‘Have you ever been to the Discount Supermarket in Cardiff?’
When people in Cardiff find out I’m a beery type of person, this is usually their first question. That and have I been to ‘x’ pub. It was variously referred to as ‘an Aladdin’s cave’, ‘beer porn’ and ‘where I’m holing up when the Zombie Apocalypse happens’. Visiting It had been on my endless ‘To Do’ list to since I heard of it at the start of the year, and when Sue Hayward from the Waen Brewery raved about it at the Brewer’s event at Fire Island over a month ago, it jumped up my list. Even then, other things kept getting in the way, until finally I received an email from the Discount Supermarket practically berating me for not going.
The Discount Supermarket doesn’t sound like a beer treasure trove, which is perhaps why many of the regulars also refer to it as ‘The Magic Beer Shop’. It started off as a corner shop, selling bread and milk and tinnies of Breaker, until the early 1990s when the owner, Mo Rafiq, laid out a few Badger Ales and bottles of Fuller’s. Bear in mind this was a time before they could be found on every supermarket shelf. It still is a convenience store, with half of the shop selling groceries, but the shelf that once sold Bishop’s Finger and Golden Glory has now taken over almost half of the shop.
This expansion has been guided by Ali Rafiq, one of the Mo’s sons, who now exclusively manages the real ale, craft beer and cider part of the shop. The email had been sent by him, and he’s keen to grow both the stock and reputation of the shop. It helps that he has a keen eye for what drinkers want, ranging from classic Anchor and Sam Smith’s beers to very of-the-moment Beavertown, Weird Beard and Salopian beers. There are some pretty gutsy choices filling the shelves, too; I fell in love with Brodie’s Sours from the first sip, but a lot of people I know can’t cope with it, and the Welsh can be notoriously sweet-toothed at times. If it is payday and you want to treat yourself, there are lavish options such as bottles of Marble Earl Grey IPA priced at nearly £10. Or, if you just want a couple of good quality but low-priced midweek beers, there are deals like three bottles of Brains Craft for £5.
The shelves are carved up into various sections based on region: Wales, England and Scotland, the US, Belgium, Germany, and then the rest of the world. There’s hardly any space wasted, but Ali already has his eyes set on relegating the sparkling wines to the back of the shop to make way for more beer. If you’re a CAMRA member, Ali is also going to be bringing in discounts.
I suspect I’m the last person in South Wales to go to the Discount Superstore/Magic Beer Shop, so many people reading this are probably tutting at me. If, however, you haven’t been, then don’t make my mistake of putting it off. Trust me, when someone asks you ‘Have you ever been to the Discount Supermarket in Cardiff?’ you don’t want to be the guy that keeps saying ‘no’.
97-99 Whitchurch Road
Cardiff CF14 3JP
Open 8am to 10pm Mon-Sun