Top Ten Cornish Pubs (So Far)

Vintage sign at the Blue Anchor, Helston.

UPDATED APRIL 2013: a new list of our favourite Cornish pubs is now available here.

As more beer geeks start to plan summer trips to Cornwall, we’ve been getting odd one-off queries about breweries, beer and pubs and so thought we’d put together a couple of posts with advice for visitors, of which this is Part the First.

The following list is of Cornish pubs we like and can recommend a visit to, if you’re in the area. Those we’ve starred are worth going out of your way to get to.

Note: we’re based way out west, so our choice is influenced by that.

The Driftwood Spars, St Agnes*
You often have to choose between great beer and a great view, but the Driftwood Spars does both. It’s a fabulous old, multi-room building with its own brewery, overlooking a beautiful secluded cove. A must visit. (Blog post.)

Star Inn, Crowlas (Penzance)*
Home of our beer in the year for 2011. The on-site brewery produces clean, precise and characterful real ales; both those and guest beers, usually from up north, are perfectly kept. You’d be mad not to drink Pete Elvin’s own stuff, but it’s also your best chance of getting non-Cornish beers in Cornwall. (Blog post.)

The Front, Falmouth*
Friendly staff, great range of ales and cider, bring your own food — what’s not to like? (Blog post.)

The Dock Inn, Penzance
Our usual choice in Penzance — one of the few places you can get Spingo beers other than at the Blue Anchor, often in better condition than on their home turf. Friendly welcome and good food, too. (Blog post.)

The Blue Anchor, Helston*
The beers brewed on site might be an acquired taste, tending towards West Country sweetness; and they reportedly had a bad patch a couple of years ago (but before our time); but this is nonetheless a Cornish institution, and a truly characterful pub. (Blog post.)

The Watering Hole, Perranporth
The beer is by no means great (it’s fine) but this is a pub on a beach. Not overlooking a beach, or near a beach — on a beach, with tables on the yellow sand. The teenage staff were a bit diffident last time we went but we can’t help but love a pub which feels so unusual and relaxed. (Blog post.)

Logan Rock Inn, Treen
A St Austell joint selling almost the full range; cosy in bad weather, with a bona fide beer garden for nicer days. A good place around which to plan coastal walks.

Old Ale House, Truro
Recently taken over by Skinner’s, this is the place to try their beers and stand a chance of enjoying them. It’s a nice cosy pub with some lovely old furnishings. Free peanuts too. (Blog post.)

Hand Bar, Falmouth
Where we go for an indulgent treat. Cornwall’s only craft beer bar. Classics from USA and Belgium are supplemented with occasional specials. If you’re from anywhere else in the country, you will probably have easier access to a better selection at cheaper prices, but we don’t, so it makes our list. (Blog post.)

St Austell Brewery Visitor Centre, St Austell
The obvious place to try St Austell beers, which occasionally offers the opportunity to try Roger Ryman’s experimental brews. For best results, go on a Friday afternoon when the staff knock off: there’s a great buzz and you might get to discuss your pint with the people who made it.

If you’ve got other first-hand recommendations, feel free to mention them in a comment below. If you’re a publican wondering why we haven’t mentioned your pub, why not drop us an email?

8 thoughts on “Top Ten Cornish Pubs (So Far)”

  1. What about the Blizland Inn? Easily the best real ale pub up our way. 6 or 7 hand pumps and also occasional keg ales!! Usually has something from; Sharps, Coastal, Penpont, Harbour, Tinagel, St Austell. Keeps it in great condition too…

    1. Thanks, Eddie. Not been, hence not on the list, but have heard very good things.

  2. I’m not saying that it particularly merits a special journey, but I’ve got a very soft spot for the Star at St Just. Park the car in the little square in the centre of town, take a gentle stroll down to Cape Cornwall, perhaps some fish and chips, and a couple of pints of Tinners in the Star. Preferably, say, mid-afternoon when it’s quiet. Never seems to get too full of grockles, which as a West Country man I appreciate. (Or perhaps I’m just lucky!)

  3. I wholeheartedly agree with your recommendation of The ‘front and Hand in Falmouth. I’m not aware of anywhere else like Hand in the west country, let alone in Cornwall – but would love someone to let me know otherwise.

    Having recently done a crawl of Penryn and Falmouth I would also suggest the Thirsty Scholar in Penryn (good beer, great beer garden), the Boathouse and the Oddfellows in Falmouth.

    My other favourite pubs in Cornwall are mostly location based. The Rashleigh Inn at Polkerris (nice easy coastal walk from Par, superb beach location) and the best pub in the whole world, the Turks Head on St Agnes, Isles of Scilly. The best pub in world on hot sunny days when you have to rush to beat the boats to the pasties. The best pub in the whole world on a stormy day and there are no boats on or off the island, and the only thing to do is huddle round a pint with friends and family.

  4. Thanks Matt! Not had a chance to go to any of those yet but they are definitely on the list. As is the Blisland, when I can work out how to do it on public transport.

    Rod – thanks for the recommendation, we always seem to be passing through St just at 10 in the morning, must finish a walk there instead of starting one!

    Ed – thanks for the tip, we hadn’t heard of this one.

  5. Currently staying near wadebridge and after a day of daddy duties myself and friends have earned an evening Padstow. Anything you’ve heard worth visiting ?

    1. Ah, now, we’ve got a blind spot there — not yet surveyed that part of the world. Let us know if you find anything.

      (If you like Sharp’s, you ought to find some of their stuff round there, and I think I recall hearing that new brewery Harbour had got their beer into a pub in Padstow.)

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