Bristol might be located deep in cider country, but the craft beer revolution hasn't passed us by. In fact, our city now boasts some of the best small-scale independent breweries in the UK. Reducing the many brilliant craft beer options available in Bristol down to just five was, then, a near impossible task. But we did our best - so argue among yourselves if you like, but think of these as a selection of what Bristol's local breweries, bars and pubs have to offer, rather than a definitive top five.
RECOMMENDED: Time Out's full guide to the best craft beer from around the UK
Five of the best craft beers in Bristol
If you’re looking for beers with character and flavour, you can’t go wrong with any of New Bristol Brewery’s core range. There’s a decidedly vibrant feel to their bold fusions of sweet, bitter and aromatic flavours, resulting in thrillingly off-kilter takes on traditional ales. Flame – an “India Red Ale” (a kind of mix of an IPA and a ruby beer) – is one of their most intriguing and satisfying brews. It offers a perfect balance between malty, citrus and floral flavours, with a distinctive hit of cascade hops.
Wiper & True has been one of Bristol’s most intriguing microbreweries over the last few years, with a pleasing obsession with both innovation and unusual taste combinations. This penchant for improvisation and invention makes keeping track of their various beers – most brewed in small quantities – an almost full-time occupation. Trptych 10 is one of a trio of pale ales currently on offer, and combines a trio of hops to deliver a strong and tasty brew that boasts both clear citrus flavours and a classic bitter finish.
For some reason, the Moor Beer Company is often a little overlooked when it comes to Bristol microbreweries. Then again, they have only been in Bristol since January 2015, having spent the previous two decades brewing fine craft ales from a farm in Somerset. Revival, which is available in 330ml cans, rather than bottles, has been a mainstay of their range since 2006. It’s a hugely refreshing, drinkable and hoppy pale ale, and at only 3.8% ABV makes an excellent session beer.
Arbor Ales’ surprisingly expansive range, full of small-run beers, quirky collaborations and experimental ales, tends towards the hoppy. Each of their ales utilizes a different variety of hops, or a combination of a number. Oz Bomb is an excellent example. While brewed to resemble a classic American pale ale, their use of Australian hops ensures a zingy combination of bitterness and the kind of exotic, tropical notes that guarantees a decidedly intoxicating finish.
Bristol Beer Factory’s tried-and-tested range includes a number of staples – the dynamite pale ale Southville Hop, the classically malty best bitter of Seven, and so on – as well as brews that touch on more international styles of beer. Bristol Hefe falls into the latter category, delivering a West Country take on German style wheat beer. It’s rich and flavoursome in the extreme – the kind of pint you should savour, rather than knock-back as part of an extended drinking session. Handled with care, it’s a delicious drink.