Sunday, 4 September 2011

A True Cornish 'IPA' Story

Look, I had intended to post a few bits from here in Cornwall during my visit, but it's all far too lovely and the pubs are far too good.

So it's going to be a four day break for the blog - and I'm far too content to care.

But here's a odd little true story to tide you over...

Yesterday, my strikingly attractive girlfriend and I went to a very lovely pub owned by St Austell's brewery. I will refrain from naming the venue, partly out of common decency but mostly because of an irrational fear of bloodthirsty reprisals. (I am still down here, after all).

Anyway, the pub was completely lovely, as was the barman, and the beer he served up was immaculately kept.

But he and I argued like dogs all the same.

Our epic bar-side battle was fought over the famous, multi award wining St. Austell beer 'Proper Job'.

I'd noticed that alongside the Proper Job pump was another St. Austell brew called 'IPA', and I remarked how interesting it was that two of the four cask ales available were IPA's.

What follows is my best recollection of the dialogue that subsequently developed....

BARMAN - How do you mean?

ME - Well, St.Austell have given you four pumps, and they've got you serving Proper Job as well as another IPA called 'IPA'.

(Short pause. BARMAN's face wears a look of friendly disgust.)

BARMAN - Proper Job's not an IPA.

(Longer pause. Much, much longer.)

(At the end of this truly colossal silence, Cornwall sinks very suddenly into the Atlantic, never to be seen again. At least, that's how it feels...)

ME - (Eventually...) Er....

(ME knows his face is in danger of wearing that very same look of 'friendly despair'. His mind races with a thousand sudden doubts about his knowledge of beer, because BARMAN works here - he actually works for St Austell - so the likelihood of him being wrong is totally minuscule. And yet...)

ME - I'm pretty sure it is.

BARMAN - It's not.

ME - It is, I promise you.

(ME knows that making such 'promises' about the classification of BARMAN's ale is risky, but he's feeling emboldened by the iPhone in his pocket which, among other things, contains his own recent review of this legendary beer.)

BARMAN - (Chuckling with indignation now because this is his job and he serves this beer all the time - so he just knows he's right...) Of course it's not. These two are totally different beers! They couldn't be more different!

ME - Yeah, that's my big bugbear issue about the name 'IPA' at the moment, it's lost all meaning with so many different ales laying claim to it.

BARMAN - Proper Job's not an IPA. The rep from St. Austell might have mentioned it, wouldn't you think?

ME - Yes. I would.

BARMAN - (Tapping the pump marked 'IPA'...) This one's the IPA.

ME - I'd say that's definitely an IPA, yes.

BARMAN - (Tapping the Proper Job pump...) This one's Proper Job.

ME - Which is an IPA too. The name refers to the use of an authentic recipe from years ago. It's meant to be a return to the 'real deal' IPA style, that's what they mean by 'Proper.'

(Another pause.)

(The first stirrings of doubt begin to flicker across BARMAN's face, and ME senses it's time to land the killer blow. He reaches into his pocket for his phone.)

ME - Let me bring in some reinforcements. I'd better check I'm not going mad.

BARMAN - I reckon you already are. (But he's sounding less certain now. He glares sideways at the Proper Job pump like it were the ghost of a dead relative...)

ME - Drat! No signal.

BARMAN - It all depends who your provider is round here. It's a nightmare. Who are you with? (He seems keen to switch subjects now...)

ME - Vodafone.

BARMAN - (Sounding disappointed...) You'll be alright with that.

ME - It keeps going in and out of reception, I'll just give it a second...

(Suddenly, from the very end of the bar, a new voice enters the conversation. A young woman has her mobile firmly in hand...)

WOMAN - Got it here.

(BARMAN's head turns abruptly towards her. Huge beads of sweat now populate his increasingly furrowed brow...)

WOMAN - He's right. It's all here. Proper Job IPA, St Austell, award winning beer based on an original recipe, blah blah blah...

ME - There we go! I have to say that's quite a relief!

BARMAN - (With admirable generosity of spirit...) Well I never!

(At this point, ME's scintillatingly beautiful girlfriend offers up the statement "He does know his stuff..." which could have been taken like a bullet by our BARMAN, but thankfully, he's all smiles now.)

BARMAN - I take my hat off to you, Sir. I doff my cap!

ME - Oh, no need for that. I'm just glad I'm not losing my mind.

BARMAN - No no, you were absolutely spot on with that.

ME - You might want to see what the brewery rep has to say about it.

BARMAN - I certainly will, yes.

(One final pause begins, but this one's a much more comfortable affair, with everyone gazing down at the row of shiny pumps in front of them.)

BARMAN - Anyway. Now that this has all been settled - what can I get you?

ME - Well, as it happens, I really fancy an IPA.

(And with that, everyone collapses into a large heap, laughing their merry heads off.)


student drinker said...

As mean as it might seem i want to find a pub like this and do the same thing. Not to be annoying but to have the recognition.

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

SD - It certainly was an unexpected scenario on a short break 'away from the madness.'

We've been back there since. It really is a fab little place, and this gent and I have had a good few laughs about it since.