Sunday, 29 July 2012

Quiet but busy

Surprised its been almost 3 weeks since i posted,  I was however away on holiday for the last week.

Before we went away I managed to get in a visit to the Cardiff beer shop, I couldn't quite believe the amount of new beers he had in, from abroad and home also.
I picked up bottles from Bear Republic, Hardknott, Stone, Sierra Nevada, Nils Oscar, Red Willow and Magic Rock, all breweries I'd not tried before (except SN).
I had to leave behind so many bottles from so many amazing breweries that I want to try. The shop has really expanded its already outstanding range, with some special imports too, especially from the US.

Last week we went on a family holiday camping in the Gower, South Wales. Extremely lucky with the weather, we had a week of glorious sun, and we finished the week with a few days in Tenby, just spending the days on the beach.
Well when you've had a (non) summer as we have had in the UK this year (record rain falls, floods in June and July) you had to grab the opportunity while it presented itself.

While we were in the Gower we were lucky to be close to a pub called 'The Greyhound' which is home of the Gower brewery. With 5 of their beers on cask eagerly sampled and a quick chat with the landlord/brewer, I'll expand on this in another post soon.

I've also got a few reviews and photos to get up so I'd better crack on with those.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Pubs in Padstow, Cornwall

On our holiday back in May the guys got a night out, last year we went around the pubs in Wadebridge, this year we went to Padstow.

A beautiful fishing port town in North Cornwall, in recent times its probably fair to say its more well known because the celebrity chef Rick Stein has based his operations there. His influence is everywhere in 'Padstein' , his fish shop, restaurant, deli, culinary school etc. We'd bought some mackeral and a sea bass for a BBQ, and they were quite reasonably priced actually and damn tasty.

Padstow, taken from Rock beach
The last few years we drive to Rock on the other side of the harbour, spend some time on the beach and then water taxi it across to the town for ice creams, shopping etc. (plus you pass Sharps Brewery shop on the way to Rock!)

Despite his involvement with Sharps brewery to make Chalky's Bite and Chalky's Bark, two excellent beers, I don't think he's branched out his reach into the pub business yet.

So onto the pubs of Padstow. I tried to do a little research beforehand but there was little information and reviews online, beyond saying the 'London Inn' was a good locals pub.

We started at 'The Old Custom House', a St. Austell pub, large and spacious main bar, with a few comfy chairs which we sank into. A large TV screen silently showed some cricket as we ordered, from the choice of Tribute, Trelawney and HSD. I went for the Trelawney, a 3.8% bitter, i got alot of toffee and malts, medium body with light bitterness, a nice start to the evening.

We went next door but one to the 'Harbour Inn' which is another St. Austell. There is literally one art gallery shop between their two pubs, but the styles of them both are quite different, the Harbour being smaller, more 'local' vibe going on, its décor heavily showing the fishing port they are based in.
 They also had on Tribute and Trelawney, two seasonal - Torchbearer (olympics theme as the torch was to start it journey in the south west) and Dartmoor, and Korev on tap.
Dartmoor bitter, 3.5%, sweetish malt, fruity, fairly standard bitter, all the beers here in good condition it must be said.

We moved onto the the 'London Inn' just up the road away from the harbour. We started to spot a pattern here as guess what, its St. Austell again! Smaller place, reasonably busy, a lot of fishing paraphernalia around the walls, and the first sighting of Proper Job. Now that's what I wanted on this pub crawl, a pint of hoppy goodness.
Except it wasn't. Both my mate and I had it and felt it was quite muted in aroma and taste, and our other companion wasn't overly impressed with the Tribute either, it being rather lacklustre also.

A pub, mate and invisible friend.
We hot footed it out of there, up and across the road onto the Golden Lion Hotel. It was quite inside, a free house where the bar area was a little tired looking whilst the back courtyard, toilets, all look very modern. We got a friendly welcome from the barmaid, and someone's dog, and on cask they had Doom Bar, Skinners Betty Stoggs, and from the Tintagel Brewery 'Castle Gold'. All three of us had this, and found it in good condition, its a 4.2% golden ale, crisp and clean, a light citrus hoppiness, and honey sweet malts. Overall it appeared a relaxed and friendly place, it was good for a couple of pints and banter with your mates.

Moving back down towards the quay we went into the Old Ship Hotel. This seems to have had a little face lift since we were last in it, a big spacious place that I think is a free house. Its going for the 'gastro' look in my opinion, the menu looked nice if a little pricey, and to drink the choices were that day Sharps Doom Bar and their 'Special' and Brains SA which amused me, being so used to seeing it everywhere here in Wales to then find it on a night out in Cornwall!
The beer we felt seemed a little on the overly cold side, but after warming up a bit the 'Special' was great to try after enjoying it previously only in bottle form. Fruity, toffee, good solid body that gives you strong malts combined with rich plum and sweetness, excellent.

We then stopped in Rajano's restaurant for a pizza fuel stop, then on to the last pub in the town, the Shipwrights Inn, right on the dockside. Completing their domination of the local scene with the 4th out of 6 pubs in the town it was another St Austell joint. But in a way I was glad it was because their Proper Job was in great form, juicy, hoppy, clean and thirst quenching. It sat alongside Tribute, HSD, in a large open building, which also has a great outside seating area right on the harbour side. I can imagine on a sunny day sipping proper job, with that view, it would be heavenly.

Overall we had a great evening, you cannot ask for more than drinking good beer with your two best friends.

I was surprised considering the close proximity to Sharps brewery we didn't see more of their beers. To have 4/6 pubs in one town might normally not be a good business model but i think the regular tourist trade they get in Padstow its obviously sustainable for St. Austell.

Beer of the night - for me its between a good conditioned Proper Job, and the Tintagel 'Castle Gold'.

I would happily drink in any of the pubs again, I'm sure the London Inn was just having an off day beer wise, it would have been easy to sit there for a few otherwise.
I think I would visit the Harbour Inn before some of the others first though, purely because they seem to have a couple of the less well known and seasonal casks on rather than just the Tribute, Trelawney and HSD that the others all had. Shame no one had Black Prince on that day though.