For our summer holiday this year me and Leanne went to visit my sister, and her soon to be husband, over in Jersey including a short trip to St Malo for a few days.
We went over to Jersey a few years ago and you would be right in thinking that there isn’t much choice beer wise. There is a wide variety of pubs and bars to go to but looking a little closer you will see that over 50% of them are owned by the Liberation Group. There’s nothing wrong with their beers, just that they are, in our opinion, your run-of-the-mill cask ales. Back in February this year my sister had told us about a new craft bar opening in the centre of town. We were straight on Google and did some research.
The place in question is Apples and Pears, run by the Chairman of Jersey CAMRA. John is not your stereotypical CAMRA Chairman – he has a passion for both craft beer and real ale. When we arrived at Apples and Pears we were greeted by the likes of Dead Pony Club, Smog Rocket and Kozel. You would expect these to be quite pricey considering how difficult it must be to get beers across to the island but you would be wrong. We were pleasantly surprised; £4.40 a pint for DPC and only £4.90 for Smog Rocket. The cask selection wasn’t too bad either, a mixture of ales from the South of England and Yorkshire, although no sparkler which is essential for a nice Yorkshire pint!. In total there were 6 keg beers, 8 casks and 3 local ciders, along with a good selection of bottled beers. After a few beers we went for a curry at Tamarind, the food here was spectacular and the service was top notch. After a few bottles of of King Cobra and a few shorts, it was time to leave as we had an early start the next day.
We are sticklers for research so we tried our hardest to try to find out what the beer scene was like in St Malo. We found lots of bars, but not much information on them. Luckily, my sister and her other half have visited many times before so we relaxed a little and let them guide us around.
We did manage to find out that there was a little micro-brewery so we were eager to go there. At Les Brassins de St Malo you can actually see the fermenting vessels in the very tiny bar/brewery. I believe they brew three beers in total but they only had two on when we visited. La Saint Malo is a strong fruity 7% blond ale and La Port Malo is also a blonde ale at 5%. The La Port Malo has a slight sour taste to it leading to a fruity citrus finish. An unusual taste but quite refreshing.
We visited Les Brassins de St Malo twice. It was a great place to go for bar food – we had sardine pate with toast and a selection of delicious meats and cheeses – a great accompaniment to the beer. On the first visit there was an intimate gig taking place, with a solo guitarist and singer sat up on the brewery kit. We’re not sure how he fit up there but he did and the sound was great.
The bars in St Malo are mainly bottled based with each bar only having 2-4 pumps on at a time and around 10 bottles to choose from. What was great to see was that most of the beers were actually French, rather than imports, so we got to try a number of beers we hadn’t tried before. Most of them were average, but there were two for us that really stood out.
Le Chat Malo by Brasserie de Bretagne. This is a take on an American Red Ale. Its not going to change the world but it was a really enjoyable drink. You have the malty notes that you would expect from the style but also a freshness you would usually get from a Belgian Blonde.
Duchess Anne Triple Hop from Brasserie Lancelot, a brewery in Le Roc-Saint-André. I had a bottle of the standard Triple the night before which was a good nod to the Belgian style. The Triple Hop version is more of a take on an IPA. It pours light, bright and yellow with a fruity and bitter taste. Plenty of hops! It reminded me of Duvel 2014 tripel hop and was by far the best beer of the trip.
Like all great places, we just happened to stumble across our favourite bar in St Malo. We were bar hopping and the rain started to come down quite heavy so we dived in the nearest place; L’excalibur.
L’excalibur is only a small place with only two taps but a good bottle selection. Quite like a small old English pub, complete with the local cat strolling in and out of the rain for shelter, this place was so welcoming and cosy. Like all pubs should have, there were plenty of games to keep you entertained. We grabbed a pack of cards and taught my sister’s partner a family favourite while enjoying the beer and waiting for the rain to pass.
It wasn’t just all about beer – we had some cracking food whilst we were there. We made a small trip across the bay to a little market town called Dinard. There was a great local market with all the food you could possibly imagine; fresh fish, french cheese, delicious meats and wines. We did a ‘Supermarket Sweep’ and split up to gather some delights for a picnic by the beach. This was the end result:
The ice creams weren’t half bad either…
Although at first thought, maybe not the most exciting places to visit for great beer, St Helier and St Malo turned out to be quite surprising. We had some great beers, some amazing food and most importantly, great company. We had such fun catching up with family, for the first time in a while, we didn’t even really care what we were drinking……it was just a bonus that the local offerings turned out to be quite delicious!
Simon’s beer of the trip – Brasserie Lancelot – Duchess Anne Triple Hop, 7.5%
Leanne’s beer of the trip – Brasserie Lancelot – Duchess Anne Triple Hop, 7.5%