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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 15:20 GMT 16:20 UK
Buddy Holly pub wins beer award
Montage of Bryncelyn Brewery beer titles
Oh boy! Just some of the Buddy Holly beers at the Wern Fawr Inn
A pub landlord, who pays tribute to Buddy Holly with the beers that he brews, has won an award for his ales.

Will Hopton has named a dozen real ales at the pub in south-west Wales he and his family have run for three decades after his childhood pop star hero.

His is one of the 500 "micro breweries" across Britain which have put real ale ales sales at a 30-year high.

His pub, the Wern Fawr Inn, Ystalyfera, was voted regional pub of the year by the real ale lobby group, Camra.

Landlord Mr Hopton turned to his pint-sized Buddy Holly tributes six years ago when pub regular Robert Scott showed off his talents at making homebrewed beer.

Mr Hopton was so impressed he hired his customer to make him a nine-gallon brew which he named Buddy's Delight.

The music I play here is not older than 1975. All the music after that was not very good.
Landlord Will Hopton

By the end of 1999, their enterprise, Bryncelyn Brewery (which means Holly Hill in Welsh) had expanded to making 27 gallons at a time.

They now have 12 titles in their range - each named on the Buddy Holly theme of the pub in the Swansea Valley, and brew up to four times week.

Mr Hopton said: "I have people from all over coming here. I do sell a little to beer festivals but not much because we don't have that much to spare.

Will Hopton (left) and brewmaster Robert Scott (right) with Keith Jenkins of Cardiff CAMRA
Mr Hopton, left, keeps the pub traditional but on a Buddy Holly theme

"I would like to more, different beers but we do it on such a small scale we have to do it for the pub first."

The Buddy Holly theme brews are among the 2,000 in the UK, more than at any time since 1971, according to the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra).

And in the past year, about 80 new "micro breweries" have joined Bryncelyn Brewery to produce up to 30,000 barrels of real ale every year, Camra's Good Beer Guide 2006 says.

Britain now has more small breweries per head than any other country, with one out of every five barrels of cask beer now made by micro breweries - up from 14% in 2003.

Buddy Holly and the Crickets
Holly, left, here with the Crickets, died in February 1959 plane crash

Mr Hopton, whose father ran the pub for three years from 1975, said he saw the small-scale brewing as his chance to offer tributes to his idol.

"He was such a talented fellow and he died at 22. He was such an influence on such a lot of different groups and individuals. Elvis was good performer but Buddy wrote most of his own music.

"My ambition is to go out to Texas where he was from but I'm a very bad traveller."

In the meantime, he keeps his pub, voted south and mid Wales regional pub of the year by Camra, as traditional as the notion of real ale.

He said: "The music I play here is not older than 1975. All the music after that was not very good. And it's only background music, not a jukebox."

Visitors can also admire his collection of mining industry artefacts, 2,400 matchboxes and 100 unusual bricks.

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