Bristol is certainly in my Top 10 pub towns, just ahead of Sheffield but behind Ramsgate. I particularly like the spread of Beer Guide pubs across the city, though the outer eastern suburbs are a bit disappointing.
I may be very lucky, but I’ve always found the pubs pleasingly busy, and if that’s often due to students then that’s OK. I reckon beer ranges are a bit ambitious, but quality is always decent enough, and the pubs themselves often gems. The walks to get to them are only surpassed in Newcastle.
Mrs RM used to work for a Bristol company (no, not Banksy Inc) and I always enjoyed the stretch of historic pubs along Victoria Street from Temple Meads, including the Courage tap house at the Cornubia.
The area around the harbour increasingly seems the centre of the night-time economy, with the big chain pubs, big eateries like Zsa Zsa Bazaar and live music.
Although Bristol’s best pubs are evenly spread, historic King Street seemed like the busiest street on a summery evening.
It’s a gorgeous cobbled lane, full of listed buildings. Ideal for stag groups to form human pyramids then (I hope that’s what they were doing).
The street has a dozen places offering the full range of modern pub experiences, including the ancient Llandoger Trow (a Brewer’s Fayre !), new King St Brew House, a Bavarian Beer House and specialist beer houses.
We seem to be running out of unique names for the latter category, and the potential for inebriated pub visitors to tick the wrong pub is rising by the year.
Last year I ran out of time to visit Small Bar, partly because it was so crowded I’d never have got served before the last train to Swindon.
From a scarily complicated beer board, distinguishing between the keg and cask was more a question of looking at prices than the tiny writing above the strengths.
Hardknott‘s beers always impress, which isn’t something I can always say about the many micros around Bristol. The Infrared drank it’s 6.5% strength, and I can’t blame Dave for the ambitious pricing.
I wasn’t impressed with neighbouring cellar bar Beer Emporium last summer, but if you want my custom you either have to be very good, very bad, or serve Bass. I was keen to see if I’d caught B.E. on a bad day.
The staff were better this time, but the Gyle 59 Saison (I never learn) was again uninspiring. As with Small Bar, I could see the appeal of the place for a relaxed evening drinking with friends. I may give it one more chance when I return in August.
It’s a sad, sad situation when you can’t get Bass (or Courage) in any of Bristol’s Beer Guide pubs. Luckily the Bass in the Rising Sun is worth the 9 miles walk to Frampton Cotterell to imbibe.