Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton, September 2017

The start of our Skipton weekend. Mrs MOFAD and regular MOFAD companion Hazel are off to Yarndale tomorrow. We were due to be joined by other regular MOFAD companions Steve and Janette tonight, but Steve has been attacked by a chest infection overnight and is not fit to travel.

Hazel & Matt stayed with us last night, and we set off for Skipton this morning. After a coffee stop at Woolley Edge services (where else when heading to Yarndale), we arrived in Skipton just after 1pm, and decided to make this our lunch stop before checking in to our hotel.

If the Keelham name looks familiar, that’s because we stopped at the sister shop to this one back in September 2015, on our way home from that year’s Yarndale trip. Today we had some lunch before doing some shopping.

There are two eating areas in this branch, a full menu downstairs (20 minutes wait this lunchtime due to the large number of Yarndale visitors) or a soup and sandwich menu upstairs (no wait, just find a table and order at the counter). We nipped upstairs, grabbed a table and then picked up some sandwiches, crisps and drinks.

A well filled chicken and bacon mayo sub roll, a bit of salad squeezed in there too. Some Yorkshire crisps (#obvs since we are in Yorkshire) and the gentle fire of Cawston Press ginger beer. Very tasty stuff and just what we needed after our journey.

Time next for a bit of shopping. As there are 4 of us and just one car, both Matt & I had to be restrained in our choices, and kept things to just a small box each. A proper local selection of Yorkshire beers for me, BAD Co from Dishforth (first encountered at last year’s Good Food Show), North Brewing Co from Sheepscar Grove in Leeds, and a couple from from Holbeck’s Northern Monk .

As well as all of this tasty beer, there was plenty of local food as well as lots of stuff from further afield. Loads of fresh stuff as well as plenty of tinned and dried foods. A lovely little farm shop, and I’d probably shop here an awful lot if I lived in Skipton.

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Needle & Pin, Loughborough, September 2017

I’ve written more than enough about my favourite pub by now. The only thing better than writing about it to get someone to go there, is to actually take them there. So that’s what happened tonight. After dinner at Centro Lounge, we took a short stroll down to the Needle & Pin for a few drinks and some games, accompanied by some good old fashioned vinyl. I’m not sure that the other customer upstairs was too impressed by our choice of Now 17, but we love the past, even if it is full of cheese. On with the night…

A pint of Exmoor Ales Silver Stallion for me, a perfectly pleasant cask bitter. Matt had the Exmoor Beast, amusingly coming in at 6.66% – thick, smooth and full of flavour.

This was accompanied by a game of KerPlunk, which is 50 years old this year, and is a game that I’ve probably not played for more than 30 years. The newer version looks a bit different to the original, but the basic premise is the same. Pull sticks out without disturbing marbles. The person with the fewest amount of marbles in their tray at the end is the winner.

Even grown adults can still enjoy this simple game, a great laugh.

We moved on to our next drink and our next game. My next drink was from San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company in the form of GFB. This acronym has two possible expansions. The clean one is Green Flash Blonde, the other one rhymes with Food Clucking Deer. A nice beer with good carbonation and a hint of honey. Matt had the Framework Treacle Stout, and we both struggled to spot the treacle that appears on the nose in the palate…

Our next game was the classic word game Taboo. To make things fair we played boys vs girls, and managed to get a good few rounds played in between the laughter.

Another great night out at the N&P, and we somehow managed to avoid coming home with lots of cans and bottles in tow! That won’t be the case when we come back from Skipton though…

Centro Lounge, Loughborough, September 2017

Tonight is the beginning of our weekend. Regular MOFAD companions Hazel & Matt are staying with us tonight, as tomorrow morning we’re off on a road trip to Skipton. Mrs MOFAD and Hazel are off to Yarndale 2017 on Saturday, whilst Matt & I are indulging in a cultural walking tour of Skipton, perhaps checking out the odd hostelry on the way. Other regular companions Steve & Janette will be meeting us there tomorrow night.

Mrs MOFAD and I have been to the Centro lounge a few times this year, so we chose it for tonight’s dining venue.

Drinks first, and both Matt and I opted for the Bath Ales Dark Side, which is a nice easy drinking stout when it warms up a bit.

