Sunday 22 November 2015

BRAPA - Bristol City away (Bedminster)

Irritating glass, nice beer at the Windmill (see pub 745).

I'm not quite sure why I'd never considered Bedminster as an away match option before for previous trips to Ashton Gate.  Let's face it, there have been plenty of visits to Bristol and I've been using the GBG for nearly 14 years now.  Plus it has it's own railway station and is much closer to the ground than other areas.  Maybe Bedminster has undergone a fairly recent "real ale revolution".

Still, any revolution wasn't evident at 11:30am as the pub where our taxi dropped us, the Spotted Cow, was closed despite it's 11am opening claims.  It seemed a deliberate protest against an early 12:30 football kick off i.e. "we don't want any riff-raff in our precious pub!"

Masonic, Bedminster, Bristol

Instead, the "riff raff" had congregated in this dodgy looking "home fans only pub" where I did the most unsly 'slow removal of Hull City scarf just outside a pub' ever witnessed.  Luckily, my red and white top meant I was accepted into the 'pride' and a friendly no nonsense bar man was soon serving us perfectly well kept Courage Directors and Butcombe Bitter, allbeit in polycarbonate glasses, whilst Dad and Tom found a nice step in the corner to survey the pub from.  It was by far and away the most 'down to earth' of Bedminster's pubs we visited, probably not really in-keeping with the upwardly mobile slightly pretentious young professional feel I got about the suburb.  In fact, they'd probably hate it being called a suburb.  Without getting into a battle of semantics, Tom would describe this (like all non GBG listed pubs) as "pre-emptive" whilst I'll err on the side of caution and leave that terms for things like "recent pubs of the year", "most improved pubs", "new openers championed by local CAMRA mags" and of course, "micro-pubs".  I'd call something like this a 'bonus' pub where my eyebrows would raise to the top of my forehead if it ever did make it into the GBG!

After a freezing and largely frustrating 90 minutes plus of Hull City related "fun", me and Dad got away from the ground very swiftly and were soon noting that Bedminster didn't seem to have many home fans going back towards it, which was surprising but pleasant for us.  We left Spotted Cow for now, possibly next season, but were pleased to see Hare was open already (since 2pm apparently) despite it's 3pm listed time showing if there's one thing unreliable about the GBG, it is the times!

743.  Hare, Bedminster, Bristol

As Dad said, from the moment you walked in, you could tell you were in a warm, welcoming and friendly place and an immediate glow overcame me (well it had been so cold out) though this may have been down the fact the Dark Star Espresso Stout was on!  However, a sense of pub well being is often down to the pub and the young owner lad was very impressive, reminiscent of our best BRAPA pub heroes of 2015 like the guy at King Billy in Nottingham for example.  I then totally freaked Dad out by "disappearing", i.e. finding an adjoining room which he didn't seem to realise existed, and watching his confused expression through the partition was priceless.  Despite not being a particularly old fashioned traditional pub, the Hare had a reassuringly basic feel (two beers on only was a bit of an overly basic drawback!) and the food was in the form of local pork pies, which Dad later went back for and I finally finished in bed at midnight!  Delicious.  Hare had filled a bit with a few discerning Robins , whilst Tom swooped down upon us like a wraith.

Departing the Hare, probably my pub of the day
744.  Steam Crane, Bedminster

Just across the road a few doors down was this interestingly painted brick pub, done in the style of graffiti.  It felt very "Bristol" and I wondered if Banksie had been involved.  This pub (gastropub if I was being cruel but probably accurate) divided our opinion a bit, it was kind of good and terrible at the same time!  It was nice to be in another warm and friendly place, and a good range of beers on offer for the first time today as I stayed dark with a local Chocolate porter from local Arbor, but it was disappointingly unchocolatey despite this brewery having a reputation for big flavours.  The blonde barmaid who served me was VERY nice, friendly and probably just a bit disappointed that she can't qualify for the 'brunette of the year' award.  Though I think I later heard her booking a hair appointment,  BRAPA doesn't look kindly on play areas in pubs as it attracts kids, and soon there was a face off between "young girl with hammer" and "young girl with wheely telephone" and we thought our first pub fight since Wolverhampton's Dog & Gun was about to occur.  A ridiculous food menu completed the feel of slight upper class pretension, with phrases like "the Steam Crane really is the cat's meow" and "one of the tastiest nosebaggeries this side of the river" making you want to punch a hole in it.  In fact, it's fair to say me, Dad and Tom were like square pegs in a round hole here.  Having said all this, I still liked the pub!  A man did once get mauled by a tiger in the pub garden here, a quirk if ever I heard one.  

