It was recently reported by the BBC that pub numbers in the UK have risen for the first time in a decade. It’s surely no coincidence that a) it was ten years ago that I left; b) I spent twelve weeks there in 2019 – double any other year since leaving.
Anyone reading my post comparing UK to North American beers after I was there for six weeks in the summer might wonder why I wanted to drink more given some of the things said.
The second six weeks wasn’t expected, and was lengthened to spend a landmark birthday with family. Likewise surprise was the far improved beer on offer during.
So-much-so, it was definitely this six weeks that led to me boozing new life into the British pub, landlords country-wide having paid great heed to my incessant wisdom given on the subject during 2019’s first visit.
Unfortunately, while I.P.A. is my cup of tea when not drinking tea, and plenty of phenomenally juicy and beautifully plump ones were drunk, they were perhaps a little too much so to the point of not remembering their names too well . . .
So, the incredible ales I do remember and the places where I drunk the ones I don’t:
First: The Seven Stars, Bristol
I’ve been frequenting this pub for twenty years now thanks in no small part to its being right next to the Fleece venue, even remembering when bands would be fed in there pre-gig; Raging Speedhorn just one lot I found scoffing when arriving early for plenty of pre-gig beer.
These days, well, last visit at least, the menu consisted of a big pot of chilli on the bar; something only adding to the true old English pub feel of the place rarely, if ever, found these days.
Despite being tucked out the way, this pub deserves a visit in its own right, regardless of who might be playing next door, such is the charm and atmosphere it never fails to deliver on.
On this occasion I was there to see Japanese Heavy Rock legends Boris, an experience that was phenomenal and certainly helped by the beer drunk in the Seven Stars beforehand.
An incredibly flavourful I.P.A. by the name of Wolf Quad from Loddon Brewery of Oxfordshire. So good, didn’t even get to any of the other goodies on offer!
When recently listing the Fleece as one of my top three favourite venues, it was precisely the presence of the Seven Stars next door that got it there.
It was in Weston-super-Mare that things started to get a bit hazy
The Brit Bar always managed to have at least one juicy I.P.A. on the go amongst its selection of craft ales. Take this here pic I nicked off their Facebook page as example:
Low Rider is an extremely easy drinker from The Bristol Beer Factory; a brewery with an incredible range of flavoursome beers (have tried a few—know due to the distinctive pump clips—and have loved everyone).
That’s as far as memory goes when it comes to I.P.A.s, though not great beer.
New Bristol Brewery‘s Figgy Stardust was a joy to behold – beerlicious!
A ruby porter that amongst other things contains brandy soaked figs, dates and raisins, giving it the taste of a Christmas cake only better.
Its listing as vegan friendly might prove controversial with some vegan, even vegetarian, types given the nature of figs (speaking as one of the latter, I’m good); but there can be no argument about the fantastic flavour.
I also found it in The Black Cat, a micro pub literally opposite The Brit.
There were plenty of juicy now elusive I.P.A.s to be had there. Pictured below one I do remember, but only because I saw this pic (again nicked from Facebook) before going back over and really wanted to try it, only to find it had sold out well before I got there (thanks brain, you’re really quite the joy on the happy memories front!).
In addition to a great selection of cask ales the Black Cat has a cooler for sours, the Marmite of beers.
My fav of the three on offer, Magic Rock Brewing’s Salty Kiss.
A gooseberry gose, there’s definitely something to be said for the gose style when it comes to sours; while the salt gave some serious intent to its sharpness.
Though somewhat different in flavour to my top beer—a guava gose—it was just as way too easily drinkable!
Perhaps the biggest disappointment during the first trip of 2019, the milk stouts; but—wow!—is that a distant memory now thanks to Ghost Town by Twisted Oak Brewery.
A micro from Wrington, North Somerset, so small the only image I can find online to whet the appetite is this one from Jason H here on Untappd.
Described in the Black Cat as: ‘Smooth, dark and robust. Hints of burned chocolate, toast and coffee. Made with vanilla pods, too’ I also found something slightly orangey in the mix.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn the burned chocolate in question was that round stuff made by Terry.
Whereas last time I was bemoaning the minty-peaness of a certain mint chocolate stout, this wasn’t simply good, it’s curated so well it’s easily up there with the best milk stouts this side of the Pond to the point of being better.
An incredible job and phenomenal example of why micro breweries are essential if we really want fantastic tasting beer.
Other posts relating to beer:
It would be remiss to suggest people visit Weston-super-Mare for the great ale pubs without the relevant health warning:
Thanks for reading 🙂
N. P. Ryan.