In the 15th century, Cornwall’s Blue Anchor Inn was a rest house for monks and it soon after become a beer-brewing tavern.
It has that great British tradition of being a brewing ale house, something you would find across the country hundreds of years ago, and is certainly one of Britain’s oldest still-serving pubs. Although there’s no evidence to support 600 years of continuous brewing, we can say beer has been made there since before the turn of the 20th century. Regardless of the specifics, beer has been central to The Blue Anchor for its entirity and it’s one of those pubs which goes deeper than just its longevity. You feel a long-lived-in comfort of sorts, an awkward comfort of something built so long ago that 21st-century bottoms don’t quite fit. It’s ye olde stone and thatch with an 18th-century skittle alley out the back. The whole place is warm with friendly ghost stories, with reminders of centuries of people drinking where you are now, and it’s created a pub with a wonderful atmosphere. They make Spingo Ales with Flora Daze (named after Flora Days, a townfamous festival held every May), IPA, Middle, Bragget (which is hopless and brewed with apple and honey), and Special, most tending toward a sweetness familiar in ales from the Southwest, and not being much like your modern brewpub line up, and even better because of that.
Visit To The Blue Anchor, Helston Not Quite Britain’s Longest-Running Brewpub Photo Gallery
WHAT: The Blue Anchor Inn HOW: Visit www. spingoales. com
WHERE: 50 Coinagehall Street, Helston, Cornwall TR13 8EL
Drink in Britain’s Oldest Brewery
AND TRY A CLASSIC KENTISH ALE
Shepherd Neame is the oldest British brewery, but they aren’t exactly sure how old they are…
The accolade of being “Britain’s Oldest Brewery” is due to the fact that there has constantly been a brewery on their current site, in Faversham, Kent, for centuries. Until the early 2010s, the brewery thought they dated back to 1698, but their brewery historian and archivist has since managed to track a brewer to the site to at least the early 1500s. You can visit the brewery, and on certain parts of the tour you feel as if you’re walking down centuries-old alleyways, with paths worn by thousands of workers’ feet. The brewery building is very old, with some eyecatching stained-glass windows (albeit modern ones), but the equipment is new, with two sides to the brewhouse: one making traditional cask ales, the other lagers and craft beers.
WHAT: Shepherd Neame Brewery
HOW: A train direct from London St Pancras to Faversham, in Kent, takes 65 minutes (www. shepherdneame. co. uk).
WHERE: The Faversham Brewery, 17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX
When the tour is over, you’ll get to try some of the beers and taste Kentish Ale, for which the brewery has successfully received a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), making it one of the few world-beer styles to have received this qualification. Kentish Ale is brewed with Kent well water; it’s dry and bitter from Kent hops, plus dry-hopped with East Kent Goldings, and it’s often low in alcohol and malt richness. Spitfire is their flagship brand and has the true flavor of a Kentish Ale. Plan to spend a few hours in the old market town of Faversham, too, which has some excellent traditional pubs. And if you can, visit in September when they hold an annual hop festival (see post 82).
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