Monday, 1 October 2012

The Andrew Buchan, Albany Road, Cardiff

It is not often you find a new bar just serving drinks. The trend seems to be for new pubs to look more like restaurants than traditional “locals”. The opening of The Andrew Buchan last month (Sept 2012) therefore bucked the trend.

This real ale bar is the first Rhymney Brewery pub to open in Cardiff. Rhymney Beers are on draught (Rhymney Bitter, Rhymney Dark, Hobby Horse, Rhymney Export, Bevan’s Bitter). Ciders, wine and other drinks are available, but food is pretty much limited to packets of peanuts.
Alcohol licences have become harder to obtain in this area. In their Premises Licence application (to convert the old Choices Video Store), Rhymney Brewery stressed that the bar would not be aimed at young people and that there would be no loud music. They stated that there would be no alcopops and no pool table, just good beer and good conversation; recreating a good old-fashioned “local”.

Their stated target audience is the over 50s. This appears to be based on the age of clientele in three of their existing bars: The Winchester in Merthyr Tydfil, The Prince of Wales in Aberdare, and the bar at their new brewery and visitor centre in Blaenafon. However, among the objections submitted against the application (mainly concerning drink-related anti-social behaviour in the area), one questioned the likelihood of the over 50s being the customer base on the Albany Road. 
I must admit, as a member of their target audience (just), this was my sort of bar. The beer is good and the welcome genuine. Children and U21s are discouraged. The lack of clattering cutlery (and not waiting while someone makes a complicated food order before you can get a pint) is a pleasant change.

Will The Andrew Buchan become a good old-fashioned “local”? In many respects the signs look good. However, the large TV screens showing Sky news and, presumably, sports, do not correspond with my memories of good old-fashioned locals; they are certainly not conducive to good conversation, and the place risks becoming a sports bar. Call me old-fashioned, but I think a rack of newspapers and some well-chosen background music provides for a more relaxing drinking experience.
Of course, to be a good old-fashioned local you need to have locals and also I believe be a focus for some community activity (such as a village pub has a darts or soccer team). It will be interesting to revisit The Andrew Buchan in the years to come to see how well it’s carving out such a niche.

The Andrew Buchan, 29 Albany Road, Cardiff CF24 3LH
See also:
A walk along Albany Road:

The Andrew Buchan is named after the founder of the original Rhymney Brewery in Merthyr Tydfil in 1839. By the 1850s, it was the biggest brewery in Wales. Andrew Buchan died in 1870, aged 77.
Rhymney Brewery:


  1. I will be visiting the Andrew Buchan soon and wish it well.

    We need more real bars like this.

    Owen Jones

  2. I drink here, it's a good bar and the beer is very reasonable, especially during happy hour.

  3. My partner and his father are Andrew Buchan's. We will be visiting this pub at some point :D