Looking for a good beer in Cardiff isn’t a very difficult job. The city is packed with pubs and bars ranging from the ubertrendy to the gloriously traditional. The city is gradually developing a Beer Quarter next to the iconic Millennium Stadium, making Cardiff a great place for beer lovers. With a great selection of traditional real ales and craft beers from around the world all located in a small area of the city, you can sample some of the world’s greatest brews without too much hassle.
Cardiff Beer Quarter
Urban Tap House
The first bar venture from Newport’s Tiny Rebel Brewing Co., Urban Tap House is a menagerie of weird and wonderful beers, with 8 cask lines, 10 keg lines and a huge selection of bottles in the fridges behind the bar. Most of Tiny Rebel’s core range is represented, with Fubar, Dirty Stop Out and Urban IPA near constant presences.
With a team of beer nerds at hand to help you choose from the impressive selection, this is a home from home for all beer lovers. The upstairs bar is insanely comfortable. Grab a seat in the Cwtch and settle in for the night with a pint of the same name. Both Cask and Keg beer is available.
The bottles come from all over the world and the fridges usually feature something a bit special. Regular Tap Takeovers, beer launches and other beery events take place throughout the year, as well as one of Wales’ largest beer festivals in the summer.
The food is also some of the best in Cardiff, with massive home-made burgers on offer alongside some traditional barsnacks with a typically urban twist. Pickled egg and candied bacon anyone? Or a scotch egg the size of your head?
The City Arms
One of the many Brains pubs you will find in Cardiff (Brains is Wales’ largest brewery, located just behind Cardiff Central Station), The City Arms is a little different. Whereas every pub carries the usual Brains lines, with Brains Dark, SA and The Rev. James the usual suspects, The City Arms is Brains’ flagship, special pub. The usual Brains beers are supplemented by some of Brains Craft Brewery’s awesome brews. Brains opened their craft brewery in 2012, 100 years after the first pint of Brains was poured. The 10 barrel brewery is used for experimental brews that push the boundaries and collaborations with famous names in the beer industry.
As well as the Brains offerings, The City Arms serves a decent range of continental and international beers. The range isn’t quite as extensive as Urban Tap House just across the road, but this is a much more traditional pub, with real ales and ciders served by gravity and a slightly older decor and clientele. Cask and Keg.
One off a small chain of brewpubs, Zero Degrees Cardiff is just around the corner from The City Arms and Urban Tap House. It’s a little bit clinical in style, but that’s because the beer is brewed on the premises. Tanks of beer occupy some of the seating area, and the mash tuns and fermentation tanks can be seen behind the bar. Pipes run directly from the brewing area to the bar taps, so you are pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be getting the freshest beer in the city. Keg only.
Artisan Brewing Co.
Based in a small courtyard in Canton, this microbrewery’s beers are stocked by two bars on Womanby Street, just yards away from The City Arms and Urban Tap House. If you prefer a fresher pint, the brewery holds regular “Bar Open” days at the brewery, just a ten minute walk from town.
Both The Full Moon and Clwb Ifor Bach serve PIPES beer (formerly Barenaked Beers) made by the Artisan Brewing Co. Popular nightlife venues with the trendy hipster crowds, these aren’t really the places to go for a quiet drink. But if you’re feeling a little adventurous after on or two in the Beer Quarter’s other venues then make sure to seek out the beautifully crafted brews from a passionate local microbrewery.
BrewDog finally arrived in Wales with the 2014 opening of their Cardiff Bar.
Just a few doors down from Tiny Rebel’s Urban Tap House, with Zero Degrees conveniently in between, BrewDog serves some of the world’s most sought after craft beers. Be prepared to pay for the privilege though. It’s probably the priciest beer bar in town.
The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and there is a Nintendo 64 downstairs. And for the cold Welsh days, blankets are provided on the outside seating. Like all BrewDog bars, no casks – keg only.
The Gravity Station
Llanidloes based Waen Brewing opened their cosy bar and bottle shop in February 2014. Down the recently redeveloped and thoroughly trendy Barrack Lane on the outside of St David’s 2 shopping centre, just a stones throw from the Motorpoint Arena, it’s a little out of the way but a real gem in Cardiff’s beery crown – especially welcome if you’ve got a bit lost and disillusioned with your retail therapy.
The bottle selection is pretty large and very varied, with some awesome deals on gift packs. The tiny bar has some brilliant beers on cask, served by gravity, to enjoy in the sun outside or sat around the massive copper-topped table that takes up most of the bar.
The Rummer Tavern
Not a great range of beers, but enough to quench your thirst. The Rummer Tavern is “Cardiff’s Oldest Alehouse”, dating back to 1713. Worth it just for the history.
Situated immediately outside the Castle walls, Hop Bunker is the brewery tap for both Hopcraft and Pixie Spring. The pub is in the cellar of a refurbished student accommodation building, in what used to be the rock clubs Barfly and then Bogiez.
With 20 keg lines and 12 cask pumps, there’s a lot of beer crammed in to this small space!
Quick Note: Hop Bunker was slated to open in February. At the time of writing (April) it still looks like there is a lot of work to do before the doors will finally open.
The Cambrian Tap
With so many independent bars cropping up offering “craft” beers, it was only a matter of time before the nation’s biggest brewery attempted to shoehorn its way in on the action.
Brains announced plans to rebrand one of its city centre pubs, Kitty Flynn’s, to appeal to the craft beer audience. Renamed The Cambrian Tap (the pub’s former name), the pub is situated on the edge of the old Brewery Quarter, where Brains beers were brewed decades ago.
The pub will focus on Brains’ craft beer range, which features many collaborations with local and national beer industry insiders.
The location is a little strange though. On the corner of Caroline Street, commonly known as Chippy Lane, it sits in the middle of Cardiff’s late night hub among clubs, late night bars and kebab shops.
Inside, it’s modern and cosy all at once. The bottle range features familiar names and the tap list is pretty decent – 8 casks and 10 kegs.
Two great features give the place an arty feel. The first, a mural depicting the caricatures of all the beer writers, publicans and brewers who have collaborated with rains Craft Brewery on their own brew. The second a stained wood wall featuring the many different bottles that have been released of those collaborations.