It feels as if St Austell have a pub every ten or twelve metres between Exeter and Land’s End, but their dark mild, Black Prince, is nonetheless hard to find amongst a sea of Tribute.
We first heard of Black Prince several years ago when Bailey’s dad rang us in a highly excited state from a pub in North Cornwall. Mild is his drink of choice in the pub when available but, sadly, it rarely is. Black Prince, he declared, was a proper, lovely, delicious old-fashioned mild. We’ve been after it ever since.
When we got a tip from Darren ‘Beer Today’ Norbury (our local beer journo) that the Bucket of Blood in Phillack near Hayle always has it, we decided to make it the finishing point for a coastal walk.*
Although the Bucket of course sells Tribute, it otherwise eschews the more commonly seen cask St Austell beers (HSD, Proper Job and newcomer Trelawney) in favour of Black Prince (4%) and Bucket of Blood (an evidently not-so-seasonal 4.4% Halloween red ale). The landlord clearly has an awkward streak, for which we are grateful.
Black Prince behaved just as mild so often does: initially underwhelming, gradually improving, increasingly complex until, by the end of the first pint, we knew we were stuck for at least a couple more.
Why are we having to hunt this excellent beer? And why is it pretending to be a ‘Dark Ale’? It’s time for all those breweries who sneakily renamed their milds ten or more years ago to reverse the decision: old beer styles need to be kept alive and, anyway, what was once a synonym for ‘grandad beer’ has surely now slipped across the line into vintage cool, hasn’t it?
* In case anyone is interested, we’ve now ‘ticked’ the South West Coast Path from St Agnes to Cadgwith. We are very pleased with ourselves.