Where’s me pilsner to, my luvver?

zerodegrees

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.…