beer reviews

Brilliant Beer on a Boat in Bristol

A pint of Bristol Beer Factory ale aboard the Grain Barge

The Grain Barge is the brewery tap of the Bristol Beer Factory. First key fact: it’s a pub on a boat, bobbing about just across the harbour from the SS Great Britain. Second key fact: the beer is bloody marvellous.

The bitter is thirst-quenchingly good (brown, but certainly not boring) while the Red is a little sweeter and maltier. Sunrise is a wonderfully fresh golden ale. All three are dry but also full-bodied, and reminded us strongly of JW Lees beers. Do they both use sugar in the brewing process? Could it be that? We’re trying to get our heads round this issue more generally at the moment.

There were also two stouts on offer. The cask version (simply called ‘Stout’) is smoky and coffee like. The much lauded Milk Stout, only available in bottles, is quite different — sweet, smooth and chocolatey, with a beautiful pale brown head.

This is exactly the kind of place we wish we’d thought to open.

10 replies on “Brilliant Beer on a Boat in Bristol”

Exhibition is pretty good and some of the one-off beers have been very enjoyable. Their attempt at a rauchbier “Old Smokey” was the best British example I have tasted.

The Barge itself is well-placed for a pub crawl including the Bag O’Nails, Cottage (Butcombe owned nowadays) and Orchard (near the SS Great Britain and reigning CAMRA national cider pub of the year).

Glad you enjoyed your time on the Barge. No added sugar! Chris, Head Brewer, Britsol Beer Factory.

Chris — thanks for dropping by. Any chance you could tell us a bit more about your recipes/brewing process?

Bailey – The Barge is a great spot in summer when you’re having a couple of sundowners. Our other pub is the Barley Mow, behind Temple Meads station. It really is the sort of pub that you wished you had at the end of your road. Things are going well at the brewery…production up 20% on last year and waiting for delivey of new FVs. Our beers: RED, 3.8%, we try and get as much malt flavour into the beer as poss and include crystal rye malt in the grist. #7, 4.2%, our best bitter; pilgrim hops for bitterness and flavour, fuggles for aroma. SUNRISE, 4.4%, a sundowner pint!…caramalt gives it a dry, biscuity base on which the hops really shine; pioneer for bitterness and flavour and pioneer/goldings for aroma. EXHIBITION, 5.2%, very easy-drinking for its strength. Lots of malt flavours in there..Maris Otter, crystal and chocolate. BRISTOL STOUT, 4.0%, is doing well for us since we launched it earlier this year. Big roast malt character, mouthfeel filled out with the addition of flaked oats. MILK STOUT….err…the beer where we do add sugar! Again, roast malt all the way, this time kept in check with the addition of lactose at the end of the boil. Cheers, Chris.

Chris — thanks for all that. Helpful for us as amateur brewers, as much as anything else. We’ll definitely check out the the Barley Mow on our next trip to Bristol (and maybe blag a visit to to the brewery……?).

Bailey – Yep, no probs. Let me know when you’re in town next and I’ll show you around the brewery.

[…] The Waterfront, a few metres further along the quayside, was a pleasant surprise. From outside, it looked like a chain tapas bar but, inside we found attractive arched brick ceilings, friendly bar staff and regulars, and several ales in absolutely excellent condition. It’s the first time we’ve had O’Hanlon’s Yellow Hammer in a state where we could appreciate the subtle spiciness. ‘Fraidnot (4%) by the Exeter Brewery was the highlight of the trip — a golden ale with the kind of lip-smacking, doughy, bready malt flavour we associate with JW Lees Bitter and Bristol Beer Factory beers. […]

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