cat pub bag of nails in bristol with cask and keg beer
Blog, Drinking In...

Drinking in Bristol


Bristol is a great city I use to visit often a few years ago, due to Phoebe studying there. The city itself already had an established beer scene with great bars and breweries, fast forward a few years later and I’m excited to see how it’s come along.

Having heard so much from Tom about Bristol, Kaleigh and I decided to head down for the weekend. I mapped out where I wanted to try and with such good breweries in the area expectations were fairly high.

The Volunteer Tavern

drinking in bristol volunteer tavern pub with cask and keg beer
Before Tom and Phoebe arrived, Kaleigh and I spent a few hours at The Volunteer Tavern. Decent selection of local cask on, including one brewed with the staff & Twisted Oak micro brewery, with fairly standard keg but one Wiper & True line. The cask tasted great, really nice big overgrown looking beer garden. And a few dogs running round, with one asleep on a rocking chair. We were quite contended for the early afternoon.

Left Handed Giant Brewing Co. Tap Room

bristol brewery left handed giantTom-
I first came across Left Handed Giant in Small Bar where it originated, from their brew kit in the back of the bar. It’s great to see their new premises with on site bar.

Hidden away in between a park and an industrial site lay the brewery. As soon as we approached we were greeted by freshly-cooked veggie/vegan pizzas, ping pong and a good amount people outside enjoying their Friday night.
With an eclectic mix of their beers on it was hard to choose between, Duet or American Brown.

Really nice friendly place with plenty going on. Big windows to look into the brewery, food truck outside is always a plus (honey on pizza? Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in the North anymore). Wish we had stayed longer.

Moor Beer Company Tap

drinking at the moor beer company tap room in bristol

Short walk from LHG the well established Moor was next on our list. I’ve visited previously and was pleased to see not much had changed (don’t fix if not broke). A bar built on to the side of the brewery, with a great beer garden and a huge selection of their offerings on tap as well as cans, perfect for a Friday night. Safe to say we stayed for a few.
Only downfall is getting into the centre from here.

Place looks great. The Canbulance outside was awesome. We sat outside as the weather was nice which might have accounted for a little lack of atmosphere, but the beer was tasting refreshing. We stayed for a couple, had some more food from another street food vendor at the tap (more cheese enjoyably) & played some crappy quiz game Tom brought.
Definitely worth the trip over, especially coinciding with LHG. 

Small Bar

bristol bar s

I use to spend days in this place; upstairs they’ve got those amazing kind of sofas you sink into, add flights of beer and great food (fried pickles) into the mix you ain’t going anywhere fast!
This was one of the rare times I’ve drank here at night, it was busy but not to the point I’d walk out.
This place always has a great board of beer to choose from, started with Magic Ghost from Fantomé (the green one)! Then worked my through great local beers and lesser seen keg rarities.

Tom had been telling me for years how good this place was, so maybe that was why I wasn’t as excited on drinking their than I should have been. Don’t get me wrong the place is great, it just wasn’t what I had expected. I was expecting a fairly dark, rustic, tucked away cosy bar, yet it is a fairly large, quite rustic bar on a busy drinking street that gets a mix of families, students and beer knobheads like us. 
The beer list is great though, lovely mix of local and far afield. Drank some Fantome & a half of Duchesse de Bourgogne the first night, Arbor and Lost & Grounded the last day.
Definitely the best ‘craft’ place to drink in Bristol, I’ll just ignore my expectations next time.


Usually the last bar I wanna go in but I visited this one a lot back in the day and it always stood out thanks to the staff.
Changed a bit from my last visit, some pizza oven added to the end of the bar taking away much needed space in this busy bar. Standard choice of beer.
Ok wander down memory lane.

Like the hotel lounge of a Premier Inn they all kind of look the same, but unlike Lenny Henry’s favourite Brewdog does always have decent beer on. I got to drink some 16% Tokyo & it wasn’t my round so result. Granted there was a stag-do dressed as flower pot men and I’m pretty sure the bar was advertising that a magician would be performing there in a few days (sounds like hell) but it’s Brewdog, we all know the score, just sometimes you’re on the winning team, sometimes the losing.

Wild Beer on Wapping Wharf

drinking beer at wild beer co wapping wharf

Homogenised craft beer bar, straight outta the Brewdog playbook. Real shame, this bar was the most anticipated one of our visit. Great location but little thought put into the design inside, run of the mill derelictè “concept”. Compared to their first bar in an old town house at the heart of Cheltenham, they’re worlds apart.

