It’s us, not you, Brewdog Bristol

Always the last to any party, we finally made it to a Brewdog bar on our trip to Bristol.

Shiny, new, and in the ‘organic corporate’ style pioneered by sandwich-chain Pret a Manger, it certainly isn’t a pub.

The bar staff were, to a fault, helpful and cheerful. The advice they were giving when asked was sound, too, though unfortunately laced with bright-eyed, cult-like statements such as (paraphrased) ‘Brewdog were the first to have the guts to do something different’, etc.. If the decor reminded us of Pret, then the spiel reminded us of a Hare Krishna cafe.

Beer was priced as we expected, with our favourite Punk IPA at (if we remember rightly) £4.20 for two halves, and tasted just as delicious as it does from the bottle. 5AM Saint was… what’s that phrase? ‘Liquid cardboard’?

Around us were students who’d ordered ‘whatever lager you have’, drawn, we guess, by the coolness of the bar rather than the beer; middle-aged men who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Wenlock Arms; and parties of thirtysomethings not yet especially into beer apparently there for an experience. In case you were wondering, they’re the people who buy the super-strong beers in spirit measures at £6 a pop. From where we were sitting, they got their money’s worth, talking animatedly, swapping glasses, and finding much to marvel at: ‘It tastes just like sherry — I wouldn’t think it was beer if I didn’t know.’

It is certainly an interesting addition to the city’s beer scene and will thrive. We’ll no doubt pop in again if we’re passing (assuming we’re still welcome) but the fact is, there was no chemistry between us and this bar.

33 thoughts on “It’s us, not you, Brewdog Bristol”

  1. On the plus side it reminded you of of a Hare Krishna cafe not Jonestown. I’d still steer clear of the Kool Aid if anyone offers it though!

    1. No joking: we spent fifteen minutes getting ranted at by a man with mental health problems holding a crumpled Morrison’s carrier bag. He told us about how “Silver Servants” (civil servants?) were ethnically cleansing Cornwall, etc. etc.. Just like being in the Drum in Leyton.

  2. “middle-aged men who wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Wenlock Arms”

    Lol. Did they look as though they were enjoying themselves, or was it more the case that they’d just popped in for a moan?

    1. “Popped in for a moan” — brilliant. No, ticking, we thought. They had a table and looked pretty settled.

      1. Every time I’ve been in BD Camden there is always just such a contingent who certainly do also patronise the Wenlock Arms — though they might have moved to BD Shoreditch now as it’s nearer. And they always look perfectly content. It’s easy to overestimate the purchase that the sort of cask purism espoused by a minority of loud CAMRA activists has even on middle aged real ale drinkers. A very old friend of mine who prides himself on having visited every branch of JD Wetherspoon and who is now also his local CAMRA branch social sec has recently modified his ticking criteria to include unpasteurised craft keg and regularly pops in to the BD bars — I think his view is that if Thornbridge can do keg it must be OK. In the end what most of us are interested in is enjoying a pint of decent beer!

  3. Maybe its because I’m in their target age range, but I’ve always enjoyed the brewdog experience. Its always busy, there’s a good atmosphere, they tend to play decent music but not so loud you have to speak up, the lighting is dimmed but not so dull you can’t play the board games, there are plenty of hipsters to snigger at, and the beer is fantastic – and at under £4 a pint, no more expensive than a pint of lager in the pub next door.

  4. “has recently modified his ticking criteria”

    Hold it right there Des. Tickers are always looking for new things to tick. They are not as other people. Not in a bad way necessarily, just not as other people.

    1. Boak and I both have ticking tendencies. We are currently ticking the South West Coast Path and won’t be able to stop until we’ve done all 600 miles and can draw a red line all the way round that section of the Ordnance Survey Map.

      Of course the important bit is drawing the line. The walking’s just a chore we need to do to get there.

      Need help.

