It didn’t feel right to resume our #EveryPubInBristol quest until restrictions were lifted in full.
Even now, almost two months later, it’s not clear if we’re really getting a sense of any new-to-us pubs, based on our experiences of going back to pubs we do know well.
But then we thought, well, the point of this exercise isn’t to make a value judgement. We’re not reviewing.
And in the beforetimes, we wouldn’t necessarily visit a place at the ‘right’ time to really understand it and its place in the community – just whenever we happened to be in the neighbourhood.
So, we’re now back on the trail.
Our first tick since October 2020 was The Langton, in St Annes, which we mentioned in this post about grey makeovers, and which might be a candidate for our new local.
However, we felt it almost didn’t count as a real tick as Ray had been before, both before and after its refurbishment. (Our rule is that both of us have to be present at the visit and at least one of us must have an alcoholic drink.) Still, that did mean we had a sense of what normal felt like.
Our first experience of jointly crossing the threshold a definitely new-to-both-of-us pub came a few weeks later, at The Wackum Inn.
This was a great reminder of the point of the #EveryPubInBristol project.
A Greene King pub on a main road in an unprepossessing suburb we don’t know well wouldn’t seem especially appealing.
We were greeted at the bar by a very friendly team, however, and had a great pint of Greene King IPA (no, really) while the music ramped up to mark the transition from Saturday afternoon football to Saturday evening party mode.
There was a range of ages, from children hovering around the pool table to well-groomed youths to older folk watching the football or comparing tans.
It struck us as a well run pub with a guvn’ing couple (we think) working very hard to make sure their place has something to offer everyone while retaining some kind of distinct community character.
It’s given us quite the taste for more ticking.
One of our occasional debates is whether a refurbishment or a reopening after a long period closed counts as a new tick.
A visit to the newly-reopened Llandoger Trow sparked the argument anew.
Last time we visited, it was essentially a dingy Premier Inn breakfast room with far too many people in it and yet, somehow, zero atmosphere.
It’s now under the ownership of the Euston Tap team. It has been stripped right back and now feels a lot like a European multi-roomed beer hall – an impression underlined by the seriously impressive lager list.
It’s quite a change, in both mood and offer, but we decided it didn’t count as a new tick because, fundamentally, it’s the same type of business: an establishment on one of the most popular drinking runs in the city.
We’re delighted to have a place in town that takes good lager seriously but we suspect most of the clientele would go there whatever they sold, crawling in one direction or another.
We’ve been visiting tap rooms a lot this year, including some new ones. They don’t usually count as pub ticks because when applying the Is it a Pub? test, they usually fall into the ‘possibly’ rather than ‘probably’ category.
And we don’t tend to write about them much on the blog because, well, if we’re honest, most are kind of similar, with similar customers and similar weedy IPAs. We’ve simply always preferred pubs.
However, new to us this year, and now one of our most regular haunts, is the Lost & Grounded tap room.
This is partly because of proximity to our house, partly because it has a large outdoor space that seems to always have a table free, but mostly because of some (usually) excellent Continental style beers.
It’s still not a pub, though. Maybe we need an #EveryTapRoomInBristol hashtag, too? And #EverySocialClub, while we’re at it. Short on pubs though it may be, our new neighbourhood has a few of these to explore.