As you can probably tell by the light puffs of beery smoke floating from the Brains factory as you pull into the Central station, Cardiff is a city full to the brim with beveraged brilliance. You’ll struggle to find a pub which doesn’t serve Brains Ales, with Original SA and the spicy and dark Reverend James local favourites. Traditional local breweries and a strong CAMRA presence mean that even chain pubs are likely to be well stocked with independently made pints.
South Wales breweries include Otley, Tiny Rebel, Bullmastiff, Celt Experience, Tomos Watkins, Zero Degrees, and Pipes, which which brews a flavoursome smorgasbord of 100% natural, handcrafted ales & lagers. Additive & Preservative Free and suitable for vegans – make yours a guilt-free pint of something cold and utterly delicious. They’re based in Pontcanna, just a short walk away, but you can sample their wares at Sŵn venues Gwdihŵ and 10 Feet Tall, both in the city centre.
Whichever venue you are wandering, or indeed rushing to and from, there is usually a typically Cardiffian mix of friendly locals, with new independent and speciality bars and venues sprouting up as the capital grows, and as you may have noticed if you’ve ever wandered through Cardiff’s city centre of a weekend, there are endless choices for watering holes. Close to the heart of the festival, you have the incredible beer selection of Urban Taphouse, perpetual after-hours drinking den Dempsey’s and the ever-popular City Arms. A bit further out, Y Mochyn Du is a pleasant 5 minute wander through the park to Sophia gardens, and further along Cathedral Rd, The Cricketers is every bit as charming and close-to-a-cricket-ground as you’d expect. In between there and Chapter is The Robin Hood, a lovely place to enclose yourself in suburban greenery and fine ciders.
Heading in the opposite direction out of the city centre, The Albany in Roath also had a beautiful garden, perfect for a Pale Ale after shows at the nearby Globe. Closer to the Student’s Union, The Pen & Wig is vibrant, busy and brilliantly cheap for their range of Bitters and American Beer. The Bay too, has a great selection of bars just a hop on the train away, including the Millennium Centre’s Ffresh Bar amongst a host of others.
Of course though, it’s not all about the pleasures of a pint. There are dozens of fine establishments to cater for your tipple. Behind the Motorpoint arena, and on the way from Gwdihw is the much-loved Porters which boasts its own cinema room and a stunning range of world lagers and spirits. Back into town, there’s The Brewery Quarter and Mill lane, both with a handful of bars off St Mary’s St, including the popular 10 Mill Lane, who are part of an exciting, burgeoning cocktail scene in Cardiff. As well as 10 Mill Lane, you find some of the best cocktails the UK has to offer coming over the bars of 10 Feet Tall, Lab 22 and The Dead Canary (if you can get a table).
On the edge of the city centre is Greyfriars rd, with several huge clubs, but even more intriguing is the nearby Revolucion de Cuba – with over 25 rum based cocktails alone, sourced and sought from Guatemala to Guyana. If you’re feeling like a cheeky spot of Mother’s Ruin, we recommend The Potted Pig – an underground restaurant in old bank vaults near the Castle, which has a tongue-tingling 30 varieties of Gin on offer alongside their incredible food menus. Apparently there is such a thing as after-dinner gin. Suave.