One of the advantages of Centro Lounge is that they serve their tapas menu every day, so if you fancy a mix of different things you can find plenty to choose from, rather than just plump for burger and chips or similar.

As I’ve noted before, they aren’t too tied down by the heritage of tapas, mixing traditional Spanish dishes like chicken and chorizo, albondigas (meatballs) and patatas bravas (roast spuds and tomato sauce) with dishes from another continent, such as teryaki chicken and posh KFC style chicken goujons.

Mrs MOFAD and I shared the selection above, along with the usual freshly cooked ciabatta, and Hazel & Matt also shared some dishes. We all enjoyed our tasty dinner, and spent a lot of time examining the decor, including the painting of a weird alien/monk hybrid with a boxing glove/oven glove, and some white horses frolicking in the sea… Do check out the eclectic collection of paintings if you’re visiting.

Tasty food, a reasonable pint and a friendly atmosphere, we all enjoyed ourselves and we’ll keep coming back.

700th post!

Another 4 months have passed and another 100 posts have been clocked up. There are about 30 or so that still need writing, and next weekend will see a lot of entries when we reprise the walking tour of Skipton from 2015.

A lot has happened in the last 4 months. We’ve experienced things that go bump in the night, and it happened a second time with a Cloudwater Make Apple Pie Great Again.

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The end of May saw the first month where a pub of the month award was not presented. A trip to Newcastle a week later soon ensured that June would not suffer such problems, with visits to Hop and Cleaver (an in house brewery and all the smoked meat goodness), the lovely Box Social (beautiful beers in a railway arch) and of course BrewDog. The weather was appalling but the beer was great.

The last week of June was consumed by holiday. Lots of lovely Cumbrian pubs, including good pub pizzas in The Crown in Coniston, an unplanned trip to the ODG, a curry and some fish’n’chips.

The sours night at The Needle & Pin was one of the highlights of the summer, lots of tasty and refreshing beers and some very interesting and rare items.

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There have been four visits to The Beehive in Combs, two in July, two in September. A really lovely village pub with great food and a decent cask ale always on. July is also the time for the new home made Hooky beer festival. After the let down of last year, we decided to hold our own. It was a big success, with lots of different beers sampled, and  Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter from Brooklyn Brewery winning the festival.

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Some free beer arrived, and we made five trips to The Brotherswater Inn whilst we were camping at Sykeside in August. It was supposed to be summer, but we camped in a swamp due to incessant rain. Lovely pub though. We also had a 7 hour walk to get a pizza. Well, the walk came first, the pizza was an afterthought. We walked over from the campsite via Red Screes:-

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and tucked into a very hard earned pizza!

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Another quick shopping trip at the Hawkshead Beer Hall rounded off that little break in the Lakes and we were off to our other favourite national park a few weeks later for the Thornbridge beer festival. It had outgrown its home back in 2015 and it was a much improved (although still imperfect) experience this year.

September has been a busy month already, with that aforementioned trip to Combs followed by a trip to Liverpool which has produced 6 blog posts (and bit more publicity for the MOFAD).

A weekend off last weekend, Cloudwater night at the Needle & Pin last week, and we have just returned from cake camp, an annual event celebrating cake and beer and great laughs with friends. We’ve had four pub trips (four more blog posts to come, although the last one won’t be so effusive with its praise) and a trip to Stroud farmers’ market.

I just need some more hours in the day to write more posts. Maybe I can subcontract out to Kerrie, although she is very busy at the moment, working a whole 3 hours a month. It’s a hard life, but she’s worked hard to get it!

Lots more to come from The MOFAD. Will I get to 800 before Xmas? Possibly. Watch this space!

Gloucester Services, September 2017

Another stop at our second favourite service station (the favourite being its older sister at Tebay). It was our lunch stop today, en route to our last camping weekend of the year at Slimbridge. We popped in to the shop to buy some sandwiches for lunch (Mrs MOFAD’s was a bit dull, but my chicken and bacon mayo was tasty) and also picked up a few other supplies. Which means beer.

A few from Bath’s Electric Bear and one from Warwickshire’s Purity Brewing Co. Gloucester Services is looking a bit more mature now (the grass has grown in the car park), and their range of produce has matured as they have grown older.

It retains its title as the second best service station on the motorway network…

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #7 – September 2017

The eleventh selection from the N&P and the seventh in the “normal” club (as opposed to the dark side club).

