The title of this post has no relevance to the post other than that it contains the name of the very first establishment that I have chosen to review. Namely Beerd. The reference is, of course, to the marvellous Jimmy Hill and his beard and the fact that he somehow became the subject of a saying in the mid 1980s that you used when you didn’t believe something someone told you and you wanted to wind them up to the point of them wanting to beat your head in. Similar phrases were “golden beard” and “chinny reckon”.
I only half get the name. I quite like the verb beered, as in “to get beered up”, but I don’t entirely get the relationship to beards. I guess it’s a post modernistic ironic quip on the relationship between real ale and old people with beards. But what do I know about marketing and branding. I am digressing already, only two paragraphs in to my first proper post. So, yes, what better way to start my craft beer based website than to showcase a sure fire sign that the trends in beer drinking are a-changing. Bath Ales, usually associated with the more traditional side of real ale drinking (apart from the also marvellous Graze Bar and Chophouse) have branched into the craft ale and pizza market with their latest venture, and they’ve made a good job of it.
Beerd inhabits the “site formally known as” Rustic Vine which, if I am honest, always looked like an off-licence and never quite did it for me. I even considered refering it to BrewDog as part of their “nominate somewhere near you where we can put a bar and we’ll give you a couple of grand” promotion. They’ve ditched the red paint, thank goodness, in favour of a fetching black and green, moved the bar so that it is far more prominent and spruced the place up with some rather natty old doors (it’s better than it sounds, see below) and some nice tables and chairs. Apart from that, not a great deal has changed and I assume the kitchen has been relatively untouched given the prominence of pizza on the menu.
The emphasis is clearly on interesting, smaller scale brews in bottled (26), casked (4) and kegged (9) format. The range is diverse with an obvious emphasis on the Bath Ales coming from the pumps, several better known US brands such as Brooklyn, Flying Dog and Goose Island and some bottles I’d never heard of before (Viven Imperial, Bellrose Blond?!). With the kegged and casked beer comes an interesting sizing range of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 and full pints, allowing you to try a mere snifter of each one in the kind of measure that you’ll remember in the morning (I am sure it’s not a cynical ploy to save on allowing drinkers the traditional taster before they choose as I saw this happening on a number of occasions). Although it is here when my one and only criticism lies, when you see the price of a pint of certain beers that are traditionally sold in half pint measures it’s hard not to do a cartoon like blink and rub of the eyes. £9 for a pint of Flying Dog Raging Bitch!! It’s like being in a ski resort. Also, some of the bottles feel a little on the dear side (£6.50 for the smoked sausage tasting Schlenkerla pushes it into the realms of unaffordability). But there’s plenty available for the lighter of pocket with a pint of SPA weighing in at under £3 and, as we all know, good beer is expensive to produce and therefore expensive to sell at an acceptable mark up.
I drank (I think):
Brugse Zot Blonde (lovely light blonde beer from the capital of Belgians)
Anchor Christmas Beer (practically mulled, in a good way)
Flying Dog Old Scratch (amber lager, perhaps not as good as I expected it to be)
Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat (very good wheat beer, not harsh like Erdinger, don’t know why it’s Urban)
Goose Island IPA (hoppy goodness)
We also ate house made (I’d say home made but it’s not a bloody home is it) pork rind which is potentially the best bar snack I’ve ever had. Think of bog standard pork scratchings with the odd hair, then think the pollar opposite and you’re somewhere near:
There are also nuts and sausages and other assorted tasty ideas that look like very well thought out drinking accompaniments, along with a few pizzas and salads to prevent you from getting quite so “beerd” up (nope, still not quite getting it). Having partaken in pies of the minister variety only hours previously, no pizzas were killed in the making of this review. The staff were friendly and they were keen to recommend beers which is an absolute must if they want people to delve into the extensive list and not settle for the known staples such as Gem and Golden Hare.
Overall, I am very happy that a/ something has taken the empty shell that was Rustic Vine so that my girlfriend can stop noting that it’s closed down every single time we go to the Coop opposite and b/ we have another great drinking establishment in Kingsdown. Good work beerdie folk. Although no one actually had a beard, so sort that out for next time please.
Slightly confused but happily hung over.