An Ordinary Weekend

Fifth amendment pumpclip.

Quietly, slowly, it just keeps getting easier to find interesting beer, in more-or-less pleasant surroundings, in our part of the world.

On Thurs­day we went our sep­a­rate ways for the evening. Bai­ley popped into the Turk’s Head in Pen­zance where he enjoyed St Austel­l’s Fifth Amend­ment, part of their ongo­ing series of one-off brews mak­ing use of the two pilot brew­eries they oper­ate along­side the indus­tri­al-scale kit. A 5.2% ABV amber ale, it was quite unlike any oth­er St Austell beer, com­bin­ing trop­i­cal Amer­i­can hops with a spicy, toasty medieval­ness. The pub is one that is 80 per cent of the way to being a restau­rant but lots of locals do just drink there and, as long as you don’t object to the sight of peo­ple devour­ing mus­sels near­by, it’s actu­al­ly got one of the cosier, ‘pub­bier’ inte­ri­ors.

Boak, mean­while, went with a pal to The Tremen­heere, our local Wether­spoon pub, where Hook Nor­ton Amar­il­lo Gold (4.7%) pro­vid­ed exact­ly what you’d expect from such an accom­plished tra­di­tion­al brew­er, with the exot­ic hops enhanc­ing the under­ly­ing fruiti­ness rather than suf­fo­cat­ing every­thing with cit­rus. It was so good that one pint turned into sev­er­al. The pub is tat­ty, occa­sion­al­ly ‘live­ly’ in a Wild West way, but it has always got a buzz, which can be hard to find in a qui­et town between Octo­ber and East­er.

Cards in the pub.

On Fri­day, we did the rounds, work­ing our way from The Yacht on the seafront up the hill towards home. St Austell Prop­er Job con­tin­ues to be a go-to beer and just seems to be get­ting bet­ter and bet­ter, cap­tur­ing and inten­si­fy­ing the live essence of hops in the same way freeze-dry­ing seems to do for rasp­ber­ries. We had a cou­ple. The pub itself con­tin­ues to treat us mean: after vis­it­ing once or more every week for some­thing like five years, we still don’t get any flick­er of recog­ni­tion from the staff. It seems to work because we do, indeed, remain keen.

The Dock, almost next door, isn’t quite the same under new man­age­ment, even if the beer range has expand­ed to include Potion 9 as well as Blue Anchor Spin­go Mid­dle. Potion did­n’t quite taste itself, per­haps suf­fer­ing in close com­par­i­son to Prop­er Job, or because it was served on the chilly side. There was a young bloke from New York eat­ing a take­away in the cor­ner, which seemed odd.

The fin­ish­er, Tim­o­thy Tay­lor Land­lord at the nev­er-end­ing faint­ly hip­py­ish music fes­ti­val that is The Farmer’s Arms, was­n’t the best beer of the night (it lacked zing) but we enjoyed it the most. The bar­man recog­nised us and antic­i­pat­ed our order; he gave us the fan­cy glass­ware reserved for trust­ed cus­tomers; and we got to play cards in the cor­ner while the band fin­ished their set with an elec­tri­fied Cor­nish folk song. Just per­fect, real­ly.

A dog between two customers at the bar.

Sat­ur­day took us to St Ives, a quick hop on a local train from Pen­zance. After mak­ing sand­cas­tles and clam­ber­ing about on rocks for a bit to build up a thirst we went to The Old Pilchard Press, the town’s microp­ub, which was (as it always seems to be) rammed and (as often seems to hap­pen) almost sold out of beer. We’ve grum­bled about St Ives Brew­ery in the past, unim­pressed by skunked bot­tles of mediocre pale ale actu­al­ly brewed sev­er­al coun­ties away, but the cask ver­sion of Knill by Mouth, which is real­ly brewed in St Ives, rather impressed us: zesty and fun, like Jaf­fa Cakes. Brain’s Rev­erend James, which we’ve not had in years, was the good kind of brown – noth­ing to inspire poet­ry, but well put togeth­er, a bit like find­ing a decent episode of The Sweeney on ITV4.

