Come rain or shine
It may look imperfect, but it was like nectar
Another "must-visit" stopoff on any Bristol session, especially if you're circling back towards the city from taking in the numerous pubs in and around Spike Island, this beautiful bijou boozer is very slightly off the beaten track but not inaccessible by any means, being just a short walk from the city centre in the Hotwells area.
We're lucky that it's still here. It temporarily closed just before Christmas 2019 before reopening under a new owner in the early part of 2020 with huge optimism.....
...and we all know how 2020 turned out.
Fortunately it survived the pandemic and is back welcoming folk through its distinctive arched front door.
As you pass through said arch you get a sense straight away that this is a beer lover's paradise, from the CAMRA magazines and Good Beer Guides stacked up to the selection of beer on the bar.
In compiling this series I knew that there would be pubs that I wanted to highlight and share, but about which I couldn't write a full blog post.
This would be either because I'd only been to the location once; or that I didn't have much to report back other than it was somewhere I enjoyed frequenting and would recommend.
There's only so much fleshing out of an article you can do and there's only so much of the reader's intelligence you can insult.
So instead I'll use Day 20 to post some snappy quick highlights of places that I've been and enjoyed over the years but to whom I couldn't do full justice to by subjecting them to a wishy-washy overlong boring article.
Peadar Kearney's Pub, Dublin
Far enough away from the overpriced, overhyped hubbub of the Temple Bar but not so far away that you have to miss out on any of the action, Peadar Kearney's has everything you could possibly want from a genuine Irish bar in Dublin - off the scale Guinness, plus Smithwicks and Murphy's if you feel like mixing things up a bit. Had some fantastic craic with the locals here when over for an Ireland v Wales soccer match.
Duke of Wellington, Cardiff
On the opposite end of Caroline Street to the Cambrian Tap, this Brains pub (at time of writing) is a delight of mahogany, cubby holes and of course, exquisitely kept cask beer. Great food too - the burgers are superb.
Formerly on Caxton Place but now part of the grouping of bars and venues at the top of the High Street, LePub and LePublicSpace is a music venue, trendy hotspot, hip paradise and pub all in one. One highlight is that it's the only pub in Newport that I know of that regularly serves non-alcoholic lager on tap
The Orchard, Bristol
Down near the SS Great Britain lies a little, out of the way gem of a pub, especially if you love your cider. There are dozens on offer, as well as several cask ales and fresh pasties and rolls. No wonder it's a multiple-CAMRA award winner.
Formerly the Wodehouse Ams, this St Austell pub, named for the old name for the town in which it can be found, sits in the middle of Falmouth's Moor, so it's a short stumble from a bus or a taxi or a pizza. Or if you're adventurous you could always walk up Jacob's Ladder.
No prizes for guessing where this one is; or for finding it. On Poole's pub-heavy quayside this beautiful building stands out for its ornate green tilework and heavy wooden door. Cask and seafood are the main attractions at the oldest pub in Poole - this is where I first fell in love with Ringwood Fortyniner way back in 2009.
The Bell fits all of those. Tucked away in a street on the Newport side of the river Usk in Caerleon, to get to this 17th Century coaching inn from the village itself you have to walk past two other pubs, over a bridge, down a lane and round a corner. (See the "Mapped" page for exact location)
Or you could do what I do and cycle there. Caerleon is reachable from Newport by the excellent new Route 88 cycle route which skirts the river Usk and the Marches rail line before depositing you at Caerleon football club.
The Bell was initially a casualty of the pandemic, closing in September 2020.
We are making this announcement with heavy, heavy, hearts;
Due to the financial strain of the pandemic and with no help from our brewery with full rent and bills being charged without hesitation or remorse or any help for reopening, Charly and I will be unable to continue here at The Bell
It sat vacant until the new year of 2021 when a couple of local chaps took it on. After a refurbishment during Lockdown Three, it reopened in April 2021, with takeout food cooked by part-owner and head chef Ricky.
Like all venues in Wales, it reopened for outdoor/takeaway service on April 27th and then fully in May.
The pub has a proper traditional feel about it with the merest touch of the modern and contemporary. There's plenty of exposed stone and brick walls, ornate light fittings and beautifully dark wood to set the mood.
On the bar there are two regular cask ales - Landlord and HPA - and one cask cider, Thatcher's Stan Cheddar Valley. Guest casks occasionally appear such as Adnam's Bitter or Wye Valley Butty Bach.
One of the outbuildings has been converted into "The Shed" - a quaint and welcome seating area with its own cask bar which came in very handy during the Bell's recent Beer and Bacon festival.