Real ale bar The Andrew Buchan opens on Albany Road

September 4, 2012 41 Comments »

The man behind Cardiff’s only real ale bar has moved to reassure those who had objected to its opening.

Steve Evans, managing director of Blaenavon-based Rhymney Brewery, said the company’s new bar on Albany Road in Roath, is a place where customers can “chat in comfort without fear of hoodies or trouble”.

Cardiff council’s licensing committee last month granted an alcohol licence for the Andrew Buchan, in the former Choices video store, despite objectors claiming it would have a detrimental impact on neighbouring businesses and residents. The new bar opened it’s doors for the first time on Monday.

Mr Evans said: “This is for real ale drinkers and older people who go to bed early and get up at 6am.

“It feels like noon to them by the time we’re open and, after doing their shopping, they just want somewhere to meet their mates and have a few beers and a chat in comfort without fear of hoodies or trouble.”

The bar, which is named after the first manager of Rhymney Brewery back in 1839, has undergone a £125,000 transformation and now has the feel of the traditional alehouses of the 1950s and 1960s.

Mr Evans added: “These days food pubs aren’t interested in you if you just want a drink – but we’ll never offer food.

“This is not a place for drunks – just somewhere you can get away from the hubbub of life and the Greek budget deficit.

“A place for real people to enjoy real ale and real conversation.”

Check out RoathCardiff’s review of the Andrew Buchan’s opening night.

Have you been to the Andrew Buchan? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  1. Givemefuel September 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    "The man behind Cardiff’s only real ale bar" – I'm sure I was drinking in the City Arms, Queens Vaults and other real ale pubs in the Cardiff long before this opened, though it's great to see that new real ale pubs are opening not closing due to the price of a pint now a days. Keep up the good work and open a few more!!

  2. Kyle September 9, 2012 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    This is probably the worst pub I have ever been in, no atmosphere cheaply decorated is an understatement.

  3. Jason September 10, 2012 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    It's terrible. It really is hard to understand how they have managed, from scratch, to create something so tacky and lacking in class. I like the real ale concept but they have failed miserably. They will get punters because they are next to a bookies and a cash generator, which despite the comments above seems to be the target market, especially considering the framed football shirts on the walls. Actually, while I think of it, the decor makes it look like a bookies.
    It is also horribly lit. The light is so bright that you feel you are in a terrible airport lounge, if the Valleys had an airport during the tough times of the 60s and all they had to fit it out was furniture from a recently closed working mens club.
    The Albany or the Pear Tree won't exactly be shaking in their boots.

  4. Tom September 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm - Reply

    I have never posted a review before, but I feel I need to do this in the hope that someone from the Rhymney brewery will read it and take note, as it is not too late to make a few changes.

    The Beer is Great, and the staff very pleasant, but I have to agree with other comments. The bar is cheaply decorated, reminiscent of a bookies, and the the main lights are permanently on, bright is an understatement. It is the only pub I have ever been in to which has an electronic sliding door ( probably left from choices video) and mirrored ceiling tiles ( also probably left from choices video), which combines with the lighting create a really tacky feel . I have never been into a bar that is so lacking in atmosphere. I am a huge real ale fan, and I live only 200 metres from the pub but I doubt I will go back . It is a real shame, as this was a real opportunity to do something good in Roath. All the owners had to do, at the very least , was have a pint in; The pear Tree, Juno Lounge and The Albany, and create something using the best bits. I really hope that the owners will take note of the comments posted here, and make a few changes, or I feel that it will simply become another haunt for all day drinkers.

    • Tim September 12, 2012 at 2:18 pm - Reply

      Surely isnt it all about the beer!, i have been through most of the range of beers offered there and they really were all fantastic, keep up the good work [brewing great beer!].

    • steve September 13, 2012 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Thanks for your comments, although somewhat dissapointing. We here at rhymney brewery are not rich enough to afford interior designers, we simply try to do our best, with available funds to hand. I am sure that disabled customers do not share your view of the entrance door. To compare us with junos and the albany hotel is like comparing chalk with cheese, we do not lead or sell food. one of the other complaints from another poster, is that the furniture looks as if it has come from a workingmens club, had we been lucky enough to have located such used furniture we would have definetly bought it, unfortunately we didnt so we bought new. we are very proud of our cultural roots, and dont pretend to be posh!.

