Generalisations about beer culture

The tyranny of the ticking bug

We’re not Tickers, although we do understand what drives people to pursue an ultimately doomed, obsessive-compulsive mission to drink a bit of every beer in existence — it’s not like we haven’t spent whole holidays haring from one pub to the next, drinking halves of 10 different beers in each and, at the end of it all, wondering if we’d actually had fun.

On holiday in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, last year, it took us a day or two to realise there was no really exciting beer around and just relax. We enjoyed a few pints of Tribute here and there, picked up a few interesting bottles (once we’d stopped looking) and, y’know, made something other than beer the focus of the holiday.

Similarly, on our recent trip to Haworth, we kept coming back to the Fleece for Timothy Taylor. We could have tried a few more beers we’d not had before but, frankly, didn’t want to waste our time when there was something so good right at hand.

The only problem is, you don’t get much ammo for a blog that way.


St Austell: Kings of Cornwall


Cornwall is a rotten place if you want to try new beers. In short, if you don’t like St Austell, Sharps or Skinner’s, you’ll have to work hard to find a pint to your taste.

St Austell in particular seem to have the county in a Darth Vader-like grip. Their golden castle logo is on every second pub frontage, and their bottled beers are in every gift shop, off licence and convenience store.

In some ways, it’s not such a bad thing. Tribute is becoming one of our all time favourites and is reliably good in St Austell pubs in Cornwall. Proper Job IPA and Admiral’s Ale are two of Britain’s best bottle-conditioned beers, in our humble opinions.

Sparkler spotters may be interested to know that St Austell beers were served by default with a sparkler in all the St Austell pubs we visited.  So it’s not just a northern thing, then?

beer reviews bottled beer

Cornwall and beer on the train


We’ve just returned from a week in Cornwall, in the far south west of England, so expect a few posts in the coming days on our beery adventures around St Ives.

We got the week off to a good start on the train from London last Saturday with a few bottles of Marks and Spencer’s relatively new Cornish IPA.

We were pleased to see that the supermarket chain are now crediting the brewers of their own-brand bottle-conditioned beers on the labels (we  beer geeks like to know where our booze is coming from) and that this is a product of St Austell.

We guessed it would be a rebadge of their brilliant bottle conditioned Proper Job, but it’s not. It’s weaker (5% as opposed to 5.6%) and also has a lighter body and drier finish. It’s much closer, in fact, to cask conditioned Proper Job. We thought it was delicious. One of the best bottled beers we’ve had in a long while.

Thanks, St Austell and M&S, for a great start to our break.


Weird marketing from St Austell

A vicar in front of a pub

St Austell have taken to spamming us with press releases (a bit annoying, but we do like the beer, so what the hey).

The above photo is part of their latest weird attempt to generate interest in the beer. To cut a long story short, the local vicar did a service in a pub.

Frankly, Stella Artois might taste rancid, but their marketeers know how to make a silk purse from the proverbial sow’s ear. St Austell’s, on the other hand… their beer is fantastic, but now I’m thinking: “It’s what Cornish vicars drink. Great — that’s a lifestyle I aspire to!”

The really scary thing is, when the picture was taken, the vicar was on his own. Those people in the background only showed up when it was developed. He… he sees dead people!

beer and food

Who decided that IPA went with curry just because of the name?

Bailey´s been holding the fort while I´ve been studying for exams, but now they´re over, I feel I should make it up. However, as I´m still in the middle of Spain I´m stuck for immediate inspiration, so thought I´d post on something which has been bugging me for a while.

IPA and curry. I´ve been told by many wise people that instead of fizzy lager, one should drink IPA with curry. But I don´t see it. I´ve tried it on several occasions, and each time, the curry just completely kills the flavour of the IPA. Even a powerful tasting IPA like St Austell´s “Proper Job” is left completely bland by my chickpea massala.

Curry kills hop flavouring. Not that crazy really, given that hops are another spice. It´s just a waste of a decent IPA.

So what to drink with curry? A “Munich-style Helles” or alternatively Cornershop East European Lager (I´d like to see that as a style in the BJCP guidelines!) is inoffensive and refreshing, but then again, if you can´t really taste the beer, is it worth bothering at all?

I have a theory that a nice belgian wheatbeer might work, although it would have to be one that´s not too spicy. One to try when I get back.

Any other suggestions?