Tourist hot spots can be something of a mixed bag when it comes to beer and pubs. On the one hand you've got quick turnaround, ensuring (in theory anyway) fresh beer. On the other hand you've got the price. There's also the faux 'olde worlde' style decor you can often find, but that's not the end of the world.
Regardless of all that, Bath has been a pub crawl I've been considering for some months now and when Mrs BB suggested a weekend away (grow up) it seemed like a good opportunity to do some recon, as well as give away some money to the tourist honeypots.
Arriving at Bath Spa, I was surprised at how small the station is considering the traffic it must deal with. Two platforms deal with First Great Western, South West Trains and Cross Country services delivering nearly 6 million passengers a year according to the Office of Rail Regulation.
When you look at the station on the map you can see there wouldn't be much room to expand the station even if someone wanted to. The southern platform is quite snugly bordered by the River Avon. There's also the fact that the whole thing is built on a pretty big set of arches.
Coming out of the north exit of the station we don't have to go far to find some ale. A short walk across Brunel Square (nice) and a set of stairs back to track level brings us to Graze Bar, Brewery and Chophouse. Graze is the third of a small chain owned and ran by Bath Ales, the other two branches being in Bristol and Cirencester.
The Bath version boasts a microbrewery, which brews Platform 3, an IPA, for the bar. There's also a good range of Bath Ales beers, some craft beers, and other non beer drinks. Steaks feature prominently on the menu, and whilst I didn't eat the ones I saw coming out of the kitchen looked good.
As it was a nice day, we took our drinks out into the garden. This is where Graze moved to the next level for me, and took on a whole new train geek mantle. The garden shares a canopy with platform 2 of the actual station! This means you can sit at platform level with a beer, watching HSTs and DMUs rumble about their business.
One of my other interests is large animal ornaments. Here again, Graze delivers in spades with these bovine beauties as well as some smaller chicken statues.
I think Graze will be featuring on the eventual Bath pub crawl. Good beer, good views and the location make it an ideal place to start, and maybe finish an afternoon in Bath's ale pubs.