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Start the Bus, Bristol

This place continues to surprise. Challenging the notion that any youth oriented city bar has to pander purely to the lager market, it has stood up for British beers and places them squarely alongside the draught lager offerings.

While Butcombe is the staple, guest ales are rare and adventurous, from raspberry porters to unfiltered wheat beers. They're happy to talk beer with you, and the place equally welcomes boringly family types like me alongside the young hipster with skinny jeans and experimental hair. One of a kind and all the better for it.

16 Apr 2012 20:59

The Pride of Spitalfields, Shoreditch

Convivial respite from the heaving Easter madness of Brick Lane. A warm welcome from staff and regulars alike, who all kindly made room for our multi-generational family gathering of Crouch Vale drinkers. One of those pubs you just don't want to leave.

16 Apr 2012 20:46

The Shakespeare, Bristol

A sensitive refurbishment and an imaginative selection of guest beers make this welcoming hostelry Bristol city centre's most improved pub. Capable and friendly staff know how to keep both their beer and their customers, and it's good to see them pushing the Greene King guest ale roster as far as it'll go. A recent visit brought offerings from Titanic (how apt) and Nottingham Brewery, and thankfully I can't remember the last time I had to resort to GK blandobeers. Curioushistory can be assured that his January experience isn't the norm here.

16 Apr 2012 20:39

The Battle Axes, Wraxall

Impressively restored by Flatcappers, this pub's clearly concentrating on its food offering. The company talks a good game, but more attention to the beer wouldn't go amiss - a recent Saturday lunchtime saw only the humdrum Wickwar-brewed house beer on, and over the course of several visits the ale quality has yet to rise above the ordinary.

6 Mar 2012 12:11

The Imp, Bedminster

Unexceptional but vital community asset that spotted a gap in the market by taking in the Hopback Summer Lightning that was discarded by the discount booze purveyors now in charge at the nearby Coronation. Several recent trips have confimed the beer is of absolutely stupendous quality, but a use-it-or-lose-it atmosphere prevails and I fear for the future unless Bristol beer drinkers wake up to what's happening to community locals like this and start frequenting them in greater number. And when the ale's this good, there's no reason not to.

10 Feb 2012 22:13

The Salthouse, Clevedon

Well, who am I to buck the trend of alternating good review / bad review for this place? A large group of us descended on the place early in the day, and they fed and watered us admirably, even bringing out an unsolicited ice cream with a candle in it when they heard one of us was celebrating a birthday. Food came quickly and was tasty. The beer - Butcombe and a guest from Bateman's - did the job nicely. The bill got messy and so did we, but the staff remained cheerful and pleasant.

10 Feb 2012 21:53

The Plume of Feathers, Bristol

Closed once again. To say this place is cursed might be melodramatic, but why can't anyone make it work?

30 Jun 2011 22:27

The Rashleigh Inn, Polkerris

It would be easy for a pub in this idyllic location to think all it has to do is open the doors and count the cash. But a friendly welcome, consistently good beer and excellent local seafood earn it the holiday maker's grateful respect.

I don't know what London pubs the last reviewer has frequented, but I'd rather pay 3.10 for a fantastic pint of Skinner's Cornish Knocker while watching a summer sunset cast orange dapples over a glassy sea than pay the same to ingest a lung full of lorry fumes necking a mediocre pint of Pride on the Marylebone Road before taking the next sardine can from Euston. Yeah, I generalise, but you get the drift.

17 Jun 2011 21:59

The Globe, East Looe

The best pub in Looe, which isn't much of an accolade, and the only one in town prepared to deviate from the Doom Bar/Tribute axis of conformity. Great sunny beer terrace out front providing you can tune out the busy A road between you and the estuary.

17 Jun 2011 21:33

The White Cross, Richmond

Never go back they say... but on my first visit for the best part of two decades since this was a regular of mine, I was pleasantly surprised. Mostly I was worried about what havoc Young's might have wreaked on the interior, having experienced some of their other dog's dinner refurbishments (the Buckingham Arms in Westminster being top of that particular tree), but there was nothing to get too worked up about.

