Peep Show’s Superhans was particularly damning in his assessment of the current state of UK pubs.
“I’ve been down enough bloody city boy chain pubs with their logos in the foam and disinfectant in the lager and air freshner in the mayo. I want to run a place which makes a difference.”
He wasn’t far wrong.
Proper pubs can be some of the greatest places on earth, with the best atmosphere and the most weird and wonderful characters.
Yet pubs are an endangered species – according to CAMRA, 26 are lost every week – and in their stead now lie a string of cheap, cheerless, soulless chain bars.
If you want cheap Carling, plastic pint glasses, sticky brown tables covered in Cherry VK and the company of a rabble of half-cut 18-year-old pub golf wankers then you are spoilt for choice. If you want real pubs and a real pint, you’ve got to look a bit harder.
Here are three Cardiff pubs which are proper local material.
3) The Queens Vaults
Located on Westgate Street in the shadow of the Millennium Stadium, The Queens Vaults is predictably rammed on Rugby weekends.
But as well as being a main match day venue, it also prides itself on being “one of the last few real pubs in the city centre”. Five ales run regularly, including house favourite Double Dragon by Felinfoel brewery which sells at £2.30 a pint.
The Vaults has Sky and BT Sports, a games area and a lounge – which lends itself to a varied clientele. On a weekday it’s £1.49 a pint between 10am and 12.30pm – perfect for the hair of the dog.
2) The Heath
The Heath is almost like two pubs in one. There’s a traditional area with roaring fires and a food menu with proper pub grub.
On the other side is the bar area with Sky TV, a pool table and a dartboard which wouldn’t be out of place at the Lakeside or the Ally Pally.
The Whitchurch Road establishment has four regular ales with a guest each week. At £2.84 for a pint of SA Gold it could be cheaper, but this does mean it isn’t plagued with student riff-raff.
1) The Flora
The Flora’s twitter bio is fairly blunt: “If you want a decent pint and friendly staff, go somewhere else.”
Elsewhere they describe themselves as: “A traditional pub with a modern approach to life,” and this is probably a fairer assessment.
The Flora has a core clientele with the same faces – including the famous Cardiff City Tony – propping up the bar every time you go in.
With a pint of IPA for £1.99, a dartboard with recently upgraded darts, and all the football games, it’s the perfect place for a session.
Contrary to Twitter the staff are friendly, as are the locals who are happy to talk the hind legs off a donkey when you say hello to them out in the smoking area. A proper pub with proper people.