Christopher Hutt’s The Death of the English Pub (1973) is full of grim prophecies, but he saves this dystopian vision for the very end of the book:
Professor Hough of the British School of Malting in Birmingham University predicted in 1972 that we would soon be drinking raspberry, strawberry and other fruit-flavoured beers. On cue as always, one of the big six was already test-marketing an orange beer, and this is now generally available. A pint of orange today, a pint of strawberry tomorrow.
St Austell, the biggest of our local breweries, has been experimenting with fruit in the last year. The raspberry porter we tried at the brewery bar was excellent and the latest effort, Strawberry Blonde (4%), was… a lot better than we were expecting.
It comes in a clear bottle and looks very much like rosé wine, though the marketeers have admirably avoided the temptation to write FOR GIRLS! on the label. Among the ingredients, as is the fashion, are strawberries from a specific Cornish farm, along with crystal malt, corn and hop extract. So, that’s a clear bottle and dodgy-sounding ingredients: hopes were not high.
Note, however, that no strawberry flavourings are listed. That fact, which we kept checking and rechecking in disbelief, made the bold aroma all the more impressive. This beer smelled like a big pink milkshake, strawberry chews, or a four-year-old’s birthday jelly.
The flavour wasn’t too bad, either – crisp, rather neutral, with just a hint of underripe sourness – but couldn’t possibly live up to the perfume. Perhaps future version of this beer would benefit from a more interesting base beer? Something with more body and more tang? Clouded Yellow, St Austell’s clever faux-Bavarian wheat beer, might work.
We bought our bottle of Strawberry Blonde in the Great Western Hotel in Newquay.