St Austell Strawberry Blonde

St Austell Cornish Blonde fruit lager.

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.

8 thoughts on “St Austell Strawberry Blonde”

  1. My par­ents bought back a cou­ple of bot­tles a few weeks ago. I was­n’t real­ly a fan myself. It tast­ed slight­ly like cheese­cake to me. I did like that Rasp­ber­ry Porter though, which I got to try when I was down there in April. I’d like to see them bot­tle that.

  2. Hmmm not a fruit beer fan but I’m sure the oth­er half would prob­a­bly like it. Seri­ous­ly hope we don’t end up with fruit beer hell in the future.

  3. Inter­est­ing, the recur­ring idea that brew­ers will entice the younger gen­er­a­tion away from beer so that they won’t go through the dif­fi­cult process of acquir­ing the taste for bit­ter drinks. It nev­er quite hap­pens, touch wood!

    1. I remem­ber think­ing that I would nev­er acquire the taste for clas­si­cal music, but some­how or oth­er, my atten­tion span increased and my inter­est in loud gui­tars dimin­ished. I used to take six sug­ars in my tea as a teenag­er; now I’m a sug­ar­less black cof­fee type of bloke. I used to be tee­to­tal because beer was nasty-tast­ing and too bit­ter but…

  4. I have a copy of Death of the Eng­lish Pub, or more cor­rect­ly my employ­er as one. Its a good read from an inter­est­ing time. The beer sounds a bit grim. I have nev­er had a good straw­ber­ry beer.

  5. It is hap­pen­ing though, I’ve seen it hap­pen only over the last 10 years. When I was a stu­dent it used to be that a group of 18 year olds guys in a bar would inevitably order 10 beers, most­ly lager, but prob­a­bly with a Guin­ness or an ale thrown in.

    Now its more like­ly to be a cou­ple of beers, sev­er­al ciders, and a hand­ful of soft drinks. Young­sters are get­ting bored of lager, but warm flat ale with corny names does­n’t appeal either. There’s also an increas­ing­ly vis­i­ble puri­tan­ic streak devel­op­ing in the young nowa­days, hav­ing been brought up on Dai­ly Mail reports of the dan­gers of binge drink­ing.

  6. Is it in Hutt or John Watney’s book where some types were also pre­dict­ing beer deliv­ered by vend­ing machine in their pubs? I like my fruit for break­fast, chopped up in a bowl, but then I also like rice with cur­ries or in ris­sot­tos…

  7. But, to be fair to the 70s, are not cool­ers or what you in the UK may call alco-pops large­ly fruit flavour malt based booze? I mean it is not like my oft promised but nev­er deliv­ered per­son­al jet pack but isn’t this what Pro­fes­sor Hough was describ­ing and not beer with a hint of berry?

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