Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Beerd, Bristol - the new face of pubs?

If you were going to open a new business would you send up your potential customers? Calling a beer bar Beerd and - cheekier still - getting your waitresses to wear T shirts with 'beerdy weirdy' on the back seems a high risk strategy akin to calling a new nail salon Chavs. Especially if some of your punters are not noted for their sense of humour.

So, Bath Ales' new opening in Bristol - a craft beer and pizza bar along the lines of the new places that have been opening in London (Brewdog, Craft Bar & Co and Draft House) - is a brave move and one I hope will succeed.

Its audience is obviously going to be very different from the CAMRA crowd. The airy rooms are dotted with brightly coloured tables, the bar sports bright neon hand pumps, lots of bottles and - shock, horror - keg beer. It's a student area - near the university and next to the hospital. Will they be interested in bottles of Scheider Aventinus at £7.95 a pop and small tapa style bowls of padron peppers at £4? I'm not sure.

They should go for the pizzas though our youngest, just out of uni and a pizza aficionado pronounced them underseasoned. I thought they were pretty good myself with a fantastic crust but I think I just chose a more interesting topping (prosciutto, artichoke, olive and mushroom). They were hard to cut on the somewhat slithery plates though and took a fair while to come which I'm guessing could mean a long wait on a busy evening.

Still it was only the first full day's trading and the friendly staff were eager for feedback. Apparently they'll be changing the beers regularly and they obviously know how to serve them, as you'd expect from a brewery-run operation. My half of Thornbrige Jaipur was in very good nick. And it's great to find them available in thirds for tasting as well as halves, two thirds and pints.

An interesting development. Cool beer places serving 'craft beer' rather than 'real ale' are going to be one of the hot trends for 2012, I reckon. Let's see if I'm right.


  1. I think it'll work. It implies to me the Peruvian-hat-wearing fixed-gear-bike-riding iPod hipster beerd, rather than the plastic-bag-toting cagoule-wearing morris-dancing beerd of English sterotype.

  2. Nice one. And plenty of the former in Bristol ;-)

  3. It sounds like its worth a visit, but qill it impinge on the nearby zero degrees?

  4. I shall definitely add this to my Bristol eating rotation - very different operation for Bath Ales to be doing and sounds most promising.

    Being a bit futher out from the centre, it's a good 10 minutes walk up the hill from zero degrees so hopefully they can both flourish.

  5. Don't think that's so much the issue - room for both - as whether the locals, especially students, will support it. I hope so.

  6. Definitely looks different! Can't see the Aventinus flying out, but it's good to see the third measures becoming more well used, been a long time coming.

    I'd have thought their margin on the pizzas should be pretty good so hopefully that'll provide most of what they'll need to stay afloat.

  7. Good start, but not on the same planet as Craft Beer Co, Euston Tap or York's Pivni. It is more your Draft House style - a few good beers at £££. This is the problem. When the Bristol Tap opens on Welshback I hope they can keep the beers under £3 a pint. Good beer at high prices is sadly not going to work in Briz.

  8. Fiona, as the designers of the Beerd environment we're glad that, on the whole, you and your readers seem to approve. Personally I love the concept and keep going back to try more and more, my current favourite is the Anchor Brewing Christmas Ale. I think you can rely on Bath Ales (although I don't speak for them), to continue to improve the selection and the food offering, and I'm sure some of your comments and those of others will be taken on board.
    In respect of the pricing it's worth remembering that for some of these more well travelled beers, there's transport and import duty to be born. Furthermore, as long as there's a choice in food and ale for those on a budget, (which there is), then I think it's perfectly reasonable to have some top-end selections, you would expect the same in a wine bar wouldn't you?

  9. I'm not saying the prices are unreasonable Hally simply I wonder if the local clientele (students, hospital workers) are going to pay them. But as you say there are cheaper options.

    Didn't know about the Bristol Tap, anonymous so shall look forward to that.

  10. We went to Beerd today for lunch. Open on New Year's day was a heartwarming start amidst a number of other places perfectly reasonably closed after the night before.

    Very friendly staff; delicious salads (I mean, really delicious, not just 'yes, lovely...' when asked).

    Will a local clientele pay? Don't know. Don't really think that's the only question. Does it seem like a good idea? Yes. Nice space, interesting drinks (some of which are less expensive), simple but really (to stress the point) excellent food.

  11. I have to say, as an American visiting the potential birthplace of beer... I have always been disappointed. CAMBRA is great and all, but I can't think of much that is more boring than going to another dusty pub and seeing if Fullers is as good as the Fullers somewhere else. The very fact that this pub is considered a risk is disappointing. However, they are trying, finally to get some of the Great British (and elsewhere) beers on the table. I like cask ale, I just don't like the same cask ale again, and again, and again. I agree with the author and believe that 2012 will herald a new era of independent breweries getting their hard work out there... I just hope it isn't merely wishful thinking.

  12. Interesting that the Bath Ales products look to be a bit more expensive than elsewhere.Also,I'm sure I've found 2 of those Dark Star beers cheaper than they appear to be here.Is it that expensive to get Dark Star from Sussex? I hate to sound cynical but is this is a way to get people to pay the price of a pint for 2/3s?

  13. I dunno who you hang around with but my 'usual CAMRA crowd' would be right at home here...

    Never mind penniless students and picky-eater kids, I seriously doubt they were the core demographic when they were putting this place down on paper.

    This style of branding is nothing new - Olives et Al, Burnt Fudge Co, I could go on and on - have all latched onto this tongue-in-cheek, matey style of flogging their wares. You'd have to be super-sensitive to not 'get it' or be offended by it!

    It looks great (though some sofas for a comfier 'session' would be a good addition, space allowing) - you get what you pay for, shame it's a 2-hour drive from my house!