CAMRA-land is another country, overlaid upon and occasionally intersecting with the real world.
Like members of most minority nationalities, citizens of CAMRA-land have their cultural centres where they can mingle and speak of the old country in their native language.
These are pubs where games are still given space, open fires are prized, Good Beer Guide stickers cover window panes, and variety trumps ‘localness’ in the choice of beer on offer.
The Trewellard Arms, in the village of the same name beyond Penzance, near Land’s End, belongs to this world, if our fleeting visit on Saturday was anything to go by.
For one thing, the beer wasn’t the Cornish free-house holy trinity of St Austell Tribute/Skinner’s Betty Stogs/Sharp’s Doom Bar. In fact, all three breweries were rather pointedly absent.
Instead, there was Thwaites’ Pure Shores summer ale from Lancashire, alongside another ale particularly beloved of the people of Realalia — Wadworth 6X, from Wiltshire. There was one local ale on offer, but it was Penpont Cornish Arvor, which we’ve only ever seen on sale in Cornwall on a couple of occasions.
Black country pork scratchings, dartboards, CAMRA Kernow award certificates — all the signs were there. There was even a copy of Michael ‘Beer Hunter’ Jackson’s World Guide to Beer peeking out from a windowsill.
A CAMRA member who’d driven for hours to get to a holiday cottage might be dismayed to find a pub that would belong just as well in Sussex or Shropshire
But perhaps that’s not quite fair. Real ale isn’t the be-all-and-end-all — there’s also a long whisky-menu and a serviettes’n’tablecloths dining room — and it’s certainly a Cornish country pub: there are pilot gig racing mementoes on the wall, and so on. Locals come here to sit at the bar and watch the football, while tourists book tables for dinner.
For our part, even though it was in its mid-afternoon, change-over day lull, we loved this pub, and will certainly be back, especially as there’s a bus that runs from right outside more-or-less to our front door.
We’re not citizens of CAMRA-land, as such, but we do feel quite at home there.