WEIGHBRIDGE BREWHOUSE – SWINDON

Weighbridge Brewhouse
Penzance Drive
Swindon
SN5 7JL

FOURTH VISIT: THURSDAY 11 DECEMBER 2014

I was on the bus home and I made the usual pact with myself: if someone presses the button to stop the bus at the Weighbridge stop I’ll get off and go for a beer but if nobody presses the button I’ll stay on the bus and go home. Someone pressed the button. Me. I’m sure that’s actually against the rules but I got off the bus and went for a beer anyway.

It was changeover time. The lunchers had left and the evening mealers had yet to arrive. A couple were having coffee and two men were sitting at the bar supping pints of lager. There was only one member of staff. Despite the lack of customers she was a hive of industry – restocking fridges with white wine, redressing the red wine shelves, cleaning, answering the phone, serving and throughout it all she remained cheerful. I was hoping Headbanger would be on but sadly it wasn’t. Fortunately there was a new beer called Bramling Cross and as the name suggests it is hopped entirely with Bramling Cross. I love Bramling Cross. The barmaid began the pour but the pump spluttered once or twice and then no more beer was forthcoming. I was heartbroken. But there was no need to be heartbroken. The barmaid popped to the cellar and changed the barrel. After a quick flush of the pipe she half filled a half pint glass, left it to settle for a few seconds then gave it a visual examination then gave it taste test. She smiled and said ‘ it looks good, it taste good’ then began pouring my pint. Excellent customer service. The coffee drinkers had departed so I took their table as it the one that gives you the best opportunity of seeing your enemies, as they enter, before they see you. The beer was very good. Nice and wholesome and juicy with a dusty, dry hop cone finish. Good enough for a second.

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THIRD VISIT: THURSDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2014

As luck would have it, the bus stop you need when you are heading from Old Town to West Swindon and want to get off at the bike shop is the same stop that you need if you want to visit the Weighbridge. It seemed a bit churlish to get off at that stop and not have a pint. The usual suspects lined the bar but there were a couple of seasonals keeping them company – Headbanger (6.3%) and Seriously Ginger (4.8%). I’m not a fan of ginger in drinks so I opted for the 6.3% beer. On the bar in front of all the hand pulls were little sample pots that contained hops and malts. The jar in front of the Headbanger contained Bramling Cross hops. I asked the barman (who also does some of the brewing) if the jars were placed randomly or if the fact that Bramling Cross was in front of the Headbanger meant that Headbanger contained Bramling Cross. He replied that they were placed randomly but as luck would have it the Bramling Cross had been placed in front of a beer that had been hopped with it (and Willamette). We had a little chat about UK hops and agreed that Bramling Cross was the best of the well established ones but that some of the news boys on the scene were helping to create excellent tasting beers. I took my Bramling Cross hopped beer to a table and took a hearty swig. It was nice. Certainly way nicer than the hastily consumed half I had at the Swindon Beer Festival a couple of weeks ago. The entire pint went down rather beautifully. I was tempted to go for another but didn’t want to be too drunk when I rocked up at the bike shop.

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SECOND VISIT: THURSDAY 23 OCTOBER 2014

The route home from the Beer Festival took me right past the door of the Weighbridge so it would’ve been daft not to have popped in for a swift one. I can’t remember what beers they had on but I do remember that there was only one that I hadn’t previously tried. So I tried it. Rock on Ruby is 4.4% red ale that’s brewed with Sterling hops. It was okay. Up on the balcony there was a posh band doing posh cover versions. I found them amusing at first but they quickly did my head in so I decided to step outside and take refuge in the smoking shelter. I stuck my headphones on and began listening to the Allo Darlin’ cover of Darren Hayman’s Wu Tang Clan. The song was about halfway through when a woman sat down beside me and sparked up a cigarette. I glanced towards her and through the dim light and wisps of smoke I could see her mouth move. I took my headphones off just in case she was saying something important. Sadly she wasn’t saying anything important. She was merely apologising for disturbing my solitude. I told her not to worry about it and put my headphones back on. Her mouth moved again. Again I removed my headphones. She informed me that she’d go back inside in a minute or two and leave me in peace. This time I kept my headphones off. She finished her cigarette and then stood up and walked away without saying a word. Weird. I gulped down the rest of my beer and staggered off in the general direction of home.

