The Head of Steam is coming to Leicester

On Thursday April 5th, a new pub is opening in Leicester, replacing the Reynard on Market Street (which I never visited and didn’t particularly want to). The Head of Steam is the fifteenth pub of that name to be opened by Hartlepool-based Camerons Brewery, and I’ve heard good things about the other ones around the country.

Like other pubs in the chain, it will be presenting beers from local breweries such as Framework, Charnwood, Langton and Brewsters, alongside some of the best beers and ciders from around the world, which will be pouring from its 30 lines. With cans and bottles also available, there should be around 120 different beers/ciders available at any one time.

The HoS team pride themselves on hand-selecting the perfect range of beer for customers using expert knowledge from their team of passionate beer sommeliers.

HOS Leicester.JPG

There will also be food available, served from 11am until 9pm, including breakfasts until 3pm (full English, pancakes, porridge and a veggie breakfast). Sandwiches and wraps are available until 5pm, with pulled pork and fish fingers among the fillings alongside light bites such as soup and nachos. There are eight burgers to choose from including vegetarian and vegan ones, as well as three foot long hot dogs, including Homer’s favourite “foot long chilli dog”.

Wait, there’s more. Five pizzas including pulled pork and chicken tikka varieties. There are three pies, served with mash, peas and gravy. Then we get to the main courses, with classics such as fish’n’chips, sausage’n’mash and steak’n’chips. There are also more international offerings in the form of Moroccan harissa marinated salmon, boeuf bourguignon, chicken tikka masala, mussels and chicken Milanese. There are puddings too. And many of these dishes come with suggested beer pairings too.

They have already become a verified venue on Untappd, which helps you to see what beer will be available when you visit. There will also be regular events such as quiz nights and live music, and the VIP floor can be reserved for your function. If it ever warms up, there’s a beer garden too.

Looking forward to checking it out on a future trip to Leicester.


Benugo, St Pancras International, London, March 2018

It’s another in the “quick post” series. After a late breakfast this morning (more like brunch) we weren’t starving at lunchtime, so delayed our lunch plans until we got back to the station. After the freezing cold weather, we wanted something warm, so headed to Benugo for some toasted sandwiches.

The “New Yorker” is apparently the most popular sandwich, consisting of shaved turkey breast, crispy bacon, Gruyère, sliced tomato, iceberg lettuce and Dijon mayo on dark caraway ciabatta.

It certainly makes for a tasty sandwich, although the iceberg lettuce didn’t really need to be in there, as it didn’t add anything worthwhile to the sandwich.

There are various dining options at St Pancras, Benugo is not a bad choice.

Become a Five Points funder

The Five Points Brewing Co, an independent brewery in the heart of Hackney has launched its first round of crowdfunded investment, offering you the chance to become a Five Points Funder and receive shares in the business. The funds raised will be used to meet growing demand, accelerate growth and bring everything back to where it all began; the brewery based on the landmark ‘Five Points’ of Hackney.

The crowdfunding campaign is live on Crowdcube, with a target to raise £750,000 of investment. The money will be used to open the first Five Points Taproom at the iconic Pembury Tavern, as well as investing in state-of-the-art new brewhouse equipment and fermentation tanks which will triple production capacity volume, and which they hope will allow them to meet their ambitious plans to increase sales from 2 million to 6 million pints a year (34,000 hectolitres). A new research and development brew-kit at The Pembury Tavern will also be used to develop new recipes and research innovative brewing processes.

The fundraising will also mean investing in their growing team as well as expanding UK distribution and developing their growing export business. The Five Points Brewing Co was founded by two local Hackney residents who have always strived to invest in their local community as well as their business. Five Points was the first brewery in the UK to be an accredited Living Wage employer, it sources electricity from 100% renewable sources and helped set up an apprenticeship scheme for young, aspiring brewers at Hackney Community College. This is what the Five Points team have continuously aimed to create; tasty beer brewed with the highest standards of quality and a company ethos which is accessible and inclusive to everyone.


The decision to seek investment comes as the brewery is struggling to keep up with high demand. They reached capacity in late 2016 and have since been brewing some of their beer with an independent family-owned brewery in Belgium. This investment will enable the brewery to treble production capacity in Hackney and bring back all brewing production to London. Crowdfunding will also allow Five Points to open their first taproom, allowing this long-cherished ambition to become a reality.

