A Surprising New Local

Our neighbourhood has a new place to drink, and a new type of place to drink at that: a specialist bottle shop with bonus beer on tap.

Bot­tles & Books opened as a shop only at about the same time we moved to Bris­tol last sum­mer. Com­bin­ing beer with com­ic books it nev­er quite seemed right, with not quite enough room to look at any­thing com­fort­ably, or to fit more than two brows­ing cus­tomers at once. A month or so ago, though, it moved into the emp­ty shop unit next door, to great effect.

Bot­tled and canned beers are clear­ly organ­ised and laid out with plen­ty of space to browse. The hippest of hop­py beers are refrig­er­at­ed while most oth­er styles are on open shelves for now – per­haps not per­fect by 2018 stan­dards, but a marked improve­ment on anoth­er near­by beer shop which keeps many of its beers on dis­play in a hot win­dow.

It’s an indie shop so costs a lit­tle more than the super­mar­ket, but not out­ra­geous­ly so, and the range is cer­tain­ly more excit­ing.

Keg taps.

The draft set­up is neat and dis­creet – a hand­ful of taps on the wall behind the counter with a small menu chalked on a board. The selec­tion tends towards the strong, intense and trendy – Ver­dant and the like. They are served in mea­sures of one-third and two-thirds and there are tables in the win­dow and (for now) on the pave­ment out­side.

We’ve popped in a cou­ple of times now and found it sur­pris­ing­ly busy. On anoth­er occa­sion, walk­ing home from work, we looked across the road and saw it heav­ing. So there is clear­ly pent-up demand for the craft beer expe­ri­ence out here in the sub­urbs.

The own­ers of the local microp­ub, The Drap­ers Arms, seem san­guine about what might look like com­pe­ti­tion because, actu­al­ly, there is almost no over­lap: Bot­tles & Books is about keg and pack­aged beers, The Drap­ers cask only; the for­mer is focused on for­eign beer and High Craft, while the lat­ter tends towards the tra­di­tion­al.

From our point of view, it looks like the con­vin­cer to get peo­ple on the bus and out to Hor­field where there are now the mak­ings of a decent afternoon’s crawl with enough vari­ety and qual­i­ty for any­one.

Bot­tles & Books is at 354–356 Glouces­ter Road, Bris­tol BS7 8TP, and is open six days a week, 12–9pm. It cur­rent­ly clos­es on Sun­day but there are plans to open sev­en days a week down the line.

4 thoughts on “A Surprising New Local”

  1. Not sur­pris­ing to see this kind of thing spread­ing – with­out the comics they’ve been local­ly com­mon for a few years in places like the mar­ket towns of Cheshire and Hert­ford­shire. Obvi­ous­ly a bit more mid­dle class than the Herne micros – but not that much more so.

    I’ve seen sev­er­al that have start­ed off going heavy on bot­tles but most (not all) have cut down to mebbe 3–4 fridges/shelf units of bot­tles, and gone much heav­ier on draught – 3–6 keg lines and option­al­ly 2–3 cask lines if there’s a sig­nif­i­cant “codger” mar­ket.

    What fas­ci­nates me is the gen­der mix in these kinds of places, which is very dif­fer­ent to the Herne micros, par­tic­u­lar­ly if they’re sen­si­ble enough to lay on a rea­son­able fizz and decent selec­tion of gins.

    I guess the only con­cern if you’re going down the bar + shop­ping route (qv Record Café etc) is that you’ve got to be good at three things – busi­ness, bar and comics/records/books – rather than just two.

    1. Great line .…”…and option­al­ly 2–3 cask lines if there’s a sig­nif­i­cant “codger” mar­ket.” 🙂 !

      I think that this type of venue is a fan­tas­tic devel­op­ment!

      As usu­al in craft beer terms, we are sev­er­al years behind the USA in this approach, where bot­tle shops and super­mar­kets have been rou­tine­ly adding craft tap walls for a while.

      This type of drink­ing-cafe cul­ture has been curi­ous­ly absent from the UK up until now.…

  2. we drove past it last year but the fam­i­ly wouldn’t spare me half an hour to inves­ti­gate. Comics and beer seems a nat­ur­al mix. Maybe they could be per­suad­ed to sell some cheese and I’d prob­a­bly nev­er leave

  3. Can you have your two-thirds in a pint pot and top it up with anoth­er third of the same beer? 🙂

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