It wasn’t a scientific test, and indeed the drinkers were being asked for their favourite when it was perfectly plausible that, like me, they were fans of the range, so it wasn’t that disappointing that there were fewest gestures for golden session ale Essential. This 3.8% brew was one of the fastest moving at Nick Simpson’s St Ives micropub, the Pilchard Press Alehouse, recently, and it looks certain that Treen’s beers will be regulars there.
The winner, however, was Resolve, a 5.2% ABV stout, ridiculously drinkable, smooth, creamy and comforting. On the nose there are notes of roast malt, coffee and vanilla, flavours joined on the palate by dark chocolate and a hint of date sweetness. It’s class in a glass and very much a crowd pleaser. Even better, it has been aged for six months before Simon lets it out of his Ponsanooth brewery.
Simon Treen makes a point during his tutored tasting at the Old Ale House, Truro
So why are he and his wife, Sarah, finding it so difficult to sell into pubs? It’s fair enough to say it’s not the cheapest beer, but it’s certainly not craft keg expensive. Simon doesn’t sell his beers at a discount, and is critical of some local breweries engaged in a “race to the bottom” on pricing, which he says muddies the pitch for other brewers. But this can lead to a disconnect between beers licensees are willing to stock and beers that customers actually want, in this case a rich, hearty, flavoursome stout.
It was nice to Skinner’s brewery tap have a guest tap takeover and hopefully the showcase may lead to some new accounts for the Treen’s beers, or at the very least some of the attendees imploring their local to get the beers stocked. All of the beers were beautifully presented, but it was fair to say this was a high-ABV crowd — winter warmer Cloud Cuckoo, born of a brewing accident, seemed to be the second favourite on tap.
Hopefully, the Old Ale House now has the appetite for more tap takeovers. The place was packed, after all, and drew in non-regulars who, surely, also tried the Skinner’s range, including Six Nations special, Splendid Tackle, and had a go at beers on the new keg wall, which included Tiny Rebel and Thornbridge brews.
I think this year will see more young breweries try their hand at darker beers — milds and porters, as well as stouts — so hopefully more publicans will see that it does make sense to cater for what is clearly a very big black brews constituency.