Somewhat against the odds, a new bar opened on Gloucester Road over the summer.
Sidney and Eden is the latest development from the team behind Bottles & Books, which had previously evolved from a comic book and bottle shop into a teeny-tiny tap room.
Technically S&E isn’t an additional bar on the scene as it takes the place of something vaguely bar-like that existed in those premises before. But this is very much a New Venture, with a clear idea of what it wants to be – a neighbourhood craft beer bar that can compete with city centre destinations.
It has 20+ taps and, from our observations, makes a point of covering a range of styles within that. It’s weighted towards the IPAs and exotic stouts but there’s also room for local standards such as Lost and Grounded Kellerpils and Belgian classics such as Saison Dupont.
Prior to Lockdown 2 it seemed consistently busy, at least by the standards of interregnum levels of activity. We saw a number of people we know from the Drapers in there, suggesting that, like Bottles & Books before it, it provides a complementary offer.
We managed a couple of sessions there before lockdown, under the awning in our woollens, including a truly delightful evening trying a succession of silly pastry stouts and enjoying them immensely.
We hadn’t really thought about the neighbourhood craft beer bar as a concept before. Our assumption has been that this sort of specialist tasting venue is still sufficiently niche that it only really makes sense as a city centre destination.
Sidney and Eden is a good 40 minutes walk from the centre, or 15 minutes on the bus. It’s well connected on public transport if you’re coming from the centre or from Filton but not if you’re in any other part of the city. With that in mind, it really has to appeal to sufficient numbers of local people to be a success.
But if you’re going to do it in any neighbourhood, this one is a really good choice.
It’s directly on Gloucester Road and thus benefits from (a) the presence of other good pubs nearby and (b) the general independent spirit and commitment to shopping local.
We suspect there was plenty of pent up demand in the nearby residential streets. If house prices are a measure of wealth then it’s a pretty prosperous area (we rent and, in fact, are having to move away from the area to somewhere cheaper) and yet, despite the large numbers of drinking establishments nearby, none had a serious craft offer (definition 2) until now.
Sidney and Eden certainly improved the quality of our lives in the couple of months it was open, and we really hope it survives the winter and thrives beyond. It’s currently open for pre-ordered takeaway beer.