Beer Cities: Bristol

Bristol city guide

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Every city in the UK is known for its own unique qualities. When I think of Liverpool, it’s The Beatles, scousers, Royal Albert Dock and Merseyside. Manchester is Oasis, Factory Records, Canal Street, red brick factories and socialism. Bristol, for me, is Massive Attack, Banksy, drum & bass and trip hop, street art, St Pauls Carnival and a celebration of independence. It was the first city to have a directly elected Mayor outside of London. In 1831, the Queens Square riots fought against the Reform Bill to ensure a fair representation in parliament. We even ran to our own time, ten minutes behind London, up until 1841, only changing to GMT after the Great Western Railway Link was opened. 

Broadly speaking, Bristol is a left leaning city. We were the first UK city to be awarded the European Green Capital in 2015. After the EU Referendum and subsequently the Conservative win in 2019, many Bristolians started conversations of becoming an independent state. We have our own currency, the Bristol Pound, now Bristol Pay. When a Tesco opened in Stokes Croft, a large mural appeared above reminding people to “Shop Local”. Bristol’s history and culture is what makes it a city that fosters independence and makes a supportive home for small businesses.

Each area of the city has its own identity. Despite their differences, each area is quintessentially Bristol, and that’s how I see the breweries here. Bristol is the thread that ties them but each has carved its own niche and caters to different tastes. Within the borders of Bristol there are almost twenty breweries, all producing really good beer, but each has developed its own flavour profiles and brands that set them apart from each other. 

Lost and Grounded produces, in my biased opinion, some of the best lagers in the UK. LHG has set a precedent with its branding and has opened one of the most breathtaking brewpubs in the UK. Arbor’s Shangri-la is a Bristol staple. Good Chemistry pioneered the East Bristol Brewery Trail, connecting breweries in East Bristol over summer bank holidays. Every September, Dawkins releases Easton Promise, brewed with hops grown by residents in Easton. 

I could write endlessly about the breweries’ beers and successes, but in reality small businesses cannot survive without the backing of locals. In Bristol, community is ingrained in the culture. This expands beyond customers to the breweries themselves. I have never felt as though there was competition between breweries, beyond the friendly type, only community and support. 


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