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FIRST VISIT: 24 JULY 2014

The Weighbridge Brewhouse is a bar, restaurant and microbrewery all rolled into one. It’s housed in the old Archer’s brewery near to Swindon’s old railway village. It’s a nice place – quite swanky (for Swindon). The food is good and the menu features such exotica as crocodile, wild boar and kangaroo. There’s a small bar area and a few stools at the bar itself but it’s not the kind of place that inspires you to get drunk and rowdy. A few thoughtful pints is the order of the day. Keg and bottled beer choices are the usual mass market nonsense. Cask beer – 6 lines – is provided by the in-house microbrewery. Regular offerings include a best bitter – Weighbridge Best; a golden – Pooley’s Golden; an old ale – Ant Sally; a hoppy session ale – Brinkworth Village. Occasional brews have included BIPAs, APAs, Pilsners, Winter Warmers, et al.

On my arrival the restaurant was doing a pretty brisk lunchtime trade but the bar area was devoid of punters. I ordered a pint of South Island, which I imagined would be a super hoppy, super fruity NZPA. It was okay but it certainly wasn’t super hoppy and super fruity. It’s brewed entirely with Motueka. It was pleasant enough but I’ve had several other beers that make a far better stab at showcasing Motueka. I was sitting outside on the ‘beer terrace’. I’d taken up residence in the smoking shelter primarily because it is the only place that offered any shade. When my pint was dead I was tempted to phone the bar to ask them if they would bring me a pint as I couldn’t really be assed leaving the shade and going inside. But I didn’t phone. I left the shade and went inside.

Second beer of the day was a pint of Pooley’s Golden. When the Weighbridge first opened Pooley’s was one of the four beers the place sold. It was by far the best of the four – a lovely fruity burst of juicy hops. Sadly, the quality of the hops obtained by the brewery couldn’t be maintained and it consequently faced a period of decline. It was still a good beer but nowhere near as glorious as it originally was. Thankfully, this pint suggested the hop quality has been ramped back up and Pooley’s is returning to its previous lofty heights. While at the bar I enquired about a new beer – Jamaican Ginger Beer. I was informed that it contained ginger, chili an lime (juice, pulp, skin). I was given a little taster and told that if I didn’t like ginger beer it was doubtful if I would like this. It was a very generous sized taster – not far off half of a half pint. I thought it was pretty decent. The ginger, chili and lime were present but reasonably restrained. I took my pint back outside but I knew I would returning soon enough for a pint of the Jamaican.

Outside in my shaded den I was happy in my solitude. It was great place to indulge in some people watching. A couple of lunchtime jogging parties plodded by. I chucked and shook my head as I noticed that in both groups the men made sure they ran in front of the women. A load of cyclists sped (sometimes very slowly) past. Practically every single one of the bikes made strange clunking noises that suggested their bottom brackets needed some serious attention. I guess, like me, those cyclists are having serious problems finding a bike shop who has vacant repair slots at the moment. The restaurant crowd were starting to drift back to work. Some of them must have lunch breaks that last more than two hours. A man walked past wearing tan brogues with purple laces. I instantly decided that he always talked a good project, failed to deliver than bullshitted his way out of the meltdown. I might invest in some purple laces. The first smoker of the day crashed my space. He went to the bother of making a rollie then took two puffs before throwing it to and crushing it underfoot. Another group departed. One of them said that ‘as a Frenchman, I quickly realise every time I go to China that the Chinese really hate the French.’

I returned to the bar and bought my pint of Jamaican. An entire pint of it was even more tasty and refreshing than the taster I’d had… well, duh! It’s a lovely summer beverage. I finished the beer, returned my glass to the bar and sad my goodbyes.

Every time I visit the Weighbridge I always promise that I’ll return far more often than I currently do. For some reason that never happens. Damn crazy fool that I am.

