“The Circus-Circus is what the whole hep world would be doing on a Saturday night if the Nazis had won the War.” Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson
On Saturday 8 August, the Cardiff Bierkeller opened its doors to a city that was hosting the Wales vs Ireland rugby match. I hope God had mercy on the souls of those poor barstaff. They were no doubt already reeling from the soft launch night on Friday, where I had a look at their set up along with approximately 1,000 other corporate guests.
The Bierkeller itself is a straightforward concept – a long bar serving German beers (mainly Erdinger, Warsteiner and Kaltenberg) while people sit – or dance at their own risk – on benches and trestle tables to the iconic music of an oompah band. However, the Bierkeller is more of a multiplex of sin than a single entity – imagine a large nightclub that is divided into three rooms – there’s the ‘Bierkeller’ itself, ‘Around the World’, a standard-looking bar room with many* international favourite beers and a tank of Krusovice, and ‘Shooters’, which has something to do with sports and such. *Across all three rooms they boast 160 different bottles and 88 draught lines.
Once you’re inside you can move freely between each of the three venues, carrying your drink as you please, at least up until the place hits full capacity. At any point, a single room, particularly the Bierkeller, can hit full capacity and go into lockdown. So what – you have oompah bands, steins of beer, a bench to dance on – what more could a person want? Well, the toilet, maybe?
The toilets are in the adjoining corridor outside the three venues, so if the place is busy you could find yourself locked out after going for a piss and having to queue to get back in. This happened throughout Friday night.
The thing is, the organisers are doing the right thing. No one wants Cardiff to be remembered for “that great beer hall disaster where hundreds burned to death” because of lax fire regulations. Still, it’s damn annoying to have to queue to get back to your pint and friends.
On the topic of queues, I had forgotten how long it takes to get served in a nightclub. The queue at the Bierkeller was constantly three deep. The flipside to all this however is that if you go when it’s quiet the place would have no atmosphere. I mean come on, oompah band. Am I right? The band, Die Heidelberger Boys, play on Friday and Saturday from 9pm if you’re hoping to catch them.
I asked my German associate what he thought of the Bierkeller. He said it was “tacky but fun”. That’s high praise indeed from the same German who sends intra-office emails correcting native English speakers on their grammar and who considers the British to be so generally incompetent he’s astonished we won both world wars.
The Bierkeller is a bizarre British interpretation of German fun – organised dancing (at your own risk!), massive amounts of beer and cheesy oompah bands, but it’s a guilty-pleasure sort of fun. At any rate, located beneath the Millenium Stadium, with waitresses in flouncy dresses, the multiplex of sin is going to do very well in Cardiff. Willkommen in Cardiff, Bierkeller.
Full disclosure: As part of my free entry I received a welcoming glass of prosecco and a stein of German beer. That prosecco did me in something fierce.
Now for some shit photography. The Bierkeller’s official photographs should be available soon and I’m sure they’ll look lovely considering how the photographer arranged people into perfect positions like a glum Tetris-wizard.