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.
5 thoughts on “BRISTOL’S KING STREET”
The Old Duke on King St. is a particular favourite of mine, not particularly for the beer, but for the music and the general all round good craic. It’s defo on my all time top ten. I used to like the Arnolfini refectory, back in the day when it was a refectory with eponymous tables, they had some decent ales on then (mid 80’s). I’m not sure about the Courage, I lived in Bedminster (Windmill Hill) for a while and there was a Courage pub on East street. For a twenty something northern lad, warm flat, lifeless, insipid ale, poured straight from the cask on a gantry behind the bar was just a step too far. I went in the pub recently, no ale direct from the cask, in fact no real ale and it was sadly full of jakeys. Whenever I’ve been tempted since, thankfully not often because we don’t tolerate it around these parts, I have been similarly uninspired with Courage. I will always love Brizzle though and return frequently.
Bet Windmill Hill looks different now !
Courage was a good beer 20 years ago when, like e.g. Youngs, volumes were much higher and it wasn’t served warm.
Reckless Engineer was my music pub of choice in Brizzle.
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Windmill Hill didn’t look too different RM. The Windmill pub was the same, just a bit more hipsterised than the end of street local I remember. I tried finding the house I lived in on Cotswold Rd, only thing is they have been gentrified and painted all different amazing colours like the houses in Hotwells and they were no mucky grey houses left!. We looked, but couldn’t find the Rising Sun which was the other local we used. I don’t reckon we were far off, but we settled for a pint in the Windmill.
You can find Bass served from the cask in the Myrtle Tree, just around the corner from my place, the Bag.
I did remember
but too late to pop in after I’d visited the Bag.