The Blue Anchor in Helston has been brewing for several hundred years. Its Spingo ales are a Cornish tradition, available in only a handful of select pubs, and something of an acquired taste.
Generally, they play to a West Country palate — sweet, brown and not too ‘light’ (hoppy). One of their range, in fact, is ‘Bragget’, with no hops at all and a good slug of honey.
Their brewer, though, has begun to feel the urge to experiment, hence Flora Daze. At 4%, it’s the weakest beer on offer; it’s also the lightest in colour, by far the hoppiest, and being launched ahead of the summer arrival of ‘foreigners’.
By the standards of many other UK breweries, it is not a remarkable beer, being similar to Harvey’s session-strength IPA or Fuller’s Chiswick, but it was certainly generating conversation amongst the chaps spoofing at the bar in the Blue Anchor: “It tastes… like a pint with a slice of lemon in it.”; “I’ll be sticking to Middle.”
As far as we could tell, they were only drinking at all because the first few pints were free. Not everyone is drawn towards the new, and the point at which a beer seems ‘extreme’ is culturally defined.
We really liked Flora Daze and hope it does well this summer, though we know that brewers have to make cask ales that will sell. The Blue Anchor Beer Festival runs until Sunday 1 April.