Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wooden Hand

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)

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Quick word on Cornish beer. The Alma in Thornhill, Dewsbury currently has Sharp's Doom Bar, and it tastes great. I recommended it to the landlord after drinking it many times on holidays over the years. He's had it on since around October, and it's selling really well. He tried to also get Betty Stogs, but couldn't get hold of it. Apparently Skinners won't deliver it up here.

Will said...

That's great to hear. Doom Bar is a fantastic beer and on my way home too! Cheers.

Anonymous said...

As you know I very rarely venture out of the hallowed county but I have heard on good authority that Skinners and Sharps have a monopoly in pubs in Devon & Cornwall to the cost of the newer microbreweries by constantly undercutting them. I agree that their beers are good but their predatory tactics leave me with a sour taste and I tend to overlook them if there are other beers to drink..bet you would struggle to find a Woodenhand beer in Cornwall..seems the only places to drink them is outside their normal area.
Tim

Anonymous said...

How much was the Doom Bar at the Alma? I visited about 2 years ago and had to remortgage the house to buy a pint

daveyravey said...

I have spent a lot of time in Devon and Cornwall and Doom Bar, although being a great beer is rather like the Marstons Pedigree or Green King situation up here. There are still plenty of pubs selling good local ales.
Church House Inn and Travellers at Stokenham, Pigs Nose, East Prawl, Pirates Inn Penzance, to name a few.

Leigh said...

nice post- I have a couple of Wooden Hand's beers in my cellar right now, and rate Doom Bar and Skinner's Betty Stogs very highly indeed. I visited Newquay this year and those two beers in particular made it a worthwhile journey.

Leigh said...

Ps. Betty Stogs occasionally appears at The Palace in Leeds. Give us a shout if you venture over.

Anonymous said...

Doom Bar at Alma is £2.50, so not as cheap as some places, but we're limited in Thornhill to where we can drink real ale. Saville Arms has Copper Dragon in at moment but if I want something different I have to go into Dewsbury or Ossett (which I do but sometimes you want to stay local, don't you!)