Young's Ordinary was fine and not outrageously priced for the outstanding riverside location. The London Gold seemed a bit lacking in character to me, though I'll put that down to the brewery not the pub. Bar staff coped with the throngs of bank holiday what-do-we-do-in-a-pub? once a year drinkers with robust good humour.

27 Apr 2011 21:26

The Coronation, Bedminster

To their eternal discredit, Hop Back have now abandoned the Coronation to its fate - which is as a bargain basement, quantity-before-quality purveyor of cheap national lagers and ciders under new but hardly enterprising management. A sad loss to local beer drinkers who are unlikely to be tempted in by mediocre Courage Best. Back to the future indeed.

27 Apr 2011 21:09

The Three Tuns, Hotwells

Re-revitalised city pub now selling a constantly changing and surprising range of guest beers in addition to Arbor Ales offerings both regular and experimental. What could be (and has been) a rather four-square and barren place is made warm and inviting by low lighting, a real fire and just-the-right-side-of-wacky blackboards advertising their wares. Top marks to this regular Friday afternoon pit-stop.

30 Mar 2011 21:50

Bonapartes, Bristol

If there's joy in heaven at one sinner repenting, they'll be dancing in the aisles at the sight of real ale on sale inside Temple Meads station. Having spent a beard-growing amount of time waiting to be served in the Knights Templar I turned up at platform 3 and saw to my surprise an advert for Butcombe Bitter. Equally amazingly, it was a clean, crisp pint in excellent condition, and good value (with my free Bite card) at a precise 2.56. Finally, this fantastic piece of Victorian Gothic architecture now has something worth crossing its threshold for. Oh, and there was Greene King IPA too, should you be that way inclined.

30 Mar 2011 21:38

Graze Bar and Chophouse, Bristol

Sort of a restaurant, sort of a pub - normally places trying to be both fall miserably between the two stools and don't deliver on either, but to my mind Graze is an exception. Excellently refreshing pint of Spa at a good value 2.70 (for a sort-of-restaurant). As this is Beer in the Evening I won't waste space with my fulsome praise for the baked pollock, but it certainly complemented the beer.

14 Jul 2010 20:57

The Blue Flame Inn, Nailsea

Treading a fine line between unspoilt and neglected, this boozer is a tremendous survivor. Never mind the gripes about elderly glasses and outside toilets (the horror!), splendid hospitality and decent ales and ciders are what you come here for.

13 Jul 2010 21:58

The Llandoger, Bristol

Chef and Brewered to within an inch of its life some fifteen years ago, and has never recovered in terms of decor, beer quality or ambience.

4 Jun 2010 22:24

The Cornubia, Bristol

The Cornubia swingometer is on the upward again. Genial hosts and tip top beer quality.

29 May 2010 22:06

The Masons Arms, Lower Odcombe

Thriving, pristine and friendly, a country pub that does everything right. Looks like the brewery's still in mothballs, but the two Yeovil beers I tested to destruction over the weekend were exceptional.

29 May 2010 21:59

The Cross Guns, Avoncliff

My experience at the Cross Guns was pretty much a pick n mix of the previous three reviewers, which isn't much of a compliment. The added talking point on our visit was being charged a jaw dropping 2 for an orange squash. When I protested, the barmaid's reply was "well, it is in a pint glass". That's OK then. The Box Steam beers struggled to reach average and weren't worth the trouble of queuing up again for.

29 May 2010 21:56

Harbour Tavern, Mevagissey

Curt service and cloudy beer didn't endear this place to me. Pity, as with Skinners Brewery at the helm and a fantastic harbourside location, it should have been a winner.

31 Oct 2009 21:51

The Taw River Inn, Sticklepath

Astonishingly good value pub in a small village nestling under the slopes of Dartmoor. The place was packed with eaters and drinkers on a dull Friday lunchtime in October, lured like me (presumably) by Bays Bitter at a frankly unbelievable 1.80 a pint, as well as the hearty grub and warm welcome.

31 Oct 2009 21:42

The Brewery Tap, Peterborough

Every town should have a pub like this. Large without being soulless, confident without being obnoxious, and the quality and range of the beer shines through. No chain pub this, but clearly a labour of love from the excellent Oakham brewery.

