19th December: The Queens Arms, Corton Denham. Moor So’ Hop, (and others). 4.1% ABV
From: Somerset, England. Type: Pub with food and beer menu/Pale ale, cask
This gem of a pub right on the edge of Somerset, just past the Cerne Giant, gets mentioned in today’s window alongside the beer. Not just because it serves outstanding local beers from Moor brewery, not just because it serves a wide range of beers of different styles (Americans and Germans in the West Country), and not just because of the great food.
Any one of those reasons would make the Queens Arms worth a detour, all of them merit a special visit. But what made the pub outstanding was attention to detail. Glassware to match the beer, knowledgeable bar staff, a menu beer suggestions to match the food. It just seems they are able to sense what would make your
visit great. It took me a while to work it out because it’s all done so seamlessly.
The So’ Hop is an unusual beer. For a start its very hazy, but Moor make a point of preferring to serve their beers completely unrefined: no filtering, no fining (isinglass additives). Just full of flavour and mouthfeel, and in this case, some extraordinarily aromatic New Zealand hops – hence the name.
It reminded me of the first time I drank gueze: the sour Belgian beer (“Is it supposed to be like this?”) Not that So’ Hop is sour; it’s gently malty-sweet but also crisp like an American pale ale and a Pilsner combined, with these almost other-worldly aromas and flavours of tropical fruit and blossom (jasmine? honeysuckle?).
Now I write it down, it doesn’t sound that it could have been as unusual as I remember. But it was not a mirage; that kind of experience sticks with you. Maybe that’s the effect of pure unrefined pleasure. Maybe it was the magic of the Queens Arms. Or maybe a bit of both.
The Queens Arms websiteMoor Beer Company on unrefined “natural” beer
Adrian Tierney-Jones’ book: Great British Pubs
, which inspired the trip