BrewDog Bar, Bristol

The punks of Britain’s brewing scene, BrewDog, have been kicking up a storm with their beers and, over the past two years, their bars across the UK. Last month, the brewer launched its second bar in London, taking over the old Green & Red and Mason & Taylor site in Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, including a speakeasy bar UnderDog in the basement. Only a few days later, it opened its ninth bar, in Bristol, with plans for another 10 bars in the next 12 months, including Birmingham and Leeds in early 2013.

Co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie were attracted to Bristol because of the city’s historic links with pirates and adventurers. “Since the days of buccaneering pirates, Bristol is a city with a great heritage of anti-establishment thinking, and BrewDog Bristol is more than another bar; it’s a bastion for the craft beer revolution in the West Country,” James says. “This is a call to arms for those in Bristol looking to shake the dust from the drinks scene and reject the tasteless, apathetic, mass-produced lagers that decorate the majority of bars in the city. Bristol has always been a prime target for a BrewDog bar. There has always been a solid community of craft beer fans and we’ve been regularly lobbied by them on our blog to choose Bristol as our next location.”

Since the opening of the first BrewDog Bar in Aberdeen in 2010, the company has worked with Glasgow-based CM Design, which is known for award-winning retail interiors such as Cult and Superdry. In Bristol, they transformed the site of a former O’Brien’s sandwich shop in Baldwin Street according to the concept’s brief to be “a revolutionary pub brand which would complement BrewDog’s edgy punk reputation”. Echoing BrewDog’s ethos, CM Design’s managing director Mark Brunjes says: “The bars are like nothing else around, and lead the rebellion against big-budget contemporary design bars, which are bland and over-styled.”

The starting point for the interior concept was “Cold War chic meets abandoned factory”, inspired by the 1970s architectural masterpiece, the Palace of the Republic in Berlin, which was demolished six years ago. “We sent the clients a slideshow of derelict and abandoned factories and the client immediately got and knew this was what he wanted,” Mark recalls. “In researching abandoned factories in Eastern Europe, we discovered that there were companies who were selling many fittings removed from these factories, including furniture, light fittings and clocks. We decided early on that we would use mainly recycled materials and set about creating a crumbling industrial warehouse.”

In Bristol, the stark stripped-down interior features materials such as old reclaimed gym flooring used as wall cladding, complete with old sports markings. Doors and walls have been clad in mild sheet steel, and brick and stone walls have been sandblasted. The bar servery is built in reclaimed brick, with a chunky cast polished concrete bar counter.

False lowered ceilings were removed and the original ceiling heights retained. The clever use of space included creating false mezzanine space above the toilets at the rear, complete with industrial galvanised balustrading. Mirror has been used creatively to further blur the visual boundaries of the interior.

The lighting also took many ideas from industrial warehouses, with cable trays suspended from the ceilings and over 100 bare bulbs suspended at different heights. Fresh air and extract from the bar is from large circular galvanised steel exposed ductwork. Flooring is a combination of polished concrete floors and Durbar, a non-slip industrial steel sheet flooring widely used in factories. New windows have been installed to complement the high ceilings and create a focal point at night.

With a capacity of 90, BrewDog Bristol showcases the brewer’s own ales but also draught beers from breweries all over the world, including Mikkeller, Evil Twin, The Kernel, Flying Dog, Rouge and Ballast Point. Open from midday to midnight seven days a week, it also offers cheese and meat platters along with locally sourced scotch eggs and pies. James adds: “We’re not interested in doing things the usual way, and the bar carries this philosophy with it. The clean, industrial and unpretentious design is a refreshing change from the over-styled and unrewarding venues that dominate UK high streets, just as our beers are in stark contrast to the norm.”

BrewDog Bar, 58 Baldwin Street, Bristol BS1 1QW Tel: 0117 927 9258

Originally published in the December 2012 edition of Bar magazine.

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