Bristol BS2 0LF
SECOND VISIT: SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2014
FIRST VISIT: MONDAY 30 JUNE 2014
The Barley Mow is the flagship pub of Bristol Beer Factory and it is very possibly my favourite Bristol pub, which makes it a bit of disgrace that it’s taken me until the last day of June to pay it my first of 2014. But hey! I’ve finally made it back and hopefully I’ll do so several more times before the year ends. The Mow isn’t a style bar but it’s certainly a stylish place – in many respects it is worth visiting just to peruse the weird and quirky artwork that adorns the walls. But, as it should be, the beer is the true star. There are 8 cask lines and 10 keg alongside a decent collection of bottled offerings. In the past I’ve had beers from such luminaries as Brodie’s, Magic Rock, Buxton, Summer Wine, Jester King and, of course, Bristol Beer Factory.
This visit I scanned the cask clips and the keg chalkboard and couldn’t find anything that was truly speaking to me. I had just returned to the UK after 5 days in Amsterdam where, thanks to Carnival Brettanomyces, I had spent practically the entire time drinking beer that was funky and sour. After a minute or two of umming and ahhing I decided to opt for Bristol Beer Factory’s Double IPA (8.5%). BBF’s Southville Hop is one the finest IPAs in UK so there was a chance this would on a similar level. I took a seat and had a sniff and was greeted with an aroma that was super-hopped and super-inviting. I took a gulp and was greeted by a taste that was good but not astounding. Oh well, it would more than suffice while I scanned the bottle list for a tasty or Gueuze… something to keep the sour trip going for a little while. I took another swig of the DIPA and smiled and nodded my head. I returned to the list. The were a few possibilities but I couldn’t quite pin down the one to go for. I picked up my glass and drained the last of the beer. I instantly rose and headed to the bar to order another. As the barman was pouring my beer I started waxing lyrical about how fucking great it was – a bit of an unexpected turnaround from the first mouthful. I returned to my seat and gazed at the books on the ‘Take One Leave One’ shelves and noticed that someone had left Ulrika Jonsson’s autobiography – surely taking a book a leaving such a book on its place should be against the rules. Once again I turned my attention to trying to decide what sour beer to go for. After another mouthful of the DIPA I’d made my decision: to hell with Oude Gueuze, I’d have another DIPA and a some chili cheese fries topped with jalapenos. And that’s exactly what I did. Both were excellent. Shame about the crappy jazz that was blowing in the background.