Around 6 years ago I went to San Diego and took a tour around some of the best breweries on the planet. The thing that struck me on the trip was not only how great the beer tasted fresh, but how great a community the breweries has managed to build around themselves and how many people took the time to travel to visit their tap rooms.
I guess the thing I thought was really cool was that almost without fail they all had tap rooms, and almost without fail the actual brewers were just hanging out, having a beer, and talking about beer! From Green Flash literally just having some taps in the wall of their cold room on the brewery floor and a money box for the cash, through to Port Brewing/Lost Abbey having an actual bar area segregated, but within the brewery area and surrounded by barrels aging beer, through to the world class facility that is Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, the place blew me away. I wanted something like it back here in the UK. Fast forward 6 years and the UK scene has taken leaps.
The Kernel (as per usual) led the way, opening their doors on a Saturday morning and sharing their tables with the cheese merchant that shared their arch, and eventually spawning the jewel in the London beer crown that is now the Bermondsey Beer Mile, and throughout london you can now visit many breweries with Beavertown and Brew By No’s being overrun most weekends. Elsewhere there are a few permanent tap rooms, with Cloudwater and Magic Rock both doing great jobs of creating an inclusive atmosphere and encouraging folks to come by and drink fresh beer.
Down here in the South West though, considering the volume of world class beer being produced, has been a little quiet. The times though, they are a changing. Last year Moor Beer moved into town from the backwaters of Somerset where they established their business, taking on a unit in St Phillips just behind Temple Meads Train Station. They opened a Tap Room where you can go and hang out at weekends with the brewers. They are holding some of the best attended events in the area. Good Chemistry have moved in just round the corner from Moor. A 200 yard wander takes you to their front door, where they are also creating a Tap Room within the brewery building. Set up on a mezzanine overlooking the brewkit, it’s a really cool space. We moved into our unit in St Philips 20 months ago. Only a 5 minute wander from Moor and Good Chemistry, we are set right at the end of the cycle path. We began building our Tap Room last year and it is almost done. We’ve got outdoor space and have build a bar overlooking our (very small) brewkit, but most importantly right within the bones of where we will eventually build our main kit. I fell in love with the space at Port Brewing, hanging out within touching distance of the equipment that made the liquid in my glass. It is there that has inspired our Tap. Another 5 minute wander will take you to another little cluster of breweries. Arbor and Dawkins have both just relocated (though Arbor were already in the area, they’ve just moved to a bigger site) and Crane have moved into Arbor’s old site. Lost and Grounded are about to set up in the area. A cluster of 7 great breweries all within walking distance of each other, all within walking distance of Temple Meads. Not everyone is going to have permanent Tap Rooms but the ability to taste so much great beer brewed within proximity to the city centre is a massive leap from the days when the sole brewer in the city was Bristol Beer Factory!
We are launching our Tap Room on the 30th of this month alongside an event featuring Moor, Good Chemistry, Arbor and Dawkins. 2 days to tour around 5 great venues, drink some great beer and meet some great brewers. If it feels like the beginning of something special for the area and for Bristol, I reckon that’s because it is!