  5. I am fortunate enough not to live near a BD bar, so I do not have to make the active decision to avoid it. BD do not offer cask beer, so however good their offerings are, not giving me the choice of cask is bad IMO.
    I treat them the same as Watneys in the 70s (even allowing for the vast difference in their products).
    CAMRA = choice. I am proud to be a member

  6. I’m looking forward to a cheeky visit tonight and else when over the weekend. I know Johnny the manager, who’s a friendly chap and theres usually someone around I can natter to. Plus the potential for remaining magic rock from last night

  7. I like the place as somewhere a bit different all adding to the gaiety of Bristol, especially the light and the large windows – agree the staff couldn’t be more friendly and helpful. Oddly enough my drinking experience last Saturday was the reverse, enjoyed the 5am, but the punk did nothing for me except an attack of craft hiccups cured only by a bottle of Kernel pale ale.

    My one criticism of the place though is the accoustics, I guess due to the stripped stone walls effect, oh for some wall paper or something so that permanent shouting over the music and other shouting is not the standard.

    1. I’ve been to the new Craft bar in Brixton a couple of times now and I have the exact same problem with the noise there. Exposed brick walls, wooden floors, no fabric of any kind to dampen noise. They don’t even play loud music, it’s just the cacophony of voices that just gets louder and louder. I’ve decided to stay away on Friday and Saturday nights as I find myself not enjoying the (excellent) beer.

      1. Eee, and you can’t make head or tail of the lyrics either, not like in our day. And don’t ask us whether the singer’s a lad or a lass with all that hair! Grumble…

        1. That’s what comes of listening to music written after the fall of Napoleon , all downhill from there, nice bit of a Hadyn on the wax phonograph and all’s well with the world.

          Going back to Maxwell. in BD-Bristol, the music wasn’t particularly loud, las you say of Craft Brixton, it was more the growing cacophony of voices as it got busier, though last Saturday wasn’t too horrendous, I should think though that when it’s filled to the gills hearing yourself think would become near impossible.

          1. Cue the ‘your so old, you did your printing apprenticeship on the Gutenberg bible’ gag!

            The noise feels like when Michael Caine is getting brainwashed in The Ipcress File.

  8. Frankly I wouldn’t piss on a BD bar if it was on fire.
    I loath the company and I lothe their over-priced swill that’s a triumph of marketing over brewing.
    They are the Stella of craft beer.

  9. It boggles the mind that there are still places in the country that greet the arrival of a Brewdog “bar” with anything other than deepest embarrassment and a little nausea.

  10. ‘Brewdog were the first to have the guts to do something different’

    funny this, whatever else they may be, Brewdog are hardly original.

    their general style borrows heavily from Stone, Flying Dog and Dogfish Head (even the Dog isn’t original).

    the personality cult of the brewer as marketing angle is straight Sam Calagione.

    the blurb on a Punk IPA bottle is remarkable similar to Stone’s Arrogant Bastard (Stone: ‘it is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth’, Brewdog: ‘It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate the depth, quality and character of this premium craft beer’ – maybe it’s plagiarism as homage, perhaps that’s what they mean by post-modern pale ale?)

    A core range of Pale Ale and Red Ale would hardly surprise the average American brewpub punter.

    Barrel aged high ABV collaborations? ….yawn.

    Perhaps they should say that nobody had the guts to mimic American brewing trends and present them to the British public as original?

    Comprehensively repudiating your native tradition by abandoning cask shows something, but not sure I’d call it guts. For me Dark Star showed a better way to incorporate an American influence into British brewing – Hophead and APA really were ground breaking beers.

    1. Stone’s Arrogant Bastard (Stone: ‘it is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth’, Brewdog: ‘It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to appreciate the depth, quality and character of this premium craft beer’

      Now that‘s worth a post of its own, O multiply-identitied one.

  11. BrewDog – the Marmite of the British brewing scene?

    If they’re acting as an introduction for the non-geeky to the idea of beer not just being lager, bitter and Guinness, then I’m in favour. Remember, people, beer bloggers and those who comment on beer blogs are NOT the average pub goer, not even, probably, the average BrewDog customer. Here we’ve all heard of Stone, Dogfish Head and the rest. Most people in a BrewDog bar, I suggest, have not. But after they’ve drunk BrewDog, they’re more likely to try something more adventurous next time. In which case – hurrah for BrewDog.

    1. Or is is just like drinking Guinness in an Irish theme bar? Will it, for example, make drinkers more likely to choose London Pride over JS Extra Smooth in their local pub?

  12. I went in Brewdog Camden last week and was not impressed. I thought it was just the sort of thing that a group such as Scientology would do if they ever open a craft beer bar.

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