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The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer

Bars and pubs
5 out of 5 stars
The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

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A dizzying range of real ales, craft beers and cider is the main draw, although the regular live music nights and hearty Sunday roast are also popular

King Street, a cobbled thoroughfare adjacent to Bristol’s old docks, has long been one of the city’s premier drinking destinations. The area plays host to some legendary establishments, including long-standing jazz venue The Old Duke, and The Llandoger Trow, a venue that was originally built in 1664 and was the inspiration for the fictional Admiral Benbow in Treasure Island.

The Famous Royal Navy Volunteer, a little further down the street, is almost as old, with its building (shared by the King William Alehouse next door) dating back to 1670. It is, though, a cut above its neighbours, thanks to a 2013 refurbishment and repositioning under the watchful eye of landlord Alex Major.

While the paint job and new furniture have undoubtedly made the Volunteer a more comfortable, relaxed and pleasant place to drink, it is Major’s obsession with stocking a dizzying range of craft beers, real ales and ciders that has got people talking.

Put simply, you won’t find a wider or more interesting choice anywhere else in the city. The range frequently changes before your eyes over the course of a night, too, with a large and prominent board – complete with tasting notes – detailing what’s on offer. Most of the time, that means between 18 and 30 different beers and eight draft ciders, all sourced from within the UK.

Of course, there’s more to the Volunteer than beer. There’s live music three nights a week, plus singer-songwriter Mary Spender on Sunday afternoons. If you’re planning a visit, Sunday is a good option; the pub’s roast dinners are among the finest in the city. If you’re feeling hungry (or hungover, for that matter), the epic Triple Roast (yep, three different meats, plus veg and all the trimmings) will hit the spot.

By: Matt Anniss



Address: 17-18 King Street
Opening hours: Sun-Wed noon-midnight; Thu-Sat noon-1am
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