If you’d have told me eight or so years ago that I’d enjoy trying a host of craft ales I’d have laughed into my vodka and cranberry. But then, eight years ago I still thought a Hendricks and tonic with a slice of cucumber was the height of sophisticated drinking, and hadn’t quite honed my palate towards artisan libations.
Fast forward to present day, and I’m relaxing in the afternoon sunlight on a Zerodegrees balcony, sipping a Mango Ale and watching the activity below of lovely, crazy, eccentric Bristol.
So what’s it all about? Well, Zerodegrees was started back in 2000, when the first site in Blackheath was launched. It soon became popular due to their reputation for delivering great ales and tasty pizzas – a combination that, done well, is a sure winner.
But there’s more to this mecca of micro-brewing than that - including a strong dedication to providing beer with no nasties, and use of the freshest locally sourced ingredients. There are now three more locations that prop up the M4 – Cardiff, Reading, and of course Brizzle.
Bristol is the perfect place for what Zero Degrees is offering –a selection of crafted ales with fine pizzas, kilo pots of mussels, and an ever expanding menu. And the ales on offer are of such fabulous array that you’re sure to find something that floats your boat. Unaccustomed palates such as mine go wild for the Mango Ale – it’s summery, fruity and fresh – whereas craft ale lovers will be happy with the best selling Pilsner. Everything is done on-site by the master brewer – you can see the snaking pipes that run across to the bar pumps from just behind the scenes.
So what is it that has made it succeed where others have failed? It’s just a really chilled out place, I suppose. It’s like that person at school that was always popular and seemed to be on trend before they even started – let''s not forget that it was started fifteen years ago - seven years before that popular canine branding came on the scene with their version of events.
An unfussy menu helps here. What goes well with ale? Pizza goes well with ale! (well, pizza goes well with everything). Here they have perfected them – like, seriously, I am a bit of a pizza Nazi and have been known to rate on crispiness of base, ratio of cheese to tomato, and generosity of toppings. Zerodegrees have no problem in these departments – they ace all criteria.
And the pizza really is delicious – wood fired, obviously using fresh ingredients, and are wonderfully thin and crisp. Lashings of chilli oil make for even more divine scoffing. We also decide to test out a couple of cocktails – coming soon are a variety of Beer’Tails, including the exotic sounding Zerohito – a crisp Zerodegrees version of a Mojito, using Malibu, pineapple, mint and their own wheat beer. Fancy!
Plus, if for some reason you’re one of those complete bizzaros that doesn’t like pizza (I know, unthinkable), then these guys are also famous for their kilo pots of mussels, served in a variety of fashions and accompanied by golden fries. The newly pimped menu has also embraced a selection of tapas, pasta and salad options too, so there really is something for everyone.
In all honestly, any place serving cocktails, beer and pizza has the key ingredients for success - and yet the reason Zerodegrees show no signs of slowing is that extra (and essential) element – a passion for authenticity. They haven’t moved away from their roots, and are still about the consumer. Come take the weight off, relax with a pint, and feel yourself totally chill in Zerodegrees.