FOURTH VISIT: THURSDAY 6 NOVEMBVER 2014
You can’t go to a gig at the Fleece without popping in the Stars for a beer!
Sadly, none of the cask offerings were crying out to me so I opted for a bottle of Spaten Oktoberfestbier. I guess that was a sign that the evening wasn’t going to pan out the way I hoped.
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THIRD VISIT: FRIDAY 18 JULY 2014
Two visits for the price of one!
As I walked from Temple Meads to the main drag of Bristol I decided to take a little detour and visit the Seven Stars. A few folk were congregated at the outside benches. Inside was devoid of life apart from the barman. I quickly scanned the taps and decided on a pint of Bristol Beer Factory’s Nova. Me and my pint went outside and took up residence at the one bench which was lacking occupants. The Nova was good. Not Double IPA or Southville Hop good but more than good enough to get the day’s beer exploration underway. It was gone in a few hearty gulps. I took my empty glass back inside, placed it on the bar and said thanks and bye. The barman seemed genuinely surprised that I’d bothered to bring my glass inside before heading off.
On the way back to the station I decided to pop into the Stars for a farewell beer – it seemed a good way to bookend the trip to Bristol. I ordered a pint of Greenjack Mahseer IPA. It was okay but seemed a tad chewy for an IPA. I checked the train times. One was in 20 minutes and then there was a gap of an hour. I couldn’t be arsed hanging around for another hour so I jumped up and went for a quick pee then left. I was halfway to the station before I realised I’d left almost half a pint of the Mahseer on the table. Doh! But I caught the earlier train.
SECOND VISIT: FRIDAY 30 MAY 2014
There were a fair few folk milling about outside so I expected inside to be rammed but thankfully it was relatively sedate. I scanned the pumps and decided to go for pint of Lightening from Three Castles Brewery. I’ve had a few beers from Three Castles before – they are acceptable in a traditional kind of way. This one certainly seemed a little more forward thinking. Not uber-forward thinking but an interesting development.
A couple of guys swaggered up to the pool table. From the posturing and talk I assumed they were going to be shit-hot. They weren’t. They were just shit.
There was enough minutes left to squeeze in another pint before heading next door for a gig. I ordered a Chimera Dark Delight from Downton. It’s a no great thrills beer but it’s well constructed and decent enough – a solid multi-purpose everyday stout.
It was time to head to the Fleece to see Melt-Banana…
… they were fucking a-Mazing!
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FIRST VISIT: FRIDAY 23 MAY 2014
The Seven Stars has been open since the late 1600s and for every year it has existed it has won the CAMRA Bristol & District Pub Of The Year Award… well, that might be a bit of an untruth but it has won the award a fair few times. It’s a small pub but even when it’s packed it never feels crowded – even when people are chucking darts and shooting pool – and although it has a faint resemblance to a ‘local’ back-street boozer it always feels relaxed and friendly and has a very broad and varied clientelle. Of course, the quality of the beer on offer is what truly makes a pub worth visiting and, as it is a geniune Free House, providing great beer is something that the Seven Star excels at. With eight ales on offer it’s not hard to find a few you want to sample.
The reason for this trip to Bristol was to catch The Wonder Stuff gig – they are usually a good night out (even though I’ve never really taken to their recorded output) and the fact that Dan Donnelly had been added to their lineup gave tonight’s gig an extra slice of gravitas. Anyway, the gig was taking place in The Fleece and, as everybody knows, it is against the law to go to a gig at the Fleece and not have a couple of beverages in the Stars beforehand.
The place wasn’t as rammed as it is on some gig nights but it was standing room only. I started with a Gloucester Chinook. I like chinook hops and find they work very well as a single hop. The Gloucester version was delicious. So delicious that I was tempted to go order a second pint of it but decided instead to go for a change of direction and bought a Mocha Mild from Hammerpot. Sadly, it was disappointing and contained practically no mocha hit whatsoever. Oh well, you win some you lose some. We decided to move next door.
The gig was good. Arguably, the best I’ve seen from the Wonder Stuff but I bailed out 20 or so minutes before the end. It was all going swimmingly and then Miles made a plea for Scotland to Vote No. If that wasn’t bad enough he then spotted the much spread untruth that without Scotland the rest of the UK would forever (past and future) be confined to a Tory government. Hey ho, even Stewart Lee has succumbed to that lie. Arbor’s Motueka had arrived on the bar so I ordered a pint of that. It’s certainly not Arbor’s best but it is pleasant enough. The gig ended and my girlfriend appeared. The last orders bell sounded from within the Star. I darted back in and got myself a pint of the Chinook. It was the best beer of the evening so it seemed the logical way to bring the festivities to a close.