Empty pubs are a very sad site dotted around Bristol, but on the whole the city’s pub scene remains in rude health with new pubs continuing to open including the mighty fine Victoria Park. These are our top five Bristol pubs:
1) The Inn on the Green, Horfield
Slight bias as this was my local at the beginning of the year, but what a local. When I walked to the bar there was invariably a new ale to try. This is the best thing about the Inn on the Green, with an ever-changing roster of beers it’s like a year-long beer festival. If that’s not enough, they host a popular beer festival in their car park every April, reputed to be Bristol’s biggest in our Bristol pub of 2010.
2) The Victoria, Westbury-on-Trym
Last seen on these pages as the start of a 21-stop pub crawl, I only discovered the Victoria this year but it is a delightful pub in a beautiful and historic corner of Westbury-on-Trym. It’s a great little local pub hidden among residential streets at the bottom of Chock Lane. Like many of the nearby houses, it is made from rock hewn from the nearby slopes, on which is the Victoria’s ‘secret garden’, so really is a local pub in more ways than one.
3) The Duke of York, St Werburgh’s
I will leave the description of this pub to the Observer Food Monthly, who named it a runner-up in their pubs of the year category. “Graffiti covered and draped in fairy lights, this quirky pub is a real favourite in St Werburgh’s and the skittle alley, with its mismatched skittles, is worth a visit alone.” A night was lost here earlier this year with my friends Polly and Allan thanks to the ferocity of their Bee Sting cider. This is a quirky gem.
4) The Highbury Vaults, Kingsdown
The garden at the Highbury Vaults is one of the best in Bristol. It is more like a little grotto than a garden, with foliage on all sides of you and, if you look closely, a little train running through the greenery. Inside, the wood-panelled pub is full of character, with amusing newspaper clippings behind the bar and lots of little nooks and crannies, populated by lecturers, students and doctors.
5) The Portcullis, Clifton
Little Jack Russell Daisy no longer has the run of the Portcullis, tucked away round the corner from the Clifton Suspension Bridge. She moved on with her owner earlier this year to the Three Tuns in Hotwells and then sadly moved on to the big kennel in the sky. She is missed, but the Portcullis is still a splendid pub. I last visited in the midst of a power cut, chatting away to strangers like old friends with candles on the tables.