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Bear & Billet, Chester Central, Chester

94 Lower Bridge Street

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Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Steve C left this review about Bear & Billet

The exterior of the Bear and Billet suggests olde worlde pub, but the interior has been stripped out removing any sign of its previous incarnation. It wasn’t that busy during a recent Tuesday afternoon visit, but all the tables in the front bar area were taken. Not wanting to sit in the rear seating areas I ended up siting on a high stool perched on a beer shelf on the central supporting column opposite the bar. This gave me plenty of time to note the presence of six hand pumps that were drawing Westwood Ales Cheshire Cat, Adnam’s Ghost Ship, Hallets Blindfold, Well’s Bombardier, Okell’s Bittier and Great Heck’s Christopher. Food is available, I didn’t read a menu but the roast dinner, mac and cheese and curry on the specials board were all under £10.
There was some background music playing and the large plasma screen was switched off with no signs for live sport that I could see. Adjacent to the fireplace in the left-hand wall is a staircase that I did not venture up. I found the service to be polite and although the interior wasn’t what I expected I still found this to be a decent enough bar that I would have no problem returning to.

On 28th July 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3568 recommendations about 3547 pubs]

Quinno _ left this review about Bear & Billet

A rather impressive-looking olde worlde Okells pub (GI listed, C.17th) which has had a decent go at tradition inside even if the three old rooms have been opened-out and modernised a bit sometime in the previous century - there’s varnished beams, pillars, subdued lighting etc. Six pumps all operational; just two Okells beers with guests from Red Willow and Weetwood as well as a cider. My Okells Bitter was fine, NBSS 3. Weirdly (and just like the Big Hand Alehouse) there were no Okells bottles in the fridge at all – what’s the point of a brewery owning a pub if it isn’t used a showcase for its whole range? Anyhow, this one’s a decent shout for a pint.

On 1st March 2019 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3969 recommendations about 3957 pubs]

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Brainy Pool left this review about The Bear & Billet

is indeed an Okells pub but thankfully they were only provide 2 of the 6 real ales. it has been modernised somewhat and I didn't particularly like it inside. probably didn't help that it was horrendously busy with the upstairs room reserved today. i'm sure it's a decent pub at quieter times though and the guest ale was excellent.

On 1st December 2018 - rating: 7
[User has posted 708 recommendations about 690 pubs]

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Al Bundy left this review about The Bear & Billet

A popular pub and a reasonably good one. Possibly owned by Okells. The pub is on two floors but I've never ever been upstairs, even to the toilet. The ground floor is sort of split in two with a raised area to the rear. Usually has an interesting couple of beers on the handpulls. Not the cheapest place but its a decent enough pub to forgive them.

On 21st August 2018 - rating: 7
[User has posted 3380 recommendations about 3297 pubs]

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ROB Camra left this review about The Bear & Billet

Very busy on this visit as there were two Premier League matches being shown. One downstairs and one in the upstairs bar. This didn't leave much room people who had only visited for a drink, so we just had a quick beer whilst stood at the bar. The Okells MPA (Manx Pale Ale) was in good nick though.

Two more visits over our recent weekend in Chester. Very busy, but the service was top quality as always. Now appear to have 2 Okells ales and 3 changing guests. The Newmans Pale Seal Pup was very good despite the silly name and the Wentworth WPA was excellent as well. Didn't eat this time but we will do again on a future visit. A haven of sanity on a Saturday night in Chester along with the nearby Albion.

Great little pub away from the main drag so the dipsticks don't go here on a Friday/Saturday. Roast Beef baguettes are brilliant. Usually has 4 or 5 real ales on tap. Usually an Okells beer and one from Spitting Feathers plus changing guests. The upstairs lounge area is very comfortable with leather sofas etc. Don't miss it when in Chester.

On 18th April 2013 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2807 recommendations about 2730 pubs]

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John Bonser left this review about The Bear & Billet

One of a number of pubs on Chester’s Lower Bridge Street, inside the city walls, is The Bear and Billet, an attractive black and white timbered building, the type in which Chester seems to specialise.

Outside, the seemingly mandatory blue plaque tells us that “this outstanding timber building was originally the town house of the Earl of Shrewsbury and it has been an inn since the 8th century” It’s a three storey 17th century building.

Inside, on the ground floor, we find a bareboarded low ceilinged interior with unoriginal looking black beams. There’s a mixture of seating, including some low coffee tables and armchairs and, although there are several traditional wooden settles, there’s an overall impression of a somewhat modernised interior that is not wholly in keeping with the age of the building. There’s 2 upper floors, but these were closed for a private function on my recent early Thursday evening visit. Apparently, over the 3 floors, there’s a total of 5 large screen TV’s.

