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Tributes pour in for pioneering ‘Brewer of Brilliant Beers’

19 Dec 2022 3 minute read
Rory Gowland, pioneering brewer

Richard Youle, local democracy reporter

Tributes have been paid to a real ale pioneer who had only just finished his inaugural brew at a new brewery in Swansea when he died.

Rory Gowland was due to play with his band at The Railway Inn, Killay, to mark the occasion on the day he died suddenly.

He had moved the brewery from The Joiners Arms, Bishopston, to a new facility on the former platform area of The Railway, which is owned by Swansea Council.

The 65-year-old had a PhD in chemistry and used to work at Swansea University before setting up Swansea Brewing Company 26 years ago – a time when drinkers had far fewer real ale or craft beer options compared to today.

“He was a lot of fun to be around,” said Alan Watkins, treasurer of Swansea Camra (Campaign for Real Ale). “He was very kind, very gentle and very generous with his time and expertise.”

Mr Watkins said Mr Gowland supplied beer to The Joiners, The Railway and, after making friends with its landlord, The Gwaelod y Garth Inn north of Cardiff.

A one-man band who didn’t want to expand the brewery, Mr Gowland had a stint as a licensee at The Railway and was credited with helping to secure its future.

His staple beers were Three Cliffs Gold, Original Wood and Bishopswood Bitter, there was also what Mr Watkins described as the “very potent” Railway Sleeper, and he would concoct new ones for festivals.

Brewer of brilliant beers

Mr Gowland established a cider orchard in Carmarthenshire and was a key driving force behind the Carmarthenshire Beer Festival, as well as a Swansea Bay Beer and Cider Festival mainstay.

He was also interested in music and industrial archaeology, and was a shareholder of Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway.

Mr Gowland, whose funeral takes place at Llanelli Crematorium at 10am on December 23, split his time between Uplands in Swansea and a renovated cottage near Blackwood. He is survived by his partner, Liz Thomas, and a sister and brother.

In a post on Facebook, staff at The Railway Inn described him as a friend, colleague and brewer of brilliant beers who would be greatly missed.

Richard Bennett described Mr Gowland as the inspiration for his own brewery, while Geoffrey Stockton wrote: “Great ale, top entertainer and always happy to help out with anything we put on or organised.”

Carmarthenshire Camra said Mr Gowland was instrumental in the setting up of the Carmarthenshire Beer Festival and that his beers were always held in high regard.

Its Facebook post ended: “Thank you Rory for all (your) help and your friendship towards members of the branch. All from Carmarthenshire Camra.”

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