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Pub Visit - England

Drapers1Visited on: Friday 4th August 2017

Bob Thompson

This micropub was the first to be established in Bristol and it is to be found in Gloucester Road. Along with the city centre, this area is Bristol’s main entertainment area and is home to many pubs, bars, shops and restaurants. It is also very close to Memorial Stadium, the home of Bristol Rovers FC, which must give it considerable patronage on match days.

It first opened its doors to thirsty customers on Friday 4th December 2015. Its formation came about through the coming together of the minds of Garvan Hickey and Vince Crocker. Garvan had previously been involved in catering and hospitality. Vince is the owner and brewer of the Ashley Down Brewery from that area of the city which is to found in an extended garage at the bottom of his garden! The pub premises were previously used as the Budget Print Shop, but for 80 years before that use it was a draper’s shop, hence the name.

So it seems the perfect match of experience and knowledge is combined in the running of this pub. As so it was proved as it became an instant success gaining and gaining in popularity since it opened. This culminated in the partners receiving the CAMRA Bristol Pub of the Year 2017award.

Drapers2This is a remarkable achievement for a pub that had existed for just 18 months. It was chosen from a possible base of 700 pubs in the CAMRA branch area.

That popularity had manifested itself in a very tangible way when I visited around 18.00 on a Friday evening. It was absolutely rammed and I had to join a queue at the “bar” before being served. Three people were working the pub, two behind the counter, and another on collection and washing duties. It wasn’t until I was halfway down my second pint that I was able to take in my surroundings and snatch a few photographs after some of the customers had left.

Drapers3The predominant colour inside and out is green. I wondered if this is Garvan’s input as he is originally from Ireland. The pub’s interior has a couple of differences from the micropub norm. The first is the long tall table on the right side of the room. This actually proved to be a very useful feature as I was able to find a space on the end of it, the only place in the room to stand my beer.

The entrance is on the right side of the building. Once through it I discovered a small upholstered bench along the right wall.

Thereafter is a shelf groaning with the weight of books on it. Then I came across the second unusual feature, the “bar”. This is a low carved wooden piece of furniture that looks as if it could be ecclesiastical in origin. What makes it a little unusual is that it looks as if can be moved around the room.

Drapers4The beers are dispensed from cooled casks on a stillage on the right. The rest of the pub follows a normal micropub layout. There are a number of newly-made bench seats along the left side wall. In front are a number of small round tables with loose wooden chairs in front of them. On three of the walls there are two shelves high up; the top one holding old beer bottles and the lower displaying old drinking vessels.

The beer list was one of the most extensive I’ve seen in a micropub. There’s lots of breweries in and around the city and the Drapers majors on these with just one interloper the day I called in. They were: Chantry (Rotherham, South Yorkshire) New York Pale (3.9%); Arbor (Bristol) Pocket Rocket (3.9%); Bristol Beer Factory (Bristol) Fortitude (4.0%); Incredible Brewing (Bristol) Mosaic Pale (4.4%), Cheddar (Cheddar, Somerset) Wild Thing (4.8%) and two from Ashley Down (Bristol): Pale Ale (4.3%) and Black Beer (4.4%).

Devotees of cider are not neglected as I noticed that they were offering: Brislington (Bristol) Brain Twister Medium (6.2%) and Dry (6.2%), also Wilkins (Mudgley, Somerset) Sweet (6.0%), Medium (6.0%) and Dry (6.0%). Wines including the ubiquitous Prosecco are available. As expected no food is offered except for snacks in packages.

The Drapers Arms is easily accessible from the city centre by bus and well worth visiting for its good range of beers.

Important Information:

The Drapers Arms, 447B Gloucester Road, Bristol, BS7 8TZ. Tel: unknown.

Hours: Sunday-Friday 17.00-21.30; Saturday 12.00-21.30

The Churchways Avenue bus stop is right outside the pub. There is a frequent service provided by Firstbus.
This stop is served by routes 71, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78 and 79. All these buses pass through the city centre.
They begin their journeys south of the city. The 72 and 73 commence at Bristol Temple Meads station.
Also there are the 3A and 3X routes operated by Wessexbus that come from to city centre and call here.