‘You’d drink beer out of a navvy’s boot, you would.’ Said elegantly though with a bitter bite, it seems to me. A man with a neat beard, eyes half-focused, laughs as he passes over a pint. A pint, a glass, a draught, of Brains Black, passed over, into my hands, via the hands of Wilco the beer cupboard and shed guru. Around the murmur of the crowd, the background mood music of cocktail jazz. A year on from inception it’s a birthday party for Brain’s Black, a Welsh stout that can more than hold its own against another popular brand that I usually have a pint of Sunday lunchtime at whatever rugby club my son is playing at. This is my first time and it’s rather a luscious drop. Bible black (I had to say that, though I’ve left out heron priested shore), creamy, espresso foam atop, smooth mocha character, easy drinking, keg (and so what — Brains, where were you at the SIBA craft keg comp a fortnight or so ago?). So here we are, upstairs at the Yard, the former home of Brains, St David’s night and all that, in a slick re-imagining of the post-industrial age with the innards of the former brewery on show alongside a scatter of ironic flourishes (video of a log fire anyone?). A slick modern space but another direction that the pub has to take to get people through its doors, a bit like Brains Black really, another way to get people into drinking great beer, whether keg or cask (and there’s plenty of that especially as Brains Dark is one of my favourite milds). As for the navvy’s boots, I shall labour in vain to find one, but much as I hate to say it: we’re in a post-industrial age.