Supplementing the 2020 Good Beer Guide: some Bristol tips

Supplementary selection.

It’s new CAMRA Good Beer Guide season and across the land can be heard the familiar cries of “I can’t believe X is/isn’t in!”

Most peo­ple who are into beer know that the Good Beer Guide is not the be all and end all – it doesn’t claim to be.

It’s an assess­ment on the qual­i­ty and con­sis­ten­cy of cask beer, so pubs with­out cask beer will not get in, no mat­ter how stun­ning the keg selec­tion.

Selec­tion process­es vary from dis­trict to dis­trict, as we under­stand it, but the Bris­tol branch has clear­ly doc­u­ment­ed process­es which seem to be about as thor­ough and demo­c­ra­t­ic as is pos­si­ble to be, but obvi­ous­ly will still favour pubs that are pop­u­lar with active CAMRA mem­bers.

We’re not real­ly socia­ble enough to con­tribute to this sort of thing so of course we don’t get to com­plain if we don’t like the entries. And actu­al­ly, in Bris­tol, there isn’t much to grum­ble about from our per­spec­tive.

(Unlike in Pen­zance where to our eter­nal baf­fle­ment The Cor­nish Crown got in year after year, some­times as the only entry; it’s fine but we could think of three or four con­sis­tent­ly bet­ter cask ale pubs in town.)

In the two and a bit years we’ve been here, the Bris­tol selec­tions are gen­er­al­ly a good rep­re­sen­ta­tion of qual­i­ty beer and also reflect a range of dif­fer­ent pubs and oth­er drink­ing estab­lish­ments to suit all tastes.

There are a cou­ple whose inclu­sion we might ques­tion based on our vis­its but the main issue is the omis­sion of some par­tic­u­lar favourite pubs, prob­a­bly down to the space allo­cat­ed to some degree.

With that in mind, we’d like to sug­gest a cou­ple of sup­ple­men­tary entries for 2020.

The High­bury Vaults
This is a vet­er­an GBG entry but not includ­ed this year. It has a mul­ti-room lay­out, includ­ing a snug and a toy train, and can’t help but be cosy. The gar­den, or yard rather, has an odd­ly good atmos­phere. There are Young’s beers, includ­ing Win­ter Warmer in sea­son, and a selec­tion of bot­tles. It has good old-fash­ioned pub snacks (pork pies, baps) as well as home­ly home­made food.

The Good Mea­sure
We assume this didn’t make the GBG as it only opened in Decem­ber 2018. The team at Good Chem­istry are behind this so their beers obvi­ous­ly fea­ture but also sev­er­al guests, usu­al­ly from the north, which makes a refresh­ing change in Bris­tol. Tim­o­thy Tay­lor Land­lord is often on, for exam­ple. There are keg beers, too. We par­tic­u­lar­ly love the con­tem­po­rary yet clas­sic feel of the inte­ri­or.

The Can­teen (AKA Hamil­ton House)
This was in the guide in 2019 but isn’t any­more. It’s not real­ly a pub, more a com­mu­ni­ty cafe with an empha­sis on all things local, which is per­haps why it’s not in our main Bris­tol pub guide, but reg­u­lar­ly has four or five cask ales from Bris­tol Beer Fac­to­ry, New Bris­tol and oth­ers. Being round the cor­ner from Jess’s most recent job, it’s also some­where she got to know well and found the beer to be in con­sis­tent­ly good con­di­tion.

In com­ing up with the above list, we’ve kept to GBG cri­te­ria and haven’t includ­ed keg bars, cider hous­es and so on.

We’ve also left out a cou­ple of pubs we real­ly like but we haven’t vis­it­ed enough to judge the con­sis­ten­cy of the ale – maybe we’ll sug­gest them for 2021.

For more on our over­all rec­om­men­da­tions see our Bris­tol pub guide and also our analy­sis of our vis­its in the first two years of liv­ing here.

It would be inter­est­ing to read sim­i­lar sup­ple­men­tary guides to oth­er cities and regions from oth­er blog­gers. How well does the GBG rep­re­sent your town, city or region?

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