pubs real ale

Where's the catch?

The Dock Inn, Penzance
Photo nicked from the Dock Inn website.

Yesterday evening, we finally made into a Penzance pub that we’d been meaning to visit for a while. We’d noticed through both traditional methods (looking through the window) and on Twitter that the pub in question served Spingo Middle (5%) from the Blue Anchor in Helston, a cult local beer which, for us, is usually a long, expensive bus ride away.

So, why did it take us so long? Partly because we don’t yet know how to read Cornish pubs like we used to be able to read them in London. We just can’t tell from the outside, in the dark, whether we’ll find a scary atmosphere, or a cheery greeting. So we dither, not wanting to wander into a… situation.

From the moment we entered the Dock Inn,  however, we felt comfortable and at home. It hits a sweet spot being clean, cosy and characterful all at the same time. Properly worn in, but not tatty. It has partititons and corners, sofas and tables, a fire and — most importantly — people behind the bar who talk to you like human beings whether you’re a regular or not.

The beer was good, too, although on the cold side, which, as it happens, we don’t mind at all. Spingo is Spingo, and in the sweet, malty West Country style which you either love or hate. (Although, this time, not at all sour.) Skinner’s Christmas Fairy (3.9%) was… a Skinner’s beer. The occasional pint of Betty Stoggs has impressed us but, sadly, we might have to face the fact that we just don’t get on with them. There was no faulting the condition, though, and this amber-gold beer could not have looked any more appetising in the squeaky clean glass.

This is our new favourite pub in town, without doubt. What a relief to have found it.

8 replies on “Where's the catch?”

KHM — it often tastes to us like it’s travelled a long way, too, even though it hasn’t… when it’s good, it is very good, but like a lot of, I guess, quite subtly flavoured English beer, it relies on a certain mojo which is easily lost.

Jonathan — I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Shepherd Neame beers are probably better. When not on form, they are just bland and watery, whereas Skinner’s can be downright nasty. (Not had many good SN beers, actually — some bottles aren’t bad, and the porter used to be nice, though.)

Bland and watery…wonder why Shep’s have never cottoned onto that as a marketing slogan. Did have a lovely porter they once brewed for ASDA (probably just a rebadge) a few years back but that was definitely the exception. Spitfire, Master Brew, Bishop’s Finger…can’t think of a less inspiring core range. Most of their seasonals are just as bland Late Red, Whistable etc. etc.

But I’d agree they’re not actively nasty.

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