A little about us and how the vision was made…
The first Real Ale Trail was in North Wales in the County of Flintshire back in 2009. Ambitious marketeer Shelly Barratt gathered an idea on how to bring new customers to a number of small local rural pubs struggling with footfall due to the lowering of the drink driving limit and the ban on smoking cigarettes in public, seriously took its toll on rural country pubs, and in some cases closing them forever.
The first ever Real Ale trail event was 10 years ago, created with the idea to become a big supporter of the village pub and a way of celebrating small local breweries. The buses were quiet as they shuttled good-spirited folk around one wet Saturday to seven traditional Welsh pubs untouched by time. The Landlords were very happy with their new found popularity, and customers enjoyed not having to worry about driving, it was a success. Since then, the Trails have increased in popularity and continued to grow in numbers. Some trails attract up to 1200 people in a single event, with visitors turning up from all over the UK and even attracting international guests.
We now have 10 rural trails that run twice a year in Snowdonia, Conwy, Flintshire, Wrexham, Wirral, Caernarfon, Cheshire, Vale of Glamorgan and Aberdeen, Kidderminster and Shropshire, with hundreds of different ales to sample. We presume our event could be the only event in the history of the world that’s aimed at middle-age Dads, who are intrigued by the prospect of being delivered safely to the door of quality real ale houses.
We soon realised that the Ale Trail is one of the best ways to explore the regions best hostelries offering unique beery riches. The Trail became a significant supporter of the village pub and championed small Welsh breweries (often hidden in villages and these breweries supplying only to a handful of pubs and are happy to not bottle their craft). A lot of ales you sample on the trail are not mass produced and something rather special to the area. Such as our own RAT Ale made appearing on the trail and brewed by microbrewery Facers in Flintshire.
The boom in microbreweries and the production of independent ales means that there is always something new to experience every trail now. No trail is ever the same apart from the scenery. It wasn’t until people kept commenting about the spectacular countryside you get to enjoy between pubs that we took note. Now we try and keep the route on as many small country lanes without hanging branches, ones that can accommodate a 40ft bus loaded with grown men singing their way around the country.
We were very proud to accept the prestigious award for ‘The best event’ chosen by North Wales Tourism, we were recognised not just for the innovation of the event but largely for the trails intent which has always been to help small rural businesses attract new people.