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Apart from the small matter of the Olympics, our trip to London was also an opportunity to gorge on beers we can’t get here in the most westerly town in Britain.
We’ve been taking in the buzz about breweries like Hawkshead, Windsor and Eton and Kernel, and feeling a little left out. In the space of a few days, we put that right, as best we could.
We had a session on Hawkshead’s 3.5% barely-coloured-at-all Windermere Pale Ale at the Eagle which was just perfect — not aggressive or explosive, but certainly fascinating, like one of those actors who is charming for reasons you can’t quite put your finger on. And here’s sessionable: after a long evening concluding with several supposedly final rounds, we were more-or-less sober by the time we got home and hangover free the next day. Also good to note that, as the evening wore on, those we were with abandoned their Grolschs and Guinnesses until we were simply ordering eight Windermeres with each round.
We drank two kegged Kernel single-hop pale ales which went some way to convincing us of the hype: the kinds of beers you can smell from several feet away as they sit on the bar; which attack the senses and cause you to sit up straight, shaking the cobwebs from your head. We wouldn’t want to drink beer like this all the time but they were great as a hop-binge indulgence. (On a side note, one was served as cloudy as German wheat beer, but tasted just as good as t’other.)
We tried a couple of Windsor and Eton cask ales — Kohinoor IPA (4.5%) and Eton Boatman (4.3%) — which, even though they were served a touch warm, were obviously quality beers, and the kind of thing we’d be happy to drink every day of the week, much as we are with St Austell Tribute and Proper Job.
Amongst many other beers (Italian, Belgian, American; keg, cask, bottle… urgh… tired tastebuds) we even managed to fit in an ‘all-Brett’ kegged IPA from Brodies. We couldn’t tell it was made with Brettanomyces, to be honest, which is perhaps why we enjoyed it as much as we did.
But why did we feel the need to catch-up? We can get good beer in Cornwall and (though mild is in short supply) can even find a good variety, from strong stout to pale and hoppy. When you read breathless blog post after breathless blog post, though, it’s hard to maintain a philosophical indifference to the greener grass on the other side.