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A craft beer guide to Cardiff

A few years ago the Guardian produced a list of the top 10 craft beer pubs in Cardiff. Walesonline has produced a couple of similar lists, but inevitably such lists become outdated as some bars close whilst new ones open. 

The purpose of this post is to provide an up to date guide to the craft beer pubs/bars in Cardiff. I've decided not to rank them, or to limit the list to 10 because I believe it's important to try to present a holistic depiction of the thriving craft beer scene in Cardiff. 

In the last few years I've visited quite a few cities in the U.K. and Europe, as well as a couple in North America. I genuinely believe that Cardiff stands out as a high quality craft-beer destination. More needs to be done to promote Cardiff as a great destination for a city break, and the city’s flourishing craft beer scene could be a key element of its appeal. 

Before I start, one caveat:
I've not included bottle shops - although there are some great ones in Cardiff. The focus here is on bars and pubs.

Ok, here we go:

St Canna's Alehouse
A new and already popular venue in the emerging craft-beer hub of Canton. Cardiff's first micro-pub is an interesting and welcoming venue. A changing cask and keg menu offers a tremendous amount of variety, with beers changing weekly. Specialises in serving a wide range of beers from Welsh craft brewers, including but not limited to Pipes, Tiny Rebel, Tenby, Grey Tres, Lines, Well Drawn, Bluestone, Mumbles, Kingstone, Mad Dog and the list goes on! 

St Canna’s probably has the most friendly landlord in Cardiff (which is saying something). Also home to a resident pub dog, this is a charming and warm little pub. 

A brilliant little venue, with something different available on virtually every visit. Definitely worth seeking out.

Crafty Devil's Cellar
Another venue situated just west of the city centre in Canton, this is a must-visit venue for any craft beer fan. Originally conceived as a bottle shop with tasting bar, the venue has evolved to become more of a bar which also offers take-out options. This is a welcoming venue serving great locally brewed beer. Usually offering one or two guest options on tap as well as a diverse range of bottles and cans, this is a great venue to discover new beer. 

Crafty Devil's own offerings are always high quality - with stalwarts including Safe as Milk (stout), Mikey Rayer All Dayer (pale ale) and You Love Us (American IPA). 

Tiny Rebel
In many ways a pioneer. The first Welsh craft brewery tap in the city, originally named the Urban Taphouse. Based in an impressive red-brick building opposite the Principality Stadium, this is a key venue for any craft beer tour of Cardiff. The success of this bar has spawned a second venue in Tiny Rebel's home city of Newport, and a bar at their new brewery site in Rogerstone. The interior is stamped through with industrial  personality, with plenty of space. Deserves lots of credit as a pioneering Cardiff venue, doing a great deal to develop the craft beer market within the city. 

Constantly boasts a strong lineup of cask and keg offerings, including a number of guest beers. Tiny Rebel's beers are consistently of a very high standard, as exemplified by former champion beer of Britain Cwtch. 

Just up the road from Tiny Rebel, Brewdog scarcely needs an introduction. The Scottish craft brewers' Cardiff venue is just over 3 years old and is immensely popular. Attracting a diverse crowd, from hardcore craft beer fans, to curious first-timers, Brewdog has a broad appeal. 

Often hosting tap-takeovers and themed fests, the ever evolving beer-list is interesting and innovative. From uber-strong stouts, to power-hopped IPAs, from puckering sours to crisp lagers, Brewdog has something for everyone - including the more adventurous beer drinker!

Pipes Brewery
Pipes Brewery in the Pontcanna area of the city is a unique venue, holding monthly "bar open" events in their courtyard, with increasingly regular events held on Friday nights as well. Rotating an excellent range of house brews, ranging from rich stouts to refreshing lagers, this is a great place to try a variety of interesting and innovative local beers. Although not a permanent venue, the quality of Pipes' produce and the lively atmosphere of their "bar open" events earn the brewery a place on this list. Well worth a visit. 

Highlights include the crisp Bohemian Pilsner, the sour Pineapple Weisse and the tropical Californian Pale amongst many others. 

