HubBox, Truro: Better Beef than Beer

Edison Bulbs at the HubBox, Truro.

The small Cornish beer’n’burger chain Hub took over trendy bar The One Eyed Cat in Truro last year, having previously traded as a ‘pop up’ on Lemon Quay.

We’ve been to the St Ives branch a couple of times but never quite cottoned to it but, as we were in Truro running some errands, and had recently heard good things about the beer on offer, we dropped in for a look on Saturday.

They’ve certainly gone all in on the makeover, covering the walls in colourful murals and friezes by David Shillinglaw, and paying homage to the previous temporary premises by using chunks of shipping container to form the back wall. Those bits of warehouse chic, along with stripped wood, exposed girders and the ubiquitous Edison bulbs, makes it feel rather like a misplaced BrewDog bar.

The beer offer, however, doesn’t compete with BrewDog. A half pint of Rooster’s Fort Smith from cask was served slightly hazy (nothing we couldn’t live with) and without any head. When we queried its condition, we were told ‘Yeah, it’s a bit flat that one’; no replacement was offered, and there was nothing else on draught we fancied the look of. It actually tasted pretty spectacular, despite having the body and life of a glass of weak squash.

The range of cans and bottles isn’t anything that would get the Bristol/London/Manchester crowd excited but Wild Beer Co, Beavertown and Siren aren’t often seen in pubs and bars in Cornwall, and the prices aren’t outrageous either. We enjoyed Wild Beer Co Bibble, a 4.2% ‘everyday beer’ — amber, opal fruity, with a twist of that oniony hop character the Kids seem to Krave — and Beavertown Black Betty, a satiny black IPA, both at £3.85 a can. Siren White Tips, a cross between a Belgian wit and an IPA, at £4.25 for a 330ml bottle, was also very good — light, un-intimidating, but also distinctly different.

The rest of the beer offer was less interesting — we increasingly see the presence of Einstok, for example, as a sign of craftsploitation in progress — a blander version of Hoegaarden that’s more fashion accessory than beer. (Oddly, one of the bar staff recommended it and then seemed to get a bit huffy when we chose something else; in fact, the service throughout was generally a bit too cool for our liking.)

But this is really a fast food restaurant with a menu (PDF) of burgers, hot dogs and slow-cooked barbecue, with decent booze as a bonus. The Hub Burger at £7.50 (sides extra) was hefty, juicy and properly seasoned — a bugbear of ours in supposedly upmarket burger joints — and a chunk of beef brisket (£7.95) made up for all the times we’ve ordered slow-cooked barbecue only to be receive over-cooked, dried out, stringy meat coated in sugary gravy. (And that should be us done on wannabe-foodie tasting notes for a year or two.)

We’ll certainly visit again on the strength of the grub, and for a bit of variety to liven up our otherwise steady diet of St Austell Proper Job, Bass and Spingo Middle. On balance, though, there’s not quite enough to keep us there for a lengthy session, or to convince us to choose Truro over Falmouth for a day out.