  5. alfie September 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm - Reply

    The beer is really good! the staff are always smiling and chatty but the way it is decorated is tacky i walked past today and noticed that they is hanging backets been put up it looks so much better looking more like a bar from the outside now

  6. steve September 13, 2012 at 12:51 am - Reply

    well . i think you have got it wrong TOM you are obviously set in your ways and dont appreciate a new venture, this is a relaxing bar with lots of atmosphere, you dont get people on there phones,all you can hear is normal people talking amongst themselves which is a good thing, the staff are really pleasant and are very for looking like a bookies which bookies do you use where you can get a pint? i love this place and give it time it will be the best around the roath area.

    • tom2 September 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Steve,

      Different Tom here but I have to agree with my homonym….

      on the plus side I agree that the beers are good and that the staff is very friendly.

      however, a good pub should be cosy and this is the very opposite…being less exposed to the street, having less white on the walls, and changing the horribly bright lightning would be a good start to improve things…

      I hope that you will take on board the criticism and make it more cosy

  7. sarah September 13, 2012 at 12:53 am - Reply

    just left the andrew buchan, brilliant pleasant evening. warm friendly and lighting just right. will be in there again sat night. good luck to all at andrew buchan,

  8. tony September 13, 2012 at 12:54 am - Reply

    love the ale choices at the andrew buchan

  9. Chris Henton September 13, 2012 at 11:11 am - Reply

    Why is the Andrew Buchan constantly being described as Cardiff's only real ale bar? Every Brains house and Wetherspoons pub sells real ale!

  10. andrew September 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm - Reply

    yes chris but this is good ale.

  11. Faye September 13, 2012 at 8:41 pm - Reply

    I think what they mean by that is they don't sell any keg beers or smooth rubbish beer. Just been in there and there are 8 ales and 1 real cider on the bar. The staff are friendly, the beer is great and the toilets are clean! I'll definitely be going back!

  12. Eric September 13, 2012 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    The beer in the Andrew Buchan is awesome, but not as good as the moose head, I was waiting for basil fawlty to come and serve me! Jason, how can you say they failed the real ale concept? There were 6 different ales on in there today, that's more than spoons or any brains pub I've ever been in! I'll be back Saturday to try the Dark!

  13. tom2 September 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm - Reply

    good beer but horrible horrible bright lightning and white walls…indeed feels like being in a shop/airport lounge….Will come back for the beers if atmosphere improves but at the moment it's as "uncosy" as possible

  14. Dee September 14, 2012 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    I was really looking forward to this place opening, but it is a big disappointment. Above all, as others have said, the lighting is just awful, and the décor is generally pretty dispiriting. The beer was indeed good, but I actually rushed to finish my drink and leave the place; I'm not looking for another Juno Lounge, or anything ‘posh’, but this was the least comfortable bar/pub I remember visiting.
    I can appreciate the challenges of transforming a shop into a bar, but I really hope that the Rhymney Brewery will consider making some changes to make the place a bit more pleasant, as there is potential here. Sadly the comment from Steve above suggests that the brewery is not open to acting on constructive criticism. Shame.

  15. Norman September 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm - Reply

    I am glad to see that I am not the only one to have made the effort to comment on the absolutely appalling decor and lighting in this new establishment. It has all the atmosphere of a 1970s bus station waiting room. Have the owners ever seen the TV programme Cowboy Builders? The excuse that the brewery couldnt afford interior designers shows a distinct lack of forethought and false economy. Bits of paper sellotaped to the wall pointing to the ladies loo is just laughable.
    Above all their delightful ale is CHILLED!!!! yes you read it right ICE COLD like lager!! They certainly didnt win awards serving ale this way!
    When I asked for my ale to be served flat ie without that annoying diffuser she had to be told what to do, it was served with froth pouring down the sides, dripping everywhere. Yuk.
    Other pubs sell Rhymney cheaper and better than tthis.
    This nightmare of a place is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons. Never again.

  16. Chris September 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm - Reply

    Can i just reply to all the bad comments, My good friend Tracy Shaw is the Manager at this Pub, I run my own pub in wotton under edge in Gloucester and have been down a few times and its always busy when i go there …the ale they serve is amazing! …a very good pint indeed! …this is a new opening to the area …you should all give it a chance, the fire is always on and the lights are always dimmed when i have been there …as for the comment for it looking like a bookies please explain to me where you can fine a bookies with an open fire and people drinking pints of ale? …there is always a good atmosphere when i have been in the pub! …can i also add the staff work hard to give you all a good visit! …if i lived closer id make it my local!