I think I’ve finished everything from box six and five and still one left from three (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA). Let’s dive in.

Alechemy – EH54 – 5.7%

A rare beer from a brewery who are always a hit when their casks pop up at the N&P. A strong hop aroma with juicy fruit notes of pineapple and mandarin. A pale malt base gives a light digestive biscuit backbone which soon gives way to the torrent of hops. Strong fruity flavours of mandarin and pink grapefruit explode in the mouth, with a finish that is hoppt and tangy, with grapefruit becoming drier. A good west coast IPA full of body and complexity.

Almasty – West Coast IPA – 7%

Canned on 8th August, these super fresh cans are crammed full of old school, new world hops in the kettle. It has then been dry hopped excessively with the new breed of U.S super hops. Big aroma, big flavour and big bitterness. West coast style.

Hops in the boil: Simcoe, Columbus, Centennial and Cascade
Dry hop: Mosaic, Eureka, El Dorado and Citra
Yeast: US-05

Brew York – Nuba – 6.7%

We loved our visit to the Brew York 1st birthday party in April. Nuba is a Vermont style hazy and dank east coast IPA. Expect grapefruit passion fruit and bubble gum (!) with a gentle resinous finish. Do not expect massive bitterness or a challenge. An easy drinker packed with Mosaic, Simcoe and Citra hops.

Fourpure – Deucebox Double Citrus IPA – 8.3%

Last year Fourpure made Juicebox, a citrus IPA. What if they made it bigger, bolder and better? Step forward Deucebox. Oranges are added to the Juicebox recipe with double the hops, double the malt and double the juice to give a punchy and tropical glass of joy. Yes please!

Thornbridge – Tzara – 4.8%

A familiar one this, you can get it in M&S! Tzara is a hybrid beer, fermented like an ale but matured like a lager. A broad, almost fruity palate with some bready notes. A crisp, refreshing beer. Voted Best Kolsch Ale in Europe in the 2013 World Beer Awards.

Wild Weather Ales – Motorcycle Emptiness – 5%

Drawing from the Manic Street Preachers’ song that inspired it, its bitter background is soon overturned by big hop notes. Sherbert and lemon contend on the nose while a full bodied grape and lime flavour cleanse the palate.

BrewDog Liverpool, September 2017

I can be a bit of a predictable creature. If you look at some of my recent city trips (Edinburgh, York, Newcastle and now Liverpool), you’ll spot a pattern. Whenever I arrive I go to BrewDog. I don’t *just* go to BrewDog, but it will usually be one of my first stops. Why? Well, it’s because I know what I’m going to get. I always want to check out local bars and brewery taps and the like that you don’t get in any other city, but I’m always happy to start off at BrewDog. As well as their always evolving line up, the range of guest beers is always interesting.

As a review printed on their new staff t-shirts says, “unless you’re into beers and trying new ones, this place isn’t for you”. I am into beers and trying new ones.

So here’s the first of those, Sidewalk Shark, part of the “Small Batch” project. It’s a light, effervescent German-style sour wheat beer; lemon peel, herbal lime leaf, notes of orange and a fresh bready malt base. Sharp, sweet and sour, with a tiny salty note – a lovely refreshing beer.

The other thing you will find in BrewDog bars is a food offering. In Liverpool, this is a burger and hot dog offering. I had the Patriot Burger, brioche bun, 6oz beef brisket patty, smoked bacon, cheddar, pickles, onion, baby gem & bbq sauce.

It was a decent juicy burger, good flavours and nicely put together. Unfortunately it was served on a silly tin tray with a silly tin cup of chips. We want plates.

To accompany this, another couple of beers. First, the Prototype Blonde Ale. I didn’t think BrewDog did bland, but this tasted of nothing. Nothing bad about it, just a very middle of the road blonde ale. I could go to most other pubs and bars in this city to find that, so I just don’t expect it here.

Thankfully, the last one was more interesting. Another of the Small Batch series, this time the Imperial Pilsner where a quintessential pilsner malt base and German lager yeast combine with some modern German aroma hops to make an interesting lager. You can feel the strength in this one.

As ever, a pleasant trip to BrewDog. Tonight was also the monthly bottle share club. Sadly I couldn’t stay as I had friends to meet elsewhere but I was sorely tempted.