It may seem odd to go all the way to Bristol and then make Zero Degrees our first stop, given we have a branch of the same brewpub in London. The shameful truth is, though, that we’ve never been to the one in Blackheath, despite hearing great things about the beer from bloggers and friends.
On this occasion, the decision was made for us when we’d dragged ourselves up the charming, Dickensian Christmas Steps and spotted that the place was opposite, just as we started to feel peckish and thirsty.
Despite the late-90s trendy warehouse look and aspirational dance-jazz soundtrack, the first thing that struck us was how many families were in, contributing to a German brauhaus atmosphere. The staff were extremely friendly, too, although that seems to be true of Bristolians more generally. We got a smile on approaching the bar; a “be with you in a minute”; a bit of banter during service; and some apparent expertise when it came to the flavour and manufacture of the beer. Impressive stuff.
We started out with the pilsner and one of the specials, continental blonde. The pilsner was bang on, if mainstream — something like tankova Urquell.
The continental blonde was fascinating and delicious. Despite the colour, we think it was actually a clone of a Belgian pale ale, but much fresher tasting than any example of the real thing we’ve had. It was spicy with hints of banana — an absolute treat.
The wheat ale was Belgian style and utterly delicious. Again, the freshness and condition was outstanding. The dark lager was also of a superior quality, as good as the wonderful Bernard Dark, with a besutiful balance of treacle and bitterness. It might almost be as good as U Fleku.
The prices, as Jeff has noted of the London branch, were very competitive for such an apparently swanky place, with regulars at £2.60 specials at £2.90.
A minor quibble, though: does the name refer to the temperature of the bar? Brrrrrr….