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RHYMNEY ALES - THE WELCOME THAT WALES KEEPS

''This beer,'' Llywelyn said, a first pint of Bevan's bitter from the Rhymney Brewery in front of him, ''has risen from the ashes of history. From a time when Merthyr was the largest town in Wales and cities such as Cardiff mere hamlets. It was known then as the worldwide capital of iron. It fuelled the engines of the industrial revolution and made the wheels they ran on. Men dug into the hills for coal and made iron in the roar of furnaces, and their thirst, as you might imagine, was mighty. And twelve breweries in Merthyr alone, at that time, sprung up to meet it."

Llywelyn paused and regarded his pint thoughtfully. His fellow drinkers in the bar of the Royal Oak, all devotees of Rhymney's shining brews, said nothing, respecting those few contemplative moments. ''Rhymney ales, a traditional taste of the past. Using, as the old brewers used to, only the finest malt and hops," Llywelyn went on, reaching for his glass, the deep amber light shifting in it.

“Nectar,'' he added, after relishing the first sip. 'Pure nectar.''

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