Zero Degrees has been a constant of the Bristol bar landscape for me since I moved here in 2007, taking up a huge plot at the top of Colston Street, with its balcony giving a great view across Bristol on sunnier days.
I’ve been a longstanding fan of their mango beer and pizza menu but was still happy to hear that the place was getting a spruce up and revamped menu earlier this year.
First things first though – for the uninitiated, Zero Degrees is a microbrewery and bar, and the Bristol branch is one of four bars across the UK (I’ve been to the Cardiff one too and it’s just as nice).
The Bristol bar is pretty huge and at quieter times can feel quite sparse and lacking in atmosphere, but the size does also mean that this place can accommodate pretty large groups, whether it be in the main bar area of their upstairs mezzanine dining area.
I popped along for a brewery tour to hear more about the beers brewed on site (and to taste them, obv – you can book a tour via their website or ask at the bar) and had a thoroughly pleasant chap with the bar’s brewer, Simon.
Simon told me some nifty facts about the beers they brew at this branch; here’s what I remember (I was on Beer #2 by this point)
- They brew around 2000 litres of beer each week – recently they had to brew 8000 litres for Harbour Festival!
- Their core range of beers are a Pilsner, a Pale Ale, a Wheat Lager, a Black Lager and that tasty Mango Beer.
- Simon gets to decide the special releases – in the past they’ve done Italian lager and a Mexican style beer.
- Lagers are their bestsellers, whereas darker beers and stouts in general don’t sell that well.
- Specials coming up include a fruity lager, their special Christmas beer and possibly a sour beer at some point.
You can also get bottles of beers from other breweries, as well as a pretty decent selection of wines. They did make their own cider for a while too.
Now – on to the food!
In addition to the aforementioned pizza menu, Zero Degrees has recently branched out and added a tapas bar to the venue, offering a selection of cheeses, meats, olives and other light bites.
The tapas bar is a decent enough option if you’re just popping in for a casual drink and don’t want to fill up too much, but I still tend to stick to the pizzas when I’m there.
Take a look at their pizza prep area – complete with wood-fired oven!
The pizza menu is fairly massive, and over the years I’ve tried a few of the more daring concoctions including Hoisin Duck (duck, spring onion, hoisin sauce base – a bit sweet for me), Jamaican Chicken (marinated spicy chicken, smoked bacon and a spicy and fairly sweet Caribbean base sauce) and Carne Asada (rump steak, smoked cheese and chillies).
This time I went for the Spiced Lamb (minced spiced lamb, sliced cucumber, peppers, red onion, chilli, yoghurt sauce) and my friend opted for the seafood pizza (mussels, calamari, capers, anchovies) – both came heavily laden with toppings and looking very appetising.
I was very pleased with my choice; the best way I can describe the flavour would be like an executive kebab – and I don’t mean that in a bad way at all. The meat was nicely spiced and soft, the cucumber and yoghurt added a nice bit of freshness to what could have otherwise been a very rich mix.
My friend also gave his seafood pizza two thumbs up (he inhaled it all before I got to try a slice so we’ll have to take his word for it)
Overall, Zero Degrees manages to straddle the line between bar and restaurant fairly well – the pizzas aren’t the best in town but they’re definitely one of the better places, plus you can wash your food down with a tasty beer which has been made a mere few feet away from your seat.
So if you haven’t done already, pop in and see what you think – grab a mango beer and a pizza menu, sit out on the balcony and enjoy the view.
53 Colston Street
T: 0117 925 2706