Nailsea's very first micropub
By Carol Deacon
A pint-size pub run by a barman of magnum statue is about to open its doors in Nailsea.
Nailsea MicroPub which is a hop, skip and jump from the High Street, is set to open on Friday, September 27 at 5pm.
The former Lynne Fernandes Optometrists shop next to the Golden Horse Chinese restaurant has been empty for the past three years.
For the uninitiated a micropub is a no-frills hostelry which focuses on beer from the barrel with no noisy gaming machines, melodic pipped music, loud jukebox sounds or WiFi.
Rolling up his sleeves and putting the finishing touches to the former opticians at Ivy Court is Mark Ashman who has been fermenting the idea of opening his own pub for some time.
While Nailsea’s newest pub measures only 18ft by 9ft there is nothing small about Mark who stands 6ft 6in in his stocking feet.
With bench seating and small tables there is room for about 40-50 people inside.
Mark, aged 37, who has a BTEC national diploma in sports science is known to many as a former county cricketer and badminton player had a career change when he realised how much he enjoyed his pub work.
He was born in Bath and moved to Nailsea aged 21 to be near family and he worked at Comet in Clevedon for a decade before deciding to try bar work which included a stint at Clevedon Conservative Club.
He eventually became head barman at Mizzymead Recreation Centre adding all the requisite City & Guilds professional qualifications to his CV.
His uncle is Laurie Gibney a connoisseur of good beer who has had many knowledgeable articles published in Pints West the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) West Country publication.
Mark said: “It has always been my dream to own and run my own pub and micropubs are so fashionable, so I thought now it the time to bring my dream to fruition and when this place came on the market it was ideal.”
His business partner Carolyn Cooper, of Clevedon, said: "It's not going to be a rowdy place, it's not going to have loud music, it's not going to be like Wetherspoons.
"Going into a small micro pub I can see the nice ambiance and friendliness, so when Mark said it's something he wanted to do, I said I'd support it."
Mark intends to work six days a week behind the bar although the actual opening hours aren’t finitely decided it will probably be Tuesday to Thursday 5-10pm; Friday 4-10pm; Saturday noon-3pm and again at 5-10pm, Sunday noon-10pm and closed Monday.
He said: “Our drinkers will be able to talk and won't be drowned out by music or fruit machines, just good old conversation and beer plus a few bar snacks.”
The big reveal begins later this week as the front signage goes up the semi frosted windows are fitted.
Behind the bar he will stock West Country beers before branching further afield to the Midlands and northern ale producers.
Ask what is his favourite tipple Mark said: “As long as it’s a good beer, a dark, mild stout porter, I am happy, there is a new beer from Nottingham a chocolate Guerrilla stout has just won a silver award at the London CAMRA festival which is absolutely superb.”
Mark will also be stocking dark, amber and blond ales, individual bottles of white, red, rose and Prosecco wine all at mid-range prices, selection of gins and while not as cheap as chips as Wetherspoons will be less expensive than say The Battleaxes at Wraxall.
Mark drafted in an army of workman, many friends, to help him get ready for opening night and added: “There are a lot of people I have to say thank you to.”
The first micropub to open in the country was The Butcher’s Arms in 2005.
This trailblazing taproom in the village of Herne Bay is reputedly the smallest free house in England and run by real ale enthusiast Martyn Hillier.
Nationwide there are now thousands of mini pubs and Nailsea is about to climb on the cask-serving bandwagon of those beer drinkers who believe small is beautiful.
The first micropub in North Somerset opened in Clevedon in March 2018.
Called The Fallen Tree it is owned and run by Twisted Oak Brewery, a microbrewery based in Wrington, and one year on, the Hill Road establishment is thriving.
There are plans in the pipeline for a microbrewery and craft ale bar in Portishead town centre although nothing has happened yet.