My love of Cornish beer started back about the late eighties during a holiday spent in St. Just, a few miles north of Land's End. This soon became an annual week-long pilgrimage and the beer was always St. Austell's served straight from the wood into over sized tankards. My brew of choice in those days was Tinners, a classic copper-coloured session ale, but occasionally the good old Hicks Special Draught would be called upon as a nightcap - the perfect end to a days foot-slogging around the coves.
More recently, trips to the archipelago have introduced me to the wondrous Scuppered from Ales of Scilly as well as mainland favourites such as Betty Stogs and Cornish Knocker from Skinners. Tinners, and Stogs for that matter, have guested irregularly in this part of the world but unfortunately never seem right here for one reason or another, and do little to induce northern drinkers to travel to this out-of-the-way county for a spot of tasting. Today's offering at the Huntsman though might just change all that.
Pirate's Gold from the Wooden Hand Brewery based in Truro was as robust a 4% golden ale as I've tasted in a while. And the fact that it was drawn through a tight sparkler and still had bags of taste to spare was quite remarkable. The strong sweet malt followed by plenty of juicy fruit and an unannounced earthy bitterness are all the hallmarks of a beer in the 5% region - so a real triumph of substance over strength. The brewery has been around since 2004 but it's output seems quite rare away from the south-west, which is a shame since this is one Cornish ale that certainly can survive the trek north. Looks like it's time to pester my local landlords again! (website)