From The Apple in Welsh Back and The Orchard on Spike Island to The Cider Box in St Philips and The Coronation Tap in Clifton, Bristol is not lacking in decent cider venues.
The latest is Beard and Sabre, which opened over the summer in the Denmark Street building that previously housed the You & Meow cat café, and Kush nightclub before that.
Close to the stage door of the recently reopened Hippodrome and just off the city centre, it’s a good location with plenty of footfall and the fact the street has been temporarily pedestrianised in the evenings means you can also enjoy your cider on benches outside.
Beard and Sabre is the first opening from Tom Dunn and Angus Sales, who have won several awards for the range of farm ciders they’ve been making on the edge of the Mendips since 2015.
The bar has a rustic taproom feel with stools fashioned out of old kegs and barrels, walls clad in chipboard and reclaimed planks, and a dartboard should drinkers feel the urge to step up to the oche between pints.
There’s also a small stage in the corner of the room and regular free live music has recently started up. As well as the range of Beard and Sabre ciders on draught, there’s Somerset-made Pilton Scarlett Sharpe (an intriguing blend of blackcurrant wine and cider) and Wild Beer’s Shika lager.
For real cider aficionados, there’s a selection of wine bottle-sized 750ml ciders served on ice in wine coolers with two glasses. These start at £12 for the Pilton Fox-Dog-Cat and go up to £22.80 for the Once Upon A Tree Cabernet Rose, a 9% blend of Dabinett apple cider blended with red wine skins, which are fermented and left in contact with the cider for three months to impart colour and flavour.
From a choice of three of the owners’ own Beard & Sabre range, I had a glass of the flagship Dolores, a 4% medium cider at £5.20 a pint (the same price as all draught ciders and lagers).
Beard & Sabre’s ciders are ‘hopped’, a style that has become hugely successful in the US and now growing in popularity here. By adding a small amount of hops, the apple flavour is enhanced and they appeal to beer drinkers who might not normally drink cider.
The Dolores is an easy-drinking, fragrant and fruity cider deserving of its several awards including International Cider Silver 2020.
As well as a few bar snacks, there is also a mezze menu supplied by Hat Bistro, the Greek restaurant opposite. This means you can soak up your cider with lamb kebabs, grilled halloumi, homemade fries and dips or fried calamari. Greek food and local cider – what’s not to like?
And with bottles bearing names like Pearway to Heaven and Elephant in The Room, there’s certainly plenty of other reasons to return to Bristol’s latest venue to celebrate all things cider.
Beard and Sabre is located at 22 Denmark Street, Bristol, BS1 5DQ. More information can be found on its website.
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