West Cornwall Notes

Bottles at John's Wine in St Ives.

There’s been quite a lot going on in our local beer scene so, for the record, and to help those of you planning a visit to the far west, here’s a quick round-up of developments.

Coastal Brewery’s on-site brewery tap and specialist beer outlet is up and running in Redruth. An industrial estate on the outskirts of a former mining town is about as far from twee as you can get, and drinking among stacked palettes and breeze block walls won’t be to everyone’s taste, but we found it surprisingly atmospheric, with a chatty crowd of post-shift drinkers from surrounding units. It’s probably the best place to come if you want to ‘tick’ Coastal’s own beers from cask and keg (they’re generally decent and occasionally brilliant), and has plenty of Belgian, American and German beers not often seen out this way. Bottles are available to take away, too, if you’re thinking about stocking a holiday cottage. It’s open until 10-15:00, Mon-Thu, and on Saturday; and until 7pm on Fridays, but check the Facebook page — those hours aren’t fixed.

(DISCLOSURE: Our pal Darren ‘Beer Today‘ Norbury sometimes runs the bar and, on our visit, bought us a beer each.)

→ The First & Last in Penzance, which has been boarded up, under new management, boarded up again, under new management again, seems to have settled down, finally. The new tenants seem to have a knack for making it look inviting, mostly by keeping everything scrubbed and freshly painted. (The weather here can make a building look tatty pretty quickly.) It has two bars, one set up for eating, the other for boozing. The beer range on our last visit included Lushington’s (one of the better beers from Cornish brewery Skinner’s, in the ‘pale’n’hoppy’ style) alongside Mordue Northumbrian Gold and… something else zingy from up north that we forgot to write down. Exciting stuff in a part of the world where Tribute/Betty Stogs/Doom Bar is the norm.

→ Also in Penzance, after many years with exclusive distribution rights in town, the Dock Inn has ditched Blue Anchor Spingo Middle:

While this is a sad end to a long-standing tradition, its replacement is very good news: Penzance Brewing Company Trink (a 5.2% IPA in all but name) from the Star Inn at Crowlas, a bus ride from town, is now a regular, and a second pump was serving the same brewery’s Liberty when we visited on Friday night. The latter — sweet, dark and heavy — struck us as a dead ringer for Middle, almost as if Pete Elvin had set out to brew a clone, but we are told it is actually an old PZBCo recipe that has been revived. At any rate, it ought to keep the Dock’s usual Spingo drinkers happy.

→ In St Ives there’s a trendy new off-licence, John’s Wine Store, with a decent range of beer from what looks like the James Clay catalogue (Brooklyn, Flying Dog, Schneider) as well as beers from The Kernel, Beavertown and other currently hip names. We came away with a bottle of Schneider Meine Porter Weisse (750ml, £9.99). You can have a look inside the shop here thanks to Google Street View, though the beer range has improved since those photos were taken.

→ In the same neck of the woods, the St Ives Brewery is finally becoming a bricks’n’mortar operation having for some years sold contract-brewed beer with lovely label designs which, unfortunately, rather implied it was produced locally. This business model, however sniffy people like us might be about it, seems to have allowed them to raise sufficient capital to build their own premises which should be up and running by March next year.

We probably should have posted this at the start of the summer rather than as it sloshes to an end — we’ll be more on the ball in 2016.

1 thought on “West Cornwall Notes”

  1. It’s good that you write about small businesses that need a shout out rather than ones with PR operations behind them. It’s also good that you see it as necessary to be honest about getting the odd thing free from places you support, rather than desperately trying to make a mockery of the entire idea of journalistic integrity when recommending consumer goods that readers will have to pay for. The people who do the latter simply protest too much – you can tell who’s rattled and who isn’t.

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