As part of the crowdfunding campaign, Five Points is offering a number of exclusive rewards for investors, ranging from free birthday pints, to up to 25% discount in their taproom and online, and exclusive shareholder invites to brewery recipe development and hop-picking experiences, as well as investors receiving shares in the company.

The minimum investment is just £10, and the campaign is open until until Sunday 8th April.

The Elephant’s Head returns to Clapton

This is another in that occasional series of articles that are about somewhere that I’ve not been yet. There are over 200 posts about pubs here, and I’ve been to almost all of those, so I hope you’ll allow me the occasional indulgence of the odd one that I’ve not visited.

After over a decade under different guises, The Elephant’s Head returns to Clapton under its original name, restored to its former glory, and now with giant Bloody Marys to share and bottomless roasts.

The pub’s new incarnation pays tribute to its old-school Hackney history, not to mention its 1980s heyday, while embracing new East London culture, to create a buzzing neighbourhood pub offering a fantastic range of beer and delicious food.


The menu at the Elephants Head puts a simple modern twist on traditional East London pub food. Dishes such as crispy cod cheeks are reinvented with the best quality, responsibly sourced cod cheeks, breaded, cooked and served whole with chips and mushy peas. Alongside the main menu are some true English classics, including ham, egg and chips (a staple Saturday night tea when I was growing up), toad-in- the-hole and a full mixed grill.

The menu includes an array of tasty options for vegan diners. The mushroom pate emulates a chicken liver parfait without the meat and butter, there’s a cauliflower steak (bang on trend), and a dairy-free chocolate cake.

What is Sunday without a perfect roast? Choose your main: beef, pork belly, chicken, or chestnut and squash nut roast; and add your bottomless sides: roast root vegetables, roast potatoes, greens, Yorkshire puddings and best of all, the bottomless gravy boat. All meat is sourced from responsible local suppliers.


Also available is the Sunday sharing special recipe Bloody Mary menu, featuring The Elephants Head’s take on the classic Bloody Mary. Choose from three exclusive cocktails, Bloody Mary (Vodka), Bloody Maria (Tequila), and the Red Snapper (Gin).

The real treat is the special homemade recipe, combining Worcester sauce, coriander, basil, chilli, horseradish, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic and red wine, which is rested for four days to ensure that it really packs a punch. Just choose your spirit then share with four friends with the bottomless roast.

The extensive cocktail menu, designed by some of the industry’s hottest talent, includes a celebration of what the Elephants Head team feel put the London cocktail scene on the map. This sees the resurgence of some 90s favourites, such as the Mitch Martini and a range of Espresso Martinis.

Situated within a five-mile radius of modern breweries, The Elephants Head is also a beer drinker’s heaven with seven brews as standard, four guest beers on rotation and an array of hop-based bottles on offer. If you fancy something lighter, The Elephants Head bar snack menu offers delicious homemade classics, including a Scotch egg, Rarebit and Chicken Wings, served with East London Barnfathers hot sauce to add a modern and local twist.

Lots to look forward to if you want to check out the new Elephants Head.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #10 – March 2018



The tenth selection from the craft beer club, and I think the eighteenth overall. The last “main” box came just before Xmas, so let’s see what hoppy delights await this time. Thanks to the Needle & Pin for supplying this month’s photos, my beers were all bundled in with some other deliveries so I didn’t get chance to take the customary photo.


Amundsen – Hop Magic – 7%

A collaboration with Dry & Bitter Brewing Company and Dugges Bryggeri. The three breweries describe this as the “ultimate crusher”, a tropical juice hop head butt with Magnum, Mosaic, Galaxy, Nelson Sauvin, Citra, Ekuanot and Simcoe all mixed in.

Shindigger – Mango Unchained Session IPA – 4.2%

A session IPA blended with mango and pineapple, described by the team as “if Rubicon made beer”.

Marble – Tuckerlovsky Session IPA – 4.7%

Named for Marble’s head of sales and his wife, this punchy session IPA is made with a blend of Northern and Southern hemisphere hops. Bright citrus and juicy tropical fruits partner with a subtle malt sweetness.

