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. Does drink­ing in a Brew­Dog bar make an aver­age pub­go­er more like­ly to try some­thing dif­fer­ent on hand pump?

    2. 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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