Weighbridge Brewhouse

SMALL BAR – BRISTOL

Small Bar
King Street
Bristol
BS1 4DZ

FOURTH VISIT: THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 2014

THIRD VISIT: SATURDAY 20 JULY 2014

A little deviation from my original Bristol Beer Week crawl. But it was a good deviation as it gave me the opportunity to catch up with some Bristol buddies and drink a pint of Moor’s Nor’Hop and can of Beavertown’s Gamma Ray. I love Small Bar as there’s always a buzzing vibe in the place. I look forward to the day they open a branch in Swindon.

Small Bar

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SECOND VISIT: FRIDAY 18 JULY 2014

A brief pitstop en route to the beer fest at the Bag O’ Nails. A little cluster of people occupied the outside table and few more milled around the bar. I ordered two thirds of an Evolver IPA by Wild Beer. It’s an interesting take on an American IPA but one I’m not particularily bothered about trying again. Outside it was a gloriously hot day and even though the air condition was working impressively you could still feel the heat poking it’s head around the corner of the door. I’ve only been to two drinking dens on the entire planet where customers have free and easy access to a drinking water tap. Most places are happy to give you a free glass of water if you ask but the Great Divide Tap Room in Denver Colorado and Small Bar in Bristol have a self service water tap. The water in Small Bar is amusingly served via a beer tap topped with a Stella clip. While working my way through my two thirds of Evolver I knocked back three pints of water. Shortly before I left Bruce, the owner of Small Bar, stopped by for a little chat about the joys and perils of importing beer from far flung places. Then it was time to get the crawl back on the road. I headed to the Tuns.

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FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 18 JANUARY 2014

Small Bar is the newest of the King Street Three and, in my opinion, the best of the bunch. Despite the name it isn’t really that small – something to do with switch from the original intended location I believe. The interior is fantastic: dimly lit, distressed wood, barrels – it’s like a smuggler’s den but with trendy bespoke fixtures and fittings. The upstairs ‘library’ is a bit brighter than downstairs but I always feel like I’m crashing a private party when I venture up there.

I’m not entirely sure why but I was way more drunk than I should’ve been when I rocked up here. I can remember ordering a Bad Seed IPA – I think I enjoyed it. I remember wolfing down a Chomp burger – I think it was good. I remember ordering a bottle of beer – I have no idea what it actually was. I vaguely remember chatting to loads of folk I know – I have no idea what we chatted about or how annoying I was. I had a pint of Vader Shuffle by Tiny Rebel – I only know this because I logged it on Untappd.

At some point we left and went to the Academy for the Half Man Half Biscuit gig.

THREE TUNS – BRISTOL

Three Tuns
St George’s Road
Bristol
BS1 5UR

THIRD VISIT: THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 2014

SECOND VISIT: FRIDAY 18 JULY 2014

It was a hot day so I decided I should have a refreshment stop at the Tuns before heading round the corner to the Nails.

A few folk occupied the outside tables – I didn’t know the Tuns did outside tables – but the inside was devoid of life except for the barman. I ordered a pint of Petit Grand, which was billed as a Saison with Elderflower. Hmmm… it tasted like a pale ale that had been dryhopped with some elderflowers. Don’t get me wrong, I did like it but it wasn’t the kind of beer I’ve come to expect when I see the words Arbor and Saison on the same pump clip. With the pseudo-saison gone I decided to score a half of the Bravo, which is a single hop 7.2% IPA. And damn fine it is too. I used to watch Juliet Bravo when I was kid but I don’t think that fact contributed to my appreciation of the Bravo IPA.

Time to go check out the beer festival at the Bag O’ Nails…

Three Tuns

FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 18 JANUARY 2014

The Tuns has been serving excellent beers to Bristol denizens long before BrewDog and the King Street triumvirate rocked into town. And it still easily holds its own. Being the Arbor tap house you will always find several of their finest on sale – from both keg and cask. Other breweries known to make appearances include Kernel, Summer Wine, Bristol Beer Factory, Art Brew and Moor. It’s a small place but it manages to use its space well so even when its busy it still feels nice and airy. The covered outside terrace pretty much doubles the available space. The Gents are grotty as fuck but I suspect I would be a bit pissed off if they were ever done up.

