The Marquis Wellington, Leicester, September 2016

Does this pub look familiar? Four visits last year (although just one so far this year). Yes, it’s our usual pre-show haunt when off to see something at De Montfort Hall. Tonight, that something was Sarah Millican’s latest show “Outsider”. It’s been a long time coming, having bought the tickets way back in March 2015. It’s become a trend for big touring comedy shows to go on sale so far in advance. We will return to the show later.

On to the Marquis. Ideally situated on the way from the train station to De Montfort Hall, it was very busy on this Thursday night, being a pleasant autumn evening. There were loads of people sat outside on the “beer patio”, and the doors were open. Unfortunately this meant that cigarette smoke was drifting in from the patio, which was not so pleasant.

The other thing that was not so pleasant was the long wait at the bar. It’s a very wide bar, which means there’s plenty of room for lots of people to get served. If there are only 2 people serving behind the bar, and they are not particularly speedy, this does lead to a long wait for everyone, with the queue building as more people start arriving.

Eventually I managed to order our dinner and some drinks. Thursday night is burger night, so you can choose any burger and one from a limited range of drinks for a fixed price. Mrs MOFAD ordered the Beer Battered Halloumi burger, with garlic mayo and sun-dried tomatoes. It had much less garlic than last time, although Mrs MOFAD found it to be overly greasy.

I opted for fish’n’chips, a pub classic. It was supposed to be served with mushy peas. Look what turned up.

A thimble with some green stuff in it. Travesty. When there is more tartare sauce (home made, very good) than mushy pea, you know there’s something not right. How can you serve that up in all good conscience? The fish’n’chips were decent (small portions of chips as ever), but what on earth is going on with that green goop? Either serve up some proper peas, or don’t bother. Weird green slime does not enhance your dining experience in any way.

Mrs MOFAD had a pint of Symonds cider (the only decent thing included in the “meal deal”). I opted for something new, IPA from Phipps NBC (which stands for Northampton Brewery Company). This was a bitter blonde ale, brewed to an authentic 1930s recipe (so they say), but in no way an IPA by today’s standards.

So a bit of a mixed visit to one of our favourite haunts. Not enough to put us off coming back soon, but a few things they need to ponder!

In other news, Sarah Millican was fantastic, supported by the excellent Tom Allen again. You’ve missed your chance to see this show though, as these were some of the penultimate dates. The DVD will be out soon.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #1 – September 2016

Once again, this feels like one of those “London things” that has come to Loughborough. My favourite local, The Needle & Pin, announced a while ago that they were setting up a “craft beer club”, essentially a monthly selection box where they curate 6 different beers for you in exchange for cold hard cash. The kind of thing that various beer selling web sites can do for you. But without the whole web site and delivery issues mixed in.

No deliveries. No waiting in for the postman. No couriers lying to you that they’ve tried to deliver when they’ve just driven by and thrown a piece of paper in the direction of your letterbox. No useless online stores that crash when you’re attempting to buy an exclusive selection of beers.

A nice man called Sean picks out 6 beers, and after some trials and tribulations getting hold of them he sticks them in a box, and then lets you know when they’re ready. He also knocks up some tasting notes for you and then looks after the beers until you can pick them up.

This first box (two more coming before the end of the year) was ready on the 1st of September but I haven’t been able to collect until now. The only slight problem (which is not really a problem) with having to go to the N&P to pick it up is that you’ll always be tempted to grab something else from the shelves/fridges. And yes, I did just that, as well as paying for a couple of other items that I’d “reserved” after some Facebook posts.

Sean is a very nice guy, but he really knows how to push your beer buttons 🙂

So here is the first selection box, with my added extras:-

Look for reviews of most of them over the coming months. Here’s the list of beers:-

Beavertown / Heretic – Peacher Man Peach Cobbler witbier – the brewers say that they started by breaking down the recipe; peach, toasted oats, lemon zest, muscovado sugar and bourbon vanilla pods. They fermented the beer out with a delicate Belgian Wit ale strain to add hints of spice and fruit and completed the picture by dry hopping lightly with Nelson Sauvin to add another layer of the aroma. Sean has a story to tell about trying to get hold of this one.

Hardknott – Elixir of Invicibility – their first new beer of 2015, a 7.3% Double IPA. Nose of bananas and pineapple smuggled under a grass skirt, followed by a teaser of biscuit with a crashing wave of fruity hop bitterness and a 10 mile long finish. One of my favourite Cumbrian breweries.

