The Famous Hotwells Twenty: the net widens. 21st June 2014.
"The Longest Day."

Perfect weather, warm and sunny, the 8.5-mile route, peppered with some delightful pubs, was to take us up into Totterdown and Bedminster before returning to the centre via Hotwells.
Fifteen of us started, just before noon, at (pub no. 1) the Knights Templar: a Wetherspoons near Temple Meads, where a cooked breakfast was in order for some. As usual, a good range of beers was on hand. I went for a Hill Climb by the Prescott brewery. At 3.8% it was a nice refreshing hors d’oeuvres.
At 12 noon we upped-sticks and walked the 11 minutes up to the New Found Out (2). Quite a climb but it would be all downhill from here! Greene King IPA (3.6%) was the only ale on offer. It was OK, but I’d had better (it was probably the first one out). On to the Star and Dove (3) where I was served a sparkling Exmoor Ale (3.8%). Those that partook of the Sharp’s Atlantic (4.2%) reported that it was lovely: sweet and hoppy.
A pleasant stroll across Victoria Park took us to the Victoria Park (4). Hidden away in a back street this was, for me, a real find. An excellent-looking bar menu, stunning views across Dundry from the garden and a super glass of Wye Valley Butty Bach (4.5%) to boot. The cider lovers reported that the Apsall was excellent.
Next up was the Windmill (5), a friendly back-street boozer with a good range of ale. The Prescott Summer Ale (4.1%) was light and fruity. "Very swiggable", said Gazza.
Following a pleasant walk alongside the Malago, lunch, for many of us, was taken at the Robert Fitzwilliam (6), Bedminster’s Wetherspoon, where an extra 15 minutes was allowed. As usual for JD's, the food was delivered promptly. I tried a Funnel Blower porter (4.5%) but it was much too chocolaty for me, especially with my chicken tikka masala! I had a very pleasant Summer Lightning (4.5%) at the charismatic Imp (7) before arriving at the Coronation (8) where a toast was raised to our late mate Dave Iles, whose local it was. My Butcombe (4.0%) was a little too cold for me.
On to the Orchard Inn. Whilst principally a cider pub, it keeps its beer in very good condition. The casks are double wrapped to insulate them from the summer warmth. The locals were very friendly and the toilets were worth special mention: clinically clean! My Otter Amber (4.0%) was spot on, as was HBK's cider, Somerset Redstreak (6.0%).
I had a decent Bankers Draft (4.0%) from the Wickwar Brewery in the Nova Scotia (10) and a glass of my favourite Timothy Taylor Landlord (4.3%) in the Rose of Denmark (11). I was told that the Tribute (4.2%) was also on stunning form.
We were now into our second half of the day’s pubs. We’d picked up a few more hashers along the way and our numbers swelled to over 20.
Drinking at such a slow pace (just one pint per hour) ensures that one doesn’t get overly tipsy. The body metabolises alcohol at a rate of (on average) one unit (or half a pint of average strength beer) per hour. This means that one is only increasing one’s blood alcohol by that provided by a half pint per hour. So, along with the long walks, one remains nicely 'happy'. We call it this state beer-quelibrium. But, enough of the science…
We sat outside the Pumphouse (12). It was really hot in the late afternoon sun. I enjoyed a refreshing Summers Hare (3.9%) from Bath Ales. It was fruity, fresh and bitter, albeit a little more expensive than the other pubs. Their food reputation is excellent, I hear.
No trip to Hotwells is complete without calling into the tiny Merchants (13). Knowing that their range of Bath Ales beers is good, I went for the guest ale: Black Sheep Best Bitter (3.8%). This was excellent. I wanted to stay!
A short walk along the harbourside took us to the Grain Barge (14). This is a tethered barge, oozing with character. I arrived out on the sunny deck clutching a nice glass of Bristol Beer Factory’s Nova (3.8%). Bright, fresh and herbal, just as The Matthew sailed past. Idyllic! I wondered whether there could be a better place in the world to be at this moment.
"No Idiot Pub Crawls", proclaimed the notice in the window of the Bag of Nails (15). However, we’d timed our visit to 'The Bag' to be at a fairly quiet time of day (6:45pm) and, as expected, we were warmly welcomed therein. I had a Mine Beer (4.2%) from the excellent Blindmans brewey. This was very good. One of us, HBK, bravely went for the Bristol Meth (7.4%). I had a sip and agreed with him that the heavily-hopped malty brew was indeed excellent. Strong but not dominated by the taste of alcohol. Great balance.
The Three Tuns (16) is one of my favourite city-centre Boozers. From the selection of Arbor Ales I chose the lovely session beer, Triple Hop (4.0%). This was one of my favourites of the whole day.
Next was the Shakespeare Tavern (17) where my Tribute (4.2%) was excellent, although a few felt that the BBF's Sunrise (4.4%) was only "OK". Specked Hen (4.5%) and BBF's Seven (4.2%) were also on offer.
The end was now in sight as we rested our tiring legs on the chairs on the lawn in front of The Hole in the Wall (18). The sun was going down and the day was cooling off due to a pleasant breeze. The conditions were spot on to relax with a nice glass of hoppy and clean-tasting Rare Breed (3.8%) from the Butcombe Brewey.
Arriving at the Seven Stars (19), I chose a half of XT3 India Pale Ale (4.2%) from the XT Brewery, from amongst the large range of beers on offer. It was delicious. The rest of my party were making appreciative noises about their beers too. This is an excellent back-street boozer where the quality of the ales on offer comes first and foremost.
The last pub was the excellent Cornubia (20!). I noted that they had some more of the XT3 which I’d so much enjoyed in the last pub. I just had to have it again. But, hey ho, this is the last pub of what has been a lovely day spent meandering around the streets of Bristol with good friends and good beer for company. A half? No, make mine a PINT!

[The above is a slightly-edited version of Lunchi's letter on page 40 of the Autumn 2014 edition of CAMRA's award-winning magazine, Pints West, www.camrabristol.org.uk/PW103.pdf.]