28 January 2014

Small Bar

It was an embarrassingly long time before I set foot in Small Bar, Bristol’s newest craft beer venue. I have no excuse for this. However, now I’ve finally made it I can assure you it won’t be long before I return. 
Small Bar occupies a lovely building on King Street, which is rapidly becoming a real destination for decent beer in Bristol (The Royal Navy Volunteer Tavern and Beer Emporium are just across the street). The name Small Bar had given me the impression that I’d struggle to find a seat at 7:30pm on a Friday. Thankfully the place is anything but small, given you plenty of perching options to while away the evening. The interior is very pared down, with plenty of low lighting and wood giving you the feeling of a good local boozer.
The beer is served in 2/3 pint measures which my liver was exceedingly thankful for on the Saturday morning...although I still managed to give it a good outing. Upon arrival I could tell I was in for a good night, with the beer list spanning several boards. It is also handily divided into type of beer (IPA, stout etc) for those drinkers who know the style they enjoy but might want to branch out. A heartily good idea. The sheer choice on offer could be intimidating, but the staff are welcoming and hugely helpful – without making you feel like an idiot if you’re like me and don’t really know what Barley Wine is for example. There are also plenty of local breweries on the list which is always good to see, and made a nice change from the Wetherspoons I’d been sitting in earlier that evening (Fosters anyone?).

Now if there’s one thing I really like, it’s a beer bar that’s happy for customers to have a good old try before they buy. I’m not saying I’ll always go for that weird sour beer you’ve given me, but I like to be the given the choice. It also encourages me not to always go for my knee-jerk choice every time. On this visit however, I played safe and hung around the IPA end, although I would be excited to try the beers labelled “Crazy Shit” in future. And with 2/3 of a pint you’re not committing quite as much. (On a side note I'm sure the beer is probably available in smaller measures too but that’s not really an option for me – why have one third when you can have two? I feel the same way about a Mars bars versus a Mars Duo).
On this particular occasion I was drinking with a companion who is very much in the “eating is cheating” camp. However, if you are lucky enough to be allowed to eat whilst you drink then you can rarely do better than a Chomp burger. I have had the pleasure of this gastronomic beauty several times and cannot recommend them highly enough. And they are now at Small Bar every weekend until the end of February.
So my advice to you is this; don’t leave it as long as I did to head to Small Bar. With its brilliant staff, hugely interesting beer and excellent grub, I defy you to find a better way to spend a Friday night. 

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