We were in town for a Half Man Half Biscuit gig, which meant we had a damn good reason to visit some of Bristol’s finest hostelries. No Bristol beer trip is complete without a beer or six in the Tuns so I figured that would be the perfect starting point. When I arrived my mate was already approaching the end of his first pint. I was playing catch-up. I kicked off with a pint of Arbor’s ¡Ay, Columbus! It’s a pretty solid tasting 5.8% BIPA and it went down super quick. My next beer was an Axial-Tilt from Hardknott. It was good but had I took the time to realise it was a saison before ordering I would’ve opted for a half and got a half chaser of something dark and moody. Nevermind. When the saison was gone the decision was made that we should get going. We were leaving the Tuns far sooner than I wanted to but we had another 4 drinking establishments to visit before the gig and when you’ve got such a punishing itinerary there’s no time to get sentimental.

BREWDOG – BRISTOL

BrewDog
Baldwin Steet
Bristol
BS1 1QW

NINTH VISIT: THURSDAY 4 DECEMBER 2014

Not one. Not two. But three visits in one day.

The initial plan had been to go shopping and then, and only then, go drinking. Sadly, that plan didn’t come to fruition. As is often the case when I hit Bristol my first port of call was Baldwin Street. I wanted a Hoppy Christmas but there was no Hoppy Christmas at the inn. Actually, the choice was a little limited as they were starting to get ready for the Siren tap takeover that was happening that evening. I ordered a Zeitgeist and took a seat. The place was sparsely populated. Only myself, one member of staff and a couple who had just popped outside to share a fag. There was a faint rotting cabbage odour that made it easy to leave after just the one beer. I’d planned to go to Fopp and then Rise but instead of going the more direct route straight down Baldwin Street I decided to walk along Welsh Back then cut up King Street. Uh-oh.

While walking from Colston Yard I’d hoped to stumble upon the newly opened Belgian beer bar, the Strawberry Thief. I knew it was somewhere between the Yard and BD but it wasn’t on the route I took. It was roughly 4pm but my concept of time was getting a little hazy. The place was still relatively quite but the staff were gearing up for the evening’s shenanigans. I asked manager Lucy where the Strawberry Thief. Ah, it’s on that street. This visit I decided to try the Konnichiwa Kitsune. It was a pretty tasty little number. The staff were whipping a batch of mulled Dogma. I quite fancied giving it a go but it was quite ready. Then I heard it was going to be four quid for a third pint, which seemed a little pricey. Perhaps the cost of electricity has gone up again. I left on a quest for the Strawberry Thief.

It had gone six so the Siren beers would be on so I headed back to where it had all began six or so hours earlier. The place had filled up nicely but I couldn’t see any of the Siren crew. I looked at their beer list. There was nothing super-exciting on it. It was all core range or stuff I’d encountered before on many occasions. I asked for a Broken Dreams. I knocked it back in a couple of gulps then left and undertook the long stagger to the train station.

BDB Tim Burton

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EIGHTH VISIT: THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBER 2014

I was in Bristol to see The Wedding Present play Watusi, which is very possibly my favourite album of all-time. Naturally, I made sure I had enough time for a few pre-gig beverages. As it was Stout Day I ordered a Cocoa Psycho but, as is the BD Bars way, it was served way too cold so I ordered a Lobos from Mikkeller and Fort Point to give the stout a little bit of warming up time. Lobos is billed and an experimental IPA, or so the dude behind the bar told me. It was okay. Kind of like a slightly sour barley wine. The Cocoa Psycho was still a little on the cold side so I popped back to the bar and bought a half of the Wild Beer & Fyne Ales Cool As A Cucumber, which, via the magic of the hopinator, has been jazzed up with lime peel and mosaic hops. It cost £3 (after EFP discount) for a half pint. When I sat back down it dawned on me that it is only £4.90 a pint (without discount). That’s a crazy bit of mathematics! The stout still wasn’t at optimum drinking temperature but it was getting towards stage time so I scooped it down and departed.

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SEVENTH VISIT:THURSDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 2014

Two visits that were split by a Wayne Hussey solo gig at the Bierkeller.

