The barman holds the glass to catch the last precious drop of Poseidon’s Tears from the keg font. The 18% Black IPA has been pumped in from the van Klomp Brouwerij in Belgium, along three hundred miles of pipeline to the Rapture bar just beneath Cardiff’s waters. Every inch of that pipe has been stuffed with fresh hops, making it the world’s longest hop rocket. At £340 per half it may be expensive but the packed out drinking establishment is testament to how far Cardiff’s first underwater bar has come since it opened on 1 June, 2013.
My initial meeting with Andrew Ryan, the bar’s founder and creator, was a chance encounter and so too was the last. The normally dynamic individual, often seen charging around to attend to the minutiae of every business matter, was strangely thoughtful as he looked out from the thick glass window of his bar across the seascape of the Bay.
Any normal man might have been worried at the sight of construction going on just over the way, but Ryan merely smiled and stroked his moustache. “I thought it would take them longer,” he announced to me from across the bar. “The parasites have come to feast on what the Great Man has built.”
I looked around for a convenient excuse to leave. Ryan’s self-aggrandising speeches had a tendency to go on for a bit, or end abruptly when they were about to become interesting. At £340 per half pint though I was in no rush to abandon my glass of Poseidon’s Tears, and it was really was exquisite, so I stayed.
“Brain’s are building their Aqua Nova pub right over there. They can see me, and still they have the audacity to call it the Bay’s first underwater pub. They’re all flocking in now. Punch Taverns are opening the Punch Bowl; they claim that will be a self-contained dome! Wetherspoons are making a fleet of Wethersubmarines! Others will follow.”
“You seem rather pleased by all of this, Mr Ryan. I thought you came to the bottom of the sea to escape the, er…”
“The parasites, and the beer bloggers, and the regulations!” he whirled on me, foam flecked around his lips. “I did, and I’ll do it again. Their bar won’t be open until Summer 2015,” Ryan jabbed a finger at the distant construction crew of the Aqua Nova, “and by then I’ll have a chain of moon pubs!”
“And where will you go when Brain’s copy that? Or JD Wethermoon’s, perhaps?”
Andrew Ryan’s eyes glazed over in shock; this was the first time I’d ever known him to be stunned into silence. Just outside the window, an underwater construction worker was jumping over a shark. Whether it was that or the prospect of being followed into space that had silenced Ryan, I wasn’t sure; either way, I used the rare opportunity to down my drink and leave.