Unlike some of you lucky people up the line in London and the big regional cities, the words ‘tap takeover’ appear to us as a rare beacon of opportunity down here in Cornwall, so I was eager to hop on one of our new wifi- and USB-enabled double deckers last night for a trip to the HAND bar in Falmouth.
This time, owner Pete Walker had succeeded in luring down the trio behind Left Handed Giant, out of Bristol – cuckoo brewers who also have a small 200-litre plant of their own for some experimental brews. While I’ve drunk LHG beers in HAND on occasion before, it’s always nice to have a line-up and to be able to explore different styles.
Fair to say, I think, that brewer Richard Poole — who was at HAND with fellow Left Handed Giants Bruce Gray and Jack Granger — veers towards non-standard beers, and with great success judging from my tasting.
Top of the score sheet for me was Burgundy barrel-aged Lactose Tolerant (5.1% ABV) which has the most enticing aroma I’ve come across on a beer for some time. Luscious red wine notes, tart berry fruit, and wood from the barrel, which all carries through to the palate, along with slight notes of leather, at which point the creaminess from the base Lactose Tolerant milk stout comes through. Decanted into an oversize wine glass, this was an absolute delight. The sort of sensual beer experience that’s as far away from a traditional pint of bitter as you can get.
Shout out, too, for the equally engaging Sour Porter (6%), brewed in collaboration with Beavertown, which has a deep, juicy, intense raspberry flavour and aroma. I’m not the world’s greatest fan of fruit beers, but this is so well done and a great use of 20kg of raspberries. This would be an excellent introduction to sour beer for a novice – it’s not a mouth puckerer, it’s much more gentle, but so full flavoured I had to go back for more. Again, served in a lovely stemmed glass.
Being cuckoo brewers, the LHG trio love a collaboration, so naturally, while they’re down here in sunny (today) Cornwall they’re taking the opportunity to brew two different styles of IPA, one at meteorically rising Verdant Brewing Co, in Falmouth, and one at the new home of brewing guru Stuart Howe, Harbour Brewing Co, near Bodmin. These two breweries are, respectively, best new brewer and best brewer in Cornwall according to Ratebeer stats for 2016, so no pressure then, visitors!