The Bristol pub that doesn't sell lager where you have to put your phone on silent

The Drapers Arms on Gloucester Road is 'Bristol's first micropub'
The Drapers Arms on Gloucester Road is 'Bristol's first micropub' -Credit:Ellie Kendall/Bristol Live

There is an abundance of pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes on Bristol's Gloucester Road, which is why many venture to this neck of the woods for nights out with friends and family, pub crawls, dinner, to watch sporting events and to sample what the city has to offer in terms of food and drink.

The bustling shopping street is also home to Bristol's first micropub, according to the team - The Drapers Arms. Opening at number 447 Gloucester Road at the end of 2015, it is an independent alehouse with just one room, that can seat around 40 customers.

It describes itself as selling real ale 'straight from the cask, sourced from independent producers, mostly small brewers based in Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire'. Over 95% of its beers, in fact, come from microbreweries within 30 miles of the pub's location.

The Drapers Arms' co-founder, Garvan Hickey, says that you won't find lager, Guinness, 'beers with the word "smooth" in their name', or any 'keg stuff', including ciders, spirits or things like Jager bombs, here. He adds: "However, without a jukebox, fruit machines, WiFi or television, I hope it will feel like you're just sitting in a good, old fashioned, traditional pub and, with conversation with other punters as the only form of entertainment, you'll also actually enjoy it."

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Inside this micropub, you will be able to get your hands on a few regular bar snacks, but no hot food is served here, and they try to always have at least one locally sourced vegan and gluten free beer on every day. And, despite the lack of WiFi and contrary to popular belief, mobile phones aren't banned in this establishment. Garvan says: "However, what you can do is put that ringtone on silent - or better still, turn it off completely.

"If you really want to tweet, twitter, text, ‘check in’ etc, we won't stop you - but if you start answering or making phone calls then expect to be asked to make a contribution to charity, fairly sharpish. If you're sitting in The Drapers Arms wearing headphones, we'll assume you're very lonely, a bit sad and you might really want someone to come over and talk to you. Be prepared."

With its main focus being 'beers and good conversation' The Drapers Arms has between four and 7 beers on at any one time, with the aim of having at least one new ale everyday. So far, Garvan (Garv) and his team have managed to serve more than 1,000 different beers from more than 150 different breweries and they're hoping to bring back their beer festival which, before the Covid-19 pandemic, took place every six months.

Inside The Drapers Arms on Gloucester Road
Inside The Drapers Arms on Gloucester Road -Credit:The Drapers Arms

The original name of the micropub was 'Blah Blah!' which stood for 'Bristol's Little Ale House, Bishopston, Looking At Horfield'. However, due to its history as being a Drapers shop for more than 80 years, The Drapers Arms was the name eventually chosen.

Alongside Garv, The Drapers Arms was originally set up by Vince Crocker - a 'born and bred Bishopston local' who is also the owner and chief brewer of the Ashley Down Brewery. He recently left the business to restart production at the brewery after a fire.

Meanwhile Garv, who moved to Bristol more than 30 years ago, has a background in sales and marketing and has lived and worked all around the UK and Ireland. He says: "There are loads of really good and interesting places to visit and socialise on Gloucester Road and, in fact, all over Bristol.

"The Drapers Arms is not for everyone, of course. However, I just wanted to open a place, near me, that I would like to drink in. So I did.

"I hope we're providing a relaxed and sociable atmosphere. We think any pub, club or bar is only as good as the atmosphere created by its customers. We'll provide very good beer, clean glasses and tables and chairs - that's about it.

"We can only rely on you, the good punters of Bishopston and Horfield, who enjoy a decent pint in good company, to make The Drapers Arms the kind of place that other people will want to go - so far, so good.

"If a winning and successful pub formula is something that could be created immediately from scratch then, rest assured, the big pubcos, breweries and venture capitalists in this industry would have patented it, packaged up and dropped it in anywhere and everywhere - and believe us, they're really trying."

The Drapers Arms is located at 447 Gloucester Road, Bishopston, BS7 8TZ and is open from 5pm Monday to Thursday, 4pm Friday, and at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It closes every night at 9.30pm, and is also open from midday on most Bristol Rovers' matchdays.