For a place with so much craft beer (craft by anyone’s definition) Bristol has a superb collection of traditional boozers.  I rarely see the city mentioned in the same league as Norwich or Sheffield, which is odd.

Being picky, the Beer Guide pubs can seem dominated by students, and I’ve had the odd bit of average beer in places with far too many handpumps.

Those aren’t criticisms I can make of the Bag of Nails, a pub that has changed more in beer range than in character since I enjoyed a Bass here in 1993 (Bristol City 1 v Grimsby 0, not a classic).

Nice beer basin

The beer range covers a wide span of styles, strengths and geography. Seeing at least one other bloke drinking the darkest beer, I picked the Bristol Milk Stout (NBSS 4). A great frothy pint, and almost served in a nonic.

Plenty of cask and cider being drunk in a proper pub atmosphere, though most of the conversation seemed to revolve around quiz questions on the Beverley Hillbillies. Low-volume music from local Indie bands like the Beatles.

It’s a crowded bar front, reminding me a bit of Glasgow’s wonderful Pot Still, but that doesn’t have a clowder of cats on the bar.


The pub is famous for its cats, which were being stroked by seemingly everyone not playing Trivial Pursuit or writing pub blogs. I can even forgive the folk sitting at the bar, given that’s were the cats were.

There’s a (probably short-lived) craze for cat cafes in big cities, where you pay to hire a table at which you stroke rescued cats. Far better cat-cuddle value at the Bag o’Nails.

5 thoughts on “TOP 100 PUBS – THE BAG OF NAILS, BRISTOL

  1. Beer and cats – a winning combination. Interesting Keg marketing on the back bar taps!

    Not sure about your definition of ‘almost’, though – the glass in your photo *is* a Nonic (no-nick) so called because the bulge stops the rims clinking together and ‘nicking’.


  2. Love the description of the keg 😉

    Beer range rather weighted towards the stronger end, although the prices are reasonable for the South. Not a lot for the ordinary bitter lover.

    Good to see the cats neatly arranged in boxes.


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