The night before Dieu du Ciel were in town and had staged a meet the brewer and tap takeover at BrewDog. As a rule I don’t work Thursdays so I’d initially planned to attend but circumstances dictated otherwise and I work a full five days in a row. (Oh the indignity!) But it wasn’t too disastrous as I knew I was going to be in Bristol the very next day for an acoustic goth gig and I’d have a little bit of time to mop up the DDC dregs. I asked a couple of folk I know what two beers they’d recommend if I only had time for two. Other people also chipped in with suggestions and the overall winners were Moralité and Aphrodisiaque. My favourite bartender was behind the bar working his last shift before jetting of to Colorado for an epic beer tour and to attend the GABF. (Scumbag!)

There were still a wide range of DDC beers to choose from but I decided to go with the two that had been recommended. Moralité is a 6.9% IPA that’s brewed in collaboration with The Alchemist (of Heady Topper fame). It’s a damn fine IPA. Not the finest I’ve ever had but I’d more than happily drink many many more just to be certain. The Aphrodisiaque was another great tasting beer but I felt it could’ve done with another 4 or 5% being chucked onto the ABV.

Time to go see Hussey…



… who was far better than I was expecting him to be.

The beer in the Bierkeller was poor so I’d quelled my thirst with a couple of cans of cider so now I was wanting something super tasty to bring the evening to a suitable close (and I wanted the Great White North Badge on Untappd). I decided to go for a Rosee d’Hibiscus and, to win me my badge, a Peche Mortel. The Rosee d’Hibiscus tasted like strawberries and cream sucky sweets – an interesting diversion but not one you’d want to consume all day long. The Peche Mortel was a very pleasant stout but one I felt needed and extra 2 or 3% chucked onto the ABV.

There we go. Two visits. Four beers. All four very tasty (although the stouts needed a bit more boom!) The winner was the first win I tried – Moralite. Maybe one day I’ll get to try a Heady Topper.

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SIXTH VISIT: SATURDAY 20 SEPTEMBER 2014

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition that when I’m on my solo pub crawls around Bristol I pay two visits to BrewDog – one of the way in and one on the way out – and today was no exception.

After having two excellent Wiper & True beers up the Goods Yard I decided I may as well have another of the beers. Triptych, and I might be making this up, is a brewed blend of three W&T beers. Anyway, it makes no difference what it actually is because what it actually is is ace. I first tried Wiper & True at the Bristol Beer Week fundraiser last year and really enjoyed the beers of theirs that I tried. A year on and they continue to impress me more with every beer.

I sat down to enjoy my beer and noticed that Andy was in the pub. Such a realisation prompted me send the following Tweet: ‘I’m in @BrewDogBristol and @BrewDogBarAndy isn’t here – I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.’ Within a few moments he replied that he was on his way. He’s a damn good lad is Andy. I wanted to be heading up the hill to check out what the Colston Yard was up to now it was under new management – management that promised to return the Yard to it’s former beer glory. But. There’s always a but when you try to leave a BrewDog pub. But I decided to ask Jenny a question that I’d been meaning to ask online for a few weeks: Is This.Is.Lager just a rebrand of Fake Lager or is it an entirely new product? It’s a new product. I ordered a pint. It was decent. It’s not likely to make me away from the like of Jackhammer or Dead Pony too often but should it ever make an appearance in cans it would be the perfect beer to stock up the fridge with when the sunny times return. Andy hadn’t arrived by the time my pint was finished. I’d no doubt catch on my back through in an hour or two…

… after a visit to the Colston Yard and, an initially unplanned detour, to Small Bar I arrived back at BrewDog. Andy was on duty, as was manager Lucy. I started my second visit with an ABCED from Wiper & True. I don’t know why it’s called ABCED but I believe I was told. Next up was a hit of Hardcore. For a while Punk was the BrewDog beer that was the poorest shadow of its former self but at the moment I think that it’s Hardcore that holds that dubious distinction. I felt I was just getting in the way of couples and groups so I left but not before I’d once again written DEAD on the bar using beer mats. Oh I’m so fucking hilarious. NOT.

BD Pirates

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FIFTH VISIT: THURSDAY 28 AUGUST 2014

When walking from the Grain Barge to The Exchange you pretty much have to walk right past BrewDog so it would’ve been rude not to pop in for two or three. And, besides, I had to meet the main man of Bristol Beer Week to buy a (a specially made fatboy sized) t-shirt off of him.