Arriving at the Steam Crane, note the strangely painted building
745.  Windmill, Bedminster, Bristol

Our final BRAPA tick of the day, sadly, was by the Bedminster railway station bridge and again, it had the kind of warm, welcoming feel that you shouldn't take for granted, but was much needed on a now dark November afternoon.  I think it had a fire in too, which always adds to the atmos.  Again, the beers were good though with most having the 'golden' name, Dad was a bit apprehensive but as it turned out, the Electric Bear Persuasion didn't have an overly sweet taste and Dad needed no 'persuading' to have a swift half later on, whilst the Purity Gold was also more refreshing and bitter than sweet.  We sat in a corner to the left and after a conversation about the shape of Garth Crooks, I was craning my neck to see the amusing football results unfurling behind us.  Always nice when you've kicked off early and can just sit back and relax as everyone else flaps around!  There was a brief moment of BRAPA excitement as Tom reminded me I'd been to the King & Castle in Kidderminster, but sadly it isn't in the 2016 GBG like I thought so i stay on 745.  With Dad and Tom increasingly paranoid about where the station entrance was, I was made to speed up a bit and we soon back outside in the freezing air.  Boo!  

Dad arrives at the Windmill, good solid pubbing in Bedminster
Back at Temple Meads, we sadly didn't have time to venture to either Barley Mow or Cornubia despite 39 minutes to kill, so had a swift half in the Reckless Engineer,another pub I'd probably put in the "bonus" category rather than the pre-emptive.  It took me a while to realise it wasn't a Wetherpsoons though that was through my own lack of observation, and I'm not sure IKB should be referred to as reckless surely!  I thought Dad was in the loo but he'd actually gone to perch on a high table, so it took me and Tom and age to realise.  My ale "Hammer Stone" was actually excellent, but this pub was a total non event in almost every other respect and I can't wait to get a proper overnight Bristol BRAPA day with no distractions (i.e. Hull City) in the future.

A very good pint in a very average pub.
After a painfully long train journey, Tom rightly decided we should change at Sheffield so there was time for a swift half in Dad's much loved Sheffield Tap (I'm being sarcastic) though I think it is fair to say that (a) Five Points Pale was beer of the day and (b) you can tell what a nice architectural gem this place could be on a "quiet" day, not that such a thing ever occurs in these 'Taps'!

After a brief worry over train delays, we weren't too late out of Sheffield and back in York before we knew it.  A very good day out, and 3 pubs for the Glos & Bristol region in the GBG pushes it up 12 places to 32nd!  

I'll be back tomorrow for the penultimate edition of my archives (waaa!) and I'm looking at a 'two pub' West Yorkshire midweek on Tuesday but I'll have to see how do-able that actually is.

See you then, Si


  1. Given your comment about the Masonic being unlikely to get in the GBG, I am willing to bet £5 that either that and/or the Red Lion in Cloughton will get in at least one edition before your 63rd birthday. By your own admission, it served good beer, surely the point of the Good Beer Guide, and if your take out the pre match pub near ground and plastic drinking vessels could actually be considered a half decent pub which we probably didn't appreciate at its best. I wonder whether the parrot mural was also a Banksy involvement, or whether the locals are joining in. Do you still want that photograph emailing by the way, as you have got the blog up before I have got properly online for personal reasons.

    Me being wraithlike is interesting, I wonder whether it was caused by the cold, or just the air or pessimism.

    The Steam Crane serves a purpose, in that it provides a real ale place for those tasked with children and posh food people. I agree with it serving that purpose, it just makes it not our establishment. Without such people, I would like the place. But a food menu in front above a urinal is just weird, let alone one that refers to nosebaggeries.

    The Windmill did indeed have a proper fire at the far end of the pub from us.

  2. £5 yes you're on! Barring a change of management or strategy (where I'd be unlucky), no chance in their current state they would even make the CAMRA locals think twice. It makes you think though, they say beer quality is everything but Masonic just didn't ' feel' like a guide pub and I reckon that was it close to it's best, polycarbonate or not, call it the trained BRAPA eye! Cloughton am a bit more wary as paid it little attention. Photo would be grand thanks. I can edit my blog.

    Wraithlike referred to your standing up blocking the light as you decided whether to go to bar or not. In a nice way! Friendly wraith. You are NOT a pessimist deep down and your negative predictions don't fool me. You are one of the most positive people I know, which is good.

    Nosebaggeries is my word of the week!

  3. 26 years for the landlord to die, sell the pub or retire then. It isn't that unlikely and we have seen such pubs change so many times in the past.

    I was thrown by you already being there, given the match crowds I was overtaking on my way back from Parson St. I believe in hope, which is a positive in a sense.

    Right, I'm off for bargain time at the M&S and ASDA nosebaggeries before I send the photograph.

  4. Just to respond to your point about not going to Bedminster before. The Grimsby Central Library have taken the backwards even for Grimsby move of replacing the 2015 GBG with the 2013 edition. Said edition reveals only the Windmill in Bedminster, so probably explaining it.

    For the record, the Red Lion at Cloughton isn't in that edition, but both others up the road are.

  5. Bedminster seems to have overtaken Clifton in the trendy pub stakes in the last few years. I did a few pubs there on a Staurday at the end of August (bumping into Burnley fans), and was impressed with the Steam Crane's beer, but it was empty apart from me !

    Most of the Brizzle fans were, like you, in some fairly grim looking locals near Ashton Gate.

    NB I like the idea of pre-emptive pubs - ones that will be in future editions. There must be dozens of these micro-pubs in that category, though I notice that the period between opening and entry is getting shorter - there's at least one pub that opened in October 2014 in the new guide.