bottled beer breweries

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.

beer and food beer reviews

Fake Cornish Beer in St Ives


We tried to get a good pint in several places in St Ives but, with few people around, we were often stuck with something vinegary and boring from the bottom of last season’s barrel.

We had much better luck with bottled beer and one of the discoveries of the trip was Carn Brea Brewing Company’s One and All. It’s from a Cornish recipe (allegedly); distributed by a Cornish company in Redruth; but actually brewed by Hepworth on the other side of the country, in Horsham, Sussex.

Despite the clear bottle and lack of bottle-conditioning, it was lipsmackingly fresh — ‘brown’ tasting and malty, but with a powerful hit of fresh hop flavour, which almost convinced us it was still alive.

It went brilliantly with the excellent crab sandwiches at the town’s posh Hampstead-on-sea style deli. They also stock St Austell’s Clouded Yellow. It’s nice to see a bit of thought put into the beer selection in a trendy cafe — so many just fill their fridges with Stella because it’s “reassuringly expensive”.


St Austell: Kings of Cornwall


Cornwall is a rotten place if you want to try new beers. In short, if you don’t like St Austell, Sharps or Skinner’s, you’ll have to work hard to find a pint to your taste.

St Austell in particular seem to have the county in a Darth Vader-like grip. Their golden castle logo is on every second pub frontage, and their bottled beers are in every gift shop, off licence and convenience store.

In some ways, it’s not such a bad thing. Tribute is becoming one of our all time favourites and is reliably good in St Austell pubs in Cornwall. Proper Job IPA and Admiral’s Ale are two of Britain’s best bottle-conditioned beers, in our humble opinions.

Sparkler spotters may be interested to know that St Austell beers were served by default with a sparkler in all the St Austell pubs we visited.  So it’s not just a northern thing, then?

beer reviews

Lizard Ales: salty sea dogs


Lizard Ales are reasonably easy to get in Cornwall. They’re from a small brewery with the same faults and virtues of many of their kind.

On the up side, they are certainly adventurous. Their Frenchman’s Creek pale ale and An Gof strong ale caught our eye because, alongside the usual ingredients, they also contain salt.

The An Gof was excellent — murky and stout-like, with a the salt flavour adding a certain earthiness and richness. It also contains smoked malt, which came across subtly but distinctly. Nicely done.

And now the down side: Frenchman’s Creek wasn’t so hot. It was chemical tasting and, as one of our friends said, “a bit like a gobful of seawater”. Perhaps our bottle was off?

So, another brewery which is trying hard to do something different and regional, albeit with mixed results.

Generalisations about beer culture pubs

The country pub out of season


When people talk with moist eyes of the English country pub, they’ve usually got somewhere specific in mind — a place which greeted them like old friends; which had an open fire; good food; low ceilings; and fresh, tasty beer. Cosy is the word that usually gets trotted out.

Sadly, not many country pubs live up to that ideal, especially out of season. One pub we visited in Cornwall last week seemed pretty typical of the reality.

We walked into the gloom and were struck by the smell of damp carpet and the chilly feel of the air.

The place was large (with seats for more than 100 people, at a guess) but almost empty. There was just one old man sat at the bar with a dog asleep at his feet. The only light was what made it through the small, dusty windows, and from the flickering mp3 jukebox.

The beer was actually spot on, although it did take a couple of attempts to find a pump clip that wasn’t purely decorative (“Ain’t got that ‘cept in bottles”). The landlord wasn’t unfriendly but nor did he look especially pleased to see us. Why should he? Our £5.20 wasn’t much of a contribution to a miserable winter weekday’s takings.

We sat on damp red velvet seats underneath foxed, curling pictures of local sporting teams and chains of dusty horse brasses for as long as it took us to finish our pints in seemly fashion and escaped into the fresh air.

Not so much cosy as bloody bleak.