Sunday, 13 November 2016


Stadium Plaza, Wood Street, Cardiff [map]

It's been a while, hasn't it? Anyhow, what better way to pick things up again than at the, erm, Bierkeller Entertainment Complex, a wholly inauthentic conglomerate of themed bars that's part of the Stadium Plaza.

We head first for Shooters, a sports bar with an unholy focus on session lagers.

It's one of those nondescript, drizzly Sunday afternoons, so it's pretty quiet in here. Even the promise of watching some blokes kick a ball about on a big telly isn't that much of a draw, it seems.

The pool tables sit dormant, forgotten relics of analogue entertainment from a time before the invention Pokémon Go.

The actual Bierkeller element of the booze compound is shut, so we instead amble towards the building's third bar, Around the World.

The place actually dispenses a fine array of international lagery delights, including Sagres, Sam Adams, Sierra Nevada and Super Bock. The decision to stock only beverages beginning with the letter S is, however, a curious one.

But here's the really alarming thing about the place. The urinals are equipped with a 'beat the goalie' game, which you control by – there's no nice way of putting this – weeing on sensors built into the latrines.

It's often said that people have low boredom thresholds these days. But not even being able to spend a penny without having some form of entertainment on offer does seem a bit much.

The Photographer suggests it's taking the piss but is swiftly reminded that this blog would never stoop to making use of such a terrible pun.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Chapel 1877

Churchill Way, Cardiff [map]

Chapel 1877 is a bar, restaurant and nightclub housed in a former methodist chapel in the unlikely location of the bottom end of Churchill Way.

It's more about fancy dining than it is straight-up boozing but there are some non-restaurant chairs and tables littered about the place if the sustenance you require is of the liquid variety.

The idea of having a large leather sofa directly opposite the bar is appealing - you can just yell your order at the barman without even having to get up.

Some people who have just posh noshed. The wine list runs to eight pages, by the way - remarkable, given that all wine tastes the same to us.

There's a small terrace area with a good view of that massive junction in front of Cardiff Masonic Hall, making it a good place for spotting old blokes with one trouser leg rolled up.

Oh my lord, what on earth's going on here? It's like it's from a particularly naff range of 1980s Athena posters, with added tribal tattoos. It might just be the worst thing my eyes have ever seen.

Friday, 26 June 2015

The Cambrian Tap

51 St Mary Street, Cardiff [map]

Call it the Urban Tap House effect, if you like. What was, until recently, unloved Irish pub Kitty Flynn's is now craft ale hostelry The Cambrian Tap.

As is the way with these places (lit by de rigueur filament light bulbs, obv), there are all sorts of beers on tap that no one's ever heard of.

We opt for a couple of pints of Almond Butter Gear Shift Cable Doppelbock. And very nice it is too.

Excellent pouring technique there.

Employees are required to clock in and out using this antiquated device. Which does seem to be taking vintage chic to somewhat ridiculous lengths, if you ask us.

We do like a booth but, if you want to squeeze four people into one of them, you have to be on very good terms indeed.

The loos: the ultimate end point of any brewing process.

The long, narrow shape creates a slightly awkward space but they've made the most of it. Not least because, on particularly busy evenings, the staff actively encourage drinkers to crowd-surf their way from the door to the bar.

Although crowd-surfing while holding aloft a pint of Almond Butter Gear Shift Cable Doppelbock turns out to be much easier said than done (and it's not even that easy to say).

Saturday, 30 May 2015


115 Queen Street, Cardiff [map]

It's not really our natural habitat this, a kind of indie coffee shop-cum-craft beer dispensary lurking at the wrong end of Queen Street.

Indeed, I can't say I'm a massive fan of any bar area in which the falling-down water has to share space with gluten-free cakes, but there you go. There are also paninis and wraps on offer, if you like that sort of thing.

Of course, the only acceptable form of sustenance during a session in the 'Diff is a bag of chips from Caroline Street.

On tap is their own craft lager and cider, Estrella and Charles Wells DNA. Plus there's wine, a smattering of spirits and - according to my notes - "a fridge full of bittled beers".

I have no idea what bittled beers are but they sound interesting.

On the way in, there's also this extraneous coffee counter (seen here from the balcony). Which is clearly of no use to us.

At this point, and for reasons known only to himself, The Photographer attempts to demonstrate the concept of centrifugal force - by spinning around this almost-full pint glass. The end result being that he pours most of his drink over my shoes.

Still, we learn something from the experience:

1. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

2. Never go drinking with The Photographer without a change of socks

Wednesday, 4 February 2015


31 Westgate Street, Cardiff [map]

Next stop, BrewDog - a bar so hipstery you're only allowed in if you're sporting a waxed moustache and a pair of tweed breeches, while riding a fixed-gear unicycle.

Fortunately, it's a look The Photographer has recently adopted (and, in fact, pulls off with some aplomb), so we make it through the door without incident.

Most of the drinks here are produced by BrewDog - "Beer for punks", as they put it - so it's more Five AM Red Ale (at £4.55 a pint, no less) than Foster's.

A lot of their stuff is in the six to seven per cent range and only comes in half or two-thirds of a pint measures. Something to do, we presume, with encouraging drinkers to appreciate the flavour and quality of the grog as opposed to simply downing industrial quantities of cheap, tasteless lager.

It'll never catch on.

On the plus side, the place does attract a slightly higher class of clientele than, say, the 'Spoons down the road. Indeed, just out of shot is Alain de Botton who, we learn, is particularly partial to a Shipwrecker Circus.

This booth isn't actually that big - it's just that those two men are very, very small.

Downstairs is this little nook, housing a sofa and a Nintendo 64 - although the Mario Karting was temporarily put to a stop recently when the TV blew up.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Moose Head Bierkeller

Working Street, Cardiff [map]

You join us at the Pint of 45 Christmas party, this year hosted by the pop-up bar that's part of the Christmas market on Working Street. No expense spent.

This being the festive season, it's all German beer, Baileys hot chocolate and various things that have been mulled.

I have no idea what mulling entails but it sounds wrong, doesn't it? We opt for the mulled wine.

And here it is. Nothing says Yuletide more than a small polystyrene cup of hot booze.

The attention to detail here is impeccable - they've even imported a live polar bear as an added attraction. What the bloke sitting on it doesn't know is that it's going to have him for tea in approximately three minutes' time.

As everyone is patently aware, a moose sporting a festive scarf is a central tenet of the Nativity story.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The Mount Stuart

Landsea House, Stuart Place, Cardiff Bay [map]

Look at that - it's not so much just another branch of Wetherspoon as a Zaha Hadid-inspired monument to the joys of daytime drinking.

Fairly hectic at the bar but there are plenty of people serving and we secure our delicious pints of fizzy lager with a minimum of faff. Good old 'Spoons.

While most Wether-outlets are simply big square rooms with horrible carpet and some tables randomly plonked around the place, this looks as if someone's actually thought about what they're doing.

The upstairs bar is dominated by a fleet of low-flying drones that vaporise anyone who's looking the worse for wear. The Photographer begins to look very alarmed indeed.

We escape to the balcony. This chap is clearly pleased to see that we've made it out alive.

It's almost like a staged PR shot this of people engaged in responsible al fresco drinking - there's nary a single person vomiting into a hedge in sight. Well, The Photographer notwithstanding.

Our book, A Drinker's Guide to Cardiff, is out now, priced just £2.99. Click here to look inside and to order a copy