The Cambrian Tap
The brewery tap for the craft-arm of Cardiff brewing giant Brains. Some might sneer at this as "not a proper craft venue" but the beer is good and it's a welcoming little pub. Brains may be a "big brewery" but their roots are thoroughly local - indeed, the brewery has become synonymous with Cardiff. Located a stone's throw from the Westgate heart of the city centre craft beer scene, this venue deserves its place on this list. 

Offers a good choice of Brains Craft alongside a couple of guest ales from elsewhere in the UK. Go-to beers include the Barry Island IPA, Boilermaker (American IPA) and the Atlantic White Witbier. 

The Lansdowne
A fantastic community pub in the Canton area of the city, this venue is well worth a trip away from the centre of the city. An old pub which has been given a new lease of life by current owners, who recently took over the Grange in Grangetown as well. 

This place has a stripped back old fashioned charm. Serves fantastic food as well as great beer. Usually has Pipes and Crafty Devil - two local breweries - on tap, alongside a range of changing taps which include craft breweries from Wales and beyond. Lots of choice and variety. We need more community pubs like the Lansdowne. 

The City Arms
Award winning Brains pub which offers a far broader range from other brewers than most Brains outlets. A real Cardiff classic of a pub - my personal favourite on a match day - this is a Victorian pub which has retained much of its personality. 

A staple of the real ale scene in Cardiff for many years, the pub enjoys continued popularity with a broad clientele. Especially worth visiting on a match day. 

This is a real gem of craft beer bar in the heart of Cardiff. One of the more recent additions to the city centre craft scene, this bar has quickly become very popular. With 32 taps, you're guaranteed a wide choice , with the beer-board helpfully categorising beers into groups including Sour, Dark, Lager, Pale/IPA and the aptly named "crazy shit". 

There's something for everyone here, and the smaller sizes (one-thirds, half pints and schooners) encourage you to try a few different beers per visit. Usually has a good range of Welsh beers, alongside many great breweries from the other side of the border, most notably the excellent Left Handed Giant. 

Owned by the Hopcraft/Pixie Spring Brewery, this underground venue has a huge range of beer on tap, from Wales and across the UK. It's easy to see why this bar has won awards in recent years, as it really does have a comprehensive beer offering. Highlights include the range of offerings from Hopcraft and the excellent Waen brewery (which now brews at Hopcraft).

Set in the former Barfly club, the underground location of Hopbunker gives it a natural point of difference. It's a cracking venue, and this list wouldn't be complete without it. 

Chapter Arts Centre 
Another Canton venue with a good rotating offer of UK craft beers. Not explicitly a craft beer venue, and arguably a bit left behind by the strides made at other venues - including Crafty Devil and St Canna’s, which are basically over the road. A good venue nonetheless. Worth noting the modest but varied offering of bottle beers as well. 

Y Mochyn Du 
A legend of a pub with a distinct and proud Welsh-language identity. Currently serves great Welsh craft beer - frequently offering Gower, Pipes and Grey Trees. Soon to undergo a revamp under new owners... Time will tell whether it will thrive as a brewpub. Hopefully it will retain its strong Welsh-language character. 

A friendly and welcoming pub which is warm and cosy in winter, yet also well suited to summer with its excellent beer garden. 

Part of a chain of brewpubs, offering a range of beers brewed on site. Perhaps a bit less charm and character than some of the other craft beer venues in the city - although it boasts an elegant Grade II listed exterior - however, the beers here are good.

The Pen & Wig
Not a devoted craft beer pub, but always has something interesting available and deserves a mention for its monthly tap takeovers from brewers from Wales and beyond. 

This pub is well known as a “town and gown” pub, popular with both students and local office workers alike. It also boasts one of the best beer gardens in the centre of Cardiff, which is well worth a visit on a bright summer’s day! 

A unique city centre venue, with a distinctive vault-like feel. Again, not a devoted craft beer venue but always has a few available, including a good selection of bottled beer. Often offers beers from Glamorgan Brewing, which are excellent. 

An atmospheric venue, which also offers a range of live performances. Definitely worth paying a visit. 


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