When going on holiday in the UK, the first thing you pack is a raincoat. Whenever or wherever you are headed, British weather is impossible to predict aside from the fact that it will, at some point, piss it down with rain.
And so it was that we found ourselves searching for sun in the seaside town of Falmouth, dressed head to toe in waterproofs. The plan—weather be damned—was to pick up some of the town’s best fish and chips from the famous Harbour Lights, then sit outside the poky pub beneath, a traditional Real Ale house called The Front.
That afternoon, however, the pub staff hadn’t even bothered to unstack the patio furniture. Giant puddles reflected our disappointed faces back up at us. So we found a cozy corner inside, its wood-paneled arms wide and welcoming, and my companions sent me to the bar in search of something “pale and hoppy” among the long line of cask hand pulls.
What I found was Skinner’s Brewery’s Lushingtons, a local and Cascade-heavy Golden Ale. I’d always avoided the brewery where possible, owing to their childish and occasionally sexist branding, which varied from jokes about folks with ginger hair to puns on “knockers.” But you live, you learn. And a recent, remarkably tasteful rebrand seems to indicate that Skinner’s has done precisely that. The barman indicated it was a fresh barrel, so I ordered four.
I could only have been gone a matter of minutes when, back at the table, all hell had broken loose. There was curry sauce everywhere, lemon carcasses were strewn across the deck, and a dog was being fed underneath the table. Three previously good-mannered Brits had gone to town on their fish and chips, tiny wooden forks abandoned in favor of greasy fists. I had some catching up to do, so I washed down nuggets of flaky fish and crispy batter with the floral, spiky Lushingtons at an embarrassing rate.
There’s something almost carnal about fish and chips, how people descend upon it like they haven’t eaten in weeks, then suck at their beers like they are back from a month at sea. Combined with a pint or two of Real Ale, it’s perhaps the UK’s greatest contribution to the culinary world. To understand the appeal is to cut to the core of what it is to be a Brit—bloated, content, and still sitting in his raincoat.