Whatever I say about beer quality 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.

Great pub windows

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.

Fake, but pleasing, barrel dispense

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).

*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.

7 thoughts on “SURVIVING ST IVES

    1. I don’t have the vocabulary. If you named two pubs in Beer Guide I’d tell you whether I thought beer was served cool enough. In my experience, the Taps (partic Picc) serve it right, but then temp rarely an issue in London.

      Perceived coolness also reflects condition of course, the best kept beer tend to slip down. Beer that’s clearly hardly been pulled through e.g. restaurant pubs always seems less cool, Sam Smiths pubs – rarely an issue.


  1. My old man always used to pull the pumps through and sample everything – you don’t serve vinegar then. Mind you, the cellar person should know how long a cask has been on for and be anticipating this, must have been on a good week at least to be that bad?


    1. Proper publican. Still see that a few times e.g. Darlington recently.

      In restaurant pubs, there’s little appreciation of beer. By the way, it wasn’t awful,just a lot less fresh and cool than Clifford Beer Fest which rather spoilt me !

      Liked by 1 person

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