Real ale pubs in Cornwall: 10 of the best places to go

The Blue Anchor, Helston. Photo credit: Philip Morria, Flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The Blue Anchor, Helston. Photo credit: Philip Morria, Flickr, (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) - Credit: Archant

Where is the best real ale pub in Cornwall? From micropubs to CAMRA-recommended freehouses, when it comes to real ale and craft beer, we’re spoiled for choice in Kernow

The Front, Falmouth

Winner of Packet Pub of the Year 2019, The Front has a whole host of CAMRA accolades under its belt including: 'South West CAMRA Pub of the Year 2011' and 'CAMRA Kernow Pub of the Year' in 2011 and 2012.

The Guardian compared The Front to 'gatecrashing a beer festival in a warm and welcoming living room' and we think that sums up the place perfectly. Something is happening here nearly every day of the week, whether that's live folk music, open mic nights or a weekly quiz.

The Barrel at Bude

North Cornwall's first micropub has only been open since 2017 but we've already fallen in love with its charm and character in equal measures. Beers are personally chosen by the owner every Monday ready for the following week and the ever-changing list of real ales and craft beers can be found on a chalkboard beside the bar. The list includes some unique and unusual finds and an array of options for vegans and coeliacs too.

Popping in to The Barrel feels like visiting an old friend or a home-from-home. Feel free to put a record on and act as DJ for half an hour whilst you're here - but don't get out your phone. You have been warned…

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The Pilchard Press Alehouse, St Ives

This place is a well-kept secret we almost didn't want to share. Blink and you'll miss it, The Pilchard Press can be found down a hidden alley in St Ives and don't let the entrance deceive you. Inside you'll find a secret spot for drinking and socialising with locals and tourists alike. Be prepared to share your table - it is a micropub after all.

Behind the bar you'll find a menu of perfectly-kept real ales and craft beers that changes weekly. The line-up for the week gets posted on the pub's Facebook page so make sure you check ahead before visiting - you've just got to find the place first!

Mr Small's Cornish Taphouse, St Austell

This micropub-cum-bottleshop can be found in the heart of St Austell. Take your pick from 12 taps serving an ever-changing selection of local cask and craft ales alongside some own-recipe ales. Mr Small's offers sampling trays and a food-matching service. You can even have your beer to takeaway.

The bar (which has more of a cafe feel to it) only serves Cornish drinks and we like our pint of Cornish ale best served with a Mr Small's Cornish Taphouse pasty of course.

The Blue Anchor, Helston

Head to The Blue Anchor for a slice of the dreckly Cornish life that takes you back to the Poldark days. The pub dates back as far as the 15th century and it has brewed its own ale for more than 600 years - so rest assured you're in knowledgeable hands.

On a summer's day we enjoy nothing more than kicking back in the large beer garden with a pint of the pub's very own Spingo Middle - just one of four distinctive beers brewed by this Cornish alehouse.

The Blisland, Bodmin

Once crowned CAMRA's 'National Pub of the Year', The Blisland has an inviting row of handpumps awaiting you at the bar, all serving up a choice of local and national ales. Landlord Gary is knowledgeable about his booze and owns two wooden barrels he fills up at local breweries each week.

The quirky interior of The Blisland is full of beer-related knick-knacks and decorations - including a ceiling adorned with Toby jugs. It's a cosy spot to enjoy a pint after sampling one of Bodmin's many walking routes. Dogs invited along too of course.

The Bowgie Inn, Crantock

After a ramble on Crantock beach, you can't beat a beer and bar snack on the terrace of The Bowgie Inn. Relax with a pint of something from St Austell, Skinner's, Keltek or Rebel Brewery. There's always plenty of guest ales on offer and something new and inventive to try.

We think a beer at The Bowgie is best enjoyed outside in the garden. From here you can see unspoilt views of Crantock, Polly Joke, the Gannel and beyond.

The White Hart, Chilsworthy

This pub is a go-to destination for real ale lovers as CAMRA card holders get a discount on beer and the pub was named CAMRA 'Kernow County Pub of the Year'. Whilst Butcombe is always behind the bar, a selection of three or four guest ales sourced from south west breweries changes weekly.

Beer aside, the food here is equally as good. We love visiting on 'Fish and Chip Night' which is held every Monday. The fish is caught fresh locally in Looe and served with a generous helping of chips. In the summer you can enjoy your chippy-tea al fresco with stunning views across the Tamar Valley.

The Mariners, Rock

Paul Ainsworth recently reopened The Mariners in partnership with Sharp's Brewery which is located just a mile away from the restaurant. The Mariners now offers a choice of up to seven ales including Doom Bar. The menu comprises a number of tasty small plates perfect for pairing with a pint. We like the sound of the Margarita on grilled toast and we can confirm the buttermilk chicken with chipotle mayonnaise is delicious too.

The Mariners sits opposite the River Camel and the bar/restaurant has plenty of outdoor seating for al fresco drinking and dining when the sun is out.

The Quarryman, Edmonton

This family-owned independent freehouse has made appearances in the 'Good Pub Guide' and CAMRA's 'Good Beer Guide' and with good reason. The Quarryman has its own brand-new 'Cask Widge' ale dispense system for their ever-changing range of local ales. Previous offerings have included Padstow IPA and Arthur's Ale from Tintagel Brewery.

The Quarryman also serves up a fantastic food menu brimming with hearty pub classics, think homemade pies, scampi and chips and prime Cornish steaks. The Quarryman was a finalist at the Cornwall Life Food & Drink Awards for 'Best Country Pub'.

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