15 Oct 2009 15:26

The Eldon House, Bristol

I'm always slightly dubious about refurbs that open pubs out, being of the cosy nooks persuasion, and this one reminds me of a national park visitor centre with its rubblestone walls and plenty of natural wood. The front bar remains largely untouched though. Looks like the cost of the refurb is being clawed back through a steepish hike in beer prices but at least both the ales I tried were on good form.

15 Oct 2009 15:15

The Ostrich, Bristol

This has long been a pub that resolutely refuses to realise its potential. Multiple changes of ownership and management have left it dull and directionless. If you can get someone else to go inside and get your drinks for you - braving the uninterested and charisma-free bar staff - you can admire the fine harbourside location while you plan your next move to a pub where your custom might actually be welcome.

20 Sep 2009 20:56

The Royal Oak, Bath

The folk and beer festival again delivered fantastic family entertainment. With quality music, Magic Matt, cheese spread sandwiches and an ever changing array of fantastic beers, I'm amazed I only missed two trains. Brilliant.

4 Sep 2009 21:16

The Anchor, Seatown

It would be easy for a pub in such a stunning location to be overpriced and complacent, but the Anchor isn't. Efficient service even on the busiest weekend of the summer, fine food - and they even make a silk purse out of the sow's ear that is Palmers' beer.

4 Sep 2009 20:51

The Ring of Bells, Compton Martin

Well cared for Butcombe pub with a lovely garden and two beamy bars. The happily uncomplicated food is excellent and makes good use of local produce. I'm feeling hard to please today so will deduct a mark for having Butcombe Blond on keg and not handpump. Tsk.

1 Aug 2009 21:33

The Nova Scotia, Bristol

This is one of Bristol's finest waterside alehouses, untouched for many years. Adventurous guest beers always in good form, decent food at decent prices, and a robustly entertaining clientele make the "good cop bad cop" service more than worth your trouble.

1 Aug 2009 21:27

The Jolly Brewmaster, Cheltenham

Terraced (in a very Cheltenham way) pub with stupendously top quality beers at very keen prices.

29 Jul 2009 22:33

The Victoria and Albert, Netherhampton

No, it's not cheap. Yes, the notices in the garden are ludicrous. But the beer and the rustic charm of the V&A help it through. Country pubs need to do whatever it takes to survive these days - an extra 20p on a pint and some frankly silly parental advice might not be to my taste, but the drinking landscape of South Wiltshire would be a lot more barren if the V&A were to go under like so many other country pubs.

29 Jul 2009 22:23

The Trooper, Stourton Caundle

Don't know if alehouses made his annual visit this year, but the 2009 beer festival was a vintage occasion. Splendid beer, splendid pub.

9 Jun 2009 19:45

The Fox, Corfe Castle

Unobtrusive terraced pub with an unspoilt interior. Its quiet cosiness represents a kind of pub fast disappearing from city and village alike. Beer (Taylor's Landlord) was fine and good value, but it was a shame that as a free house there were no local products on offer and the rest of the range was a Greene King stitch-up. However I'm hardly surprised Pubquisitor got a chilly reception if he gave voice to his bizarre and completely unfounded theories of beer agents and short-life selling. Perhaps all the discredited city traders have downsized to a quiet life in rural Dorset and are keeping their eye in by trading on the lucrative Old Speckled Hen futures market?

9 Jun 2009 19:43

The Greyhound, Corfe Castle

Like Chick I was the victim of the "suit yourself" beer festival. Arrived just after 8pm on the bank holiday Monday to be told it had just closed because it had started raining. Lightweights. GIven the choice of Doom Bar or Doom Bar, I instead took my custom to the eccentric delights of the Fox.

9 Jun 2009 19:31

Crows Nest Inn, Swanage

The "under new management" banner is normally a sight to make my spirits sink, but here it's a sign of an invigorated pub that seems to be doing all the right things. Three beers all in good nick, a friendly welcome, local produce on the (good value) menu and a pleasant garden. Plenty of reasons to come back. So we did.

9 Jun 2009 19:23

Victoria Inn, Salcombe

More food-related certificates per square metre of wall space than any pub I've ever been in, but still accommodates the drinkers. Open all day, and a pleasant garden in which to enjoy a very decent pint of Tribute. Not cheap, but then nowhere in Salcombe is. For anything.

