A couple of weeks ago (the second May Bank Holiday, if anyone wants me to be more exact), I spent a couple of days in Cardiff with my fiancee. Naturally, I took the opportunity to visit a few bars and in keeping with this year’s Friday Pint focus, drink some local beers. I also picked up a number of bottles, some of which I shall be covering in this post.
The first place we visited for a beer was The City Arms, a pub that I had visited before, though not since it’s redevelopment. When I last visted, The City Arms had (if memory serves right, it probably doesn’t) only around 3 or 4 cask pumps. Now it has at least double, plus a couple of keg lines serving beers from the Brain’s Craft Brewery range.
I like The City Arms for a number of reasons. For starters it has a good beer range, which should always be the case in any good pub, whether they stock one beer, or one hundred beers, if the quality is there, I’m already halfway to being won over. Secondly, it’s in the city centre, but it doesn’t feel like it. If you’re approaching it from the city centre’s main shopping area, the fact it’s situated at the end of a side street makes it feel slightly out of the main “hustle and bustle” (not that Cardiff really has “hustle and bustle”). Thirdly, it feels like a pub.
Which is more than can be said for the Urban Tap House, Tiny Rebel’s Cardiff bar, which is literally just across the road from The City Arms (and I use literally in it’s literal definition there). I like the Urban Tap House, and I really like Tiny Rebel’s beers, but if I had to choose between the two bars to spend an afternoon or evening, The City Arms would be the winner. If money was no object however, I would certainly be spending some of my time working through those fridges in the Urban Tap House.
One place which only came to my attention due to it’s twitter account saying it was playing Manics songs on the day of the band’s Cardiff show back at the end of March is The Gravity Station, a bottle shop/tasting bar not far from the Cineworld and Motopoint Arena.
The Gravity Bar is owned by The Waen Brewery, and has a good selection of Welsh beers available to buy in bottle, alongside some from further afield. There is also around 6 draft beers available to drink in the shop. It was from here that I bought most of the bottles I came home with. A few more were bought from Wally’s Delicatessen.
In Good Morning… tradition, I’m now going to open a few of those bottles and continue writing this post as I go along.
First up into the glass is Waen’s Landmark, a beer which instantly made a good impression as I lifted the glass to my mouth. The aroma is the kind of fruity aroma that I’ve not had from a beer in quite a while. Tastewise, the first thing I got was peach, then sherbert, before finally bitterness. After a few more mouthfuls, that good first impression has been followed by slight disappointment, as none have been as good as that first taste. That being said, Landmark is still a beer that I’d drink again.
Following the Landmark into the glass is another Waen beer, Janner’s Pride, described on the bottle as a “Conker coloured best bitter with hints of ginger and whiskey”. It’s the first time I’ve seen conker used as a colour reference. When held up to the light, I’d argue it’s lighter than a conker, yet without light shining through it, they could be onto something.
Aroma wise it certainly smells “brown”, if that makes sense. It has a mix of burnt and caramel malt aromas that sometimes feature in the more malt focused beers. Tastewise, so far, it is failing to live up to the promise of that bottle label description. I have a suspicion that had I not read that, and was trying this blind, that I might have a differing opinion to the one I have now.
Next I’m moving on to the Brain’s Craft Brewery range. I have two bottles that I’ll be opening, and tried a few more whilst in Cardiff. The first bottle for this post is Brabo, a Belgian style pale ale.
I have to say, I rather like this. It’s not something I’d drink a lot of, butit’s certainly something I’d drink and suggest others try. It’s also a beer that could be used to introduced new drinkers to a wider ranger of beer. There’s a light biscuity sweetness in the taste, which makes the beer rather moorish. (The beer was brewed with beer writer Des de Moor, so I suppose you could say it was Des de Moorish if you wanted to make cheap puns, which I don’t so I won’t, but the option is there).
The second Brain’s Craft Brewery beer is Bragging Rights, a braggat style beer. The beer is brewed with honey, nutmeg, coriander, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon and ginger, all of which combine to give a beer which is by far my favourite of the night so far. The sweetness of the honey makes this a beer that can easily be shared with people who are usually put off by the bitterness of other beers.
The only other braggat style beer I’m aware of, is the one brewed by the Blue Anchor in Helston Cornwall. It’s a style I rather like, and it’s one I’d reccomend to any beer drinker.
To hear what I thought about the last two beers I picked up from Wales (from The Celt Experience), you can listen to the first Mixlr show here
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