As I looked at the beer boards I knew there was a beer that I especially wanted to try but I couldn’t remember what it was. Then I remembered. And it wasn’t on the board. Evidently, Stone’s Wee Erky had been finished earlier that day. No big deal – there were still plenty of tasty delights up for grabs. I decided to start with an old favourite: I Hardcore You. As usual, Molly asked if I’d like a sample. She’s the only Bristol BrewDogger who still asks if I’d like a sample. I can only assume that she looks upon me as the old man I am and thinks that I’ve inadvertently stumbled unawares into her bar and she’s being nice being by trying to save me some cash and a crazy and unpalatable taste sensation. As usual, I declined the sample. We decided to go outside where it was less crowded and cooler. The I Hardcore You seemed to be in fine form so it was glugged down super quick. Acid Mothers Temple weren’t due to be on stage until after nine and we had no desire to see the support band (having seen them before and not en joyed them) so it seemed like a good idea to hang around in BD for a little longer. I decided that drink number two would be a pint of Gyp Wit from relative newcomers to the world of beer, Gypsy Inc. I’d heard folk say that Gypsy Inc. is some sort of collaboration between BrewDog and Mikkeller and that all their beers are rubbish. Well, Mikkeller are definitely involved and as BrewDog are selling the beers I guess that means they are also involved so the first point is true. The Gyp Wit was pretty decent. Not remarkable. But certainly not rubbish. So I guess that means the second point is 100% inaccurate.

While scoring my Gyp Wit I had a wee chat with my favourite Bristol BrewDogger, Andy. He wasn’t working. It was good to see him on the other side of the bar. Back outside Manager Lucy was chatting to my girlfriend. I’d later learn that my girlfriend had informed Lucy that her soft drink range (or BrewDog’s to be exact) is rubbish. She does have a point. ‘Craft’ beer is great but ‘craft’ soft drinks seems like an unnecessary indulgence. I left the two of them talking and nipped back inside for a Cocoa Psycho. Since the move to the new brewery some of BrewDog’s heavily hopped beers have taken a bit a quality tumble but the same can’t be said for their stouts. BD have always brewed great tasting stouts but they’ve been reaching new heights over the last year or so. I’d love to see a return of Lumberjack but in it’s absence I’ll more than happily drink Cocoa Pyscho.

AMT stage time was fast approaching. It was time to go.

The next time I’m in BrewDog Bristol will be during the forthcoming Bristol Beer Week…

BBW 2014

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FOURTH VISIT: FRIDAY 18 JULY 2014

Two visits for the price of one!

Andy was on duty. He’s from Scotland. Every BrewDog bar should have at least one Scot on the payroll. I like Andy. He’s one of the best staff members I’ve encountered in a BD bar (or any drinking establishment). I’m certain he’d be a great BD bar manager. We chatted about beer and general nonsense then he dropped the bombshell that he is going to Denver for the GABF. I love Denver. I no longer like Andy.

Andy suggested I try a hit of Founders Rübæus. It was good so I thought I may as well go for a whole glassful. It’s very probably the best raspberry beer I’ve ever tasted… admittedly the competition isn’t overly stiff.

I decided to have another drink before heading to the ticket shop to buy tickets for the forthcoming gigs by Acid Mothers Temple and The Phantom Band. But what should I have, what should I have… of course, I should have been enjoying Enjoy By but a customs hold up had destroyed that little dream. The night before I’d decided to bring my growler with me and fill it with something tasty but when it came time to stuff stuff in my manbag I couldn’t be arsed carrying the growler so it got left at home. As I stared at the beer boards wondering what to drink next I saw the reason I’d planned to bring the growler – Mikkeller Green Gold . Damn! I eased the pain by having a one on the premises. Then I said my goodbyes and headed off.

On the way back out of town I popped in for a swift hit of BD’s Jamsmine IPA and a can of Ten FIDY to go.

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THIRD VISIT: FRIDAY 30 MAY 2014

I was in town for a gig: Melt-Banana and decided that after last week’s annoying visit to BD I should give the place a chance to redeem itself. The place was busy but seemed devoid of the idiots that had taken over the place the previous Friday. Barman Andy wished me a happy birthday – obviously he’d been paying attention to Twitter.

