Like all of the U.K., Wales has a long, rich history of brewing. The Welsh brewing industry has pretty much had the same fortunes, too—peaking in the late 1800s then declining thanks to temperance, World Wars, and consolidation throughout the 20th century.
But at some point in the early 2000s, the countries’ paths diverged. While Scotland got Harviestoun and then BrewDog, and England gained Dark Star, Rooster’s, Thornbridge, and others, Wales didn’t catch on to modern craft beer as quickly.
In fact, it still only has a handful of well regarded craft breweries, of which my guests today are easily the best known.
Founded in 2012 in a garage in South Wales, Tiny Rebel has had a meteoric rise to fame, buoyed by some incredible and unlikely successes. In 2013, the brewery won gold, silver and bronze in CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Wales competition, and its flagship Red Ale, Cwtch, went on to win Champion Beer of Britain in 2015, making Tiny Rebel the youngest brewery ever to take the prize.
That triumph, which caught the brewers completely by surprise, was a watershed moment, and put them on course for where they are now—a towering brewery and taproom that looks like it’s straight out of San Diego but is actually in an industrial park in Rogerstone, just outside Newport. There Tiny Rebel brews 17,000bbl (20,000hl) a year, with Cwtch and juicy pale ale Club Tropicana taking up most of the tanks. It has become a local landmark, welcoming hundreds of drinkers every day who get through around 1,100bbls a year. They’ve just broken ground across the road too, where they will build a £3-million sour facility and distillery.
Like all fast-growing and successful businesses, Tiny Rebel has had its controversies along the way. Such success breeds suspicion, and recently there were wild rumors of a sale to Molson Coors that proved completely unfounded. Tiny Rebel’s nostalgic branding has also gotten them in trouble with industry watchdog The Portman Group, and the brewery’s heavy use of adjuncts has earned them ire from less well humored beer geeks.
We talk through all that and more when I sit down with founders Bradley Cummings and Gareth Williams. But what is most remarkable is the humor, and sense of fun, that pervades the conversation. Some may be uneasy with what they do, but they are very easy in themselves, and rightly proud of what they have achieved.
This is Brad and Gazz of Tiny Rebel Brewing. Listen in.