City guide: Bristol
The best bars, breweries and cultural hotpots for the discerning beer lover
Saturday 29 September 2018
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Bristol is one of our favourite beer cities, and one of our favourite UK destinations in general, with great beer, great food, a lively music scene and a host of other cultural attractions to cater for all tastes. Here's our round-up of the best...
Pubs and bars
31 King St, BS1 4DZ
Small Bar might look small when you first walk in, but it has a TARDIS sort of vibe. After every corner you turn there seems to be more seating, and they manage to fit in over 30 taps at the bar, so, it’s pretty obvious that their name is not an indication of their size - instead, it’s of the size of the independent breweries they showcase. The rustic stripped wood decor offers a cosy environment in which to sample a selection of beer from all over the world so vast that it would make even the most discerning craft beer hipster excited. Small Bar also serves up some of the best fried chicken in the city courtesy of Wing’s Diner, which makes it the perfect evening spot; you’ll never want to leave.
53 Colston St, BS1 5BA
Set in an old tram shed on Colston Street, in the heart of the city centre, lies one of the coolest bars in Bristol. It has its own microbrewery with visible steel tanks, in which they brew an eclectic mix of traditional and modern beers, such as a mango fruit beer, a dark lager, a rye IPA, and Belgian Witbier. They also have three balconies (THREE!), so it’s perfect for a pint in the sun, and they have a range of pizzas which they make on the premises in their pizza oven too much on.
The Beer Emporium
15 King St, BS1 4EF
The Beer Emporium is almost a mecca for beer drinkers. In their underground cellar bar you’ll find an ever-changing selection on tap, and the bar boasts 24 beer lines plus a huge selection of bottles (literally hundreds). They stock beers from all over the world, but they pay special attention to local breweries, with a great showcase of the finest brews that the south west has to offer.
Hotwell Rd, BS8 4RU
Yes, as its name suggests, this is a pub on a barge (of which Bristol has several). Headed up by the guys at Bristol Beer Factory, this quirky spot is perfect for a relaxed evening with friends. It offers local, seasonal produce to eat, and beers from all around the West Country, with beautiful views over the harbour and towards the iconic SS Great Britain. Grab a pint and get settlewd on their terrace for a slightly different way of spending an afternoon day-drinking.
Wiper and True
2-8 York St, St Werburghs, BS2 9XT
These Bristolians are infamous for their experimental beers and iconic label designs. Their Kaleidoscope pale ale (the one with the gold elephant on the label) is practically a national treasure - its three hops change with the seasons, so you’ll never drink the same beer twice. Their taproom is a popular haunt for beer lovers, who recommend heading there on a Saturday afternoon for brewery tours and street food, or on a Friday evening for post-work drinks and to sample some of their brewery-exclusive tank beers. They’re nomadic brewers with inventive styles, and they even roast their own malts and experiment with different types of barrel ageing, so it’s a pretty exciting brewery to visit.
Lost and Grounded
91 Whitby Rd, BS4 4AR
Focusing on their love for European brewing styles, Lost and Grounded specialise in German and Belgian beers, and have some of the most gorgeous labels in the business. They have a state of the art brewing kit and a pretty sizeable taproom, and are located right by the River Avon just outside of the city centre. The taproom is open on Fridays, so pop for a glass of something tasty, and to stock up on bottles to drink at home.
Days Rd, BS2 0QS
Moor specialise in what they call ‘modern real ale’ - beer with world influences and an American twist, thanks to the brewery’s Californian owner. Their taproom is open Wednesday-Sunday, and they have 10 taps from which to sample some of their CAMRA approved and award-winning beers. They also do brewery tours on a Saturday which come highly rated by locals and tourists alike.
Left Handed Giant
8-9, Wadehurst Industrial Park, St Philips Rd, BS2 0JE
Renowned for their tasty, contemporary beers and their eccentric can labels, Left Handed Giant are situated just a short walk from Bristol Temple Meads train station, and they open their taproom on Friday evenings. There, you can choose from 6 kegged beers to drink in or take away in a growler, or pick something exciting from their substantial can selection.
8, The General, Lower Guinea St, BS1 6FU
This Michelin-starred family-run British restaurant has been voted one of the best in the UK. They offer a tasting menu of creative seasonal dishes, served cosy modern surroundings. It is a very exclusive dining experience, with less than 10 tables, and the restaurant has an open plan kitchen so you can watch the chefs hard at work. It’s on the pricier end of the scale, but well worth it!
277 North St, BS3 1JP
Souk Kitchen serve up very reasonably priced Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, including a fantastic range of mezze dishes as well as brunch, lunch and main meal options. Head to either of their two locations - one on North Street and one in Clifton - for lively, vibrant food in lively, vibrant surroundings.
Wild Beer Co at Wapping Wharf
6-8, Gaol Ferry Steps, BS1 6WE
This establishment could easily have been included in our list of bars. However, as well as being purveyors of some of the best wild fermented, sour and barrel aged beers around, the food at their Wapping Wharf bar is also pretty remarkable. They offer a ‘beer brunch’ on Saturdays and Sundays, which pairs Wild Beer Co beers with twists to classics such as Wild Beer rarebit, and Wafflafels (falafel waffles). Also on the menu is an assortment of outstanding seafood, and beer-infused delights such as stout-braised pork (pulled or ribs) or beer-brined chicken, as well as a great selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes.
Flour & Ash
203B Cheltenham Rd, BS6 5QX
Flour & Ash is a pizza and ice cream joint serving award-winning sourdough pizzas with a premium spin on classic toppings (e.g. ox cheek and red wine ragu on a white base - drool!). The menu changes daily depending on what local produce is available, and they also have a great selection of local beers and amazing wines to accompany the delicious food. Insider tip: to save some pennies, head along before 6:30pm - you can get any pizza for £9!
What to do in Bristol
Clifton Suspension Bridge
Bridge Rd, BS8 3PA
This world-famous bridge joins the Clifton area of Bristol up with Leigh Woods in North Somerset. The non-profit Trust that takes care of the bridge offers free guided tours and run a visitor centre, but if you’re feeling lazy you can grab a pint and sit on the terrace of the White Lion pub and enjoy the panoramic views of the bridge, its towers, the Avon, and the rolling hills of Somerset.
Bristol is renowned the world over for its street art, not only because of elusive graffiti artist Banksy - it’s also home to Europe’s biggest street art festival, Upfest. There are several street art walking tours in operation across the city, and there’s even an app which will help you follow the trail of Banksy artworks. However, it’s difficult to have a wander around Bristol (especially in Bedminster) and not see a unique piece of street art, so if you follow your feet you’ll find something exciting around pretty much every corner.
Hot air balloon ride
As well as being home to Europe’s “largest annual meeting of hot air balloons”, there are also several companies which offer hot air balloon rides above the city. What better way to see Somerset’s landmarks and enjoy the gorgeous scenery? Take off from Ashton Court and float above the South West in a one-of-a-kind sightseeing experience.
Oakfield Pl, BS8 2BJ
Nestled within the streets of Clifton, this open-air heated Victorian swimming pool opened in the mid 1800s. It was originally a community swimming bath, and was reopened around 10 years ago as an exclusive ‘urban retreat’, consisting of a pool, spa and restaurant. Book early to avoid disappointment - both the glass-fronted restaurant and the serene pool are very popular with locals, since it’s such a unique way of spending the afternoon!
Siobhan runs the British Beer Girl blog (http://britishbeergirl.wordpress.com) and can be found on Instagram and Twitter at @britishbeergirl
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