It might not be easy to get Belgian, German or American beer in Cornwall, but the native brewpub scene continues to offer exciting alternatives.
The Driftwood Spars is a great pub in a great location, nestled amongst huge sand dunes overlooking a lovely cove just outside St Agnes. St Agnes is well connected by bus, and it’s a 10 minute walk from there, so you could leave the car at home.
It spreads over three levels and so has plenty of room for everyone, from motorbike-riding locals to well-off German tourists. It also has a “best of Cornwall” cask ale selection, taking advantage of its free house status to offer two from Sharps and two from St Austell (including the sublime Proper Job).
Of course our main reason for coming was the beer they brew on site.
We started with Red Mission, a 4% red-tinged best bitter. We enjoyed it a lot. More crystal malt than we usually like worked here because it was well balanced with a hard bitterness throughout, and a sulphurous, hoppy kick at the end. Not at all floral and, in that, perhaps a bit like a Duesseldorf Alt?
Dêk Hop was next and this really was a cracking beer. At 3.8%, it was pale amber and distinctly hoppy. Again, though, it was a hard, robust hop flavour– not floral, citrusy or delicate. It was also very spicy. We wouldn’t be surprised to hear there was coriander in the brew. We spent a long time listing flavours and characteristics. It was many-faceted and complex. Did it remind us of a saison? Were we tasting German hops? (Coppery, minty.)
They had more beers in bottles (also for sale in their off licence) but, as we were coming down with heatstroke*, we called it a day, vowing to return, frequently.
* Heatstroke is a common cause of headaches and nausea the day after enjoying a beer garden.