World Beer in Penzance

Brooklyn Lager and Duvel at the Lamp & Whistle, Penzance.

It’s taken a while but, at last, we can now go to the pub in Penzance and drink Belgian and American beer, at the Lamp & Whistle, five minutes walk from the central station in the centre of town.

When we first moved to Penzance proper, we went to ‘the Lamp’ quite a bit, partly because it tended to have St Austell Proper Job in excellent condition, but also because it is one of the few places in the area not trading to some extent on the ‘cosy Cornish inn’ image. In fact, it feels as if it has been transplanted from a street corner in a trendy bit of South London. Then Proper Job disappeared, and we decided we preferred the atmosphere in the Dock Inn, and haven’t been back for a while, though we always peer through the window when we walk past.

When Tom Goskar tipped us off to the availability of Brooklyn Lager, however, we thought we ought to investigate, and we found quite a few changes. The ceiling has been fitted with what are technically known as ‘dangly stem glass holding rack things’, festooned with Chimay, Duvel and Bacchus branded glassware; a towering, ostentatious Brooklyn Lager font adorns the very centre of the bar; and there’s a brand-new-vintage Anchor Steam plaque fixed to the wall. It would seem that the James Clay rep has been.

These aren’t beers at the cutting edge of the import market (Chimay Rouge first hit Britain in 1974, Anchor Steam c.1979, at the start of the ‘world beer’ boom) but, come on, this is the wild west, and a town with a population of c.21,000, so they’re out on a limb going even this far. We’re delighted, at any rate.

We didn’t enjoy the keg Brooklyn Lager especially — it seemed less floral than the bottled incarnation with a lot of additional toffee flavour and, yes, actual rising, burp-inducing bubbles aka ‘fizz’. Chimay and Duvel, on the other hand, were a real treat, and scarcely more expensive than they are in supermarkets these days at £4.30 a bottle. (We paid £7.50 for a 330ml bottle of local ‘craft’ stout in Truro recently, so this question about the price of Belgian beer remains.)

There was also cask ale from the lesser-spotted Penpont Brewery, and evidence that the publicans’ real passion is for spirits in the wide selection of vodkas, rums and whiskies on the back shelf. (Żubrówka!)

If you’re in the area and fancy something a bit different, in terms of both ambience and beer selection, the Lamp might be just what you’re looking for.

We should mention that the Renaissance Cafe — not a pub! — also had Duvel with lovely glassware last time we went in.

beer and food

Beer and cheese #4

Detail from the label of a bottle of Caracole's Nostradamus
Detail from the label of a bottle of Caracole's Nostradamus

You might remember our experiments with beer and cheese pairing from a few weeks ago. Well, we’re by no means done yet.

For our fourth experiment, we took the cheeses we used with the Brooklyn Local and tried them with Brooklyn lager, Brakspear Oxford Gold and Nostradamus, a dark sweet 9%-er from Brasserie Caracole.

The Wensleydale is an absolutely gorgeous cheese, but hard to match.  It brought out an unpleasant iron flavour in both the Brooklyn lager and the Nostradamus — quite bizarre.  It was OK with the Brakspear, but flattened the flavour a little.

The camembert was the best match for the light-but-lovely Brakspear.  (Incidentally, the Beer Nut reviewed it here. trying it with bleu d’auvergne.) The cheese gave the beer a nice malt boost.  It brought out the oranginess of the Brooklyn lager and made the Nostradamus taste even more of raisins.

It would have been poetic if the Oxford blue had gone with the Oxford gold but, unfortunately, it made the beer less interesting.  It killed the hops in the Brooklyn and made the Nostradamus sweeter and less complex.  This is another fabulous cheese that is annoyingly hard to pair.

We thought that the Stinking Bishop would be a challenge for these beers.  Brooklyn lager stood up surprisingly well, the cheese making the flavours more rounded and smoother without killing the hops.  It didn’t completely kill the Oxford Gold either.  However, the standout match was with the Nostradamus — it brought out cherry and chocolate flavours in the beer that the others did not.

So, conclusions to date: blue cheeses and Wensleydale are proving tough to match.  Stinking Bishop (and perhaps other hardcore rind-washed cheeses) go surprisingly well with a lot of beers, but particularly strong Belgian (or Belgian-style) beer.

Any suggestions for what to try next? We’ve got Harvey’s Imperial Stout with blue cheese on the list for starters.

bottled beer La Ronda

A virtual tasting for beer-beginners

Versión en español

Delirium, over at “De Cervezas y otras cosas”, has set a very interesting topic for this month’s “round” (the Session for Spanish-speaking beer-bloggers). It was so thought-provoking that we thought we’d post it in English as well.

The challenge was to come up with a “virtual” tasting session aimed at people who are not beer lovers. We had to pick between five and eight beers that we would put forward, avoiding obscure microbreweries, and explain why we’d selected them.

We like to beervangelise from time to time, so it’s a question we’ve thought about a lot in the past. After much pondering, we finally came up with some definite proposals, which we put forward here.

Deberes de español La Ronda

La Ronda #3 – Una cata de cervezas virtual

English version.

Delirium ha organizado esta Ronda, en la que tenemos que proponer una cata de cervezas virtual.

“Suponed que lo que queréis es dar a conocer esta bebida a gente que por lo general no es bebedora habitual de cerveza….tiene que haber un mínimo de 5 y un máximo de 8 cervezas…Mejor no escoger cervezas elaboradas tan sólo en una microcervecería, accesibles tan sólo a unos pocos”

Como nos gusta beer-vangelizar de vez en cuando, hemos hablado mucho de este tema. Después de mucha consideración, optamos por la siguiente seis cervezas.


We don’t want Bud, we want Brooklyn!

Eric Delia at Relentless Thirst has tipped us off to the exciting news that Budweiser are launching a UK only ad campaign, focusing “on the care that goes into making Budweiser, highlighting its history and provenance.” [Pause to choke on whatever tasty beverage you’re supping at the moment.]

Fabulous. Another boring lager being (re)marketed. I didn’t really notice it go away, although I suppose now I think about it, you see more Becks around than Bud. And quite a lot of Budvar — we Brits love an underdog, although of course Budvar isn’t quite the underdog it purports to be, as Evan Rail pointed out.
images_coasters_tmb.jpgAnyway, this got me thinking about something I’ve been pondering for a while. Why doesn’t the Brooklyn brewery try a marketing campaign in London to push its wonderful lager? It would appeal on two levels. Firstly, to the discerning beer drinker who would be delighted to see it in the fridge in amongst a sea of other indistinguishable “world” lagers.

Secondly, it would surely appeal to the type of sucker who drinks any lager as long as it’s in a bottle and comes from another country. This is a big market, at least in London, given the number of identical ranges in central London pubs — Peroni, San Miguel, Corona, Brahma etc.

If good marketing can polish turds like Bud, Magners and all those bland eurolagers, imagine the effect it could have on something that’s a genuinely great product? In fact, the Magners adverts aren’t even good. We mugs really will buy anything.