The ground floor bar was pretty busy when I called in, mainly with the after work office crowd who, in typical fashion, had congregated in front of the bar counter, making it more difficult to get served than was necessary. An area at the back of the pub was showing the Young Boys v Liverpool Europa League Match to a smaller, but noisy, group of lads. Despite Thursday evening being “Grill Night” between 5 and 9 pm, there didn’t appear to be any takers.

The Bear and Billet is an Okells pub with 6 pumps, one for cider. Beers on were Weetwood Cheshire Cat, Beartown Ginger Bear, Liverpool Craft Beer Co American IPA and 2 Okells beers – Bitter and IPA. Serving staff appeared noticeably off the pace, but my Okells IPA was in good nick. The pub is listed in the CAMRA 2012 Good Beer Guide. The pub was advertising its own Oktoberfest Beer Festival from Sept 22 to Oct 6 featuring German lagers and food. Flyers advertised that guest ales would be reduced to £ 2.75p per pit on Fridays from 5-9pm ( which seems odd – that’s when you might expect the pub to be at its busiest ).

I suspect that I just came in at a bad time, but I didn’t particularly take to this pub much at all.

On 2nd November 2012 - rating: 6
[User has posted 560 recommendations about 560 pubs]

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Real Ale Ray left this review about The Bear & Billet

What an excellent pub, has to be on your list when visiting Chester. Friendly staff and regulars, the food served on our visit was the pie of the day. Six ales on handpump, I went for the Titanic Iceberg, Ilkley Ruby Cascade. Defo will return.

On 5th March 2012 - rating: 9
[User has posted 2957 recommendations about 2957 pubs]

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Pub SignMan left this review about The Bear & Billet

Located next to the Bridgegate on Chester's fine city walls, this pub once served as the gatekeeper's residence, before being converted to an inn called the Bridgegate Tavern around the early 1800's. In more recent times the pub gained a little notoriety for being the birthplace of John Lennon's grandmother before becoming popular as a biker's hangout in the 1970's, eventually falling into decline and ceasing to trade as a pub in 1999, before reopening as Benson's at the Billet in 2001. Eventually the pub was taken over by Okell's Brewery, who rightfully restored the Bear and Billet name and tidied the pub up to its present state. The exterior is, as you can see from the photos, classic Chester and this is pleasingly reflected in the interior as well, which is all dark wooden beams and fine wood panelled walls. The front room has the servery on the left hand side, a decent amount of seating and a fireplace on the right hand wall next to an attractive cabinet full of beer bottles. There are two more sections beyond this area, each with some nice mixed seating options around interesting old tables and access to a beer garden is possible through the rear door. There are two large TV screens in this part of the pub, both of which seemed to be showing an archaeology programme, which was a bit odd on a Saturday night. The place was absolutely packed on our Saturday night visit and it was about three deep at the bar, thanks in part to a private function in the upstairs room, which was so busy that it was impossible to have a look around.
There were four beers on at the bar - Okell's Bitter, Phoenix Arizona, Moorhouse Blonde Witch and Exmoor Gold - as well as Thatcher's Cheddar Valley Cider. The staff dealt with the queues at the bar quite efficiently and seemed able to keep check on who was next to be served. My pint of Arizona was in pretty good condition and had it not been so busy, I would have probably tried some more.
This is a nice historic pub with plenty going for it, but I suspect I caught it at a bad time, as it wasn't the most comfortable drinking experience with so many people crammed in. Still well worth a look though and a great double header with the nearby Brewery Tap.

On 22nd February 2012 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2402 recommendations about 2402 pubs]

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Oggwyn Great left this review about The Bear & Billet

Revisited and still exellent , very busy but service was quick and friendly , good choice of beers , its an Okells pub so two from them , Dr Okells IPA and Bitter along with Phoenix Arizona , Conwy Rampart and Cottage Atom Gold plus a Cheddar Valley cider , there are a couple of large TVs but these are unobtrusive ,when not showing sport they show intresting facts about the pub and whats on info. Along with the Brewery Tap just up the road this is a must visit when in Chester

On 28th November 2010 - no rating submitted
[User has posted 775 recommendations about 664 pubs]

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Oggwyn Great left this review about The Bear & Billet

Exellent pub at the bottom of Bridge Street , Pretty busy on my visit but service remained good , 5 real ales (2 Okells , Newmans Red Stag , Mallard IPA and Holdens Golden Glow) + Cheddar Valley Cider , my Okells Olde Skipper and Newnans Red Stag were both exellent . Locals were chatty as were the staff . An exellent pub well worth a visit

On 2nd May 2010 - rating: 8
[User has posted 775 recommendations about 664 pubs]

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