Pub of the month, April 2016

A very hard choice this month. I’ve visited lots of pubs as a result of a few days in Edinburgh, discovered a great new local pub, and also been back to the pub of the month for August 2015.

Enough of my #firstworldproblems, let’s get on with choosing a winner.

Although it was a winner back in August 2015, The Talbot Arms in Settle only makes the shortlist this time. That shows how tough the competition was this month! We went for dinner here on our first night of a week in Settle (you should expect quite a few Yorkshire establishments to feature in next month’s pub of the month round up). Another lovely meal, the landlord is still as nice as ever, and the beer selection is still great.

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To Edinburgh next, and Holyrood 9A, which just to happened to be one of the closest pubs to the hotel that I was staying in whilst in Edinburgh. I was actually intending to go somewhere else on this particular night, but a massive downpour convinced me to seek solace in Holyrood 9A instead. This was a good choice.

Holyrood 9A have a good range of burgers, a few other food options, and a great range of beers from near and far. They serve in thirds, which means that you can try three different beers whilst only drinking a pint. If you are a bit of a beer explorer, this is a wondrous thing. It also means that if you don’t particularly enjoy one, you don’t need to worry about it too much.

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We stay in Edinburgh for BrewDog Edinburgh, which was blessed with two visits (because they have cracking beer!) If you’ve been to any BrewDog, you’ll know what to expect, a “modern industrial” feel, loads of BD beers on tap, as well as 5 or 6 guest taps, and then loads of bottles and cans, again both BD and guest. Excellent wifi also made this a good venue for a Skype call to Mrs MOFAD ūüôā Didn’t have chance to try the pizzas, but they looked good. Oh, and I didn’t even mention Iron Man pinball machine!!!

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Back home for The Needle & Pin. They’ve been open since December 2015, but various things got in the way of that all important first visit, so it had to wait until the start of this month. You can read more about the history of the pub and how it got its name in the review post. It is a cracking micro pub, all about beer. They have no kitchen but you can bring in your own food from any local establishment. They also have a delivery arrangement with our local pizza palace, Peter. You can ring your order through and they will deliver directly to the pub, cash on delivery. On this visit some of us went to The Hog Stop across the road for a delicious porky bap. I think it is already my new favourite town pub.

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For this month’s winner, we return to Edinburgh, to The Hanging Bat. It took me several attempts to get here, due to some inclement weather conditions last week. As it was over a mile from my hotel, it needed conditions to be right. Eventually they were, so I headed over, the lure of 20 taps of ale and lots of smoked meats was just too strong to resist. Obviously I chose the pulled pork to eat (I’m the predictable pulled pork guy). With so much beer choice, that takes a bit longer, but they do “flights” of 5 x 1/3 of a pint. And they don’t need you to choose them all on the spot and pour them. You get tokens which you can use to order when you are ready. This gives you time to work out what to have next, either using the old fashioned “talking to people” method (this would never work in London), or more modern methods such as seeing if your mates on Untappd have had any of them.

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Many great beers were sampled, and the pulled pork was perfect. I did predict that this would be April’s pub of the month, and that prediction came true. A fantastic pub in a city packed with so many great ones. Very highly recommended for anyone visiting Edinburgh. There’s bound to be a beer of your favourite style on. And the food is great.

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Beer of the month, April 2016

Another busy month for beer tastings. My first ever visit to the Needle & Pin, a birthday trip to Bollington, another trip to the Needle & Pin, and then a trip to Edinburgh, which saw 7 different pubs over a week, including the fantastic Hanging Bat and an obligatory BrewDog trip. Or two.

On to the best beers of the month, which despite all these trips out are dominated by bottles and cans at home. There’s also a heavy New Zealand influence coming through from imports from the NZ road trip.

We start with a¬†New World IPA by Northern Monk, from back at the start of April, and it was the biggest hop hit since returning from NZ. Tart mango flavours mixed with soft maltiness. And the bloke from Assassins Creed on the can. Pray, pray, pray, stab. That will make no sense if you don’t know what Assassins Creed is.

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Our first import next, a Voyager by Renaissance Brewing Company. An English IPA from New Zealand, with a malty backbone.

Bloody foreigners. Coming over here. Doing the jobs of British beers by being full of citrus hoppy notes & not understanding the word pale.

