Sharp’s Connoisseurs’ Choice in the pub

Sharp's Connoisseur's Choice triple

There isn’t much Bel­gian beer on sale in pubs in Corn­wall, which is a shame, because strong, slow beers lend them­selves to stormy, can­dlelit Sun­day after­noons, of which we have plen­ty. For­tu­nate­ly, Sharp’s head brew­er, Stu­art Howe, is some­thing of a Bel­go­phile, and has pro­duced two beers which very neat­ly plug the gap.

Hon­ey Spice Tripel (10%) is entire­ly con­vinc­ing and deli­cious. Hon­ey in beers we can take or leave but, as is usu­al­ly the case when it’s employed in brew­ing, it’s not a very pro­nounced pres­ence here. In fact, what lords it over this beer is a big, unre­strained Bel­gian yeast pump­ing out banana aro­ma and tongue-tin­gling Asian spici­ness. (The West­malle strain, right?)

The Quadru­pel (10%) is appar­ent­ly fer­ment­ed with four strains of yeast. The over­all impres­sion, though, is that, once again, some­thing very like the West­malle strain won. Our impres­sion (accord­ing to notes on one of the touch­screen devices) was of more bananas – real­ly ripe ones – doused in rum, but it’s anoth­er one of those beers that has almost every flavour in it if you wait long enough. (Choco­late, cof­fee, dark fruits, Werther’s Orig­i­nals, old army boots, bat’s blood…) In a blind tast­ing, would we rate St Bernar­dus Abt 12 high­er? Maybe, but the fresh­ness and swag­ger of this beer might tip the bal­ance.

Final obser­va­tions: it was great to see these on sale in a rel­a­tive­ly nor­mal pub, at a not-out­ra­geous £5.50 a bot­tle, which is less than imports go for down this way, on the rare occa­sions they’re seen. It was even bet­ter when the bar­man announced, with evi­dent pride, that they had a full sup­ply of the attrac­tive Bel­gian-style glass­es in which they are sup­posed to be served. But… Con­nois­seurs’ Choice? Why not just call them Wankers’ Selec­tion or Dick­head­’s Delight? We blog­gers don’t need our egos encour­ag­ing.