Crooklets Inn bar is managed by a personable Bude guy, Ru, who has lots of travelling under his belt, including a stint in Perth, Australia, but who has also worked in numerous bars in Bude. He has now settled on Crooklets, which offers a decent range of ales.
To Ru, beer is not just about pulling a pint, it is about education. For starters, there are now many more types of beers available, light, dark, craft beers and even fruity ones, so how do you choose? Ru can help. The impact of European travel, he feels, has been palate changing. Something of a beer connoisseur, he says:
“I love new products, so it is like a hobby for me, like stamp collecting, seeking out different ales”.
Crooklets has eleven different craft ales from British brewers using European styles. So far, Ru has worked with thirty breweries sourcing sixty beers, to find the right products for his customers. Lager remains the biggest market these days but some lagers are obviously better than others, so Ru hopes the ones at Crooklets are a step up from the norm. Cornish ciders are also taking off such as Healey’s Gold and Rattler but also blush and pear ciders, as are fruited and lighter beers, increasingly popular with female customers, it seems. Ru also likes to use local breweries where possible.
For the non-beer drinker, Crooklets also offers around fourteen gins, along with the usual array of wines and spirits, though even these are a cut above the average such as Dead Man’s fingers coconut rum instead of Malibu! A sommelier from St Austell chooses the wines.
Ru is the first to admit that Crooklets has lacked kerb appeal, previously focusing on the male sports clientele, but he feels this will change to make it attractive to everyone. With the help of chef, Kyan, Ru is trying to be a little different. The inn is not offering stereotypical ‘pub grub’ and the ales are good quality British, with a local influence. He is trying to give local people something different to the usual Doombar (as good as it is). Ideally, he wants people to try things they have never had before.
To this end, Ru will offer tasters of ales so customers can be sure they like them before committing. He tested this technique on me (it worked). I enjoy beers but am normally not a fan of fruity beers, so he suggested I try Jubel Cornish peach beer. Ideally, it is a dessert beer, a concept originating in France. Unexpectedly, I did rather enjoy it, smooth with a peachy aftertaste – it would be fabulous on a sunny day. Ru can also advise on pairing beers with food for the non-wine drinkers, such as a slightly malty, ruby or darker beer to accompany a steak. Beers are seasonal so in the winter he will be buying in more chocolate stouts and porters.
Ru’s vision for Crooklets is evolving but it is along the alehouse and restaurant route. The craft side is taken care of but they have pulled back on real ale. With real ale, no gas is introduced and is it a living product with a short shelf life whereas craft beer is in kegs. They are fizzier, slightly cooler, with a longevity of four weeks as opposed to five days. It means the inn can offer a greater choice of first-class beers. However, there is one cask ale, so cask fans need not be disappointed!
While Ru was away working in Australia, he thinks Bude underwent a massive transformation in its food and drink provision. He remembers Rosie’s when it was still an arcade but it has since grown and developed dramatically into a successful business. Everyone has stepped up a notch, with competition driving the town forward, with Crooklets rapidly becoming a place to eat and drink with Crooklets Inn and Tommy Jacks close to the beach. He also feels The Barrel is a fantastic concept using Cornish and micro-breweries; this is all a part of the education he talked about, occurring throughout the supply chain. Bude, he feels, has space for various types of establishments but he feels Crooklets now offers a good array of very decent food and drink. Certainly, people in the town who have tried it say the same.
People now go to a pub to try quality drinks and enjoy the social aspect or an evening out with family or friends. Food and drink has become the new entertainment, so Ru’s aim is to continue to make Crooklets somewhere people feel comfortable and can enjoy quality drinks/food. Certain events make the Crooklets end of town very busy. Bude at War was one such which the inn was involved in, displaying pictures from students at Budehaven for visitors to see. Evolving into a great place for locals to mix and mingle is all part of the plan for Crooklets.