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We leave home for the next 2, beers tasted at the awesome Hanging Bat in Edinburgh. The Muckle IPA from Swannay brewery had the following qualities:-

Malty! Sweet! Hoppy! Not pale! All the ingredients of an American IPA! You can also spot a hat from Wooly Things in the background. On the day in question, Edinburgh had seen 4 seasons in one day, including hail and snow, so a wooly hat was much in demand!

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Staying in the Hanging Bat, we have the Spring + Summer Session IPA Mosaic from Cloudwater Brew Co., with a super fruity nose. Peaches and pear drops. A Perry-like palate with rounded bitterness and some banana. Good weird.

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We’re back at home now with another import,¬†a Sauvinova by Tuatara Brewery. A hoppy pale ale that isn’t pale. Good NZ hop character and interesting bottle. A balance of Nelson Sauvin hops and maltiness.

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After all this hoppiness, it may come as a surprise to find that the winner is Oyster Stout by Three Boys Brewery, another NZ import.

Super stouty goodness. All killer, no filler. Perfect with Moroccan fish stew and I’ll put the recipe for that up some time.

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A worthy winner, but I suspect there will be more hoppy beasts for it to contend with to win beer of the year in December. Stay tuned!

Talbot Arms, Settle, April 2016

A return visit to a favourite pub, the pub of the month from August 2015, when plans formed for a fairly swift return visit to Settle. Eight months have passed and we are true to our word. So it was only right and proper that we return on our first night.

A packed house tonight, as you would probably expect for a sunny Saturday night in springtime. Almost standing room only, but we squeezed in to a tiny table by the pool table, directed by the ever-friendly landlord. We perused the menu, and just a few minutes later another table was vacated, and that lovely landlord diverted us across to it.

Off to the bar to order, a lamb burger with tzatziki for me and a pork, cranberry and tarragon pie for Mrs MOFAD, both from the specials board. Some refreshment too, a pint of Moorhouse’s White Mist, an interesting wheat beer with biscuit, orange and coriander notes. Light and easy drinking. The on tap cider option was one that Mrs MOFAD had not enjoyed when she last had it (thanks Untappd!), so it was Bulmers Pear instead.

A quick reminisce about our previous visit, and then, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared. Ok, he didn’t. But another friendly member of staff did, bringing our dinner over. We swiftly tucked in, and it was just as lovely as our last visit. A tasty pie, and a very nice lamb burger indeed.

Another pint to wash it down with, Rooster’s Ragged Point, an American style stout, with complex hop and floral notes to complement the usual roasty toastiness you expect in a stout.

Another lovely meal at the Talbot, still the best pub in Settle with the best landlord and great beers available. We’re coming back on Wednesday when “My Pointless Friend Richard” will be riding again for the pub quiz…

The Hanging Bat, Edinburgh

Fourth time lucky.

On Monday night, I arrived too late at my accommodation to make the walk out to this pub.
On Tuesday night, a massive hailstorm intervened, and I went to the Holyrood 9A instead.
On Wednesday night, I had intended to walk over, but a combination of leaving my daytime activity quite late, and more poor weather meant another abandonment and a trip to the Inn on the Mile instead.

Tonight I was determined to get out here. The lure of 20 taps of ale and smoked meat was just too much to resist. It was only a mile or so from my accommodation, so I set out down Cowgate, through the Grass Market and beyond, reminded of many Rebus novels as I traversed the streets of Edinburgh. A short time later and The Hanging Bat was in sight. You don’t always expect pubs to be rammed on a Thursday night (unless there’s some Europa league match on). Actually, there was one on, but it was not showing here as this is not a football watching pub. Although there was a guy in the corner watching the match on his iPad.

I found a table and a stool, bagged them with judicious use of coat and wooly hat (from Wooly Things) and then headed to the bar to order my dinner and sample a few beverages.

The dinner choice was easy (there’s loads to choose from, but I’d already made my mind up after looking at the menus online). A simple dish of pulled pork, a freshly baked bun and some potato wedges. You can mix and match lots of different smoked meats and side dishes, but I was just keeping things classic tonight.

The beer choice was much harder, but only because there is so much to choose from. Six ales on cask and fourteen on keg. And I lost count of how many bottles there were in the fridge (including plenty of good ciders, no Magners nonsense here).

