Background: Originally a two-roomed backstreet pub with a lounge and public bar (and one of the main locations in Malcolm Pryce's Louie Knight books), this watering-hole has had two makeovers in the last 15 years which have all but removed the original soul of the place, including the lovely old Victorian bar. Now it’s laminate floored, chocolate coloured sofa lounge-bar thing, specializing in being the last pub in Aber to close each
Student factor: The late-licence means that you get a bigger mixture of peoples these days compared to 10 years back, including some of the more well-known soaks from a particularly well-regarded Uni department who try to nick your drink when you aren't looking and pour it into their own.
Atmosphere: Holds quite a good atmosphere late, but the new incarnation is still finding its feet during the daytime as the more clinical interior finish means that it can no longer feel busy with just half-a-dozen people in.
Drinks range: The ale range varies; there's usually a couple of unusual ones (Hop Back has been sighted previously) on in
TV/Music: In a victory for APG, the 'trendy' song lyrics have been removed from the walls and the jukebox no longer has the shame of having Robbie Williams' scribblings stationed above it. There used to be live music on a Friday in the form of local bands of builders who thought they were a cross between Stereophonics and Status Quo, not sure if this still happens post-refurb.
Other stuff: The biggest new thing here is the award of a late (very late) licence - currently, the Castle is allowed to serve drinks until 2am between Sundays and Thursdays and until 3am on Fridays and Saturdays, and has a licence covering live or recorded music till 1am any night of the week (yes, I've clearly copied that from the Council's Licensing website). They're now actively pushing the hotel aspect of the place, check out their sparkly new website,
Otherwise, there's an active dart board and pool table and also apparently food is now available. Look out for the lethal metal pole in the middle of the pub (see bottom), you’re not a proper student drinker in Aber until you’ve walked into it by accident whilst blotto. Oh and the toilets have finally been done-up - there's now even Dyson Airblades, how very metropolitan.
Quinno’s verdict: Clearly now trading on the late licence to make it profitable, the place seems to be finding its feet and I'm happy to have been proved wrong when I previously stated that "I'm not sure it can survive much longer if the hotel aspect doesn't work out". It's a worthwhile trudge from the Ship & Castle to finish off your evening with a few games of arrows. Louie Knight might be horrified by the new look though.
* - interesting in that I don't drink much lager....