The Coach and Horses, Kibworth, November 2017

A sunny Saturday stroll today, with regular walking friends and a couple more who we hadn’t seen for a while. We started in Glooston (yes, it’s a real place) and had parked next to the village hall and village pub. We walked almost 7 miles, and got back to our starting point at just after 2:30pm.

Sadly this was too late for the village pub, as they stop serving food at 2pm, one of my pet hates. Luckily we had already catered for this eventuality, and had found a sensible pub that doesn’t close their kitchen at 2pm. So along with Mrs MOFAD and regular walking and dining companions Karon and John, I took a short drive, taking in part of the route home, and we arrived in Kibworth and walked straight into this lovely welcoming pub, with a fire crackling away in the corner.

They’ve recently had a refurbishment, and they’ve done a nice job, keeping the character of the pub, but just making everything clean and fresh. We turned right into the small dining room, perused the menu and then popped up to the bar to order.

A late lunch for us today, so drinks and sandwiches were in order. A couple of decent cask ales on (Hobsons Best, a familiar face from near Ludlow, and Purity Mad Goose from Warwickshire).

Some nice sandwiches to choose from, Mrs MOFAD opted for the tuna melt on sourdough, and the rest of us chose the posh fish finger sandwich.

And a posh fish finger sandwich it was indeed. Lovely soft bloomer, delicious crispy beer battered fish goujons, tasty fat and crispy chips, and a little pot of lightly mushed peas, which make a good dip for your chips.

Lovely food, friendly staff and a nice atmosphere. A cracking little pub right on the A6, so it’s very easy to get to. We’ll be back when we’re next in the area.

Advertisements

The King’s Arms, Hathern, November 2017

A second visit to The King’s Arms in the MOFAD era, although somewhere that we’ve been to a few times, usually for get togethers with walking friends. The same applied tonight, although we didn’t find out about tonight’s gathering until Saturday, as it had somehow slipped under our collective radar.

When you’ve got 30 odd people descending on a pub, you need a certain type of pub that can cope with such things. The posher chain pub wants everyone to be eating, the micropub doesn’t have quite enough room. So this is the level you settle for, a Marston’s chain pub, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. A range of different food options and several beers from the Marston’s empire, including Ringwood and Jennings and a few others that look like they are not from the empire, but they are. With a permanent 2-4-1 deal on food, you need to go with a friend if you don’t want to pay twice as much as everyone else.

Tonight’s beer choice was this month’s seasonal offering from Jennings, Pie in the Sky. It is alleged to be “a robust full bodied beer with pale ale malt and the finest roasted malts combined with whole cone English Fuggle hops to deliver a robust flavour”.

It was just so bland. Before they were owned by the evil empire, I liked Jennings. Hops? Malts? Where? I’m not looking for Cloudwater levels of hoppiness in every pint, but just a decent pint of cask ale would do. It was just so meh.

The food was standard chain pub fodder, I opted for the pulled pork burger, which matched the beer because it was also surprisingly bland. The pulled pork was naked, no sauce, no flavourings, just nude pork (that will get some odd hits for this blog post). It was all ok, but just that. And look at that cheese, it hasn’t even melted in the slightest.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the curry (she does like a pub curry), which was more interesting, although the naan bread was more like a tiny saddle cover for a bicycle seat. Her cider was more interesting, which is not something I thought I would ever say about Bulmer’s.

This does come across as a bit snobby, and it’s not meant to, but this was another of those nights when the company was more important than the food and drink. Again, there was nothing bad, it was just fairly non-descript.

Ellis’ Tea Room, Rothley Station (Great Central Railway), November 2017

The Great Central Railway is the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway. It’s the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other – just as it was when steam ruled the rails. And it’s just down the road from us, which is rather handy. We’ve been to various bits of it over the years, been to the beer festival (every September), been on the dining experience trip (many years ago), and Mrs MOFAD had her 40th birthday party in one of the carriages as we steamed to Leicester and back. It was a great night.

Trains run every weekend of the year, bank holidays and selected weekdays throughout the summer.  The railway has won a number of awards including “independent railway of the year”, a gold award for the East Midlands’ best visitor experience and is a quality assured visitor attraction as designated by Enjoy England.

