Catch the light on the right day and the south Devon, England port of Salcombe could double for a town hugging a coastline in the Caribbean. Vivid blue and green seas, soft yellow sand and wind battered trees leading up to whitewashed houses create an atmosphere of beach life. Indeed, the relationship between south Devon and the Caribbean can be traced back thousands of such days, to the early eighteenth century.
Then, the town was a hotspot for importing exotic fruits with ‘Salcombe Fruiters’ shuttling between the port, Iberia, the Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean and beyond. These sleek schooners were designed for speed, trading the perishable payloads from as far away as the Azores and Newfoundland. Citrus was a key cargo, with oranges and lemons coming from the Mediterranean and the Azores and pineapples from the Bahamas and West Indies. Sugar, rum, coconuts and the intriguingly named ‘Shaddocks’, a pomelo from the west Indies reportedly named after the ship’s captain who introduced the fruit to the region, were also traded.
Today, Salcombe is a hotspot for yachting, dinghy sailing and stand-up paddle boarding, but remains is destination for citrus lovers. Breweries and gin distilleries are popping up and quenching a thirsty market, locally and nationally, using orange and lemon as ingredients and botanticals. One such company is Salcombe Brewery, a family-owned brewery sited on Estuary View, which has just introduced its Salcombe Pale Ale (4.6% ABV) as its first keg product adding to a range that includes Seahorse, Lifesaver, Devon Amber, Shingle Bay and Salcombe Gold.
The brew has heritage embedded in from the Salcombe citrus fruit trade, with a bouquet of orange, pink grapefruit and anise producing a dry hopped, full-bodied pale ale.
The company was created by husband and wife team John and Gerry Tiner two years ago after 35 years of family holidays nearby.
After relocating to the town permanently, talk in the local pub was that couple a favourite local beer, Shingle Bay, was under threat. Inspired, John and Gerry promptly bought the recipe, opened a new brewery, and now continue the town’s historic ties link with the citrus trade through its beers.
SIX TO TRY …
Salcombe Pale Ale is a fresh, full-bodied and powerfully hopped pale ale. Its orange, pink grapefruit and anise flavour raises a glass to Salcombe’s 19th century fruit trade. Dry hopped with Summit and Simcoe for a robust, complex beer that’s bursting with flavour (ABV 4.6%, 30l keg).
Seahorse is an amber ale with a name that reflects the fact that the Salcombe estuary is a breeding ground for two species of seahorse. This sweet and smooth ale has a gentle spicy hop character with hints of burnt toffee, caramel and a smoked malty finish (ABV 4.4%, 9g cask).
Lifesaver is a tasty bronze coloured ale that has a pleasant malty flavour with a smack of citrus and orange peel. The initial citrus flavour gently fades into a subtle liquorice and toffee character with a floral finish (ABV 4.8%, 9g cask).
Devon Amber is an amber coloured classic best bitter from Devon. This easy drinking malt driven bitter has a dry, yet sweet aftertaste (ABV 3.8%, 9g cask).
Shingle Bay is a delightfully easy drinking golden ale that has a pleasant fruity aroma and a subtle crisp bite. The use of the pacific gem hop adds a complexity to the aroma with notes of blackberry and spiced fruit (ABV 4.2%, 9g cask).
Salcombe Gold is a light harvest gold ale with a long hoppy finish. Using some of the best hops the USA has to offer in Citra, Amarillo and Chinook. These hops result in a citrus driven aroma and flavour supported by hints of melon, apricot and peach (ABV 4.2%, 9g cask).