In the chiller cabinet in my local, the Star, at Crowlas, near Penzance, there are three rows of Manns Brown Ale. This is not because we have a number of fans as regulars, but because one regular makes a point of always mixing Crowlas Bitter — a very good standard 3.8% brown bitter from the Penzance Brewing Co, which resides behind the Star — with a bottle of Manns.
Now, on paper this offends me in the same way as shandy (a waste of good lemonade), but, according to some wit, you should try everything once except incest and folk dancing. (I’m backing out of attributing this as it has, at various times, been offered as a quote by Sir Thomas Beecham, Sir Arnold Bax, Churchill or Wilde. Popular opinion favours Bax.)
On Wednesday, I met Boak and Bailey in the Star to interview them about their new book, Brew Britannia, of which more in coming days. Having found out they were hosting The Session this time around and running with the beer mix theme, I said we should try the Crowlas/Manns blend. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. It wasn’t bad at all. In fact, in the absence of a mild on the Star’s ever-changing beer menu that evening it more than adequately filled the gap. It was robust, sweet and nutty with a lovely chocolate smoothness in there.
The downside to this experiment was the regular Crowlas/Manns drinker who viewed the experiment with an eye suggesting to me that I might be taking the piss, which I assured him, suitably by the urinals afterwards, was not the case. I still think he feels a social boundary has been crossed, though. This might be what stops me revisiting the drink on a regular basis.
As a footnote, Mr Bailey thought he might mix a Potion No 9, the Penzance session pale ale, with a Manns, but this did not do either beer any favours at all. Watery, with uncomplimentary flavours. Don’t try this, Star hipsters.