Surprisingly good beer, surprisingly good pub

Beer glass with Bays Brewery logo.

Fowey (pro­nounced ‘Foy’) is one of those ‘Isling­ton-on-Sea’ towns, crawl­ing with celebs and with more bistros than you can driz­zle a jus on. We arrived there on Sun­day after a long walk along the coast, cov­ered in mud and gasp­ing for a pint, and began the rit­u­al review of the pubs on offer, set­tling even­tu­al­ly on the Galleon.

Though the signs weren’t good – ugly red brick build­ing, Doom Bar logos, the sounds (shud­der) of live sun­day after­noon jazz – it was the word ‘free­house’ that lured us in. Might we find some­thing oth­er than Trib­ute, Doom Bar or Bet­ty Bloody Stogs? Read­er, we did: there were beers from the icon­o­clas­tic Cor­nish pub­li­can’s for­eign brew­ery of choice, Bay’s of Devon.

Bay’s are a per­fect­ly OK brew­ery. They’re good. They’re fine. They’re not at all bad. We would­n’t go out of our way to find them, but we’re always pleased to see them on offer. Except, on this occa­sion, one of the beers was bet­ter than OK: it was excel­lent. Devon Dumpling (5.1% ABV), while not in the same league as Thorn­bridge Jaipur, remind­ed us of it, with a sim­i­lar­ly hefty body and orange glow, and a well-judged bal­ance of sweet­ness and bit­ter­ness. We award­ed it a dis­tinc­tion in Leigh Good Stuff’s ‘same again please’ test and drank sev­er­al.

By the stan­dards of the UK’s hottest pubs and bars, the beer selec­tion at the Galleon was noth­ing spe­cial, but it was well-cho­sen, includ­ing Sharp’s Cor­nish Coast­er, a 3.6% gold­en charmer which ought to be their flag­ship beer; St Austell Prop­er Job, by far that brew­ery’s most excit­ing draught prod­uct; and Doom Bar, the most pop­u­lar choice of the old boys at the bar. (The big gang of teenagers who’d just got back from a night out club­bing in their shiny trousers were on Tequi­la, Stel­la and white wine.)

What the Galleon shows, we sup­pose, is that a pub does­n’t have to be ancient to be cosy, and that it’s pos­si­ble to offer qual­i­ty and choice, in a qui­et way, with­out scar­ing the hors­es.