I’m just back from a few days with a pal in a caravan near Polperro, Cornwall. There was a beer festival based in The Old Mill House in the village. I got there on the last night of the festival where, for a paltry sum, one was given a souvenir half pint mug and a number of tickets to hand to volunteer bar stewards at the cellar where there were 24 barrels tapped up, also a leaflet giving details of the beers.
The cellar area was crowded but people kindly made room for us at a table close to the cellar entrance. I had just returned with a full glass when my pal told me: ‘This lady would like to buy some honey.’ I’d never met her before and wonder how the conversation got around to honey. It is possible that her husband recognised me as I recall, a year ago, having a conversation with him in the Three Pilchards about moustache wax, he having a bristling handlebar.
The lady, Mel by name, (Mel means ‘honey’!) was even willing to do it by mail order! She is keen to take up beekeeping and her husband, Richard, is also. Unfortunately, he has back problems due to an accident and so wouldn’t be able to cope with the conventional stacking heavy boxes so I explained about top bar hives and cupboard hives.
Mel is an artist and proudly explained that she, nine years ago, had designed the logo of the beer festival. I saw them again next day and gave her a copy of the poem I had written last year about my visit to Polperro at the tail end of the beer festival. Following this year’s festival, for a couple of days or so, there were lots of tapped barrels that needed to be emptied, so for £1.50 people were given a pint glass and access to the cellar. That meant that over an eight hour session I was able to sample and score all of the beers, ranging from Exe Valley Brewery’s ‘Dobs Best Bitter’ at 4.1% earning a comment ‘bland and wet’ and a score of 2 to Blue Anchor’s ‘Spingo Special’ at 4.8% earning the comment ‘powerful, tasty, warming, smooth but with a bite’ and a score of 10, drawing with Fry’s ‘Ruby Chough’ at 4.5% earning the comment ‘interesting!. Smoky flavour, woody, blackberries’.
The first beer I had tasted was, for obvious reasons, Sharp’s Hayle Bay Honey IPA at 6.6% earning the comment ‘Wow! Sweet but not cloying. Lots of body and flavour – warming!’ and a score of 8.