2016 was the year I very noticeably moved away from challenging beers (ie. big, interesting, wacky flavour combinations) and settled into more traditional styles; bitters, milds, cask more often than not. This happens to us all I suppose; phases, fashions, seasons, moods, they all contribute to the style of beers we drink. Besides I was bound to get Rodenbach fatigue eventually (I can’t believe those words just left my lips/fingers). It was this realisation, this desire to discover and celebrate some great British beers, that led us to plan a Crafty Roadtrip (although clearly it was only me calling it this); a way of exploring a very small part of the UK while seeking out some great brews. And pubs. I should talk about pubs more.
Our road trip was to take us from London to Cornwall, with a stop in Bath on the way there and Lyme Regis on the way back (we have friends there and thought we might like a comfy bed after 5 days of roughing it).
So off to Bath we went with the intention of drinking some beautiful ales and avoiding the Christmas markets (I do not need a clock/dinner service/candle holder fashioned out of driftwood/old Clash vinyl/human hair). As we were only there for one day we didn’t manage to visit every Twitter recommendation we’d received, but we gave it a good go.
14 James Street, West Bath, BA1 2BX.
Bath Brew House is situated in a slightly quieter part of town, but only a ten minute stroll from the big attractions. We arrived mid week in the early afternoon; it was quiet, but not dead, and one of our drinking companions included a dog – I love a pub that welcomes dogs.
We were impressed by the vast interior and its tasteful decor (love a bit of wood), the pumpclips adorning the walls and the friendly welcome from the person womanning the bar who was super excited about all things beer.
I plumped for a jug of Gladiator, their in-house (James St) brewery best bitter which was all caramel and malted biscuits with just the right amount of bitterness at the end, followed by Ostarius, a creamy coffee delight.
A pleasant environment to spend a couple of hours in and I imagine it’s pretty fun on an evening. A solid start to the day.
3 John Street, Bath, BA1 2JL.
I knew I wanted to go to a Baths Ales pub while in Bath (you’ve got to, right?) and, as it was on our general route, we stopped in at The Salamander. Almost immediately I knew that this was My Kind of Pub; dinky, stuffed with tables, a fireplace, the perfect place to get cosy with a pint.
I’d been looking forward to a pint of Festivity from the moment we’d reached Bath, and it didn’t disappoint. It was like Bath Ales had taken Christmas and popped it in a blender with some hops. Lovely jubbly.
6-7 Queen Street, Bath, BA1 1HE.
The Raven was a pub recommended to me time and time again on Twitter, and, as it was a few steps away from The Salamander, we had no excuse not to pop in. Again, this is the kind of pub I like: it’s dark, there’s no TV, music or quiz machines (it makes a point of saying this) and, arguably the most important factor, it has pies.
While there I tried a limited edition Belgian blonde style ale from the Dorset Brewing Company: Jurassic Grand Cru. WHAT A JUICE BOMB. Honestly, I don’t think I have ever had a real ale which packed this much pure fruit flavour. Belgian blonde? I’m not so sure, but this was absolutely delicious.
Other half loved this place, but I’d probably bring a nice cushion to sit on if I returned so that’s one point deducted.
14-15 Milsom Place, Bath, BA1 1BZ.
The final stop that evening was Hunter & Sons. At this point I was a good few pints down which explains the lack of inside photography. While there I partook in Hop Hop Hop, an imperial stout by Dugges. You know what it tasted like? That description in the photo above. And if that’s not enough for you to hunt down a bottle instantly then I don’t know what is.
The beer was great here, but the atmosphere wasn’t for me. I’d probably head back for a coffee in the day, but I’m a woman of the pub, and this was a coffee shop.
I finished the evening with that ten percenter as the next day we were heading to Tintagel in search of more interesting brews, and the legend of King Arthur…
Shout out to Indie Spirits, where I picked up a load of goodies to take home (including some Siren and Beavertown – goodness knows why I need to buy it in Bath, but I cannae resist a Blacklight Banana) and overheard a hilarious shade throwing competition between a gang of 20 somethings.