I ordered a Mikkeller Schwarzbier. It was acceptable enough but not a patch on the Schwarzbiers that German breweries create. Next up was a Paradox Heaven Hill. In my opinion big hefty stouts are what BrewDog excel at and this one was no exception. It a dark and complex but prefectly formed brew. Lovely stuff.

It was tempted to have another beer but decided to drift back over the river and have a pre-gig beverage at the Seven Stars.

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SECOND VISIT: FRIDAY 23 MAY 2014

When did the assholes takeover BrewDog Bristol?

Not a pleasant visit. As soon as I walked in I could tell the place was populated by drunken dicks. There was a group of lads near the entrance who were taking great delight in making it as difficult as possible for anyone to get past. When I said excuse me they just stood a glared at me with a drunk arrogant fuck look on their faces. I didn’t ask a second time and shoved my way through the middle of them. I expected some comment or abuse but to their credit they said nothing. I made it to the bar and ordered a Titan and an AB:16. They place was rammed and I didn’t fancy my air being polluted by the ignorant space hoggers so I made my way back outside. The same scenario that greeted my arrival heralded my departure.

My girlfriend had headed straight to the toilet and on her return she didn’t see me at the bar so assumed that I had gone to the gents and subsequently waited at my usual bar spot for my return. I willed her to turn round and look out of the window so I could attract her attention and get her to head outside. I tried phoning her but the music was being pumped out at a volume that made it impossible for folk to hear their phones. I didn’t fancy have a third round with the assholes as I felt it might finally lead to fisticuffs and me lying broken on the floor. I could see Andy passing my girlfriend a cloth but couldn’t quite make out what happened. I finally caught my girlfriend’s attention and she joined me outside. I asked why she was handed a cloth. A manky bastard had puked all over the bar and the floor and my girlfriend had received a bit of collateral damage. Not the kind of thing you expect to happen at a BrewDog bar. The offender was ejected quickly and leaned against a lamppost while his friend tried to convince the bouncers that they had no legal right to refuse anybody a drink. Eventually the two drunk buddies staggered off down Welsh Back holding on to each.

But what about my drinks? The Titan was okay but a little past it best. The AB:16 had the aroma of a wet dog and tasted only marginally better.

Not the greatest ever trip to a BrewDog Bar.

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FIRST VISIT: SATURDAY 18 JANUARY 2014

The winner of my Drinking Establishment of 2013 award. BrewDog Bristol has everything you need from a quality boozer: great beer, great staff and, regardless of the time you visit, a great atmosphere. I always feel a little special whenever I walk through the door of BDB. Of course, I am a little bit special.

After several pre-gig beers in the Three Tuns, TFRNV, Beer Emporium and Small Bar we hit the Academy for a Half Man Half Half Biscuit gig. BrewDog would have to wait. The gig was excellent. So excellent that between the gig venue and BrewDog I managed to fall over and walk out in front of an ambulance and consequently fall over again. Oops.

The bar was buzzing but thankfully not too rammed as my back was hurting like hell and I needed some space. I ordered a Gigantic IPA, which I think was almost as tasty as my back was sore. I chatted to a few folk that I know and probably pissed off a few folk that I don’t know. The Gigantic was gone so I ordered a Plank Dunkler Weizenbock. I was happily supping away at my Plank and then my friend reprimanded me for drinking half of his AB:14. Oops. I finished the Plank. It was time to go home.

WAGGON & HORSES – BECKHAMPTON

Waggon & Horses
On the A4
Beckhampton
SN8 1QJ

THIRD VISIT: WEDNESDAY 19 NOVEMBER 2014

SECOND VISIT: SATURDAY 8 MARCH 2014

We’d been for a stroll round the standing stones of Avebury. We’d been for a pint in the Red Lion of Avebury. We fancied something to eat. We fancied something to eat that wasn’t frozen food quickly cooked. We needed to visit the Waggon & Horses.