  17. MARTIN September 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm - Reply

    well norman and tom.. i want to say a few things to you both.. the andrew buchan does not need your business there are a lot of people who have gone in there and enjoyed it me in particular,i have been in there when the lights are down the fire is blazing and you can hear yourself talk. as for serving the ale do,, i dread to think what you have drank as for better ales and cheaper… I DONT THINK SO. too many people are all to quick to criticise,give them time let them move in, when i went in the manager was asking what i thought of it and if there would be anything i would change. we had a nice discussion and like she pointed out you cant please everyone. the staff work really hard in that place and make you feel very welcome the manager is always open for criticism about the bar and open for suggestions. i have noticed more pictures going up and as for the signs isnt it better to know where the toilets are rather than walking all round the bar..stop moaning if you dont like it GO ELSEWHERE.

  18. david September 17, 2012 at 7:44 pm - Reply

    Andrew buchan bar ..cheapest in town. brilliant

  19. james September 17, 2012 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    norman. you obviously dont drink real ale you should always have a nice head on it, you are like the others out there who have lemonade with it. you said never again,,, GOOD

  20. sophie September 19, 2012 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    went to the ale bar saturday night, very pleasant.nice choice of ales.toilets are clean, lovely hard working family run bar. good luck to you all.

  21. Jamie September 24, 2012 at 12:33 am - Reply

    Just been in the AB for the first time. Great pint & selection of beers, though some a bit cold. Here's some ideas from three of the AB's target market: A pub not serving food is presumably not trying to challenge The Pear Tree etc, so no need to spend big, but it could do with a few cheap tweaks to make it feel less like a shop; curtains would soften the massive windows, try music instead of repetitive Sky Sports News, low lighting, proper doors (if anyone sits within a few metres of the door they open every 20 seconds … winter will break this pub!), some plants … and definitely less of the bleach smell please. Clean the place after I've gone home please.
    Good luck to the AB.

  22. Eric Evans September 29, 2012 at 9:42 am - Reply

    I agree with Jamie, Ive been in there a few times and it could do with the curtains and plants, if only to add a bit of colour. I love the beer though and called in their pub in Pontypridd the other day, same colours, same lighting but what a place! Ive never seen so many characters in one pub in my life, at one point they burst into song! A proper pub, with a bit of luck the AB will be like that soon!

  23. Chris 2 October 2, 2012 at 1:44 am - Reply

    I have yet to visit the Andrew Buchan. I have been to the other Rhymney pubs. The Winchester has the air of a bookies mixed with country pub. Then there's the fish bowl in aberdare. Without a doubt the best decorated, traditional meets contemporary. And as for the wonky bar. It has all the look of a 1970s fairground funhouse but bags of atmosphere. These quirky little bars have strange personalities but all share an amazing selling point. The best real ales around. Beware the export though its not for the feint hearted.. looking forward to popping into the AB for 1 or 2

  24. gareth October 2, 2012 at 7:07 pm - Reply

    In the andrew buchan today i asked if we could close the door as it was cold was told because of customer complaints of door opening and closing they had to leave it open. Sorry to say i drank my pint and left if i wanted to be cold i would of sat in a beer garden.

  25. SIAN October 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm - Reply

    this place is a nightmare, cold, horrible colours,door had to be left open,not good when its cold. manager did shut it though,staff seem to fighting with higher management. have the owners run pubs before you wouldnt think so. i even asked to turn the tvs down and even off after a while as got sick of sky news. do the tvs really need to be in there i would rather the jukebox. i personally dont think this will last very long. no atmosphere, sorry A,B.

  26. george October 12, 2012 at 11:18 am - Reply

    They've been advertising for a new manager, so they're already on the ropes. As someone who has worked in the higher echelons of the pub management game, I cannot for the life of me see where this pub's direction is? Real Ale – fair enough, but who doesn't sell it these days as it's the only commodity in a pub with an increase in sales (+30%). The bar is made of a light coloured wood which look more like a leisure centre's reception desk. The fridge for the bottles is neatly tucked under the counter on the wrong side, so patrons cannot see in it. There's a reason they are called "Display Fridges".
    Having managed 200 units around the UK, I cannot see this venture working. No pub can work with a good weekend trade and a crap mid-week trade (which I was told by the staff), eventually they cancel each other out and the pub cannot make profit any longer. Selling your own beer is not a new concept, but even Brains manage to sell "other" people's beers. They seem to only sell their own ales, which albeit good is not really a selection to come back more than a few times for.
    The footfall in Albany Road is huge yet the pub sits empty for most of the day. What this pub needs is someone ambitious, passionate, who's not afraid to make changes and stand up to management – then, this pub might end up in the right direction. If not, this won't last as long as Choices Video store did.

