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New Variant Spingo

The sign of the Blue Anchor pub and brewery, Helston, Cornwall.

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.

9 replies on “New Variant Spingo”

They’re an innovative lot at the Blue Anchor. The Special dates back to 1982, and both Bragget and the Jubilee IPA were first brewed in this century. Even Middle only dates back to 1918. What they were brewing all those years before then we’ll never know. No sense of history, some people.

It’s true — they don’t really pretend any of their beers are brewed to ancient recipes. In fact, there are self-mocking signs all over the pub — “Ye Olde Toilets”, “Ye Olde Special Brew”, etc..

I remember being told a tale of a well known beer writer down there to interview the brewer Tim (can’t remember his second name) — brewer not there, beer writer spends afternoon on the Spingo, eventually seen staggering out into the evening murk shouting ‘where’s a chip shop’…

So, did you ever find a chip shop? (Ha.)

You’ll be pleased to know, by the way, that they’re displaying a “We’re in it!” Great British Pubs poster in the window.

I recall, several years ago now, a report in the national press concerning a group of lads who after spending the evening drinking Spingo decided to go for a midnight swim in the sea. Tragically at least one of them drowned. Spingo was notorious then.

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