The latest project is to reconnect the northern part of the line which ran towards Nottingham (the clock tower outside the Victoria Centre is all that remains of Nottingham Victoria station). You can see more about the project here:-

Each station along the line (Loughborough, Quorn and Woodhouse, Rothley and Leicester North) has its own food and drink offerings. Loughborough has a buffet cafe and a shop on the main platform. Quorn and Woodhouse has the Butler Henderson cafe and the NAAFI tearoom. Leicester North as the Station tearoom (tea, coffee, snacks, cakes).

Our destination was Rothely station, and Ellis’ Tea Room. There’s also the Station tearoom on the platform, but Ellis’ Tea Room is separate to that. The building which houses it was built in 1899 when the Great Central Railway was opened. Local firm Joseph Ellis and Sons Ltd used it to store corn and coal, ready to be collected by wagons and sent around the country by train. The building fell out of use well before the GCR was preserved but has now been fully restored and carefully converted to a tea room. It serves hot and cold drinks, homemade cakes, sandwiches, light lunches and ice creams.

Today we both had panini, ham and cheese for me, tuna melt for Mrs MOFAD. The cafe was very busy and our lunch took a while to arrive but it was very tasty when it did. They do prioritise lunches for those people who have a train to catch, which makes sense.

A simple lunch today, just what was required on a crisp autumn day. And no visit to a steam railway is complete without taking a photo or two of a train. Obvs.

Out of India (takeaway), Shepshed, November 2017

A new curry house for us, yet one that we have passed countless times. The M1 seems to have created some kind of psychological barrier, since we’ve never been here for a curry or ordered a takeaway. Yet as the crow flies, it’s pretty much the same distance as many of the curry houses in town that we normally use.

Tonight we’d been out at a fireworks display, and due to some closed venue exits we decided to change our takeaway plans and nipped across the M1 to Out of India. There’s a big car park out the back, and plenty of room inside, as they are licensed for up to 70 people.

Just takeway tonight because as ever my beer selection is far better than their beer selection. Yes, that’s a humblebrag, but it is true. Do they have Geordie Pagoda II by Brinkburn Street brewery in Byker? No. Or Above the Clouds by Electric Bear from Bath? No. I had both of those beers tonight. Maybe they’ve got some beers from a local brewery? No, none of those either.

Anyway, enough moaning about beers in curry houses, that’s what takeaway is for. We ordeded our food and we were soon back home tucking in to tasty curry, with regular dining companions Karon & John.

My choice tonight was chicken shatkara (also spelt shatkora), a chicken curry with small pieces of a citrus fruit known sometimes as a wild orange. I love the sourness of this fruit with the richness of the curry sauce, and it was accompanied by a lovely naan bread.

Based on tonight alone, Out of India has become our new go to curry house for takeaways. We’ve even thrown out all of our other takeaway menus!

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #8 – November 2017

The thirteenth selection from the N&P and the eighth in the “normal” club (as opposed to the dark side club). This is going to get even more confusing going forward, as a Sours Club has just been announced. That’s a good confusion to have to deal with though 🙂

I think I’ve got one left from box 3 (Buxton Wyoming Sheep Ranch DIPA which really needs drinking), and three from box 7, although probably not for long. Let’s dive in to November’s box.

Anarchy – Citra Star – 4.1%

A familiar one this. Bought some back at Easter and had it on a camping trip, and then had it on cask at The Narrowboat in Skipton in September. This hoppy blonde is loaded with grapefruit, lemon and lime flavours but is light bodied enough to keep you coming back for more. Highly hopped with a big, bitter finish.

Drygate – Disco Fork Lift Truck – Mango Pale Ale – 5.1%

Another familiar one, as I bought some in Sainsbury’s in August. How can you resist a beer with the name Disco Fork Lift Truck? A great name but the beer didn’t live up to it for me. It’s so hard to get a mango ale right. The brewers say that this is a juicy pale ale loaded to the gunnels with US hops and mango. I think they needed to add some more gunnels and put more mango in them 🙂

Flash House – Tiny Dancer – 5.4%

Flash House beers have been very popular on cask at the N&P, so it was about time they made their way to the craft beer club. This one doesn’t disappoint, a big juicy and fruity American pale. That will do nicely!

Marble – Lagonda IPA – 5%

The use of 6 different types of hop are what this IPA owes its broad range of hop flavours to. Lemon and tropical fruit flavours merge seamlessly with a grassy, resinous background, pine and nettles to give a masterclass in how to balance hops and control bitterness.

