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BITE user profile - JohnBonser

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It is with considerable disappointment that I have to report that I have joined the mass exodus of quality reviewers from this site.

This is because of the fact that this site is not moderated any more - offensive, irrelevant and abusive posts are not removed and I want nothing more to do with this site until that changes.

I am now posting my reviews on another beer related website.

Many thanks to all those who commented positively and favourably on my reviews. I do hope you found them useful.

Happy drinking

John Bonser

5 October 2010

Username: JohnBonser

Age: 65

Sex: male

Latest comments by JohnBonser

The Blue Anchor, Helston

Occupying a central position in the centre of Helston is The Blue Anchor, a well-known home brew pub.

It's immediately noticeable for its striking, thatched cottage style appearance, somewhat out of kilter with nearby buildings. Originally a monks home, it became a local ale house soon after and began brewing its own beer in the 15th century.

A central flagstoned corridor has two characterful, low ceilinged, unspoilt bars on the right hand side. The first room is the main bar and is basic, but traditional with stone floors, wooden furniture, ( including settles ), and plenty of interesting framed prints and photographs. A small framed print tells us that "the art of brewing beer was once widespread in The Duchy of Cornwall. At the beginning of the 17th Century, when the population of Helston was 300, there were 30 brewing ale houses here". Also of note is a listing of public executions in Cornwall between 1790 and 1862 which includes one for "setting fire to corn". In this room are displayed CAMRA awards for 25 and 30 consecutive years in the annual Good Beer Guide.

Further down the corridor is The Gun Room - a much smaller room with a splendid fireplace over which are a pair of impressive looking firearms.

There's a largish beer garden at the back. Part of this is covered and acts as a smokers marquee. A separate bar is here - not open on my visit - used when festivals are on. Also at the back are the outside toilets and the brewing house. There's B & B available in a connected building next door

On the left of the corridor are 3 additional basic rooms providing additional seating. The first of these is designated as a children's room. In one of the other rooms is a framed poster depicting the Helston Railway Centenary ( 1887 - 1987 ) . It was whilst sitting in one of these rooms that I was accosted by a strange, oddly dressed woman - I think we used to call them "hippies" when I was a kid - who politely enquired as to whether I was here for the beginners Cornish Language class. She seemed somewhat disappointed when I responded in the negative.

As a reflection of its fame and popularity as a "destination" pub, various items such as Blue Anchor branded T shirts, sweat shirts, fleeces etc are for sale.

Dotted around the pub were a number of flyers advertising a Monday quiz night starting on 20 September - "Test Your Nollegge" - ( as spelt ), which I presume is an attempt at local Cornish humour.

On the beer front, beers on were Jubilee, Middle, Braggett and Special at gravities of 4.5%, 5%, 6%, and 6.6% respectively. Both beers sampled by me - Jubilee and Middle ( which is described as the most popular beer ) at prices of 2.60p and 2.70p respectively - were pleasant pints, but, on two consecutive evening visits, both beers seemed rather thin for their advertised gravities. I'm probably going to be crucified for saying this, but, in my opinion, neither the Jubilee nor the Middle had the distinctiveness of ( say) Skinners Cornish Knocker ( as tasted in The Seven Stars, Falmouth ) or St Austell's Proper Job ( as tasted in The Mill in the Exe, Exeter or The Masons Arms, Falmouth ), both pubs that I had visited several days previously. Perhaps I should have gone for the bottled Spingo, as many other obvious non-regulars to the pub were doing. Interestingly, in 2010, the pub lost its 100% record in CAMRA Good Beer Guides since inception.

In summary, yes, I like the pub immensely and I'd definitely return, but, based on my two visits, there's better beers to be found in Cornwall without too much difficulty.

Finally, you'll all be no doubt pleased to hear that there seems to be a taxi rank outside the pub, so if you get spingo'd and can't find ( or be bothered to stagger ) back home, help is readily at hand.

28 Sep 2010 08:49

The Star Inn, St Just

Situated just off the main town square, The Star Inn is an 18th century granite built small locals pub.

The main bar on the left is dark with low beams and is well decorated with lifeboat and tin mining memorabilia. The latter reminds us that we are in former tin mining heartland - Geevor Tin Mine ( the last working mine which closed in 1990 and is now a museum ) is but a few miles away. Flags on the ceiling, including one with The Isle of Man "three legs" emblem, add further character to the interior. A fruit machine and a jukebox are concessions to modern trends, but there's also a piano.

A basic room on the right is rather bare, somewhat brighter and contains a dartboard. Notably, a splendid inglenook in this bar has had some built in seats added underneath - looks unusual, but very cosy. There's an outside smoking area in the back yard.

Entertainment is offered in the form of weekly music and open mic nights.

It's a St Austell's Brewery pub and, on my recent visit, was offering Proper Job, Tribute, HSD and Dartmoor Best ( the latter is not to be confused with the products of a separate Dartmoor Brewery ) together with a guest beer from Skinners. The Proper Job - 2.70p - was pretty good.

This pub is not tourist orientated at all - there's no food - and it makes a pleasant change from most other pubs in the vicinity, where food and catering for visitors seems to dominate. This pub is well worth a visit if passing through

24 Sep 2010 13:23

The Sloop Inn, St Ives

Occupying a prominent position on the St Ives harbour front, The Sloop Inn apparently dates back to 1312.

It's a reasonably attractive looking building on a harbour front where rampant commercialism in the form of coffee shops, souvenir shops etc seem to have taken away much of the character and charm that I remember from earlier years. It's certainly the oldest looking, most striking building on the harbour front and is a listed building.

Larger inside than it looks from the outside, The Sloop Inn, whilst retaining some semblance of a characterful interior is, of course, part of this commercialism - it makes an unashamed play for the visitor trade by opening at 9 a m for breakfast and selling branded beach bags, baseball caps, sweat shirts etc.

A pleasant traditional interior has the trademark dark, low beams and a black painted interior. The public bar on the right has several large tables and has, apparently, frequently appeared on TV and in films. The larger main bar extends back a long way and has some partitioned booths at the rear. The walls are mainly decorated with works of art from local artists.

There's a small seating area outside which affords a good view of the harbour across the road, although, on my recent visit, this quickly disappeared when Mr White Man Van parked in front of the pub. I was also conscious all the time of the smell of burnt toast from the next table where substantial looking breakfasts were being avidly consumed. There's a first floor restaurant - The Captain's Table.

A series of prominent, rather jarring notices - "Polite Notices" - in large capitals tell you that you can't take your drink across the road because of the St Ives no street drinking policy. Fair enough - but a total of 8 notices across a not very large pub frontage seems to be overdoing things.

On my recent early morning visit, beers on were Doom Bar, Ruddles County and Speckled Hen - definitely one of the least appealing selections that I came across in my travels in this part of the world. The Doom Bar - 3.10p - was reasonable.

This is quite a pleasant, attractive pub and is worth a look in, but I bet it gets impossibly busy in the height of summer

24 Sep 2010 13:22

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JohnBonser has been registered on this site since 23rd November 2004