A Perfect Pint in a Perfect Pub

John, the Landlord of the Merchant Arms, Bristol

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.

6 Responses

  1. I love Bath Ales, I never hear anyone talk about them but they ooze a perfect mix of the traditional and the contemporary, from the taste of the beers to the design of the pump clips and bottle labels. I’ll seek out the pub when I’m down in Bath/Bristol this year.

    • Hi Mark– It’s true. Whenever I hear myself say “I don’t like session beers” I think wait a minute– most Bath ales are around 4% and manage to have more flavor and balance than many beers at higher strengths. Also the beautiful label design doesn’t hurt!

  2. We didn’t make it to the Merchant’s on our recent trip to Bristol but my little brother lives about five minutes walk away so it’s on the agenda for next time.

    I love Bath Ales but find they’re often a bit rough on cask in London — don’t know why.

    If you pass through Bristol again, don’t miss the Grain Barge!

  3. Sounds good; I must keep an eye out for Bath ales, although I’m only likely to see them at festivals here in the North West. I’m not a great session beer fan either, but there are times when you have to make an exception. A good example in this part of the country is Silver Tally from Wigan microbrewery Prospect, described as “”a very pale beer at 3.7% abv with citrus aromas and a full hop flavour”, which is about right.

    The Merchant Arms sounds all right too.

  4. Oh – now that’s a good lineup – so hard to find Bath’s beers on tap up here.

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