beer reviews pubs

The Hand Bar, Falmouth

The neck of a bottle of Goose Island Pepe Nero 2011.

Confession: we acted like dicks in the Hand Bar in Falmouth. Not massively,  just a bit. When we ordered a bottle of Sharp’s Monsieur Rock, the very friendly, knowledgeable barman really wanted to tell us all about it. “Do you know the story behind this beer?” he said excitedly.

And we did smug know-all faces and said: “Yes, we do.

His face fell.

Sorry, nice barman.

Anyway, what did we make of the bar? Well, Adrian Tierney Jones has rightly compared it to the Rake and it does have similar atmosphere, even if the selection of beer is smaller and less adventurous. The phrase Shoreditch-on-sea may have come to mind at one point. Overall, we were impressed, not only by the staff, but also by the range of Belgian and American beer which is otherwise hard to find beyond Plymouth. There is no cask ale, but then that’s not their niche in the market.

Monsieur Rock itself was served too cold, we think, and we found it intriguing if not mindblowing. We got a hint of something mysterious in the aroma — fennel again? — and thought we tasted honey along with some lemon and some dusty hops. It was certainly very, very clean and refreshing.

We also tried Pepe Nero by Goose Island, which was harder work but very rewarding. It was dark brown in colour with Belgian yeast flavours right upfront, although it had more floral hops and roasted flavours than we’ve come across in many real Belgian beers. The spices tingled on the tongue. Only the body let it down. We found it a little fizzy and thin which may fit with the idea that it’s a (very dark) saison but, at 6%, we’d have liked more weight to it.

Finally, we wanted something with “silly hops” and 400lb Monkey by Left Hand fit the bill. It smelled like a stoned teenager’s foggy hatchback and the tea-like hop flavour was tongue-stripping. Was it nice? Not exactly, but it was certainly hoppy. No, we certainly can’t deny that.

2 replies on “The Hand Bar, Falmouth”

I still stand by my blind devotion to MR! As it happens, I’ve just this lunchtime finished off a bottle of Saltaire’s Blonde – which is also 100% Saaz -hopped. Despite being golden as opposed to uber-pale like the MR, that peachy freshness is there. A good beer, if you can get your hands on it down there.

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