The other day, we asked if there was a beer equivalent of Hay-on-Wye and, pondering the responses, we began to wonder if our question was the right one.
Steve Lamond suggested York as a candidate. One of the things we love about York is that, unlike most British towns and cities, it has a bona fide walled Altstadt, within which, crucially, most of its good beer is easy to find on foot, with no need for trams, buses or trains, or worrying walks through industrial estates. So, yes, York could be a British Bamberg, if not a Hay-on-Wye.
Of course, another thing that defines Bamberg is just how dominated the landscape is by brewing: Weyermann’s maltings loom on the skyline and the air is filled with the smell of brewing. We were reminded of this on arriving in St Austell on Thursday, getting off the train to be struck by an almost overpowering smell of stewed hops and sweet wort on the wind. The brewery building sits on a hill overlooking the town taking a place which, in other towns, would be occupied by a Norman castle.
It might only have one brewery, and scarcely any pubs of note, but it is a beer town through and through.
The St Austell visitor centre bar is the best place in Cornwall to get a wide range of their beers in good condition (but still no Black Prince mild). We enjoyed Raspberry Porter, brewed by Roger Ryman on his small experimental kit, and reminiscent of the fruit beers from Saltaire.