Brewery Taps are a Good Thing

Edwardian glass screen advertising the Redruth Brewery Company Ltd

We struggle a bit with Skinner’s, one of Cornwall’s bigger small breweries. On the one hand, there is lots to like about the company (committed localness, charity work, openness) but, on the other, we’re just not fans of their beer. Betty Stoggs, their flagship bitter, is one we’d choose over Sharp’s Doom Bar, but certainly not over St Austell Tribute. (The three are often seen on the same bar in Cornwall.) We’ve had the occasional excellent pint, but many more slightly nasty ones. Others seem to enjoy it, though, so it might be that we just don’t get on with their yeast.

Recently, they took on the Old Ale House in Truro, within walking distance of their brewery, and have made it their tap, to all intents and purposes. Truro is short of good pubs but the OAH was always the most appealing, as a building, at least, with gnarled wood, dark corners and Edwardian livery for the defunct Redruth Brewery.

Skinner’s, like some other ‘brown beer’ brewers, are stretching themselves a bit. Porthleven (4.8%) is a hoppy blonde ale, introduced as a seasonal last summer and back for the new season. Last year, we found it disappointing — sweet and, er, ‘Skinnersy’ — but, yesterday, it was excellent. Four unplanned pints in the mid-afternoon excellent, in fact.

Betty Stoggs was the best we’ve tasted it, too — surely the result of proximity to the brewery and hands-on quality control?

The excellence of those other beers was only highlighted by the oddly named ‘Kiddlywink’, which had the cardboard and plastic yickiness we’re more used to from Betty Stoggs. Not off, just not good.

If you’re passing Truro, and aren’t averse to Skinner’s beers, the Old Ale House is worth a visit, if only to enjoy the free shell-on peanuts from a barrel by the bar.

4 thoughts on “Brewery Taps are a Good Thing”

  1. I had a pint of Doom Bar the other week, couldn’t remember who brewed it though. It was dreadful but thanks for dislodging that niggle!

    Think you have hit the nail on the head there, taps are generally where the brewers drink their own beer aren’t they -and I’m guessing they wouldn’t want a crap pint?

  2. When I lived in Cornwall I’d visit the Old Ale House whenever I was in Truro – that was in the days before Skinners existed

    Tap rooms are great for experiencing a beer just how the brewer intended but they also show you just how poor some pub landlords are at looking after cask ales

  3. I love Truro but have always struggled to find a decent pub, so I am pleased that the Old Ale House is still good, was there about 2004 and had a couple of pints of Old Peculier to go with the books I had bought at some antiquarian book shop. I share your ambivalence about Skinners, but I will try Porthleven next time I see it.

  4. Gareth — a lot of people do really seem to like Doom Bar — it’s the first beer that a lot of people mention to us when they find out we’re into beer. Have a theory that’s mostly because they drink it fresh, on holiday, near the brewery, and taste that moment when they go back home to London or wherever. But we’re not fans.

    landells — it must be frustrating for brewers to put care and attention into the product only to have it trashed at the point of sale. It’s like making biscuits only to have the shopkeeper smash the packet with a hammer before handing it to the customer.

    ATJ — the story we hear is that the OAH was good, got bad, and has been very much revived by Skinner’s stepping in.

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