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. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. 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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