Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Perfect for Winter and Summer Alike: Cornish Beers

Photo by Xerones used under CCL
Every year, around November my family and I head down to Cornwall. This concept is quite weird to most people, with Cornwall really renowned as a summer holiday destination. The reason for this bizarre tradition is that we like being together for our birthdays ( we have 3 in just over 2 weeks) and more importantly, we enjoy huddling round the fire in a cosy cottage, eating and drinking ourselves into immobility whilst getting some good reading in.

Cornwall is home to great food (fishy of course) but it also produces some great wines and beers - we have already featured Camel Valley at Vinspire, which I visited this month and met owner Bob Lindo (who was absolutely lovely in every respect), but that's another story. My first love of Cornish alcohol took on a hoppyer form, and it is a love that's spreading.

Three of the largest Cornish breweries are St Austell, Sharps and Skinners, they all produce great beers and ones that are really popular and growing in prestige.

Photo by Oliver Truckle


Sharps is based in Rock, a classic tourist destination, a foodie's paradise. Their best selling beer is Doom Bar (a bitter), this is available all over the UK and is the UKs fastest growing beer in term of sales. It's flavour is dominated by spicy hops, it is quite delicate and light, perhaps a little thin, but a great beer and one that can be drunk all night long.

Doom Bar is available at Majestic, Sainsburys, Asda, Waitrose and the Sharps website. The best price is 4 for £5 at Asda.

St Austell
Photo by Ian Chilton

St Austell is based unsurprisingly in St Austell, on the southern coast of Cornwall east of Truro. Tribute is the flagship beer for St Austell and is another Cornish export growing ever more mainstream in pubs in the greater UK. Tribute is a bitter, but is quite fruity and sweet for that with notes of orange zest and tropical fruit among biscuit and nut notes with some sweet spices thrown in.This is a light and easy drinking beer and one that keeps you coming back for more.

Tribute is available to buy in Sainsburys, Asda, Waitrose and on the St Austell website, the best price seems to be 4 for £5 at Asda

Photo by Wonker

The Skinners brewery is located in Cornwall's capital Truro, it is a lovely producer making quirky named and labelled beers, even making beer for FXU, the student union of the shared campus between Exeter Uni and Falmouth College. Betty Stogs is probably the figurehead ale for Skinners having won a Gold Champion ribbon in the Champion Beer of Britain awards.

Betty is a flowery lass on the nose, but on tasting malt and yeast dominate with citrus zest perking up every now and again.This is a really nice session ale, really nice, not too complex but a lovely beer all the same.

Skinners beers are harder to get hold of outside cornwall but is available from the Skinners website at £21.85 for 12 or from Ocado for £1.97 per bottle.

So, having taken a look at the three largest Cornish breweries and their flasghip beers, it becomes clear that the Corns love their session ales and like beers that can be drunk into the small hours. All those above are light and easy and pleasing in regards to taste as well. They are really wonderful beers, perfect for days at the seaside or evenings tucked in by the fire.

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