Let me take you down the A303, to a selection of Skinner’s wonderful beers, their swanky new labels and the stories that inspired them.

Sometimes the old adage ‘If it aint broke, don’t fix it’ doesn’t ring true and this I would say is the case for Cornish Brewery Skinner’s who in recent months have given their beers a funky new look.

I love Cornwall. I have visited many many times and always find it hard to leave this wonderful county. Well I say county but as an outsider my observation is that being ‘Cornish’ is in fact an approach to life – an ethos if you like. Economic factors and the wildness of the weather can make life in Cornwall tough. Many of the people I have met in Cornwall possess a pragmatic yet almost spiritual approach to life. This paired with the creativity which seems to ooze from every corner of Cornwall make it a spellbinding place.

The new labels are little works of art!

In this creative vein Skinner’s have collaborated with six artists to produce a new set of labels for their award winning core range. Skinner’s, a family run brewery just outside Truro town centre have been going since 1997. The new labels they have created are little works of art!

The artists include Stevie Gee who has designed for Fashion brand Vans, Rose Forshall whose work has featured in The Times and in one of my favourite shops Anthropology plus Nick Beringer who having designed the original Betty Stogs has given her a makeover – well of sorts. Nick has been involved in Skinner’s since it began so knows Betty well and rather than glam her up (perish the thought) this brazen woman has been given a new sparkle and is now shown holding court rather than the lone figure she once was.

So let me take you down the A303, past Stonehenge into Kernow and to a selection of Skinner’s wonderful beers, their swanky new labels and the stories and backdrop that inspired them.

First up the woman herself Betty Stogs. Cornwall is known for being the land of myth and legend and the story of Betty Stogs is one of a somewhat lazy woman whose baby was always grubby and had only Betty’s cat for company most of the time. One day the ‘Small People’ took the baby and cleaned it up before leaving it on some moss for Betty to find. Not before Betty’s husband had returned home however and he was pretty angry with her.  

This story has a happy ending as Betty learnt from this episode and became a more attentive parent.  

Described by Skinner’s as a ‘Brazen Cornish Ale’ this Betty Stogs however is in no way shabby. Amber with a lacy head and a 4% ABV she has a nose of caramel and malt. Once you start drinking Betty the malt notes continue accompanied by dry woody notes. I would love to sip Betty Stogs with a Cornish Pasty – of course. Either traditional or cheese and onion would work. Just beware of the seagulls and maybe the mythical ‘Small People’!

Fancy something lighter for a day on the beach? Try Skinner’s Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale.  

Now in my experience the weather in Cornwall, even at the height of summer can be a bit hit and miss and I know having lost my car in the terrible Boscastle flood twelve years ago. But when the sun shines and it does, there is nowhere better to be than on a Cornish beach such as Crackington Haven or Trebarwith Strand with a Cornish Ice Cream.

Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale has a wonderful new label reminiscent of a Hawaiian shirt- you know the sort worn by some of us in the 80s and often seen at the GBBF.  

The label sets the scene perfectly depicting blue sea surrounded by orange and red skies.
Lushingtons has an ABV of 4.2%. Grassy and hoppy on the nose, this beer does not have a heavy mouth feel so is a great session beer. With jammy notes and hints of lime it’s perfect with that Ice Cream or a Cream Tea.

Lushingtons Sunshine Pale Ale has a wonderful new label reminiscent of a Hawain shirt

Step things up a notch to an ABV of 4.8% with i, which Skinner’s describe as an ‘Untameable Pale Ale’. Very lively out of the bottle Porthleven has a citrus kick that hits the back of the mouth.  

Skinner’s recommend Porthleven be paired with spicy food, kebabs or smoked meats – I love a brewery that include informed food pairing notes on their labels so kudos to Skinner’s for this. I would enjoy kicking back and watching surfers such as the one on the label in the Cornish sunset with a Porthleven and either fish and chips or some locally caught Mackerel-perfect! I guess the ‘untameable’ reference is a nod to the Atlantic. Famed for surfing but is certainly not a force man will ever tame no matter how well we surf.

All I would need to finish off the perfect day would be a visit to the Cobweb Inn, Boscastle for a few more beers and some live music. If you are in the area the Cobweb is one of the best pubs I have ever been to and worth spending at least one evening in. The evening may well turn into the following day but a full Cornish breakfast and a bracing stroll on the beach and you’ll be as right as rain.

Once recovered should you fancy picnicking on some sandwiches of locally caught crab I would suggest you grab a bottle of Cornish Knocker.  

Skinners describe Knocker as a ‘Ground breaking Golden Ale’ which is a clever play on words. Named after fabled creatures that feature in Celtic mythology but are particularly prevalent in Cornish folklore, the Knockers were said to knock on the walls of mines. This knocking was believed by some to be a mischievous act designed to cause the wall to cave in (hence the ‘ground breaking reference). Others however believe it to be a benevolent warning to miners that they were in danger. I feel the need to explain this in case you have images from old fashioned seaside post cards in your head…

Cornish Knocker is Skinner’s Golden Ale with an ABV of 4.5%. Mango aromas lead to a crisp, fruity ale with a short snappy dry finish.

