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Pub Visit - England

Bath Brew House1Saturday 9th April 2016

Bob Thompson

This pub started life in August 1869. Its handsome building is constructed of the local stone that is so typical of Bath and it was once the Midland Hotel.

In 1869 the Midland Railway had opened its Bristol to Bath line terminating at Green Park station and this 14-bedroom hotel was built around the corner to serve the travellers. It was also a pub with a bar and a bar parlour.

Bath Brew House2This opened up Bath to the Midlands and the North as it was possible to bypass Bristol at Mangotsfield and trains could run direct from Birmingham (New Street) to the city. This route came into its own when the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway arrived into Green Park station on 20th July 1874 with a line from Bournemouth. This provided a direct route for holidaymakers to access the South coast from the North.

I’ll try not to dwell too much on the Somerset & Dorset Railway, which was jointly owned by the Midland Railway and the London & South Western Railway, except to say to is probably the most-loved lost railway line in the country.

Bath Brew House3It ran through bucolic and idyllic scenery all the way from Bath to Poole and delighted all that travelled over it. I know, because I travelled over it many times before it eventually closed.

However, the end was nigh and the beginning of its demise started in 1962 when the through trains from the North were diverted away from the line. This meant that its most well-known train, the Pines Express (Manchester and Liverpool to Bournemouth), now ran via Oxford. It struggled on with local Bristol to Bournemouth trains until it finally bit the dust in March 1967.

Bath Brew House4Bath Green Park station is now a branch of Sainsbury’s and also hosts a market. At least it is still standing, and that is something to be grateful for. So is its Hotel, the former Midland. Like many large inner-city pubs it suffered during the economic downturn and was renamed as the Metropolitan. That didn’t do much good so the stage was set for the entrance of the City Pub Co.

This pub-owning company had already established itself in many of the more affluent towns in the South and South-East.

Bath Brew House5They have pubs with breweries in Cambridge and Henley, along with many other pubs. They also established a similar brew house operation in nearby Bristol, the King Street Brew House. After purchasing the freehold of this pub, they opened its doors to the public on 1st October 2013. Some reports say it was 30th September. I guess this might have been the press launch, not that it matters much.

So, coming through the main entrance door Linda and myself found a medium-sized room on the left. It is home to a table football game, not that common these days. There are also many tables and chairs in here.

On the right of this room there is a glass wall through which the equipment of the James Street Brewery can be observed. It is of six barrels (bbls) capacity and the hot liquor tank, mash tun and copper are all here. There are fermentation tanks on the floor above.

Bath Brew House6Continuing along the extensive main room, we noticed the long bar counter on our left with a mixture of high and low tables on the right facing it. At the end of this section there are large glass doors that lead to an outside drinking area. Unfortunately it was little too early in the year to appreciate this feature. Then, there is a dog-leg in the room as you pass an open kitchen and serving area before continuing further.

Down here we found high tables, low tables, benches and stuffed settles, a right mixture of furnishings. On the wall are bookshelves.

Bath Brew House7At the end was another set of double glass doors that presumably led to more outside space. Surprisingly there is not that much wall decoration. Yet what’s more, there is another room upstairs. We settled on a high table opposite the bar counter and look at the beer range.

This was what was offered with the guest beers first: Twisted Brewing (Westbury, Wiltshire) Rebel (4.1%); Arbor Ales (Bristol) Breakfast Stout (7.4%) and Yeovil Ales (Yeovil, Somerset) Star Gazer (4.0%). Then there was the James Street Brewery beers: Gladiator (3.8%); Emperor (4.4%) were the two regulars that are always on the bar. The seasonal beer was Ostarius (6.1%), a porter.

Bath Brew House8As mentioned the brewery is of 6 barrels (bbls) capacity giving around twenty-five firkins (nine gallons each) per brew. The brewer is Anna Schwäble who trained at the monastery brewery of Klosterbrauerei Ettal on the edge of the Alps, near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. She arrived in Bath via the Zero Degrees brewery in Bristol. So, not surprisingly, some of the seasonal beers are German styles.

There is also cider in the form of Honey’s Midford Cider from the town of the same name in Somerset. Of course, there is a full menu here and also events on certain nights.

Brewery tours are available on a daily basis and there are even full brewery experience courses. The beer quality here is very high and as a result the pub comes fully recommended.

Important Information:

Bath Brew House, 14 James Street West, Bath BA1 2BX. Tel: 01225 805609

Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 11.00-24.00; Thursday-Saturday: 11.00-01.00; Sunday: 11.00-23.00.

The Brew House is fifteen minutes walk from Bath Spa railway station. Every visitor to Bath has a free map.
So I see no point in giving directions as you might not be coming from the station.
Buses 5, 19, 15 and 18 pass close by.