The Hub con­tin­ues to baf­fle us – last time we went, they were hap­py for us just to have drinks; this time, we got a pass-agg guilt trip, and the menus were snatched away after we’d ordered what was intend­ed to be the first in a few rounds of snacks. Still, the beer, and the choice of beer, is good, and dif­fer­ent: Mag­ic Rock Can­non­ball, a long way from home, was a breath of fresh air. The same brew­ery’s the chilli porter was pret­ty excit­ing too – a sea­son­ing tin­gle rather than Man vs. Food. As we’ve said before, if peo­ple go on about Mag­ic Rock, it’s with good rea­son.

We fin­ished in The Hain Line, the town’s Wether­spoon pub, near the sta­tion. It’s got a much smarter inte­ri­or than the one in Pen­zance and equal­ly smart staff who, if we ran a hos­pi­tal­i­ty busi­ness, we’d be poach­ing. We got excit­ed by yet more for­eign beer here: Salop­i­an Lemon Dream, all the way from Shrop­shire. It’s a bit of a nov­el­ty brew – just a touch too sour, real­ly, and a lit­tle car­toon­ish – but we enjoyed it a lot, espe­cial­ly at some­thing like £2.30 a pint. The sec­ond round was more fraught – beers adver­tised were in the process of going off, and the gen­er­ous tasters we were encour­aged to try did­n’t reveal any­thing else as thrilling – so we had a cou­ple of for­get­table fes­ti­val beers. Still, we left think­ing that, over­all, Spoons had won.

Pints of Proper Job.

Then last night, Sun­day, the sun was out, the sea was still, bar­be­cue smoke was on the air, and we could­n’t resist one last pint of Prop­er Job at The Yacht. It was just about warm enough to sit out­side, too, which is how we know sum­mer is almost here. If any­thing, the beer tast­ed more excit­ing than on Fri­day, remas­tered and bass boost­ed.

As we wan­dered home we saw a bloke, bare-chest­ed, stag­ger­ing across the road after a full day’s drink­ing. ‘I’m wast­ed,’ he said mourn­ful­ly. His com­pan­ion slapped his back and replied: ‘Mate, it’s the only way to be.’

QUICK POST: Gathered Round the Fire

The fire at the Farmer's Arms.

The Farmer’s Arms opened a bit late on New Year’s Day. Can an entire pub can have a hangover?

The weath­er had final­ly, at last, come cold, and we were hop­ing to find the fire lit. It was, just, but strug­gling along, with too much black­ened paper and damp wood refus­ing to catch.

One of the reg­u­lars, unlit roll-up in mouth, was try­ing to fix the prob­lem and engaged our friend in a dis­cus­sion about tac­tics. Even­tu­al­ly, he left her in charge.

We sat pitch­ing in advice as she moved some logs around to give the fire air. Between us, we spec­ta­tors retrieved a dry­ish log from the store under the bench and hacked it into small­er chunks with a pen-knife while she rolled some paper into twists. The paper went up, the wood steamed and then start­ed to black­en, and smoke was sucked away up the chim­ney. Con­fi­dent it was off and away our friend loaded the fire up and, for the next hour, kept a watch­ful eye, mak­ing occa­sion­al adjust­ments with the shov­el (the only imple­ment at hand) to keep the flames healthy.

We did­n’t mind when it cracked like a whip and spat sparks our way – that was all part of the plea­sure. Fires and the sea are two things we can stare at for hours, and if an open fire in a pub on a cold day is a joy, one you’ve had a hand in light­ing is ten times bet­ter again.

The pho­to is actu­al­ly from ear­ly Decem­ber and isn’t our finest work but you get the idea.

UPDATE: Every Pub In Penzance

Last December we made a new year’s resolution to visit during 2016 all the pubs in Penzance we had until then overlooked.