Siren Craft Brew – Proteus IPA Vol II – Proteus is a series devised to make the most of three hops, with this volume using Mosaic, Chinook & Cascade. Siren have brewed three pale ales using the combination before creating this dialled-up IPA version, based on everything the brewers have learned about the hops and how they work together.

Tiny Rebel – Clwb Tropicana – after last year’s champion beer of Britain, they have kept on producing great beers. This “grown up fruit salad” is as colourful as the most hideous Hawaiian shirt you’ve ever seen. It’s super juicy and crammed full of fruity hop flavours that will have your mouth watering. Imagine sitting by the pool in the blazing sun with a cocktail in one hand, but instead of a dainty little glass it’s served by the pint! Packed full of American hops, amplified by Peach, Passionfruit, Pineapple and Mango flavours!

Thornbridge – Bear State – West Coast IPA, brewed in the spirit of the West Coast of the USA. A massively hoppy beer, balanced perfectly with a touch of malt sweetness and an intensely citrus hop character to finish.

Wild Beer Co – Pogo – a draft only release earlier this year which was such a hit with both customers and staff that they decided it needed a more accessible package. A big juicy fruit bomb with a low enough ABV to be session. Head brewer Brett built the recipe around his favourite tropical fruits, passion fruit, orange, guava and some more orange. The name comes from two pogo sticks acquired by the brewery at the same time. During tank transfers and when waiting for boils you could apparently hear the regular spring and thump of pogos in the yard…

You’ll also spot a Fourpure Juicebox IPA, a Tiny Rebel Cali American pale ale, and two more Wild Beer Co bottles, Epic Saison and Gazillionaire, a Non-Imperial Non-milk stout with vanilla and cardamom. If that’s not enough to pique your interest then I don’t know what is.

Looking forward to trying all of these – watch this space!

Wildcraft Brewery Update

In case you’ve been wondering what’s been happening at Wildcraft, the brewery I helped to back earlier this year, apparently they have been “building, foraging and praying…”

It turns out that setting up a brewery can be quite a challenge, especially when you have a barn to convert, a car park to lay, water treatment tanks to install and red tape to cut through. The good news is that they are now completely licenced to trade. There is also a bit of bad news, in that they are still in the middle of building works and utility installations.

Wildcraft believe that site works will take another month to complete, at which point they should be able to use their new equipment for the first time. It will then be another 6-8 weeks before they can send out beer to everyone. The launch party will be around the same time and they are trying to book in two dates to ensure everyone can make at least one.

Here are a few pictures showing the equipment that they have purchased and some of the foraging they have been doing to get ingredients to make their beers and spirits. It currently spans 5 large chest freezers!

If you enjoy foraging, why not get out into the countryside and earn some beer vouchers while you are at it? Wildcraft offer beer vouchers for every kilo of fruit you pick. They are currently looking for blackberries, damsons and sloes (although it’s probably a bit early for sloes).

Photos (c) Wildcraft Brewery.

Raphael’s Wood Fired Pizza – update

You may recall that a year ago (almost to the day!) we found ourselves in Long Whatton enjoying some pizza with regular MOFAD companions Gemma & Ian (& regular guest Laura). Pizza from a converted horse box was very tasty indeed:-

Inspired by seeing MOFAD companions Karon & John enjoying some tonight, I wandered over to their web site to find out the latest news. They’ve rejigged their timetable a bit, so here are the latest details. From 5:30-9pm you can find them at:-

Monday – Quorn

Loughborough Road, outside the Quorn Mills Park Bowling Club, opposite Rawlins Academy

Postcode LE12 8DT

Tuesday – East Leake

The Bull’s Head pub, 78 Main Street, (near the Co-op)

Postcode LE12 6PG

Wednesday – Pegg’s Green, Coleorton

The New Inn, Clay Lane

Postcode LE67 8JE

Thursday – Sutton Bonington

Main Street, outside St Michael’s Church

Postcode LE12 5PF

Friday – Rothley

Mountsorrel Lane, outside the library

Postcode LE7 7PS

Get on down and try some tasty pizza!

TPN 2016 #17

Yes, it’s another triple pork nirvana for 2016. A full day of walking today, so we started the day with the traditional bacon and egg baps that kick off many of our walk days.

