World Beer in Penzance

Brooklyn Lager and Duvel at the Lamp & Whistle, Penzance.

It’s taken a while but, at last, we can now go to the pub in Penzance and drink Belgian and American beer, at the Lamp & Whistle, five minutes walk from the central station in the centre of town.

When we first moved to Penzance proper, we went to ‘the Lamp’ quite a bit, partly because it tended to have St Austell Proper Job in excellent condition, but also because it is one of the few places in the area not trading to some extent on the ‘cosy Cornish inn’ image. In fact, it feels as if it has been transplanted from a street corner in a trendy bit of South London. Then Proper Job disappeared, and we decided we preferred the atmosphere in the Dock Inn, and haven’t been back for a while, though we always peer through the window when we walk past.

When Tom Goskar tipped us off to the availability of Brooklyn Lager, however, we thought we ought to investigate, and we found quite a few changes. The ceiling has been fitted with what are technically known as ‘dangly stem glass holding rack things’, festooned with Chimay, Duvel and Bacchus branded glassware; a towering, ostentatious Brooklyn Lager font adorns the very centre of the bar; and there’s a brand-new-vintage Anchor Steam plaque fixed to the wall. It would seem that the James Clay rep has been.

These aren’t beers at the cutting edge of the import market (Chimay Rouge first hit Britain in 1974, Anchor Steam c.1979, at the start of the ‘world beer’ boom) but, come on, this is the wild west, and a town with a population of c.21,000, so they’re out on a limb going even this far. We’re delighted, at any rate.

We didn’t enjoy the keg Brooklyn Lager especially — it seemed less floral than the bottled incarnation with a lot of additional toffee flavour and, yes, actual rising, burp-inducing bubbles aka ‘fizz’. Chimay and Duvel, on the other hand, were a real treat, and scarcely more expensive than they are in supermarkets these days at £4.30 a bottle. (We paid £7.50 for a 330ml bottle of local ‘craft’ stout in Truro recently, so this question about the price of Belgian beer remains.)

There was also cask ale from the lesser-spotted Penpont Brewery, and evidence that the publicans’ real passion is for spirits in the wide selection of vodkas, rums and whiskies on the back shelf. (Żubrówka!)

If you’re in the area and fancy something a bit different, in terms of both ambience and beer selection, the Lamp might be just what you’re looking for.

We should mention that the Renaissance Cafe — not a pub! — also had Duvel with lovely glassware last time we went in.

7 thoughts on “World Beer in Penzance”

  1. I just can’t get excited about foreign beer anymore, not when we make such fantastic beer in this country.

    1. I’m surrounded by foreign beer, livin’ in furrin parts loik oi do, and there’s not a lot of it that’s a patch on a good British ale in good nick. On the other hand, on my travels I can buy Gulden Draak for the equivalent of a quid a bottle, so it’s not all bad.

  2. Py0, we agree with you totally – but as the range of homegrown beer that we can get is pretty limited then our threshold for getting excited is considerably lower than most beer geeks.

  3. “Chimay and Duvel, on the other hand, were a real treat, and scarcely more expensive than they are in supermarkets these days at £4.30 a bottle.”
    Not sure what you mean by supermarkets but Duvel is £2.19 at Tesco where I live, or £1.66 when it’s on sale, which is quite often.

    1. They’re both £2.20+ in the supermarkets near us, when they have them, which they don’t often. Taking into account glassware, hospitality, service, etc.., an extra two quid doesn’t seem too exorbitant to us, compared to the nearly six quid we paid for an Orval in Truro the other week, or the price of a pint of Peroni in most pubs.

      1. Fair enough, I agree a Duvel served in proper glassware in a nice pub definitely has higher value than one bought at Tesco. 🙂

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