Beer o’Clock: St. Austell Brewery Tour – 22/06/2019

Is there a better way to spend Father’s Day than at the pub, sharing a few drinks with your old man? If you can think of something, let me know! Because I’ll be hard pressed to trump this year – the St. Austell Brewery Tour. Getting a train from Plymouth to St. Austell dad, mum, Emily and I walked down into the town to explore before heading to the brewery. After some vintage shopping, a few warm up beers and a pasty (an absolute must in Cornwall) we walked back up the hill to the Brewery Visitor Centre in time for the tour to start.

The legendary Tribute – St. Austell Brewery’s most successful beer

£15 entry for me, £13 entry for my dad (over 60) and we were ready for the tour to being. Meeting Roy, our guide, was a delight and after a half pint of Natural Beauty (a light mild) and Proper Job (an IPA) we learned about the history of the brewery. Founded in 1851 by Cornishman Walter Hicks, with its own private water source for the brewing process, St. Austell Brewery is still 100% family owned and keeping the same brewing traditions alive today.

Roy – our legendary guide

Walking around the brewery you can see the evolution as a business over time. The beginnings of a museum can be seen with rescued and refurbished steam brewing and bottling machines. Roy explained the plans to expand the visitor centre within the next year; an excuse to go back? A walk across the grounds led to the new brewing and bottling facility on site. The size and scale of the operation at St. Austell Brewery is a testament how delicious the beer is! They even have building sized CO2 tanks to mitigate the risk of running out of beer bubbles. Yes, this actually nearly happened in 2018 as the UK had a nationwide shortage… Disaster! After the tour is finished you realise that St. Austell Brewery really have their shit sorted. And their shit is making amazing beer!

More beer on the go!

What follows the tour? Tasting. Endless tasting. Each given a 1/2 pint glass and with over 20 different beers to try, it soon became clear that the St. Austell Brewery tour offered fantastic value for money. Stouts, Red Ales, Ambers, IPA, Bitter, Lager – you name it, they have it. And you can drink it – even better! Mine and Emily’s two favourites were Milkshake IPA – a fruity IPA made with Lactose (think the creaminess in a milk stout, but an IPA) and Sayzon – a ginger, lemon and lime zest saison (farmhouse ale, brewed in a traditional Belgian style).

9 different beers on tap, probably double that bottled just waiting to be drank

Once we finished tasting we headed to bar to enjoy our free pints. Very useful after getting to try everything on offer first! Talking to the bar staff and other workers after the tour gave us all an even better impression of the company. Everyone seemed genuinely happy to be working there. I think it’s safe to say that the amazing beer, combined with the family business ethic of St. Austell Brewery has cemented the brand as one of mine and Emily’s favourites in the UK. In fact they now also own Bath Ales and Gem was one of Emily’s favourite English beers before even moving here!

More beers after at the bar

Loaded with yet more beer from the gift store, the 4 of us headed back to the train station. Slightly drunk we jumped on the train in the nick of time and headed back to Plymouth. After dropping the beer off at mine and Emily’s flat we decided food was in order. A celebratory dinner at the new and improved A Taskinha rounded off a perfect family day. Happy Father’s Day dad. I can’t wait to see what we do next year!

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Ye Olde carbonation machine