BEER DUTY - the blog


It's Bristol Beer Week, so we planned a Gyle 59 'works outing' up to Bristol at the weekend to see what the buzz was all about. And what an amazingly positive, inclusive and joyous event it proved to be.

Our first stop was The Three Tuns in St George's Road.

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This pub belongs to Arbor and serves up some very fine beers indeed. Not only were we happy to be in this welcoming pub, but we also ran into the remarkable Justin from Moor Beer which made things even better. Having only met Justin a few hours earlier in Taunton at the SIBA Regional Meeting, this came as a bit of a surprise! We then met Justin from Liberty Beer (yes two Justins to increase the coincidence level),  his partner Clare, and were later joined by Justin's wife Maryann. A quick trip to the bar to refresh our glasses and we had been joined by Bruce from Big Beer Distribution and his father Duncan.

The Three Tuns is a great pub and the conversation was flowing just as well as the beer but Amanda and I were hungry and so left the party to eat and then join them later at the Bag of Nails, just around the corner. We had a very welcome (and good) curry at the Ahmed's Masala Cafe and went to join the others at the Bag of Nails. The pub was heaving with people and we couldn't see our companions so we decided to wander off to visit some more of the venues supporting the Bristol Beer Week. We found our way to King Street in search of The Beer Emporium and The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer.

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We found The Volley and went inside. There was live music and a well stocked bar including a "Tap Takeover" by the Summer Wine brewery. As we scanned the rooms looking for somewhere to sit, I spotted Bruce and Duncan sat on comfy looking sofas sited nice and close to the bar. So, the rest of the evening was set, we settled down first testing out Summer Wine's Barista Stout and then working through a variety of other beers in comfort and with good company. Before we knew it, it was past midnight and a long day had started to catch up with us.  We said our farewells and headed back to our hotel for a few hours sleep.

A late start in the morning found us at No.1 Harbourside enjoying a very much needed brunch whilst sat outside enjoying the beautiful weather and overlooking the harbour. Revitalised, we headed back to the Bag of Nails for an early lunchtime beer.

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The friendly and knowledgeable landlord Luke, was frantically clearing up after the previous evening's revelry, but happily stopped to serve and chat to two young women and ourselves who had just entered his pub. This pub had a "Tap Takeover" by the New Bristol Brewery and the brews we tried were good (great pump clips too!). Luke's idiosyncratic and relaxed boozer was an enjoyable place to be and I can understand why the pub was packed on the previous Saturday night.

We left the Bag of Nails and headed back to King Street to investigate The Beer Emporium. It wasn't hard to find, what with it being a next door neighbour of the Volley.

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The bar is situated in the vaults of the building and has an impressive array of cask and keg beers. The staff were really friendly and after a quick half or two we got chatting to Dean, the Bar Manager who explained their involvement in Bristol Beer Week and how the pub/restaurant was keen to present a wide range of beers irrespective of the means of delivery. Again we were finding a fabulous 'can do' attitude which seems to pervade Bristol like a refreshing breeze.

Our last visit of the weekend was to a pub called the Barley Mow.

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This pub was staging a cask v. keg experiment where customers could have a sample of the same beer served up in both formats to compare. The pub is owned by the Bristol Beer Factory but has a free rein to stock a variety of other breweries beers so there were a wide range to beers to compare. There was a blackboard on which customers could record their verdicts and looking at what had happened so far and it seemed that the jury was still firmly out on people's preference. We found out that the pub had a pretty varied demographic as clientele so the final results should be interesting. However, we we're very diplomatically told that it seems that the younger the drinker the more open minded their verdict. Not surprising really. My personal conclusion from the tasting is that there are simply some recipes or styles of beer that fare better with one method of delivery over the other (allowing, of course, for some variation in personal taste too).

We both regretted having to head back to retrieve our car and motor back to Devon, but felt that we had experienced something quite special and that many great opportunities lay ahead for  both us, as brewers, and the enthusiastic  and energetic people who are involved in Bristol's growing beer trade.

The final coincidence of the weekend was meeting Duncan yet again when we were strolling back along the river to our car. I could understand bumping into someone three times over a weekend in our small home town of Colyton, but in Bristol?