Luckily, there’s a very simple way to make your life easier. You can order a “flight”, something that you may have seen around a bit nowadays. In The Hanging Bat, the flight consists of five 1/3 pints. But they don’t pour them all at once so that they start to get warm or lose any carbonation. You request your flight, choose your first beer and then get four tokens (appropriately enough, bottle tops) to order your next drinks. There’s nothing stopping you from ordering them all there and then, but you don’t have to, so you can enjoy your first one and then plot your next move on the board, just like chess.

You could even start talking with your fellow drinkers and get a recommendation of something that you wouldn’t have chosen. There is also free wifi in here, so you can look beers up on Untappd and see what your friends or just random other drinkers have said about them. My journey began with Almasty passion fruit ice cream pale ale, a fruity pale ale which didn’t taste of ice cream but of fruity and hoppy goodness. A lovely start.

Shortly afterwards my food arrived so I popped back to the bar to pick up another couple of drinks, a Tempest Red Eye Flight mocha porter (delicious coffee and chocolate flavours) :-

and a Luckie Ales Yellae Lintae bitter, which was a standard ale:-

Both were enjoyed whilst tucking in to the wonderful and juicy pulled pork, some of the best I’ve ever had.

To finish off a lovely evening, a few more drinks, an Almasty/London brewing collaboration called Camillo (a negroni ale), a Swannay Muckle IPA and a Spring and Summer Mosaic session IPA.

This is a perfect pub for a beer adventurer like me. Trying new beers is a favourite thing of mine, and to do that in a nice environment, with some good food to accompany, is just perfect.

One final note – the toilets. Not something I want to spend a lot of time talking about on a food and drink blog, but they are worthy of a small footnote. To make the urinals in the gents, they have essentially cut diagonally through a metal beer cask to produce a very inventive piece of toilet equipment. The sinks are similarly inventive.

100% MOFAD approved, of course, and it’s pretty certain that this will be April’s pub of the month because it was so great.

Return to Brewdog Edinburgh

After a rather disappointing dinner at The Inn on the Mile, I needed something decent to drink before retiring for the night. The quickest solution was to nip down the hill to Cowgate and back into Brewdog for a pint of Magic Rock Dark Arts which was dark and delicious, full of chocolate, coffee, toffee, roasty toasty flavours.

I amused myself watching some other patrons playing a game of Cards against Humanity (as mentioned on Monday, you can borrow several card and board games from behind the bar if you leave them a credit/debit card in return). I like this BrewDog bar.

The Inn on the Mile, Edinburgh

After another aborted attempt to visit the Hanging Bat (curse you Scottish weather!), I needed to find somewhere to eat pretty quickly. The reason for the abandoment of the Bat plan was the arrival of more rain, so without much ado, I made a quick trip north to the Guildford Arms, which has a tiny restaurant area above the pub. It looked nice and had plenty of ales available, but no chance of getting a table, so I had to make a plan C.

I hopped back down to the Royal Mile, and in to one of the iconic pubs, The Inn on the Mile. It looks promising when you walk in, huge high ceilings, tables and booths around the outside, a breakfast bar and booths down the middle with the bar over in the corner.

Much like Holyrood 9A last night, they also offer flights of ale. But that’s where the similarity stops. Despite claiming craft beer credentials, the beers in this flight don’t hold up to closer inspection. The Caledonian Best (it’s kind of a Scottish equivalent of John Smith’s, so you know where to place it in your mind) was over chilled, strangling any potential flavour, the Flying Scotsman was probably going off and the Mile Ale was slightly better with a hint of hoppiness (it is brewed especially for the pub apparently). Essentially, none of these were all that great. When you spot that they call Deuchars IPA a Scottish craft ale, you know that you have a different definition to them.

Pair that with an uninspiring and dry chicken burger (although nice chips) and you get a very average experience. It seems that the location at the crossroads of the Royal Mile and North & South bridge is what keeps this place busy. It’s a shame as it’s a nice looking place, but there are better alternatives.

TPN 2016 #12

Being away for work is often a chance for triple pork nirvana, because it usually means starting the day with a cooked breakfast in a hotel. This was the case today, a classic Holiday Inn Express breakfast (their cooked items are always sausages, scrambled eggs and beans):-

Lunch was this chicken and ham concoction from the conference centre:-

And dinner at Holyrood 9A was a blue murder burger, with cheese and bacon (blurry because I was in a hurry to eat it):-

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A tasty triple once more! Just a shame it wasn’t triple plate nirvana!