4 Jul 2008 21:56

Wyandotte Inn, Kenilworth

Astonishing to find that this hitherto neglected pub on Beerintheevening suddenly appears to be the most popular in town. As it's the mother-in-law's local I've spent many hours in here over the years (ahem) and fresh from the discovery of the best pint of Hop Back Spring Zing I've ever had outside Salisbury, I can only join in the chorus of approval.

4 Jul 2008 21:40

Woodland Tavern, Leamington Spa

Calm, relaxing and resolutely untrendy. There aren't many traditional two roomed pubs like this left and with the added attraction of Slaughterhouse beers it's a must if you want a decent pint in convivial surroundings.

4 Jul 2008 21:34

The Talbot, Leamington Spa

Rejuvenated backstreet local with a commitment to ale. Needs the edges knocking off it to make it a bit more lived in, but a worthy addition to the ranks of Leamington alehouses nevertheless. If you manage to find it, you'll be amply rewarded.

4 Jul 2008 21:28

The Buckingham Arms, Westminster

I was looking forward to my first visit here in five years or so, but was hugely disappointed in its pub-by-numbers refurb. So many clashing styles (big perching tables - check; random deployment of Regency style chairs - check; yawningly predictable Samuel Johnson quotes scrawled on the walls - check) all competing for attention with what should be its majestic centrepiece, that sexy, curving mirrored bar. Still, there was the consolation of the finest pint of Special I've experienced since the Young's move to Bedford into which to cry my bitter tears.

20 Jun 2008 20:10

The Seven Stars, Bristol

Tidy and friendly, this rare example (for Bristol anyway) of a back street city centre boozer is hitting top form. Top quality ales at good value prices make it ideal for a swift one after work.

20 Jun 2008 19:58

Engine, Kenilworth

Cosy, warm, friendly and resolutely old fashioned (in a low-ceilinged velour banquette way rather than a did-you-spill-my pint way). Recently had the best pint of Black Sheep I've ever had outside Yorkshire in there.

16 May 2008 21:55

Bowling Green, Leamington Spa

Good beer, friendly locals and a pleasant garden - apart from the fag ends multiplying like bacteria in a petri dish. And that's the reason it's struggling - it's filthy inside and out! People really don't like dirty pubs.

So yes, let's save the Bowler - and do it with some tins of paint, a few squirts of Domestos and a bit of TLC. Don't rely on the pub company to put any cash in - they don't give a toss, it's just a property asset to them. I've seen plenty of pubs in far more terminal states than the Bowling Green turn themselves around - so, Leamingtonians, are you up for it?

16 May 2008 21:24

The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, Bristol

Wipe your memory clean of this pub's glorious previous life as a red-nosed Bass drinkers' den and accept it for what it is in 2008: a popular meeting place with a landlord committed to good ale, especially local rarities you won't find elsewhere in the centre of town.

16 May 2008 21:05

Horts, Bristol

Young's have done a good job of strangling the life out of this once hugely popular, idiosyncratic pub. Now just another corporate clone - Young's own brands even muscled out the recent "local ales festival", outnumbering them by four to three when I went in. "Beiged up" sums it up perfectly. And they don't even show the cricket any more.

3 Aug 2007 21:06

The Bank, Bristol

Small, difficult to find and in a cul-de-sac would seem to make it an unlikely business proposition, but the current owners are making a better job of it than previous tenants. It offers local real ales served with humour, and the chance to sit outside with the office smokers in a traffic free but architecturally disappointing environment.

3 Aug 2007 20:58

The Carpenters Arms, Marble Arch

Decent ale house which likes its sport, tucked away off the Edgware Road, a favourite of mine on the walk back to Paddington. Friendly staff - a dodgy pint was changed instantly with grace and humour - and good value too, for beer at any rate. 2.60 a pint in these inflationary times, often for beers unobtainable for many a mile around, seems like a good deal to me.

10 Jul 2007 21:01

The Cross Hands, Fishponds

Promised much, but didn't quite deliver. Twelve beers? It was seven. Lunchtime food was of a high standard, but insubstantial. Nice refurb, but scuzzy toilets. I'm torn between giving the place a pasting for ideas above its station (or ability to deliver) and commending it for its ambition in bringing such choice and quality to Fishponds.

