bristol pubs

We’ve been to 300 Bristol Pubs (at last)

On Thursday night we quietly ticked over another milestone: we’ve now visited 300 different pubs in Bristol.

Our pace has definitely slowed. It took six months to do 100 pubs, 2 years to do 200, and it’s been six and half in total to get to 300. 

Now, of course, there were two COVID years in the middle of that.

And what we found in the first year or so after COVID was that we wanted to check in on all of our favourite pubs rather than tick new ones. And there are a lot of good pubs in Bristol. 

But even accounting for all that, it’s been a slow journey to 300. But not unenjoyable.

Part of the reason for the slow down is that we’re now mostly down to pubs that are scattered out in the distant suburbs.

They’re a pain to get to and present fewer options for crawls.

We hit upon a good formula immediately post-COVID: one new pub, a revisit of somewhere we’ve been to once, and an old favourite.

The problem is, this resulted in us discovering some new, er, old favourites, such as The Old Bookshop and the revived King’s Head.

As a result, we became even less likely to explore new pubs with these gems beckoning.

Further observations on local pub culture

We wouldn’t change much from our observations in 2019 when we were reflecting on the first 200 pubs, despite the upheaval caused by COVID.

From a quick skim through the spreadsheet we would say that in Bristol there are more openings than (permanent) closings, and the vast majority of pubs still have at least one cask ale on.

The Pied Horse in St. George, for example, is a down-to-earth neighbourhood pub where everyone seemed to be drinking lager and cider. And yet there was cask Bass on the bar, tasting as good as it gets.

Perhaps some of the suburban pubs feel a bit tattier. Maybe there are more people drinking cheap cans of Coors or Natch than there used to be.

And a couple of pubs we’ve been to lately felt cold and damp, as if they’d switched off the heating to save money.

But, overall, it doesn’t feel as if there’s been a total collapse of local pub culture.

It’s also interesting that some pubs have become pubbier, or reverted to their essential pubbiness, shutting their kitchens and focusing more on cask ale.

In our first year or two of ticking Bristol pubs, we often ended up drinking pints in the corners of what felt like restaurants, to all intents and purposes. That hasn’t happened for a while.

We were going to write about how we intend to finish the mission in 2024 – but then we remember thinking at the start of 2020 that there wouldn’t be long to go, and look at what happened then.

A reminder of the rules

We have this spreadsheet to help determine if it’s a pub and therefore whether we need to tick it.

To count as ‘a visit’ both of us have to be there, and at least one of us needs to drink something alcoholic.

‘Bristol’ in this context is the unitary authority of Bristol plus any settlement not separated from the city by a field – so a good chunk of South Gloucestershire is included.

And to prevent arguments about the various settlements along the A30, it’s bounded by the M4 to the north.

We don’t have a definitive list or know how many we’ve got to go, but we know it’s at least 20, and suspect it’s more likely to be around 50.

2 replies on “We’ve been to 300 Bristol Pubs (at last)”

Well done Both.
Thanks to you for your superlative guide to Bristol pubs. Visited the city in October and followed quite a few of your recommendations. My wife and I managed 26 of ‘em in a week. Fantastic place for cask, unlike London nowadays, unfortunately.

Thanks for letting us know about this, Edmund. So pleased our guide was helpful. Our job for today (New Year’s Day) is to update it for 2024.

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