The Bar Review: Pig & Pickle

Pig & Pickle: 38A Fore Street, Heavitree, ExeterEX1 2QL

4/5 Stars

Pig & Pickle is an odd pub to be reviewing. Although I loved my visit there, it is too far from normal student areas to be worth mentioning to all but the most dedicated drinkers, but to humour those and anyone who happens to live out that way, let me say it ranks in my top 3 Exeter pubs. I ended up there because one night I was in another pub and got chatting to people including a very kind Swedish academic, who was buying beers for us all to share, and the owner of Pig & Pickle, Steve. And so, plans were made to meet again at that pub in the centre of town and get a taxi out to Pig & Pickle to see just how good it was.

The first thing anyone notices is how well designed it is. The walls have white wood panels up to a rather high and subtle wainscot, above which the walls are painted vermilion and chequered with framed pictures and industrial styled lights. Tables are simple wooden affairs, mainly pushed up against benches decked with red and tartan cushions, giving the place an air of stylish yet relaxed elegance. Price-wise, it is not the cheapest, but then it depends on what one drinks. The bar itself has a number of stools and is the perfect place to perch for a drink and chat, in front of the almost countless taps.

I started with a pint of ‘Tavy IPA’ by Roam Brewing Company. At 4.8% ABV, it is rather strong for its style of a Session IPA, yet its flavour more than made up it. Light with a crisp hoppiness, it was very refreshing and so did not last long. After this, I had a half of ‘Elevator’ by Dark Revolution which rather crept up on me with its 7.2% ABV. ‘Elevator’ is an on-point American IPA delivering a mix of bitter and floral hops such as Simcoe, Centennial and Columbus, with the clean citrus power of Citra hops and so is far more moreish than such a strong beer would typically be.

As I continued to taste my way across the extensive bar, my efforts were rather put to shame by the Swedish academic, who ordered a third of everything and then lined them all up in a beautiful display of beer’s range of colours (though the odd cider had snuck in there too … ). This aesthetic treat was heightened by the glassware. Elegant tulip half-pint glasses, adorned with a stylishly simple pig’s face logo. I cannot think of any pub with a logo even half as good, and the continuity of having all the glasses the same brings the eye’s focus to the beer within.

To break from the IPA rut my next beer was a New England Pale Ale, called ‘Cab 5’ by Roam Brewing Company. All I can really say is it’s a standard, decent New England Pale Ale, with a hint of fruit and a soft finish. I enjoyed drinking it, but would not hunt it out as there are better New England Pale Ales around. My last beer of the night was a return to the dominance of IPAs with ‘And Then Some’ by Stannary. This was a very drinkable American IPA with light smooth apple notes, yet at 6.9% I felt it was lacking the flavour to justify such alcohol.

I ended my night with a gin, of which Pig & Pickle have a small but well-picked selection, as they do with other spirits. I would love to be able to tell you what it was, but cannot remember as it was the end of the night, and I did not order it. What I can remember is that it was a local gin, with well-rounded botanicals, perfect for sipping as you chat to people you have never met before and, for a moment, might as well be in a mate’s kitchen chatting to their friends. So, go on, make the trek out there, get out of the student bubble, and engage with Exeter, rather than just the University.

Ed Bedford

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