The Hand Bar, Falmouth

The neck of a bottle of Goose Island Pepe Nero 2011.

Con­fes­sion: we act­ed like dicks in the Hand Bar in Fal­mouth. Not mas­sive­ly,  just a bit. When we ordered a bot­tle of Sharp’s Mon­sieur Rock, the very friend­ly, knowl­edge­able bar­man real­ly want­ed to tell us all about it. “Do you know the sto­ry behind this beer?” he said excit­ed­ly.

And we did smug know-all faces and said: “Yes, we do.

His face fell.

Sor­ry, nice bar­man.

Any­way, what did we make of the bar? Well, Adri­an Tier­ney Jones has right­ly com­pared it to the Rake and it does have sim­i­lar atmos­phere, even if the selec­tion of beer is small­er and less adven­tur­ous. The phrase Shored­itch-on-sea may have come to mind at one point. Over­all, we were impressed, not only by the staff, but also by the range of Bel­gian and Amer­i­can beer which is oth­er­wise hard to find beyond Ply­mouth. There is no cask ale, but then that’s not their niche in the mar­ket.

Mon­sieur Rock itself was served too cold, we think, and we found it intrigu­ing if not mind­blow­ing. We got a hint of some­thing mys­te­ri­ous in the aro­ma – fen­nel again? – and thought we tast­ed hon­ey along with some lemon and some dusty hops. It was cer­tain­ly very, very clean and refresh­ing.

We also tried Pepe Nero by Goose Island, which was hard­er work but very reward­ing. It was dark brown in colour with Bel­gian yeast flavours right upfront, although it had more flo­ral hops and roast­ed flavours than we’ve come across in many real Bel­gian beers. The spices tin­gled on the tongue. Only the body let it down. We found it a lit­tle fizzy and thin which may fit with the idea that it’s a (very dark) sai­son but, at 6%, we’d have liked more weight to it.

Final­ly, we want­ed some­thing with “sil­ly hops” and 400lb Mon­key by Left Hand fit the bill. It smelled like a stoned teenager’s fog­gy hatch­back and the tea-like hop flavour was tongue-strip­ping. Was it nice? Not exact­ly, but it was cer­tain­ly hop­py. No, we cer­tain­ly can’t deny that.

Sharp’s honey spice beer at the NFT

It’s all in the title real­ly.  I had some Sharp’s hon­ey spice beer, on tap in a plas­tic beaker in the Nation­al Film The­atre bar.

We had a sim­i­lar beer in a bot­tle a while back and did­n’t like it that much (too thin), so I was­n’t expect­ing much –  it just seemed a bet­ter option than Ams­tel.  I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised though. The spic­ing was real­ly sub­tle, just enough to make it inter­est­ing with­out being over­pow­er­ing.  It did­n’t seem thin like the bot­tled ver­sion (or oth­er hon­ey beers).

Worth a go, even in plas­tic beakers.

Every­one else seems to like the “award-win­ning” bot­tled ver­sion. I should point out that when we tried it we were sit­ting on a train and it was prob­a­bly a bit shook up.

Boak (from Spain, post­ing auto­mat­i­cal­ly)

Chalky’s Bite Improves with Age

In a recent tast­ing, Zak Avery com­pared Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite to Koelsch, which spurred us on to open the last bot­tle of a case we were giv­en as a gift a year ago. In hon­our of Zak’s com­par­i­son, we drank it from Koelsch glass­es.


In a recent tast­ing, Zak Avery com­pared Sharp’s Chalky’s Bite to Koelsch, which spurred us on to open the last bot­tle of a case we were giv­en as a gift a year ago. In Zak’s hon­our, we drank it from Koelsch glass­es.

We pret­ty quick­ly decid­ed that we did­n’t real­ly see any sim­i­lar­i­ty although we take Zak’s point about the cold con­di­tion­ing of top-fer­ment­ed beer.

What we also not­ed was that it had aged beau­ti­ful­ly. It was nice enough fresh, but after a year mel­low­ing in the ‘cel­lar’ (garage), it knocked us for six. With­out a fresh one for com­par­i­son, it’s hard to say what had changed, but our feel­ing was that it had lost some bit­ter­ness, become rounder and less brash – like a classy Bel­gian blonde.

We’d be inter­est­ed to hear any sug­ges­tions for oth­er British beers, apart from the usu­al sus­pects, that age well.