The other half of the box is below…


Magic Rock – Brother Chucker – 6.7%

A collaboration with their mates at Basqueland Brewing Project, brewed to remind them of a fun filled week of bikes, beer, baked cheesecake, big smiles and darts in the Basque region. A smooth malt bill featuring Golden Promise, wheat and golden naked oats, alongside a defined bitterness to aid drinkability. They then used lots of lovely piney/citrus Simcoe and limey New Zealand Motueka hops as well as a dash of tropically crazy HBC 438. The beer was fermented with their house WLP001 yeast for minimal aroma/flavour interference and super easy drinking refreshment. Bullseye!

Arbor – Piccolina – 3.2%

Big flavoured low alcohol session beer, brewed with Vienna malt & oats and Mosaic and Simcoe hops. I’d love to tell you more about it, but that’s all that’s been written about it so far! (Edit : my words are hoppy, crisp, dry and bitter, which makes for a lovely session ale, an easy drinking pint that you could drink plenty of.)

North Riding – Mosaic – 4.3%

Enter the new kid on the block, Mosaic hops are full of blueberry and citrus flavours and seriously pack a powerful punch to make a juicy banger of a pale ale. (Edit: this was a lovley session pale, so much fruitiness from the hops.)

Given that two thirds of the beers in this box are session strength, I suspect they won’t last very long, as I’m rather lacking in things that aren’t double IPAs or imperial dark beasts at the minute. I think 2018 will be seeing more sessionable brews…

Craft Beer Co, Covent Garden, March 2018

When is Covent Garden not Covent Garden? When it’s High Holborn. If you’re on the corner of Endell Street and High Holborn, I don’t think you’re in Covent Garden. If you know your way around London then you might agree. If you are thinking of opening a bar, sticking the words Covent and Garden on it will certainly help you to attract visitors.

However, I’d argue that if you’ve got 11 cask ales, 2 cask ciders, 28 more beers on keg and another couple of keg ciders, that’s all that you need to attract visitors. It was enough for me. I went out of my way to come here, instead of going back to my hotel via a nearby pub. I hadn’t located any decent pubs near to the hotel at this point, so I came here instead, for a pint before catching the tube back.

I say pint, it was actually two halves, because with 39 beers to choose from, how can you have just one? It was hard enough picking two.

I started Tai Chi from Tiny Rebel, probably my favourite Welsh brewery right now. It’s just your run-of-the-mill lychee and sea buckthorn pale ale, one of the birthday beers brewed to celebrate their sixth birthday.

There’s a slight sweetness and some lychee tartness, and sharpness from the buckthorn. It didn’t really work for me, but I like the idea. I think finding this on cask might confuse a few people.

My other half was Scrambler, from Rooster’s Brewing Co, who are also celebrating a birthday, their 25th to be precise. This one is just your run-of-the-mill melon pale ale, available in the first part of the year.

Tasty melon flavours, and if it was soured up a bit it would be very nice indeed. A tasty pale ale with a difference, and another one that might confuse a few cask fans.

This is a great bar if you’re looking for a great beer. I suspect it gets really crowded at peak times, but there was space in the ground floor bar at 10pm on a Thursday, and seats downstairs in the basement too. I’ll be back after my next west end night out…

Royal Albert Hall, February 2018

How do you get to the Royal Albert Hall? Practice!

One of the oldest musical jokes in the world there. In my case, the answer was via Kensington Palace (grounds, above) and Kensington Gardens, after a walk through the snow. It was bitterly cold, with a “realfeel” of -10 celsius, aka “brrrrrrrrrr”. Much as I wanted to stay out strolling along the Serpentine and up to the Hyde Park bandstand, a little defrosting was required. As the Albert Memorial had just loomed into view (it’s hard to miss it!) it meant that his hall was not far away.

One day I’ll come here for a performance. I’ve so far missed all 208 of Eric Clapton’s appearances, the RAH’s most prolific living performer. Today, it was just for a nice warm cup of coffee and a chance to hang about in this historic building for half an hour. There’s a lot of building work going on at the minute, so this 1871 landmark is not quite at its best, although it is still mightily impressive. More ancient and steeped in history than the Sydney Opera House (we’ve been to a performance there!) but not as quirky.

The beer selection is awful (not a problem today), but the coffee was decent enough. A great place to stop even if you’re not catching a show. A welcome warm up after a chilly stroll.