throughout the year.


Happy Saint Patrick’s Day: a great Welsh Holiday!

March 17, 2010

Yes, you read that right. Here at CeltiConnect we are notably Welsh leaning, and we are convinced by the history, and the scholars of note that Patrick was a Welshman! The full story was written by CeltiConnect co-founder Phil Wyman for the Boston Examiner.

So, happy Saint Patrick’s Day and tip a pint for the Welsh this year, and remember that this Irish saint was a Welshman who went to Ireland to preach the Gospel in a foreign land.

CeltiConnect establishes in Canada.. well kind of..

March 17, 2010

Following days of shifting through plenty of websites to form a Canadian branch of CeltiConnect, Gareth Gwyn Jones decided to go back to basics and talk to folks at Revenu Quebec in person. A great service and advise was had, and was recommended to start a Sole Proprietorship under my name; at some point we’ll register CeltiConnect

CeltiConnect hits the press

March 16, 2010

Gareth Gwyn Jones, CeltiConnect co-founder and VP for Canada, recently co-organized a St.David’s Day reception at the British High Commission in Ottawa. Gareth’s goal was ensure that a good selection of folks attended from a wide variety of industries and organizations – he succeeded and also managed to have the Speaker of the House of Commons to attend The Honourable Peter Miliken MP. Around 110 people attended. supported by supplying two bottles of Penderyn Welsh Whisky, guests to the evening were greeted with a sample and Andrew Rastapkevicius of the Liford Wine agency and Penderyn’s distributor in Ontario gave an overview of Penderyn.

High Commissioner Anthony Cary welcomed the guests and reminisced about his connections with Wales.

Professor Paul Birt, Chair of the Celtic Studies at the University of Ottawa addressed the crowd by giving an overview of St.David and its relevance to the Welsh around the globe.

Reporters from the Embassy Magazine also attended and featured the evening in their paper; see below under parties and St.David’s Day.