As a quick disclaimer we did arrive quite late on on a Friday night, but alas Tom described it as looking like a Nandos and that stuck in my head. Beer list was great, beer tasted great too, but atmosphere goes a long way and this just place just screamed trendy bar for clubbers to pre-drink in. I would go again, just maybe a lot earlier on in the day.

The Portcullis

Near Clifton Suspension Bridge, in the borough of Bristol, Clifton was The Portcullis. Pretty certain this is a CAMRA favourite even though they had a great selection of Belgian beers. Weird little building, almost basement like pub. Nice to chill in after sight seeing.

Dawkins brewery owned pub I believe, nice little tucked away place. Strangely had a good range of Belgian bottle beers and glasses available. Nice place to stop for one out of the sun. The brickwork wallpaper made me cringe a little but I just stared at the lovely Belgian beer glasses instead.

Bag Of Nails

bag of nails in bristol cat pub with cask and keg beer

Cat pub, these two words conjured visions of horrific cat brothel cafes. Mindless idiots drinking shit coffee continuing to perpetuate the exploitation of animals. Instead I find myself in one of the best pubs I’ve ever been in!
20 plus cats that are truly loved by the landlord, that pub is their home! Scattered across the bar the cats hide a great selection of beer. We were drinking Siren’s Soundwave on cask followed by De Struise’s Pannepot and Pannepot Bourbon Reserve!
Decided to tear our self away after a few rounds of Pop Up Pirate.

While I understand why this may not be everyone’s cup of tea we all had so much fun in this place. First and foremost, the cask and keg selection was diverse and enticing. Two De Struise on draft, come on. The cask beer tasted so smooth and well kept. There was also a decent bottle selection offer. Can’t go wrong.
Secondly, the cats. They are everywhere, all over the bar, all over the window sill, in your lap, on your table and it’s just fantastic. They are all really relaxed and just want to lounge or get some attention. Could’ve drank and looked at cute cats all day. 
The pub itself is a ram-shackle joy, something new catches you eye every minute. It does get quite busy with people just coming in to see the cats, but they buy a drink, have their fun and move on, leaving plenty of time and space for the rest of us. We planned to do more of a crawl this day but spent all afternoon here, no regrets.

Three Tuns

I believe it’s an Arbor pub, don’t know where I got that information or if it’s even true. Either way it’s got good beer and pickled eggs in shot glasses!

Had my first ever pickled egg here, its probably my last. Very good cask and keg selection, maybe a little ‘Spoons feel on the decoration but pleasant place for a drink. It’s down the road from Bag Of Nails so combo up the two and look out for Nicholas Cage giving you a smile from the second floor window.

The Cornubia

pub in bristol called the corn

Tucked away down some back street that looked like you’d be making a delivery to Woolworths, hid this pub.
Not worth looking for to be honest, this old Georgian building has had Bristol built up around it and refused to keep up. That’s not always a bad thing but in this case it is.

Lots of flags fly high in The Cornubia and with all the other memorabilia in it it does seem like everything has just been piled on top of the last since this place opened, which isn’t a bad thing. 
The selection on offer to drink may not be the best, but it’s an interesting pub that you may not spend the evening in but is worth popping in for one.

The Apple

Someone in our party wanted to have cider whilst we were in the so called home of it and was told this was a good place to go.
At the end of King street(home of Small Bar and other fan favourites) was this hut that looked like a place you’d exchange your ticket for a wrist band at a festival and outside it, park benches littered with tins of Thatchers. We didn’t stay for one.
Sadly we didn’t go The Stable known for cider but thankfully does great pizza too.

Recommendations came thick and fast for this place but when we walked up to it late on Saturday with its outside bar and hordes of groups ten years younger than us we suddenly felt our age and decided it wasn’t for us. Maybe another time.

Favourite Place

Peaked at Bag Of Nails! That’s only a little of what’s on offer in Bristol, a lot of other great bars we didn’t have chance to revisit or even find.

Bag of Nails by far. A fun vibrant atmosphere to drink in. Kaleigh and I popped in the day we were leaving, 5 minutes after they opened, the owner Luke was mopping up and down getting things clean, whilst serving us beer and talking to the cats. We had heard he could be a little cantankerous but as with most people if you are respectful (and obey by his quite fair rules e.g. don’t pick the kittens up, no bad singing, no fucking selfies etc. that are chalked up on the wall) he is an enjoyable bundle of energy.
While Bristol may not be as ram-packed as Manchester, Leeds, London etc, it’s got enough charm and solid beer to keep anyone happy. Will be back.

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