Cornwall in conclusion


These are our final words on Cornwal, which we’re sure is becoming a boring topic.

Ten great Cornish beers

  1. St Austell Tribute (cask conditioned).
  2. Marks and Spencer’s Cornish IPA (bottle conditioned).
  3. St Austell Proper Job (bottle conditioned).
  4. St Austell Admiral’s Ale (bottle conditioned).
  5. Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite (bottle conditioned).
  6. Skinner’s Ginger Tosser (cask conditioned; excellent despite the terrible name).
  7. Carn Brea One and All (bottled; not brewed in Cornwall).
  8. St Austell Clouded Yellow (bottle conditioned; a fake Bavarian wheat beer).
  9. Lizard Ales’ An Gof (bottle conditioned; strong dark ale with salt and smoked malt).

Five disappointing Cornish beers

  1. St Austell HSD (cask conditioned and bottled).
  2. St Austell IPA (a Greene King IPA beater — bland and weak).
  3. Sharp’s Doom Bar (didn’t find a good bottle or pint of this anywhere; maybe we should have gone closer to the source and made it to Rock?)
  4. Skinner’s Betty Stoggs (cask conditioned; too much crystal malt and some cardboard).
  5. St Austell Tribute (bottled; dead and flavourless compared to the cask version).

Two decent Cornish pubs

1. The Castle Inn, St Ives — looks a bit rough around the edges (those “drugs will not be tolerated” signs send all the wrong signals) but was full of old men and guest ales when we went on a weekday lunchtime.

2. The Ship Inn, Mousehole — probably cheerier in season, but has a very friendly and efficient — he earwigged when we were deciding what to have and the drinks were lined up on the bar before we got there. Our mates’ kids tell us the Ribena Fruit Shoots were well kept, too.

Next time, we’ll check out the Blue Anchor and the Tinner’s Arms at Zennor.

We have a winner: best British Koelsch Klone

A few months ago, we spotted that Young’s bottled Kew Brew (now “Kew Gold”) is a dead ringer for a decent draught Koelsch. We tested that theory again this week and are now prepared to say, outright, that it’s the best substitute for draught Koelsch you can get in the UK.

Filtered, pasteurised bottles of Frueh just don’t compare. It’s even better than Meantime’s slightly bland effort.

Young's Chocolate Stout: now with added smoke

Has anyone else had a bottle of Young’s Chocolate Stout recently? We just tried one at a Young’s pub in London and were astounded to discover that (a) it’s got better and (b) it no longer tastes of chocolate, but rather intensely of smoke and roasted barley. The ingredient list includes oats and “natural chocolate flavouring”.

Any insight much from those in the know would be much appreciated.

Cornwall and beer on the train

We’ve just returned from a week in Cornwall, in the far south west of England, so expect a few posts in the coming days on our beery adventures around St Ives. We got the week off to a good start last Saturday, though, with a few bottles of Marks and Spencer’s relatively new Cornish IPA on the train.


We’ve just returned from a week in Cornwall, in the far south west of England, so expect a few posts in the coming days on our beery adventures around St Ives.

We got the week off to a good start on the train from London last Saturday with a few bottles of Marks and Spencer’s relatively new Cornish IPA.

We were pleased to see that the supermarket chain are now crediting the brewers of their own-brand bottle-conditioned beers on the labels (we  beer geeks like to know where our booze is coming from) and that this is a product of St Austell.

We guessed it would be a rebadge of their brilliant bottle conditioned Proper Job, but it’s not. It’s weaker (5% as opposed to 5.6%) and also has a lighter body and drier finish. It’s much closer, in fact, to cask conditioned Proper Job. We thought it was delicious. One of the best bottled beers we’ve had in a long while.

Thanks, St Austell and M&S, for a great start to our break.

Duvel: no dumb blonde


There’s no more illuminating way to taste beers than to try three or four supposedly similar specimens together. When we found ourselves in possession of two notoriously blasphemous Belgian beers (Satan Gold and Judas) we thought it would be fun to drink them along with their evident inspiration, Duvel. The experience gave us a new appreciation for this old favourite.

Satan and Judas look, too all intents and purposes, identical in the glass. They have the same rich golden colour; the same loose, bubbly head.

Satan first. What a let down after the fun and tacky packaging. It smells of pear-drops, nail polish and alcohol. There are some tart apple flavours which might work if they were balanced with bitterness. Sadly, this beer is hardly bitter at all. The stingy hand with the hops is countered by an overgenerous helping of sugar. All in all, a bit like drinking syrup.

Judas is somewhat better, though similar. Sugary: check. Fruitily acidic: check. It tastes, in fact, like stewed rhubarb, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. All in all, not a beer we’ll be hunting down, but definitely drinkable. Unlike Satan, this one didn’t end up down the sink.

And then onto Duvel, which suddenly looks and tastes like what it is — a very sophisticated, well-engineered beer. It’s lighter coloured and lighter bodied than either of its two imitators. The bitterness is refreshing and pronounced. Veritable hops indeed. Whereas Satan and Judas lost their heads almost immediately, Duvel has iceberg-like clots of foam all the way down to the last mouthful.

We have our winner. Just because it’s ubiquitous doesn’t mean Duvel isn’t brilliant.