On our recent trip to Wales, Mr. Malting and I had a brief stop in Bristol where we found what might possibly be the perfect pub. The Merchant Arms is a Bath Ale pub, the trademark ghost-bunny etched into the windows. We tried all three ales on tap and they were immaculately kept. The Spa turned out to be my favourite, with its bright hoppiness and caramel-corn malts. Though Barnstomer was a close second– an easier mouthfeel than in the bottle, the brown-sugar nose dominating and coffee and dried fruit up front. The head was quite substantial, lingering and lacing the glass.
The pub itself is cozy, the sills filled with succulents. The Landlord, John, is welcoming and witty. There isn’t a bad seat in the house, as every corner had its own little table. The telly is hidden away in a cabinet and good music was playing the first evening we were there, and on the second visit Radio 4 was on the stereo. An array of books for browsing are stacked above the booths as well as games. M and I played a round of Jumbling Towers. Who knew ale could steady the hand? If anyone is wondering, I won.