Friday, 16 December 2011

The Castle, Barry

Castle, 44 Jewel Street, Barry, CF63 3NQ

The Castle is a large, imposing street-corner pub set in a residential area of Barry. Built in 1898 out of the local Jurassic limestone blocks with cream-coloured sandstone facings around the doors and windows, the Castle also features original etched glass windows with 'Bar', 'Commercial Room', 'Jug & Bottle' as well as 'Tea' and 'Coffee Room' on them.

When built, as the Castle Hotel, the building had 38 bedrooms, though these are unused nowadays. The original entrance to the bar on the corner is blocked up, today the entrance is from the Jewel Street side, via a large wooden black-painted door and an internal porch with the Brains' dragon on the glass, this leads into the former 'Commercial Room' or what today is known as the lounge.  

The lounge features a large white marble fireplace to one side and has ample seating with red-velvet style coverings together with old photographs of Barry and CAMRA Good Beer Guide posters on the walls, the latter celebrating the fact that the Castle has featured in the annual publication for 5 years. There are also plenty of books around the lounge, the Castle is a community pub and customers are able to borrow books from the collection. The lounge bar counter is made of dark wood and although not original, it probably dates back to a refurbishment in the 1960s. The bar back features a collection of drinking mugs hanging from the dark wooden gantry.

The ceiling features ornate plasterwork and cornices and in one corner there is a wooden staircase leading to an upstairs function room.
To the rear of the lounge is a smaller room, used for Sunday lunches that contains a cast-iron cooking range, this was probably the original kitchen of the Castle Hotel. A nearby corridor, ornately decorated with Victorian floor tiles leads to the snooker room and an outside walled courtyard which features a smoking shelter.
To the side of the ornate fireplace in the lounge is a small corridor that leads through the former 'Jug & Bottle' off-sales department to the public bar with its impressive wooden bar back, pool table and stairs down to the skittle alley.

The Castle is owned by Wales' largest cask ale brewery, SA Brain and the beer range is Bitter and SA together with a Brain's seasonal such as IPA. In addition there are three handpumps used for serving guest beers from breweries such as Brakspears, Shepherd Neame and Celt Experience. Cider from Weston's is also available.
Food is available on Sundays between 12-3, although booking is advisable.
The Castle is a former local CAMRA Pub of the Year and also features in the Real Heritage Pubs of Wales book for its relatively unspoilt interior.

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