10 Jul 2007 20:51

The Portwall Tavern, Bristol

Reopened - it wasn't shut for long, and nothing seems to have changed apart from maybe a lick of paint. Oh, and the prices have gone up.

10 Jul 2007 20:43

Our Mutual Friend, Stevenage

Great pub fully deserving of its Hertfordshire Pub of the Year award. Handily placed for beer loving football fans but a fair step from the town centre and all the better for that.

15 May 2007 20:47

The Roebuck Inn, Stevenage

The Best Westen logo on the wall might make your heart sink, but the bar is an excellent, cosy little pubby place with a good choice of ales at fair prices. Coped admirably with the varying demands of West Ham fans watching their side escape relegation on the telly and raucously excited Salisbury City fans on their way to the Conference.

15 May 2007 20:44

Assembly, Bedminster

Another change of name, and unusual to see a Greene King pub disappear as they march onwards toward world domination. Now it's a Barracuda pub, going for the leather sofa and Wether-clone food market. Still, it seems to be working OK and less than two quid for a pint of Wye Valley Bitter - rare around these parts - can't be bad.

26 Mar 2007 19:37

The Portwall Tavern, Bristol

Had the standard pub chain bland-o-rama refit in the mid 90s, but worth a trip for the excellent, ever-changing range of ales and a great view of the soaring magnificence of St Mary Redcliffe church opposite.

24 Oct 2006 20:55

The Old Green Tree, Bath

The pub that defines "cosy". Comes into its own as the days shorten, when the wood panelling, musty warmth and hubbub of conversation draw you in. Beer is never less than excellent, and the welcome friendly.

24 Oct 2006 20:48

The Cricketers Arms, Leamington Spa

Did I stumble into a parallel Cricketers? The welcome was warm, the pub was clean and tidy and the beer (Butcombe Blond, a long way from home) was excellent.

25 Sep 2006 22:16

The Bunch of Grapes, Bristol

Not many honest boozers left in downtown Bristol, but here's one just a projectile vomit from the Centre which manages to keep the punters happy. Good mix of people, nicely rammed of a weekend without being unpleasant and always a good selection of beers from small breweries. Add in all kinds of live music and a top juke box and here's a pub for all seasons.

25 Sep 2006 22:06

Knights Templar, Bristol

Cavernous drinking barn almost as charmless as it looks in the photo. Skilful staff rostering ensures that however busy (or empty) the pub, there will always be only one member of staff serving per five people waiting. Fairly adventurous with their ales, though invariably served too cold.

25 Sep 2006 21:22

The Castle Hotel, Bishop's Castle

Everything a country town hotel should be. Cracking beer, a friendly welcome and decent food, log fires in winter and outside, the crowning glory - probably the best beer garden in the country, a landscaped terrace with unforgettable views over the rolling Shropshire countryside. What I'd imagine a Tuscan hillside to look if I'd ever been to Tuscany, except with apple trees instead of olives.

25 Sep 2006 21:18

The Seven Stars, Bristol

Don't hurry back, Clockworkpurple - the ciders have gone. So have most of the beers, the seven once offered now replaced by Courage Best (jeez) and a mere two accompaniments. It's had a rather bland and unnecessary refurb which has lost it much of its character. These stars burned brightly for a while but are now lost in the firmament...

5 Sep 2006 13:29

Beaufort Arms, Kittle

On a bank holiday weekend, the "family restaurant" was closed, and half the garden was also closed due to dangerous play equipment. If you sit outside you have to use plastic glasses. The food was expensive and reeked of the dead hand of Brake Brothers. Beer average. Complacency and lack of care pervaded. Not impressed.

5 Sep 2006 13:22

The Famous Virgins and Castle, Kenilworth

Welcome return to form for the Vs; I've finally forgiven Greenall's for their last refurb which turned half of it into a gimcrack Beefeater. Now an Everard's pub judging by their omnipresence on the bar, plus London Pride (yawn) and interesting guests. Friendly, capable staff and top notch Filipino food, with plenty of nooks and crannies to enjoy it in.