In fact, what we said was that we want­ed, in gen­er­al, to go to…

More and dif­fer­ent pubs. We don’t even need to go far afield: there are pubs in Pen­zance we’ve nev­er been in. This is ridicu­lous, and we will sort it.

With trips to Birm­ing­ham, Bolton, Dud­ley, Hartle­pool, Man­ches­ter, New­cas­tle, Steve­nage and a whole bunch of oth­er places, with the spe­cif­ic inten­tion of vis­it­ing pubs not nec­es­sar­i­ly known for their beer, we’ve achieved our broad­er goal. But the pubs of Pen­zance remained stub­born­ly unfin­ished until the week­end past.

The beer garden at The Pirate.

We start­ed out well, vis­it­ing The Pirate at Alver­ton and The Sports­man at Heamoor in April, lik­ing both enough that we’ve made return vis­its despite them being out of our way. The Pirate espe­cial­ly has got some­thing about it: Adnams Broad­side, a ver­dant beer gar­den, a car­pet­ed and cosy old-fash­ioned inte­ri­or, and a prop­er crowd of locals who (all we ask for) don’t look at us twice. It’s become a lit­tle treat for us to wan­der out that way on a lazy week­end after­noon when we’re not on a train or bus some­where up coun­try.

Con­tin­ue read­ingUPDATE: Every Pub In Pen­zance”

The Yacht Inn, Penzance, in the 1950s

Strange coincidences and connections have led us to a collection of family photos of one of our favourite local pubs.

A brew­er we inter­viewed last week (Pad­dy at Crossed Anchors) noticed that we had a pic­ture of the fab­u­lous­ly Art Deco Yacht Inn, Pen­zance, as our Twit­ter head­er image. He men­tioned that his great aunt and uncle, Frank and Phyl­lis Glasspool, ran it from 1949‑c.1959. He emailed his dad, who emailed a cousin, Susan Glasspool (Bot­taro), who pro­vid­ed the fol­low­ing fan­tas­tic col­lec­tion of pho­tographs and said we could share them here:

It was very hard work there, espe­cial­ly for my moth­er, who did all the cook­ing (plus the extras for the bar, pasties, sand­wich­es etc.), a lot of the clean­ing, and then ran the cock­tail bar in the evenings. Hard to have any fam­i­ly life. Thank good­ness for the swim­ming pool over the road – 10 bob for a sea­son tick­et and I spent all my sum­mers there!

Pub sign with moody sky and sea.
The sign of the Yacht Inn with Moun­t’s Bay and New­lyn in the back­ground.
A man in a suit sits at the bar while Frank directs his assistant.
Frank Glasspool (left) and ‘Lennie’ (white coat) behind the main bar of the Yacht.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “The Yacht Inn, Pen­zance, in the 1950s”

West Cornwall Notes

There’s been quite a lot going on in our local beer scene so, for the record, and to help those of you planning a visit to the far west, here’s a quick round-up of developments.

Coastal Brew­ery’s on-site brew­ery tap and spe­cial­ist beer out­let is up and run­ning in Redruth. An indus­tri­al estate on the out­skirts of a for­mer min­ing town is about as far from twee as you can get, and drink­ing among stacked palettes and breeze block walls won’t be to every­one’s taste, but we found it sur­pris­ing­ly atmos­pher­ic, with a chat­ty crowd of post-shift drinkers from sur­round­ing units. It’s prob­a­bly the best place to come if you want to ‘tick’ Coastal’s own beers from cask and keg (they’re gen­er­al­ly decent and occa­sion­al­ly bril­liant), and has plen­ty of Bel­gian, Amer­i­can and Ger­man beers not often seen out this way. Bot­tles are avail­able to take away, too, if you’re think­ing about stock­ing a hol­i­day cot­tage. It’s open until 10–15:00, Mon-Thu, and on Sat­ur­day; and until 7pm on Fri­days, but check the Face­book page – those hours aren’t fixed.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “West Corn­wall Notes”