St Austell Brewery

Eureka (5.9% ABV, keg)
For this tasting, Eureka was part of St Austell’s Small Batch range, however, since the start of 2017, it has now joined St Austell’s regular portfolio as a keg and bottled beer, at a lower 4.9% ABV. The original was a collaboration between St Austell head brewer, Roger Ryman, and Thornbridge head brewer, Rob Lovatt.

I wrote originally in my notebook that the hop flavours are unusual and may be an acquired taste rather than an instant hit. The beer was deep golden with a white head and lively carbonation and had a big grapefruit hit on the aroma. The grapefruit was joined by a piney, fresh note on the palate with Madeira cake malt in the background. The finish is quite dry and lingers well with a slight mintiness. (27-06-2016)

Mena Dhu (4.5% ABV, keg)
Since this replaced Murphy’s, and before that Guinness, in our local, there’s been no looking back. Even drinkers who never used to have Guinness are now partaking regularly. It pours black with a creamy beige head. There are rich coffee notes, some nuttiness, burnt caramel sweetness and liquorice. Smooth and creamy it goes down very well indeed. If there’s a fault at all, it’s that it comes out of the keg line quite cold and you need to get about a third of a way down the glass to start releasing the flavours. (08-12-2015)

Small Batch Brewery

1972 (4.5% ABV, cask)
Named after the year in which St Austell trade quality manager, Mervyn Westaway, started working at the brewery, this brew is deep amber with a slightly off-white head. On the palate, the smooth bitter has notes of red apples and caramel malt, and is a bit nutty. There’s a bittersweet finish and hints of strawberry linger. It smells of bready malt and a hint of spice. A nice modern interpretation of a traditional bitter. (13-01-2017)

Ardennes Pale (5.3% ABV, cask)
A collaboration brew with Stuart Howe, of Harbour Brewing Co, this beer is Belgian style, which is one of St Austell’s fortes, and beautifully made. Robust and light amber in colour, the beer is spicy, with flavours of orange skin, a hint of apple and lovely salted toffee from the malt. Excellent. (24-06-2017)

Ellis’s Original Old Hayle Ale (5% ABV, cask)
Ellis aleThis brew has been re-created specially by St Austell to be sold in the Cornish Arms, Hayle, which stands at the front of the site where Ellis’s Brewery — previously the Hayle Steam Brewery — was located. It’s comfortingly old fashioned — hop zing is not the consideration here. Bready malt has a caramel, in fact more like rich toffee character, while there’s berry fruit in the mix, too, specifically strawberries on the nose, and a decent bitter finish. The deep amber beer, with its off-white tight head, may be the result of an historic recipe, but St Austell’s modern skill makes this one to come back for.

Fifth Amendment (5.2% ABV, cask)
Chestnut brown with a beige head, this was one of the most successful of the maltier small-batch brews in 2017. On the palate there is date sweetness and some strawberry notes, the fruitiness emanating, possibly, from the use of American ale yeast. There is some spiciness and notes of bitter chocolate. (29-03-2017)

Grand View (5.3% ABV, cask)
There’s a huge resinous hop aroma on this deep golden beer, as well as a suggestion of tartness which doesn’t quite manifest itself on the palate. Mandarin notes here, which turn to lemon on the finish. Decent malt balance. (26-08-2016)

Heather Ale (4.6% ABV, cask)
How to get golden beers drinkers onto an amber beer. Give it this lovely, yet subtle, heather flower flavour and aroma. Like a best bitter with a sweeter, more floral, almost herbal side, with a delicious bready malt background.

Hop Over the Pond (4% ABV, cask)
Bright golden, this beer is characterised by crisp, fresh hop, piney and clean with grapefruit notes and a hint of tartness. With a good, bitter, fruity finish, this has loads of flavour for its ABV. (16-05-2017)

Italian Job (5% ABV, cask)
Big, fresh lemon flavour dominates here, which is not surprising as Sorrento lemons went into the brew. Fragrant, slightly herbal (mint?) hop note are there, too, and there’s biscuity malt balance. The lemon flavour heightens on the finish, then leads to gentle bitterness. The aroma combines lemon pith and spicy hop. (06-08-2016)

Ruby Jack (4.8%, cask)
Actually amber rather than ruby, with a slight off-white head, this has returned after being one of head brewer Roger Ryman’s original special for St Austell soon after he joined the company in 1999. Malt leads, and there are rich berry fruits and toffee, with a gentle bitter finish. Nice to see it back. (12-11-2016)

Rye the Long Face (4.7% ABV, cask)
Great rye notes on this best bitter, and it has a lovely body, too. Good sweetness — toffee with a hint of nuts — but not cloying. There’s a decent bitter finish. (30-04-2017)

Saisonier (5.7% ABV, cask)
A great introduction to the saison style and a great Cornish beer! Hazy straw coloured with a big, thick, foaming head, the aroma is musty, with citrus fruit and a hint of sourness. On the palate it’s a bit more tart than sour, lemon and lime flavours, with some pepperiness and ginger. There’s a sense of the wheat in the malt bill, too, contributing to good head retention. (22-06-2016)

Toast (4.8% ABV, cask)
St Austell ToastCreated by brewing team member James Vincent, the malt is the star of this best bitter. Mahogany in colour with a beige head, there is, naturally, bready malt flavour but berry notes come through as the taste develops. There’s a moreish, bittersweet finish. The name derives from the surplus bread from the Eden Project which has been included in the mash. (16-10-2016)

Vesper (5.5% ABV, cask)
A lightly-hopped, well-balanced bitter, a bit resinous and with some slight spiciness, but all vert subtle. A fragrant beer with light kiwi fruit notes coming through. Little bit woody.

XXXX Mild (3.6% ABV, cask)
The welcome return of an old friend, albeit as a one-off special. Not black, but a very, very deep, dark red, with a white head, it’s easy drinking and clearly very well made. The malt flavour is subtle, there are hints of berry fruit, with coffee and vanilla on the back of the palate. Would be nice to see it again more regularly. (22-12-2016)