An Ordinary Weekend

Fifth amendment pumpclip.

Quietly, slowly, it just keeps getting easier to find interesting beer, in more-or-less pleasant surroundings, in our part of the world.

On Thurs­day we went our sep­a­rate ways for the evening. Bai­ley popped into the Turk’s Head in Pen­zance where he enjoyed St Austel­l’s Fifth Amend­ment, part of their ongo­ing series of one-off brews mak­ing use of the two pilot brew­eries they oper­ate along­side the indus­tri­al-scale kit. A 5.2% ABV amber ale, it was quite unlike any oth­er St Austell beer, com­bin­ing trop­i­cal Amer­i­can hops with a spicy, toasty medieval­ness. The pub is one that is 80 per cent of the way to being a restau­rant but lots of locals do just drink there and, as long as you don’t object to the sight of peo­ple devour­ing mus­sels near­by, it’s actu­al­ly got one of the cosier, ‘pub­bier’ inte­ri­ors.

Boak, mean­while, went with a pal to The Tremen­heere, our local Wether­spoon pub, where Hook Nor­ton Amar­il­lo Gold (4.7%) pro­vid­ed exact­ly what you’d expect from such an accom­plished tra­di­tion­al brew­er, with the exot­ic hops enhanc­ing the under­ly­ing fruiti­ness rather than suf­fo­cat­ing every­thing with cit­rus. It was so good that one pint turned into sev­er­al. The pub is tat­ty, occa­sion­al­ly ‘live­ly’ in a Wild West way, but it has always got a buzz, which can be hard to find in a qui­et town between Octo­ber and East­er.

Cards in the pub.

On Fri­day, we did the rounds, work­ing our way from The Yacht on the seafront up the hill towards home. St Austell Prop­er Job con­tin­ues to be a go-to beer and just seems to be get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, cap­tur­ing and inten­si­fy­ing the live essence of hops in the same way freeze-dry­ing seems to do for rasp­ber­ries. We had a cou­ple. The pub itself con­tin­ues to treat us mean: after vis­it­ing once or more every week for some­thing like five years, we still don’t get any flick­er of recog­ni­tion from the staff. It seems to work because we do, indeed, remain keen.

The Dock, almost next door, isn’t quite the same under new man­age­ment, even if the beer range has expand­ed to include Potion 9 as well as Blue Anchor Spin­go Mid­dle. Potion did­n’t quite taste itself, per­haps suf­fer­ing in close com­par­i­son to Prop­er Job, or because it was served on the chilly side. There was a young bloke from New York eat­ing a take­away in the cor­ner, which seemed odd.

The fin­ish­er, Tim­o­thy Tay­lor Land­lord at the nev­er-end­ing faint­ly hip­py­ish music fes­ti­val that is The Farmer’s Arms, was­n’t the best beer of the night (it lacked zing) but we enjoyed it the most. The bar­man recog­nised us and antic­i­pat­ed our order; he gave us the fan­cy glass­ware reserved for trust­ed cus­tomers; and we got to play cards in the cor­ner while the band fin­ished their set with an elec­tri­fied Cor­nish folk song. Just per­fect, real­ly.

A dog between two customers at the bar.

Sat­ur­day took us to St Ives, a quick hop on a local train from Pen­zance. After mak­ing sand­cas­tles and clam­ber­ing about on rocks for a bit to build up a thirst we went to The Old Pilchard Press, the town’s microp­ub, which was (as it always seems to be) rammed and (as often seems to hap­pen) almost sold out of beer. We’ve grum­bled about St Ives Brew­ery in the past, unim­pressed by skunked bot­tles of mediocre pale ale actu­al­ly brewed sev­er­al coun­ties away, but the cask ver­sion of Knill by Mouth, which is real­ly brewed in St Ives, rather impressed us: zesty and fun, like Jaf­fa Cakes. Brain’s Rev­erend James, which we’ve not had in years, was the good kind of brown – noth­ing to inspire poet­ry, but well put togeth­er, a bit like find­ing a decent episode of The Sweeney on ITV4.

The Hub con­tin­ues to baf­fle us – last time we went, they were hap­py for us just to have drinks; this time, we got a pass-agg guilt trip, and the menus were snatched away after we’d ordered what was intend­ed to be the first in a few rounds of snacks. Still, the beer, and the choice of beer, is good, and dif­fer­ent: Mag­ic Rock Can­non­ball, a long way from home, was a breath of fresh air. The same brew­ery’s the chilli porter was pret­ty excit­ing too – a sea­son­ing tin­gle rather than Man vs. Food. As we’ve said before, if peo­ple go on about Mag­ic Rock, it’s with good rea­son.

We fin­ished in The Hain Line, the town’s Wether­spoon pub, near the sta­tion. It’s got a much smarter inte­ri­or than the one in Pen­zance and equal­ly smart staff who, if we ran a hos­pi­tal­i­ty busi­ness, we’d be poach­ing. We got excit­ed by yet more for­eign beer here: Salop­i­an Lemon Dream, all the way from Shrop­shire. It’s a bit of a nov­el­ty brew – just a touch too sour, real­ly, and a lit­tle car­toon­ish – but we enjoyed it a lot, espe­cial­ly at some­thing like £2.30 a pint. The sec­ond round was more fraught – beers adver­tised were in the process of going off, and the gen­er­ous tasters we were encour­aged to try did­n’t reveal any­thing else as thrilling – so we had a cou­ple of for­get­table fes­ti­val beers. Still, we left think­ing that, over­all, Spoons had won.

Pints of Proper Job.

Then last night, Sun­day, the sun was out, the sea was still, bar­be­cue smoke was on the air, and we could­n’t resist one last pint of Prop­er Job at The Yacht. It was just about warm enough to sit out­side, too, which is how we know sum­mer is almost here. If any­thing, the beer tast­ed more excit­ing than on Fri­day, remas­tered and bass boost­ed.

As we wan­dered home we saw a bloke, bare-chest­ed, stag­ger­ing across the road after a full day’s drink­ing. ‘I’m wast­ed,’ he said mourn­ful­ly. His com­pan­ion slapped his back and replied: ‘Mate, it’s the only way to be.’

4 thoughts on “An Ordinary Weekend”

  1. I don’t real­ly under­stand why the Pilchard Press is sell­ing some­thing non local and unin­ter­est­ing as Rev James to be hon­est; sure­ly the oppor­tu­ni­ty is to show­case local beers?
    Mind you, if they are so busy, what do I know ?
    Look­ing for­ward to vis­it­ing it.

    1. Mal­colm – the dif­fi­cul­ty is that you very quick­ly get bored of the same brew­eries down here, par­tic­u­lar­ly when most of the micro­brew­eries are mid­dling at best. We think the Pilchard Press gets it right – a cou­ple of local beers for the tourists, a cou­ple of “exotics” for the locals. And as for unin­ter­est­ing – we’ve lit­er­al­ly nev­er seen Rev James in our six years down here.

  2. Sounds a nice week­end, we, miss­es and myself, had a rare week­end out of Corn­wall to the metrop­o­lis that is Exeter. Inter­est­ing beer in the St Austell Samuels Jones, craft in the beer cel­lar, hi to B & B from James, and CW DIPA V13 from the Hops & Craft shop to bring home

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