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
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
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
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
"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
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.]