  27. Darryl October 15, 2012 at 1:14 am - Reply

    went here for the first time on saturday,was greated by a lovely young girl very good service skills made me feel very welcome,what i didnt like was when it was getting busy the so called manager just sat there and watched her serve didnt even get up and help…WHAT A MANAGER! Nice ale shame about the price on carlsberg bit steep if u ask me,no atmosphere at all personally think if they dont pull there finger out and get someone that has amazing ieas for this place i personally dont think its going to work,as nice as the ale is and the lovely member of staff i wont be going back there anytime soon…Even if it is £2 a pint!!

  28. Ches November 4, 2012 at 12:52 am - Reply

    I can't believe it – discovered the Andrew Buchan tonight — real ales and real people, great atmosphere, friendly … even a glowing fire…. and just a few streets away from me!

  29. NEAL November 6, 2012 at 9:58 am - Reply

    well i have been a regular in this place from day 1. i would just like to say to the owners of this place a few things,,,firstly where is tracy and amanda, i have run pubs myself and noticed when i first went in there that the staff all pulled together even the MANAGER tracy pulled pints they two were very friendly and always had a smile. the manager now whos been there few weeks sat and watched as the staff struggled with customers,please get someone in who knows what they are doing. apparently he cant even change a barrel. i know longer go in this place as its a joke. and from what people were saying friday night they too are already looking for new place to drink. when i go into a bar i like to have a chat with few people i know, i dont expect the manager to join my table and butt in on my conversation as if hes an old friend. DO SOMETHING CONSTRUCTIVE WITH THIS PLACE,

    • Daryyl November 14, 2012 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      i totally agree with you here neal on everything you say,Get Tracy and Amanda back i say!!!!

  30. sion November 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm - Reply

    OMG never going to andrew buchan again, what a disasterous place, me and my friends went in there on saturday night. we had a bad ale glasses were dirty and ive had better time in beiruit.

  31. malcolm November 16, 2012 at 8:39 am - Reply

    andrew buchan.. please get a decent manager who knows what they are doing. wheres the original staff and manager who were there when it opened. we miss them and personally i dont think this will last. we are getting a petition up to bring back tracy and amanda and will post it on this site. them two gave the place a lift. this place is a disaster waiting to happen,..DO SOMETHING WITH THIS AIRPORT LOOK ALIKE BAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. MIKE November 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    i totally agree with you, tracy and amanda always worked hard,not many managers pull pints,keep the fire going and make people feel welcome. put your petition on i will be the first to sign it. this place is going places though its called DOWNHILL.

  33. clive December 10, 2012 at 12:28 pm - Reply

    Close this awful place..bring back the video store.

  34. @wpo1408 December 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm - Reply

    I haven't been to the Andrew Buchan yet, but I have heard good things about the beer. and I am looking forward fo visiting it soon.

  35. Bennings March 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm - Reply

    Went to this bar for the first time tonight, and to be honest, I've no idea what some of these reviews are on about… The staff are some of friendliest I've known and the real ale is kept and served at a good temperature. And at £2.45 pint is of excellent value. The atmosphere is of a new bar, nicely decorated and quite minimalist but a very pleasant experience; lights are not too bright by any means and the open log fire by the door is very welcoming. Worth a visit by any real ale enthusiast or anyone looking for a nice place to drink. 5*.

  36. AleTaster March 21, 2013 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    I agree with the last comment – this bar is a real gem!

    Its become my local since discovering it 2 months ago & I've even converted my partner!!!

    Great ales, unrivalled in Cardiff! Lovely and relaxing. Some great locals to talk to! Some great live music too!

    This is now the best REAL PUB for miles around! Just go into other local pubs in the area and see how empty and lacking in atmoshpere they are!

    The Andrew Buchan Bar on the other hand is going from strength to strength … your friendly little place on the high street!

    Congrats to all the friendly staff for making this a home from home! Keep up the good work!

  37. Rolling Stone April 3, 2013 at 2:17 am - Reply

    My mates told me to check out the live music at the Buchan bar on Albany road last Sunday ,,,well what a surprise!!! Great night…. I'll be back! A best kept secret it seems… good luck guys!

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