7 Aug 2006 21:59

The George and Dragon, Salisbury

Lovely garden and decent enough food compensated for the shock of 2.80 for a pint of Summer Lightning. Have a half over your grub, then walk up the hill to the Wyndham Arms and save yourself a few bob.

7 Aug 2006 21:51

The Salamander, Bath

Well designed, pleasing on the eye Bath Ales pub, but not as good as it thinks it is, or as good as it ought to be. Both beer quality and staff attitude have been variable (I'm feeling charitable) on recent visits.

7 Aug 2006 21:47

The Commercial Rooms, Bristol

Seems to change management every few months and the beer range and quality lurches from the fantastic to the dire. But it's currently as good as it's been for years (mind you, all things are relative and we're talking 'Spoons here) and the "urine soaked wretches" seem to be on the decline. Natural wastage I suppose.

7 Aug 2006 21:22

The White Lion, Bristol

Corking, tiny city centre pub presided over with grave efficiency by Les. Sit outside for a lungful of carbon monoxide with your pint of Bob and you could be on the boulevards of Paris.

7 Aug 2006 21:17

The Orchard Inn, Bristol

Proper pub properly run. Great choice of ciders and beers. Has saved me from several wasted weekends by the simple expedient of closing during the afternoon.

7 Aug 2006 21:04

The Pump House, Hotwells

If you're going to leave out one pub on a Bristol docks pub crawl, make it this one. Each successive refurbishment makes it progressively worse - this time it's sporting the sofas, leather armchairs and brushed metal bar counter look, totally inappropriate for this historic Victorian building. Add in mediocre, expensive beer and pedestrian food, then walk on 50 yards to the Merchants Arms or Nova Scotia and breathe a sigh of relief.

7 Aug 2006 21:00

The Double Locks, Exeter

Just to reassure the nostalgic students, the Double Locks is still agreeably shabby and making the most of its wonderful location. How long it'll stay agreeably shabby is debatable - I noticed today that there were planning applications in to extend it. Mess with it at your peril!

Food was good, service friendly and prompt, beer OK - both the O'Hanlons beers were a bit flat, and if I were cynical I'd accuse Young's of keeping the guest beers a bit ropey to maximise sales of their own...

31 Jul 2006 20:25

The Windmill Inn, Portishead

Can get madly busy with eaters, especially at weekends, but a combination of excellent beer, competent service and stunning views of the Bristol Channel help it through.

18 Jul 2006 20:47

Crown Posada, Newcastle

An unchanging oasis of beauty amid the caterwauling frenzy that is the Quayside. Like others here have said, the one place in Newcastle you always go back to on your return.

18 Jul 2006 20:42

The Royal Standard, Lyme Regis

Overpriced and complacent seaside pub. The Harbour next door, though looking like you'd need to remortgage your house for a meal, was much better value in the beer department.

18 Jul 2006 20:37

The Nags Head, Lyme Regis

Beer and welcome excellent, but the "children welcome" sign didn't extend as far as the garden, where I spent a stressful half hour keeping my 2 year old away from the plentiful supply of dog poo, liberally scattered throughout. Bit shabby inside I can take, outright health hazards outside, maybe not.

18 Jul 2006 20:35

The Miners Rest, Long Ashton

Utterly unpretentious hillside pub with great views and tiptop cider. If you come by bike you'll have earned your pint!

18 Jul 2006 20:27

The Annexe Inn, Bristol

Looks like a skittle alley and won't win any architectural awards, but always six beers available and good value pub food. Nice garden, although can get overrun with kids in the summer. Handy for the county cricket ground - I've spent many rained off days in here getting slowly pickled.

18 Jul 2006 20:06

The Lansdown, Bristol

I had reservations about what had happened to this pub deep in the heart of Clifton, but it's getting better all the time. Decent guest beers, good value menu and the garden's good too.

18 Jul 2006 20:03

The Eldon House, Bristol

Rejuvenated pub now big on Bath Ales (and why not). Sadly, the once legendary juke box has gone to the great wurlitzer in the sky, but under the umpteenth new ownership it looks like they've finally cracked it. A pub that proves flowers on the table doesn't necessarily mean poncey.

18 Jul 2006 20:00

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