When we walked in a member of staff was sat at a table glumly tapping away at her phone. She looked up but didn’t make an attempt at verbal communication. We stood at the bar for more than a minute while she continued glumly tapping away. Another member of staff appeared and enquired about our needs. Perhaps the one glumly tapping away was on a break. The Waggon has four cask handles but for this visit only three were in use. The choice was 6X, Henry’s (not really) IPA and Swordfish, which is 6X with some Pusser’s rum thrown into the mix. It had to be a Swordfish. It’s an alright pint. Nothing special but not totally dull and devoid of taste. The rum isn’t especially noticeable but it is there if you can be bothered looking for it.

We took a seat in the restaurant area and perused the menu. It was a struggle to choose a clear winner among such notable entrants. Eventually I whittled it down to veal calf liver, venison and duck pie, duck leg, belly pork with black pudding or rump steak. (All dishes had more components than I’ve mentioned but I can’t remember the specifics.) I decided to keep it simple and go for the steak. Prior experience has taught me that the steaks in the Waggon are most excellent. I usually go for rare but this time I opted to go medium. Not sure why. Oh! And we got some olives and feta stuffed peppers to tide us over until the meat arrived. By the time the waitress arrived to clear away the nibbles dishes my pint of Swordfish was dead but she didn’t ask if I wanted another. Perhaps she would when she brought the steaks out. No. She didn’t. The food was good but I’d made a mistake opting for medium as it had gone beyond medium and was venturing into the world of well done. But despite there being no blood there was still a bit of moisture. And the onion rings and sweet potato fries were great. As was the hollandaise sauce. Just a shame the service wasn’t up to its usual standard. When I went to pay the glum tapper was all smiles and sunshine. She was probably angling for a tip.

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FIRST VISIT: THURSDAY 2 JANUARY 2014

I’ve been a patron of the Waggon & Horses for almost a decade and during that time I’ve seen off several management teams. The initial couple could be grumpy bastards when the place was super busy but mostly they were good spirited. And she cooked a damn fine Sunday roast and he was passionate and knowledgeable about ale so I was happy to overlook their indiscretions. In the beginning it was a free house. You could choose from local favourites 6X and Herny’s IPA (both served from the wood) and a couple of guest ales. For a number of years it was our go to place whenever we (me and my special lady friend) fancied a meal out. Within time the owners welcomed us as ‘regular irregulars’, which made me smile as it got me thinking of Kinky Friedman. Then they sold out to Wadworth. They stayed on as managers but it was obvious that they weren’t entirely happy and their days there were numbered. The guest ales disappeared. They had to serve food on Sunday evenings. They had to open on Christmas Day. They weren’t happy. Then they left and we weren’t happy. But then new landlady arrived and she quickly began steering the place towards a new and glorious era. We were happy again. Customers can be such fickle bastards.

This was our first visit to the Waggon for quite a few months and I didn’t recognise anybody who was working, which suggests that there has been another regime change. But everyone was welcoming and had what appeared to be genuine smiles upon their faces and real warmth in their voices. We sat down at a table in the bar (the wifi doesn’t work very wall in the restaurant area – old pub, thick stone walls) that once upon a time had a telly above it that I’d whacked my head into several times – sometimes more than once per visit and before even having a drop of beer. The food menu was different than previous visits but still maintained some form of continuity – no doubt thanks to a guiding hand from Wadworth. Service seemed a little slower than usual but nothing to get too stressed about and when it arrived it was hot and tasty.

Casks beers were all Wadworth: 6X, Henry’s IPA (do Wadworth’s pubs legally have to sell 6X and/or Henry’s?), Bishop’s Tipple and Old Timer. Keg offerings were Wadworth’s Corvus Stout (a pretty decent Guinness/Murphy’s replacement), Amstel and some other things I’ve chose not to remember. I opted for a pint of Old Timer – a 5.9% Old Ale that only makes a draught appearance during December and January. The first couple of glugs tasted a bit tired but by the time I was approaching the bottom the glass it had perked up nicely, which suggests it was my taste buds that were jaded and not the beer. The second pint was on tip top form and proved to be a great pairing with the meat platter I’d ordered to accompany the beer. Thirst (and hunger) slaked we departed. We will no doubt return.

If you are visiting the wonders of Avebury don’t bother with the Red Lion because if you venture just past Silbury Hill you’ll find a pub that does better food, service and beer.

Waggon&Horses