Light Split at the Fountain, Mevagissey

Light split (HSD and Light Ale).

We’ve got quite good at working out which pub in a Cornish town or village we’re likely to enjoy the most.

Where there are mul­ti­ple St Austell hous­es (there often are), we avoid the man­aged, over-pol­ished, pla­s­ticky places, and, instead, look out for the signs – ‘Bil­ly and Lynn wel­come you to the Foun­tain!’

Cov­ered in foliage and claim­ing to be the old­est inn in Mevagis­sey, the Foun­tain cer­tain­ly looked cosy. Duck­ing inside, we found all the indi­ca­tors of a ‘prop­er’ pub, includ­ing a knack­ered piano.

Hop­ing for a pint of Prop­er Job, we were dis­ap­point­ed, at first, to see only Trib­ute, Dart­moor and HSD on the bar. While we wait­ed, how­ev­er, we began to notice oth­er pleas­ing details, from bot­tles of brown and light ale in the fridges, to Gold Label Bar­ley Wine on a shelf beneath the optics.

It’s one of those time trav­el pubs,’ we mut­tered to each oth­er.

And, as it hap­pened, the Trib­ute was at its best, and HSD bet­ter than we’ve ever tast­ed it – dri­er, with that unbeat­able com­plex­i­ty that (we think) makes itself evi­dent in many cask ales about twen­ty-four hours before they turn to vine­gar.

With plen­ty of time before our bus was due, though we did­n’t fan­cy the look of the Gold Label, we could­n’t resist try­ing both brown and light splits, prompt­ing the vet­er­an land­lord to share a bit of insight:

No-one buys light ale any more, but all I ever used to drink was light splits. The West Coun­try was nev­er mild-drink­ing ter­ri­to­ry, so brown split was nev­er that pop­u­lar.

Greene King Light Ale was sur­pris­ing­ly decent on its own – a nice whiff of Eng­lish hops – but tast­ed, we both agreed, exact­ly like the nine­teen-eight­ies. That is, it remind­ed Boak of sip­ping beer from her Dad’s glass in a pub gar­den when she was lit­tle; and trig­gered Bai­ley’s thir­ty-year-old mem­o­ries of ‘help­ing’ with the stock-take in the cel­lar at the pub where he grew up in Exeter.

A time trav­el pub indeed.

There’s a small gallery of images from the Foun­tain on our Face­book page.