Camra ‘Real Ale in a Bottle’, Champion Beer of Britain, Silver 2012. A proud contemporary classic, just like its namesake the 1927 Lagonda.

ShinDigger – IPA – 5.6%

ShinDigger was born whilst Paul and George were living together at Manchester University. They invested their spare cash into a home-brewing kit. The beers were brewed in the kitchen and fermented in the basement of their student house, and then sold at house parties. Back then, they were producing 50 pints a week.

In Autumn 2013, armed with a small loan from the government they started delivering kegs to bars around Manchester out the back of Paul’s banged up hatchback. They are “shadow brewers” who develop their recipes on their own pilot kit and then brew them on another brewery’s spare capacity.

To date they have released over 20 beers that are available from Newcastle to Brighton. They’ve moved on from pints a week to 50,000 pints per month.

The name ‘ShinDigger’ embodies their ethos that beer is about having a good time with your friends and enjoying the moment.

Their IPA contains a plethora of big American juicy hops thrown in over a juicy malty backbone. A lovely balance to this one.

6 Degrees North – Wanderlust Wheat – 5%

All the way from Aberdeen to complete a set that are all from north of LE11.

“Lustful” creamy aromas bounce around with orange citrus, coriander seed, barley sugar and macadamia nut. The palate is balanced, refreshing and carries on where the nose left off. Typically cloudy and whiter like a good wheat beer should be. A good match for goats cheese and caramelised onions.

Beer of the month – October 2017 – Un-Human Cannonball by Magic Rock Brewing

A holiday month often leads to difficult choices when it comes to beer of the month. However, this holiday was to Portugal, and the resort that we stayed in did not score well when it comes to beer. There are two Portugese beers here, but they were both bought at an off licence in Albufeira, the only redeeming feature of a rather horrible place. If I never go to Albufeira again, it will be too soon.

On with the beers. This is another of those months where all of the featured beers are cans or bottles that have been enjoyed outside of licensed venues.

We start with “Born In the IPA” by Cerveja Musa, a small brewery from Lisbon who like a beer name based on a musical theme. As well as the two featured here, I also had “Twist and Stout” and “Mick Lager”. Sadly I didn’t find any “Ale That She Wants” or “Psycho Pilsner”.

After days without hops, hoppy days arrived again in the form of Born in the IPA, which was a delight after so much bland Euro lager.

Next comes a Red Zeppelin Ale also by Cerveja Musa.

Caramel e lupulos. Bom! After 5 days without hoppiness I was starting to worry that I’d never find any in Portugal. This one intrigued some fellow drinkers who have not really strayed into the craft beer world, a slightly sweet red IPA was not something they had encountered before.

We come back home now for the rest of the beers, from three familiar breweries.

Our next beer is Patrons Project 7.01 // SÆSONER // DDH SAISON by Northern Monk. That weird capitalised naming is their choice, not mine. This double dry hopped (DDH) saison is a collaboration with Alefarm of Denmark.

This one is a proper hybrid. Hoppy nose, it looks and smells like an IPA but then turns into a saison on the palate. Very nice indeed.

No surpise to find Cloudwater in another monthly round up. Once again they nail a session IPA, the Spring + Summer Session IPA Citra Mosaic is another cracker, hoppiness but low enough ABV so that you can have more than one!

The same can’t be said of the NE DIPA Simcoe Citra BBC, another strong, thick and hoppy beast. This is what I missed most when in Portugal. Big NE flavours to delight the mouth.

In third place we have something which sounds almost identical, in the form of NW DIPA Citra BBC Simcoe, also by Cloudwater Brew Co.

After a week of largely Euro lager I needed something like a juicy dank murk bomb. Mission accomplished with this one, big bold flavours.

In second place we have something that I should have drunk a while ago, but when you have half a litre of 9.2% double IPA, you have to find the right time to savour it unless you are sharing with friends. Drinking fresh is better, but this one did stand up to being saved for a short while.

Human Cannonball (2017) by Magic Rock Brewing was older than the brewery would like you to enjoy it but was still good. Massive lavender coming through late on the palate and bitter orange flavours. Delightful hops and resin. I just love this style.

Keepting with the theme of very similar sounding beers, we have this month’s winner, also by Magic Rock. Un-Human Cannonball (2017).