As well as collaborating with artist, Skinner’s worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage and came up with English Pale Ale (EPA)

EPA has floral notes from the cascade hops it contains. It also manages to combine notes of wood and malt. The result is a nice mix of sappy dryness and a soft woody finish. For me a perfect partner to a lump of Cornish farmhouse cheese.

Skinner’s worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and came up with EPA

So many great things come out of Cornwall and beer is certainly one of them. Skinner’s range with their witty and clever new labels does not disappoint and although widely available don’t wait for them to come to you. If you have a chance to visit GO WEST!

 

Cheers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rio Olympics are here so we should enjoy the sport with a beer or two. Read on to see why I was inspired to find out about Elgood’s beer this summer.

 

The Rio Olympics are here as is our summer so despite what sometimes feels like constant rain and cloud we should enjoy the sport with a beer or two.

Many months ago in (slightly) chillier January I was asked to name my favourite beer of 2015.

This was an impossible task for me as I could never pick one beer as a favourite.   What beer I want to drink depends on factors such as what I am doing, where I am and if I am eating or simply out for a session.

So instead I choose a standout beer from 2015, something a little different…Elgood’s Coolship Fruit.

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In my blog last summer when I judged at the SIBA South East Region beer festival in Tonbridge I eulogised about Elgood’s Coolship Fruit which I blind tasted. Coolship deservedly won Gold in the Keg Speciality beer category and Bronze in the Overall Keg Champion of the competition.

I was bowled over by Coolship’s refreshing qualities.   A real summer beer if such a thing exists-seasonal beers, now there’s a whole different debate…

Now I am not normally a huge fan of fruit beers.   I feel the myriad of flavours that are thrown up by different combinations of water, hops, malts and yeast are plentiful.  There are of course exceptions and Coolship is one so I was inspired to find out a little bit about Elgood’s beers as a result of tasting this wonderful fruit beer for the first time.

Elgood’s who are based in Wansbeck, Cambridgeshire have been brewing since 1878 at the North Brink Brewery. As well as the brewery they have amazing gardens which can be visited on various dates during the year as part of the National Garden Scheme.   They hold craft and plant fairs and Jazz events – I love a brewery that diversifies as I feel this makes the brewing industry more accessible to all of us including non beer drinkers who hopefully can be converted!

Elgood’s have a comprehensive range of beers including Bitters, Pale Ales, Scotch Ales and Milds as well as the two sours; Coolship Fruit and Coolship Blonde.

They also have their QE – Quintessentially English, Bottled Beer range. Launched in 2013 the QE range features a stout and two fruity wheat beers; Apple with Vanilla and Cherry.

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So if you fancy something a bit fruity to sup with the Olympics here’s my take on Elgood’s fruit beers:

Coolship Fruit – ABV 5% A pink beer with a thin head and a nose of brambles.   Coolship Fruit is a refreshing sour Lambic style beer.   In order to achieve the tarty sourness Elgood’s use the traditional method used in Belgium to produce Lambics of fermenting the beer in open ‘boats’ or in Elgood’s case open cooling trays, known as coolship trays.   Elgood’s have two coolship trays and I hope to see them one day as I think this is a fascinating brewing method.   The beer is basically left in the trays to spontaneously ferment using wild yeasts from the atmosphere.  This might sound scary but it’s an established method which produces fine sour beers to which fruit can be added.   In the case of Coolship Fruit raspberries and blackberries are added.   A fellow beer judge at Tonbridge last year remarked that Coolship would be wonderful on a summer’s evening and I couldn’t agree more.   Paired with Fruit flan or dark chocolate this is a wonderful beer that I would happily dive into whatever the weather.

Not fruity but also a great sour beer is Elgood’s Coolship Blond.   Slightly acidic and tart I found this beer simply danced on my tongue with notes of sherbet and a warming finish from the stronger ABV of 6.1%

If you don’t fancy a sour the fruit wheat beers in Elgood’s QE range are also excellent:

QE Cherry Wheat Beer 3.6% ABV – so very easy to drink!   This beer which contains both cherries and raspberries is a lovely scarlet pink colour with a pink foamy head.   Sumptuous cherry verging on almond notes in this rich beer would pair beautifully with game or if you have an exceptionally sweet tooth, try a drop with bakewell tart.

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QE Apple and Vanilla Wheat Beer 4%.   Not surprisingly if you like cider I think you will you will love this.  A golden beer with a thin lacey cream head, QE Apple and Vanilla is sweet and has Rhubarb and custard notes but with a slightly bitter finish.  I feel this beer benefits from chilling as this accentuates the vanilla notes and gives it a slightly drier taste.

Elgood’s have won numerous awards for their beers in addition to the two Coolship won at the SIBA South East Region beer festival.   Let’s hope Team GB can bring home a medal or two!

http://www.elgoods-brewery.co.uk/awards/

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