No pubs on today’s walk, so we took our lunch with us, simple ham and cheese baps as well as some crisps, cake and chocolate.

That just leaves dinner, which was this very tasty honey and mustard pork dish at the Church House pub, just a few hundred yards from our camp site.

Another great day powered by pork!

Church House pub, Sutton, Cheshire, September 2016, visit #1

A good walk today. We did around 9 miles of classic Peak District walking, lots of ups and downs and plenty of great scenery.

We arrived at just the right time and grabbed some tables, pondered the menus and got our orders in. Some beer first, a Beaufort’s Ale by Storm Brewing Co from nearby Macclesfield. Gentle caramel notes in this one.

Triple pork nirvana was at stake today, and a glance over at the specials board gave the perfect answer – pan fried pork steaks with a honey and mustard sauce, with new potatoes and vegetables (not pictured, since they would spoil the photo). It was very tasty and a great reward for today’s walk.

This was accompanied by a Pride of Pendle by Moorhouse’s Brewery, it has the classic maltiness of an English bitter.

We all agreed that we had earnt a pudding, so we ordered and then relaxed with another drink whilst waiting for it to arrive. I opted for a Monty Python’s Holy Grail Ale by Black Sheep, a zesty dark golden ale.

Here comes a lovely dark chocolate fudge cake. You know my feelings on puddings by now, you should always go for the chocolate option. Once again this proved to be the correct choice.

And even a tiny bit of orange as a post-pudding pudding.

The Church House is a lovely village pub with great food and great beers. It seems to be thriving in this lovely little village, and you should definitely stop by if you find yourself camping just down the road or just passing through.

We are coming back to the same camp site in a few weeks (weather permitting) and we will be back here as the Church House is dog friendly and we will have Suzy the ninja hound with us…

MOFAD approved!

Ye Olde Kings Head, Gurnett, Cheshire

A late summer camping trip with regular MOFAD camping companions Karon, John and Sylvia. We chose our camp site for two reasons. Firstly, it was close to the start of our proposed walks for the weekend. Perhaps more importantly, it was in a village where there were four different pubs within walking distance.

We tried out the closest one first (only by a matter of yards), which happened to be Ye Olde Kings Head, which serves food every day, at lunchtimes and evenings in the week and all day at weekends. A decent menu awaits.

A whole page of starters to choose from including classics such as pate, garlic mushrooms, fishcakes and the ever trusty soup. We hadn’t earnt our starter today, so skipped straight to mains. Two pages of those to choose from as well as salads and sides. While we wait, here’s some refreshment first.

This session pale ale is Seamless from Redwillow Brewery, very nice with gentle hoppiness. An ideal liquid starter whilst waiting for your dinner to arrive.

And arrive it duly did. With lots of choice like pie of the day (several of our party had this), lasagne, gammon, lamb casserole, steak, a burger, chicken, pork and more, you might have a hard time choosing.

Not me though. As you might have worked out, I’m quite partial to a nice bit of fish, and two fillets of sea bass, pan fried with lemon, garlic and parsley butter definitely qualifies as a nice bit of fish. There were also vegetables to accompany, but you don’t need to see a picture of some carrots and beans.

Some more liquid accompaniment was required. This was Feckless by Redwillow Brewery, a classic malty English bitter. Very nice indeed and the maltiness worked well with the garlic.

Although there were several good looking puddings on (crumble, chocolate fudge cake, sticky toffee pudding, chocolate torte), we decided to pass as we hadn’t really done enough activity to justify it today. Instead we stayed on to play some classic card games as well as a spot of Two Tribes (as presented by my Pointless friend Richard).

A little more refreshment was required for this brain activity. I opted for Ye Olde Kings Head ale, and realised too late that this was just GK House Ale by Greene King, which is often found in their pubs rebadged as “Insert Name of Pub Here” ale. I’ve had it as “Bell Hotel Ale” and “Bridge Bar Ale”. You might also see it as “Old Bell Best Bitter”, “Spice Island”, “Sawyers Arms”, “Bookies Best”, “Mermaid House Bitter”, “White Hart Ale”, “Seven Arches Ale” and so on and so forth.

It is a shame that this isn’t made clear in Greene King houses, as it’s a very average beer, and I would have definitely had either of those Redwillow beers again. I shall hope to never make this mistake again.

A lovely little village pub, well worth a visit, although they don’t take dogs, which is why we won’t be back on our next trip to the village as we will have one in tow.