Had a thoroughly enjoyable time last weekend with Silk and his good lady Kate, who it's very lovely to see back together again after a recent period of dithering. We'd been planning, originally, to go to the Bristol Beer Festival, but unfortunately the tickets sold out in record time months ago. The centrepiece of the weekend was therefore a linear pub crawl from North Bristol back to our house, starting at about 1pm and finishing at 10:30pm because we wanted to get chips on the way home.
Present: self, B., Silk, Kate, my friend Anthony and Kate's friend Vaughn. Ants was with us until 7ish, when he had to return home to Petersfield and his wife and daughter. Vaughn joined us in a pub or two. B.'s stamina failed her at about 8:30 (well, she's been working hard recently), and she took a bus home.
Itinerary of pubs visited:
1. The Hare on the Hill. Very pleasant small pub owned by Bath Ales, whose available varieties we sampled all of between us. I had the S.P.A. Bath are my favourite local brewers' since Smiles went tits-up (of which more anon), and The Hare is one of their four pubs in Bristol, all of which are excellent. They do very nice crisps, too.
2. Micawber's Ale House. A solid traditional pub with some good real ales and musical tastes running oddly to 70s disco. I had a pint of Brains S.A., I think, although at this point I still hadn't had lunch and was getting a bit light-headed. We therefore repaired to...
3. Zerodegrees. Local branch of a chain of two microbreweries-cum-nightclubs (apparently a third is opening in Reading sometime soon), which I've had cause to mention here before. This was included largely for the excellent pizzas, of which we had several. On the beer front I drank the black lager, which is always Mmmmm, and the overly sweet mango beer, which I wasn't nearly drunk enough to enjoy.
4. A diversion to the recently-reopened Smiles Brewery Tap, which was deeply disappointing. Smiles closed down last year and has been bought out by Highgate, who don't seem on the evidence we sampled to be brewing the beers to anything like the same standard. (It's also no longer brewed on the premises, making the pub's name a bit of a misnomer.) They sold us chocolate, though.
5. The Bank. We'd never been here before, but it stood in at the last minute for The Three Sugar Loaves, which was unexpectedly closed. I can't remember what I had to drink -- whatever the guest ale was, I assume, but things were becoming pleasantly fuzzy by this stage. We played dominoes, and listened to Guns'n'Roses singing "Live and Let Die" on the juke box.
6. The Cornubia. One of the major highlights of Bristol's real ale scene. The Cornubia always has half a dozen different real ales on tap, and half of them are generally very obscure. I have no idea what I drank here, but it was bloody good. We ran into some loud refugees from the Beer Festival, and a random Doctor Who author was working behind the bar. Ants left and Vaughn joined us, after a certain amount of getting lost.
7. The Shakespeare. One of no fewer than four pubs of that name in Bristol. (B. and I used to go to pub quizzes at The Shakespeare when we lived nearby, and we occasionally met up for lunch at the daringly-named Ye Shakespeare when we both worked in town. I hadn't heard of The Shakespeare until just now, though.[Edit 31/2/6: No, I'm wrong -- we went there when we went to Glasnost one time. I hadn't realised that was what it was called, but under the circumstances I should probably have expected it. Anyway...]) The one in Prince Street has a banner outside boasting of its real ales, and does indeed do some very nice ones. Reconstructing my probable state of mind at the time, I imagine I had the Greene King I.P.A., but I can't swear to it. I remember crisps, though. Vaughn and B. both left us after this one. Personally I was impressed that any of us had lasted this long.
8. The Coronation. One of our two locals, in the sense that it's within reasonable walking distance of us and we go there sometimes. (They do a free cheeseboard on a Sunday.) Owned by Hop Back, and selling a fine selection of their splendid beers. Again, I forget what I had -- possibly the Odyssey. Distressingly, though, they'd stopped doing food.
9. The Tobacco Factory. Our other kind-of-local, and our last stop before the chip shop. They sell Bristol Beer Factory beers, which are very tasty. I drank the Red, which for some reasons isn't listed on the website, but is my favourite of their beers.
By this point I was feeling extremely hungry, so we bought chips and pasties, came home and watched as many episodes of series one of Look Around You as we could before we fell over.
We followed this up on Sunday with a relatively tame trip to The Boston Tea Party and Bristol City Museum.