This will be an unusually picture (and text!) heavy blog post as we talk about our new Hopped Cider Taphouse at Bristol City Centre. This is a project we have been planning since 2017 - cider is incredibly undervalued as a drink, especially as it's attributed to the British, worldwide - we were keen to break free from the rat race that is running around competing for bar space on price alone, and offer a place where people can enjoy unique and well made drinks, opposed to the generic lineup of 5 beers + one token cider. The focus will of course be on our own products and other hopped ciders from the UK and beyond.
The card-only venue will be launching this Saturday (for those reading in real-time!), 17/07/2021. After hosting many succesful Twilight Markets in Cirencester, and launching our newest location, Clevedon, we were keen to replicate the atmosphere in brick-and-mortar.
The location was previously used as a Cat Cafe (we can't stop accidentally reffering to it as 'The Cat'), and prior to this a series of night clubs - whilst painting the frontage (originally green) we uncovered text for "Bristol's Premier Dancing Venue" - the pole fixings can still be seen on the roof. Here are a few before-and-afters!
Originally, the building was rather dark and lacked space. The central bar area was incedibly bulky and two sets of front windows were plastered over, likely remeniscent of its days as Kush/Platinum nightclub. We removed the central bar, opened up the windows and upgraded the lighting and floor.
The neighbors tells us that the building is almost definitely haunted, you certainly get a feeling that you are being watched when down below, we hope that the spirits are old enough to appreciate the ancient ways, and that our rennovations are to their satisfaction. Our theme is "Pagan Woodpunk", the walls are crafted from reclaimed pallet tops and wooden slats, with each one being hand varnished and sanded. The floor and feature walls are made of OSB3 which has lightened up the inside and removed (some) of the cat smell!
We've kept the stage area as we are very keen to establish The Hopped Cider House as a live music venue featuring local independent artists. We've painstakingly wired in a soundsystem both upstairs and downstairs, with an additional set of PA speakers for when we are 'live'.
Oak whiskey barrels have been re-purposed as tables, some of which are ex Loch Lomond (still with a little whisky inside) and some are from our cidermaking friends, Pilton, where they have been used in the production of cider. Our Congal the Blind barrel is somewhere in the mix. For seating we have recycled Unikegs - some previously containing Beard & Sabre, and some Sxollie Cider.
Our bar is custom built, the top is from an old oak tree and the taps themselves have been plumbed and wired by ourselves. We have six chilled product lines, Idunn, Dolores, Freya - two guest ciders, which at launch will be: Pilton Scarlett Sharpe (hopped) and Red Cow Cider Medium (which is ultra limited edition as Red Bull are suing them to change their brand!). We will have one tap dedicated for beer, for the friends of cider drinkers who do not currently follow the old-ways. It's currently Wild Beer Co - Shika.
The drinks fridge contains a mixture of 500 - 568ml bottled and canned beer, with at least one of every style (porter/lager/stout/ale etc.) - uniquely, we will be offering a fresh rotation of the most premium 750ml 'fine ciders', served wine-style in a chilled cooler. The selection will change regularly and the current drinks list will be available in frames around the building.
The banners and curios have all been hand made, and where there is no wood - there's natural lime plaster applied by Jamie Ingle. We've kept one of the pillars exposed with the original stonework. In the 1800s this building used to be Bristol's Piano Factory, facing Hannover Street (a now closed-off street with access via the back door), before Denmark Street existed. Our frontage art has been custom designed by Zoe McLean, who is behind all of the Beard & Sabre gods.
We are very excited to be able to offer our cider directly, once again, in our home region. Our initial opening hours will be 6pm-12 Friday, 2pm-12 Saturday, 2pm-10 Sunday - increasing to 2pm-12 Friday with the potential for opening earlier on in the week pending staff. Please do try and visit us over the next few months to check out our work, and again once the Covid restrictions lift! Our opposite neighbours, Hat Bistro, have been working with the council to close the road for outdoor seating, we hope to have benches outside for the launch to enjoy the last of the weather!
In the cidergods we trust.