Once a year Magic Rock receive the latest crop of hops from the US. Intensely aromatic and bursting with potential they’re begging to be put to work. With three times the quantity of hops of Cannonball and even more than flagship Double IPA Human Cannonball, Magic Rock have created a fitting tribute to the new hop release with their annual homage to the hop.

If half a litre of 9.2% double IPA needs the right time and place, then half a litre of 11% triple IPA needs that even more.

I didn’t drink this one fresh. I don’t care. It was still awesome. Insanely drinkable for 11% but its power reminds you of its heritage. Great stuff, pine and herbs and a worthy winner. Next year I’ll try and buy two and then try and see the difference between fresh and aged a little, just so that I know.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #5 – October 2017

Here it is. The twelfth selection box from the N&P, which is the fifth from the dark beer club. With the nights drawing in, more people turn to dark beer, but it can be enjoyed all year round. I’ve still got one bottle left from the first box (Buxton Rainshadow), two from the second (Mutiny and Old Freddy Walker) and two from the third (Omnipollo Noa and Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal Imperial Stout). These are all big beasts, not for when you are keeping it session. There are also three left from August’s box.

Here we go with this month’s selection.

Anchor – Porter – 5.6%

With a deep black colour, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavours, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter is described by its brewer as “the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer, the definitive American Porter”.

A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with their top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness. The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.

Anchor Porter became the first modern American porter style beer when it was introduced in 1972. Over 40 years later, it continues to reward those who look beyond its intimidating appearance to discover its smooth, full-bodied drinkability.

Ayinger – Celebrator Doppelbock – 6.7%

originally brewed at a monastery in northern Italy, “double bock” was quickly introduced by Bavarian brewers to compete with bock. Doppelbock names end with the suffix “-ator.”

A rich, dark elixir with cascading layers of malt complexity balanced by elegant hops. Notes of toffee, caramel, elegant dark-malt roastiness, and pure malt. Pinpoint conditioning and semi-dry finish.

Celebrator has a creamy head of tight bubbles contrasting beautifully with its profound dark robe. It is full-bodied and velvety from half a year’s aging. Although it is strong, it is not overpowering. There is a wonderful and complex balance between the various malts, the alcohol and the subtle hops. A complex fruitiness of roasted malt and whole hop flowers make Celebrator great as a party drink with friends and family at celebrations. Despite its richness, it has a faintly smoky dryness in the finish.

Oh, and it comes with a small plastic goat attached. Obvs.

Brussels Beer Project – Dark Sister – 6.6%

Like many more beers, the idea behind this beer started off with a joke. In the winter of 2013 BBP were looking to make a Christmas beer without the classic herbs and high alcohol content. They came up with the “evil twin” of the Delta with a variety of roasted and toasted malts to darken his soul. The community’s reaction was clear : don’t stop making this beer. The Vox Populi reigned and the beer has risen from the dead!

A robust black IPA with flavours of grapefruit and citrus on top of deep roasted bitter malts.

Fierce Beer – Imperial Cafe Racer – 8.5%

Devil’s Peak brewery have taken Fierce’s deep and dark coffee porter to another level with rich roasted Kenyan espresso and Madagascan bourbon vanilla for a sweet little lift. The Café Racer name is inspired by the dangerous edge of leather-clad bikers, making an imperial porter to satisfy even the hardiest of tastes.

Redchurch – Old Ford Export Stout – 7.5%

Rich dark and deep black export stout. A complex malt base providing burnt chocolate, espresso coffee, molasses and leather aromas. The complexity of the malts is perfectly balanced by the warmth of the alcohol, with punchy bitterness and earthy spice provided by the Columbus hops.

If you’d like some and you can’t get the N&P, you can find it in Waitrose.

Wild Beer – Jambo – Imperial Stout + Chocolate + Raspberries – 8.5%

An imperial stout brewed with raspberries and Valrhona cocoa nibs. Rich flavours of chocolate and fruit collide with boozy heat.

Building on the Wild Beer repertoire of wild stouts they have combined our love of locally foraged fruits with their penchant for sweet dark beers. The combination of fruit and chocolate is always amazing and what better way to combat the cold nights of the changing seasons than with a rich warming stout? Specially packaged in 750ml bottles to encourage sharing, it’s a beer to be savoured and divvied out to those you deem fit.