bristol opinion

Our top 5 Bristol pints

What are the top five reliable pints in your town or city? That is, beers you always know you’ll find in specific pubs.

That question comes via Ross Cummins who set out his favourite five pints in Manchester in an excellent post on his blog earlier this week:

This is not a definitive list of best beers in Manchester, or best beers by Manchester breweries, this is a list of MY favourite pints, that I can get in Manchester.

This sparked some interesting follow ups on BlueSky where people pondered what a similar list for London might look like, for example.

And of course, it made a natural topic of conversation for us during one of our recent pub sessions: what would be our equivalent of this list for Bristol?

We found it hard because relatively few Bristol pubs that we like consistently have on the same beers.

The ale-focused pubs have a laudable variety of guest beers, but that means you rarely find any of the same stuff two visits in a row.

And lots of our favourite Bristol breweries also change their range regularly, so even in taprooms or tied pubs you might not be guaranteed to find a particular favourite beer.

In our selection, therefore, we have hedged our bets a little and sometimes suggested alternative beers.

We’ve also tried to balance what we actually really enjoy drinking versus what we would recommend to a visitor to Bristol, who maybe wants to try something local, and new to them.

Then we decided not to overthink it too much. It’s just a blog post! If you disagree, write your own.

So anyway, with all of Ross’s caveats and a few of our own, here is our list.

The exterior of a grand Edwardian pub with ornate gables, painted grey.
The Langton.

1. Butcombe Bitter at the Langton

The Langton for us, anyway, as it’s walkable from our house, but maybe at The Ostrich for out-of-towners.

We like Butcombe Bitter a lot when it’s good, and it’s reliably good these days. It’s also available in quite a few decent Bristol pubs.

It’s the closest thing we’ve got to a traditional brown bitter from an old family brewery.

Although Butcombe is only 40-odd years old, it was founded by a former Courage employee with the explicit intention of brewing Courage-style beer.

The most regular place that we drink it is probably The Langton but it’s quite schlep out of town and not a particularly remarkable pub. It just happens to be close to us.

And its Butcombe is almost always in great condition.

The Lost & Grounded taproom with bare tables, bunting, and an illuminated sign that reads COLD LAGER.
Lost & Grounded.

2. Keller Pils at Lost & Grounded

We visit this taproom more often than any other, and it’s partly because we like the range and styles of beer and partly due to proximity.

It was hard for us to pick a particular beer because our actual favourites do rotate.

Also, if we’re honest, we don’t always find they taste the same from week to week. So we’re going for Keller Pils for now.

A pumpclip for Oakham Citra beer.

3. Oakham Citra at the Old Duke

The Old Duke is a music-focused pub on the King Street Run in the centre of town.

Oakham Citra is hoppy catnip for us.

We always enjoy it, and it appears to be a regular beer here, together with its tamer pale-n-hoppy cousin Adnams Ghost Ship.

A pint of golden amber beer in a straight pint glass in a pub garden.
Young’s Ordinary at The Highbury Vaults.

4. Young’s Bitter at the Highbury Vaults

The Highbury Vaults has a well-deserved reputation for good ale, and for extreme proper-pub cosiness.

It also has a pleasant, shady garden for the summer.

We tend to switch between Young’s London Original (AKA Young’s Bitter, AKA Ordinary) and St. Austell Proper Job when we’re there.

We usually try both and settle on whichever is in the best condition. But they’re both reliably very good and often excellent.

A big gold ornament of a dog with a cluttered pub bar back behind.
The Swan With Two Necks.

5. Elmoor (Moor) at the Swan with Two Necks

Both the beer and the pub have become favourites of ours.

The beer is billed as a ‘Belgian pale ale’ and tastes a bit like something Brasserie de la Senne would produce.

It’s refreshing, bitter, still just about sessionable at 5.5%, if you take it easy.

This was tough

There were so many things we almost included, but couldn’t quite justify.

For example, we also wanted to include Bass. It’s still very much present in a surprising number of Bristol pubs – but not in any pubs we visit regularly.

That means we can make recommendations for places to try but have to stop short of a full endorsement for any one pub.

For a fuller view of what to drink and where, check out our Bristol pub guide which we’ve just updated for 2024.

9 replies on “Our top 5 Bristol pints”


– the Old Brewery Bitter at the Murenger
– the London Pride at the Red Lion
– the Guinness at the Red Lion
– the Double Dragon at the Carpenters
– the Bass at the Pen and Wig

I was in the Murenger last Saturday, looking forward to an OBB and both hand pumps had their clips turned round at 1pm sadly.

Lovely stuff. Not easy to come up with a list is it haha.
Be interesting to do the same list in a few years and see how things change.

I can only really get to three for Bath:
Summer Lightning in the Bell
Tondo at Electric Bear
Bellringer in the Star

In contrast to Neil I can get to 5, but I could include the Star twice and haven’t just to mix it up (Bellringer just losing out to Bass), also realise that two of my five are house beers.

Proper Job – The Charmbury Arms
Ralph’s Ruin Mosaic – The Royal Oak (99% of the time it’s on)
Summer Lightning – The Bell
Bass – The Star
Raven Ale – The Raven

You beat me to it!

– Proper Job in the Charmbury
– Independence in The Bell (wish they still served Bellringer!)
– Bass in the Star (with Bellringer a close runner up)
– Landlord in the Pulteney Arms (been a while mind)
– er…. Bellringer in the Coeur de Lion?!

Yeah Mosaic is a good shout. I used to like it when Chimera was always on at the Oak but it was 6.8% or something, so not one for a quiet night.

Let’s see, what would I say for Worcester? The five pubs will definitely be easier than the beers because like you, I often drink in places with a changing beer range and don’t tend to always drink the same beer even when I can.

1. Brugse Zot at the TripelB (not by the pint though).
2. Wye Valley Butty Bach at the Mug House although I often drink rotating beers here.
3. Ledbury Bitter at the Plough although again, I often drink something else.
4. Shlenkerla Märzen at the Oil Basin.
5. Wainwrights at the Kings Head.

Good read.

The problem with picking 5 reliable pints in particular pubs is that so few good pubs have consistent line-ups these days, as that seems to be what folk want, with publicity focused on “x number of ever-chasing beers”.

I’ve no idea what beers you’d see from week to week in Sheffield or Cambridge’s best pubs. 25 years ago, Stamford had 5 pubs virtually in a row with excellent Adnam’s, Sam Smiths OBB, Mansfield, Pedigree and Bateman; no idea what beers you’d find there now.

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