Whatever I say about beer quality (see below) in Cornwall, it’s a wonderful county when you avoid the crowds. Gurnard’s Head gave us the coastline all to ourselves, but the walk from Carbis Bay to St Ives five miles east was clearly the designated ambling route for unfit Britons. There were some compensating views;
The coast walk follows the dinky train line, until it’s diverted through a wedding party at the Corbis Bay Hotel, ensuring my muddy boots will spoil someone’s photos of their expensive day.
We have a few pictures in our house bought from St Ives years ago, and I’m pleased to say the town is as gorgeous as I remembered, the light and sea colours changing as you round the bay.
My sister and niece would normally have spent a couple of hours dragging me round the art shops of Cornwall’s busiest town (in my experience), but their focus was firmly on assessing the NBSS of St Ives’s lone Beer Guide entry. I applaud them now for their dedication to the task.
The Castle Inn was a highlight of my Cornish trip. The more modern bistros and Wetherspoons seemed to have siphoned off the more indecisive tourists, leaving a definable pub atmosphere to develop amongst a good mix of drinkers and chip-eaters.
We liked a lot about the Castle, from the traditional seating, chatty staff and proper skin-on chips. Even the poor condition of the Tim Taylor’s Dark allowed us to see pubs at their best. The barman tasted a sample, declared it vinegar and took it off*. Cornish Knocker and Bays Topsail were rated between 3 and 3.5 by my expert tasting panel, who rarely rate at 4 or above.
Pleasingly, while the Castle offer Prosecco and cream teas (“in the same glass ?” someone asked), Prosecco was only available for special occasions, such as the End of Times. Oh.
Yesterday I mentioned that my sister and (recent real ale convert) niece hadn’t taken to Penzance Brewing beers. This was less to do with the inherent quality of the beers, which we’ve enjoyed in places like the Trengilly Wartha, and more to do with the way it’s been served in particular pubs, which at this time of year often means it’s not served cool enough.
Younger folk than me also noted that beer tasted better in a pint glass, though the improvement ascribed to drinking after eating the skin-on chips probably needs more research.
I didn’t do justice to The Star in yesterday’s post. We did enjoy the pub itself (great garden), and still rated the beers at NBSS 3, but probably need to return in the Autumn to get the best out of a visit (or perhaps just accept folk round here like their beer less cool).
The beers “coming dreckly” look particularly appealing.
*You can debate amongst yourselves whether another tourist would have taken the vinegar back, or whether the pub should have been serving vinegar in the first place.