The best real ale pubs in Cornwallby Craig, Three Mile Beach
In search of a proper pint
Sadly, you may not have time to make the pilgrimage to all of the best pubs in Cornwall. Visiting all 62 of CAMRA’s recommended Cornish drinking holes on your holiday would be ambitious. But don’t fret, I’ve done the hard work on your behalf by extensively researching a whole range of pubs and pints (I know, it’s a tough job). And following my extremely scientific research, I’ve honed a list of the top six places to sample real ale on your stay. Cheers!
Star Inn, Crowlas, near Penzance
The Star is one for the hardcore real ale fans. From the outside, it’s not much to look at, and you’d probably drive straight past this boozer on your way to Penzance. But it certainly would be crying shame to miss this former CAMRA Kernow (Cornwall) Pub of the Year and home to the Penzance Brewery. Inside, you’ll be welcomed by a long bar with an impressive line-up of ales from the pub’s brewhouse, beside beers from other microbreweries. There are plenty of comfy spots to sit around the bar and a cosy lounge with sofas. This is most certainly a beer drinker’s local, where the focus is firmly on the ales. Just as it should be, I hear you say.
How far? 15-minute drive.
The Blue Anchor Inn, Helston
I’m not going to lie; the Blue Anchor is a bit on the rough and ready side. But, for real ale adventurers, it’s worth a visit to check out one of Cornwall’s best-known ale names: the infamous Spingo, which is brewed on-site (there’s been a brewery here over 500 years). The beers range from a session IPA up to the high-strength ‘Specials’ – definitely not for the faint-hearted. The pub looks tiny from the outside, but it opens out into several rooms. The front bar tends to have a mix of punters, but the back bar is where the locals hang out. Keep going, and you’ll find a skittle alley and a partially covered garden at the back.
How far? 25-minute drive.
The Ship Inn, Porthleven
For a more scenic spot to sup your ales, take a trip to The Ship. This 17th-century fisherman’s inn was a new entry into CAMRA’s 2017 guide and has commanding views over the sea, perched upon the rocks at the right-hand end of the harbour. On a stormy day, it’s undoubtedly a windswept spot, but inside, you’ll find a snug, rambling interior with wooden floors, low beams, a log fire, and a good range of local ales. Outside, there’s seating with sea views on the hill.
How far? 30-minute drive.
The Tinners Arms, Zennor
This ancient inn, they say, dates to the 13th century and has all the befitting nooks and crannies, stone flagstones, and low-beamed ceilings. In winter, it’s a great place to shelter from the harsh coastal winds. When the weather’s fine, you’ll probably find the pub and little beer garden packed full of walkers taking a break from the nearby South West Coast Path. The Tinners is another new entry into the CAMRA guide and offers a decent pub grub menu, accompanied by a splendid selection of real ales, including Tinners Ale and Zennor Mermaid by local brewery Sharp’s.
How far? 30-minute drive.
Old Alehouse, Truro
With up to thirteen ales and eight ciders on tap at any given time, this one does what it says on the tin. Such abundance makes sense when you learn this is the flagship pub of Truro-based brewery Skinners. With its wooden floors and beamed ceiling, the bar has a relaxed atmosphere, and the staff have a friendly welcome for locals and visitors alike. They serve decent food too, and on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll usually find a live band playing, supported by a toe-tapping, fun-loving crowd.
How far? 35-minute drive.
The Blisland Inn, Bodmin Moor
Yes, it is a bit further afield, but if you’re in the area, don’t bother with the better-known-but touristy Jamaica Inn. Check out this real ale champion on Blisland’s pretty village green instead. You’ll find an ever-changing range of ales here, with up to seven on tap on any day of the week. The pub is proud to boast they’ve stocked over a staggering 2,500 different brews over the years. So, it’s no wonder they’ve been awarded both the CAMRA National and Kernow Pub of the Year titles on several occasions.
How far? 60-minute drive.