Pub of the month – October 2016 – The Jolly Sailor, Orford

A pub heavy month this month due to spending a lovely week in Southwold and having a trip to a pub nearly every day of the holiday. I love holidays.

A special (but not in a good way) mention first to The Marquis Wellington, which became the first place to gain MOFAD approval and then have it revoked. Six visits in the last 2 years before this month, although it’s fair to say that during the previous one, the cracks were showing. On our last ever visit, we were there for some pre-show dining as usual, but after 45 minutes of waiting, half of the food hadn’t turned up, and 2 of our party had to go hungry.

On to better tales. A special mention for previous winner The Needle & Pin, who held an IPA tasting night at the start of the month. Patrons went on a tour of beers from the pale ale category, whilst Sean entertained us with some of the history of IPA. This is just the kind of thing that happens in “that London” so it was nice to be a part of it in a local setting. A great night at a great pub. Great beers too, including some oddness like the IPA full of peach flesh. It wasn’t an IPA.


On to one of last month’s runners up next, the Church House Inn in Sutton. Three visits in 3 weeks, which must count for something (as I mentioned up above, we don’t go back to places if they let us down). October’s visit came after another lovely long walk in the Peak District, and saw us “upgraded” into a different room for good behaviour (the behaviour of Suzy the Ninja Hound who was with us). Another tasty triple pork nirvana was achieved here with these lovely ribs:-


A lovely little village pub that deserves to keep thriving (it has been packed out on all of our visits).

For the rest of this month’s contenders, we find ourselves in Suffolk. On our first real active day of the holiday, half of us (Matt & I) were cycling, and the other half (Hazel & Mrs MOFAD) were touring by car (Mrs MOFAD was a bit under the weather). After visiting three different car parks to attempt to rendezvous with them, we had a little stroll and then headed into Walberswick for lunch.

The Bell is a lovely coastal pub, and is an Adnams pub, like so many in Suffolk. A lovely lunchtime menu offers some good choices, with three fishy sandwich options, two ploughmans and other pork and cheese choices alongside the usual full menu (which includes a very tempting Vietnamese style slow-cooked lamb shank with lemon grass and lime basmati rice).

Hazel & Matt had one of those ploughmans which was very good indeed and meant a free apple for the Minister 🙂. Mrs MOFAD opted for the crayfish tails and prawns in lime and dill mayonnaise sandwich, which was very tasty, with a very nice side salad. A posh fish finger sandwich for me, smoked cod fish fingers with mayonnaise, lettuce and parmesan pea pesto in toasted ciabatta – this was crunchy and delicious, a proper posh fish finger sandwich. With parmesan pea pesto, it can’t be anything but posh! Mushy peas for the Kensington set.


The Bell Inn is a lovely seaside pub, well worth cycling to (or driving to). It’s a very easy ride from Southwold, with very little road involved if that’s your thing. There’s a nice (and big) beer garden out the back for the warmer months, and plenty of tables inside.

To our final day of holiday now, when we encountered two more great pubs. The Sole Bay Inn was the venue for our final dinner out. Much like the previous evening, we tried to get in to The Nelson again, but it was full. We split into two groups, to wait for tables in The Sole Bay Inn and The Nelson, harnessing the power of the internet to communicate when we had found one. The Sole Bay Inn got a free table first, so we grabbed it and sat down for dinner. It’s an Adnams pub, #obvs.

Triple pork nirvana was at stake again today (spoilers for the upcoming mention of the lunchtime pub), I had passed a few times during our week away due to lots of lovely fish to choose from, but on this visit the lure of the pulled pork burger was too strong to resist. It turned out to be a good call, a decent portion of pulled pork, not too sweet, served in a good roll with chips and a decent home made coleslaw. Good work team! Mrs MOFAD had the same, Hazel had some lovely ribs and Matt went for gammon. All good for our final meal out of the week.


A good pint to go with it too, Jack Brand Mosaic Pale Ale which I also had earlier in the week. Hints of lemon, peach, mango and pine and a nice little blast of mosaic hops.


There was also a tasty pudding to finish things off. You can’t reserve tables, but it is well worth the wait if you have time for one to become free. A lovely cosy pub with a friendly atmosphere.

Earlier in the day we had been on another lovely Suffolk cycle ride, which with some simple planning meant that we found ourselves in the Jolly Sailor in Orford for lunch. We parked our bikes in the beer garden, popped in to reserve a table for lunch (it gets busier than you’d imagine for an October lunchtime), had a quick stroll around the village, and then came back to eat.

As with the other Suffolk pubs in this month’s round up, it’s an Adnams pub. The usual beers and lots of enticing food. Five options on the sandwich menu:-

Hoisin duck and spring onion wrap
Buffalo mozzarella, tomato and avocado open sandwich
Prawn and crayfish Marie rose
Smoked ham and Gruyere cheese toasties with Suffolk chutney
Cumberland Sausage Baguette with onion jam

I opted for that last one, and it comes with a really nice dressed salad and vegetable crisps (Tyrell’s I suspect):-


A lovely sausage baguette, great sausages, nice crusty baguette and sweet onion marmalade (they call it jam). Hearty and delicious. Mrs MOFAD opted for the ham & cheese toastie, which was well filled with ham and cheese, and nice and warming on a day of sea breezes. Our cycling and dining companions Hazel & Matt had the cheeseboard and some accompaniments, all very tasty stuff. I also got free grapes from the cheeseboard 🙂

The Jolly Sailor is a lovely seaside pub, and there’s a nice big beer garden out the back for warmer months too. Really nice food and good beer. And they allow dogs. Well worth it if you’re in the area, and definitely worth stopping off at if you’re riding the Suffolk coastal cycle route, which passes within about 50 yards of the pub… A worthy winner of pub of the month.

Beer of the month – October 2016 – Bourbon Oktober, Vibrant Forest Brewery

A tricky month this one. Lots of strong contenders (in terms of quality and alcoholic strength). All bar one of these were sampled in the same week of October, when we were on our East Anglian epic adventure, part two.

Finishing off our “Summer House Beer Festival“, we had a Guatemalan Coffee Extra Porter by Buxton Brewery, bottom right in the picture.


We’re up all night to drink coffee. Massive coffee nose, big coffee flavours with vanilla mixing in there too. There are lots of coffee porters out and about, this is a good one.

Another new beer next, a Triple Knot Tripel by Adnams (perhaps unsurprisingly for a week in Southwold), made with Pilsner malt, acidulated malt and invert sugar fermented using Adnams house yeast as well as white wine yeast. It’s hopped with Eldorado and Pacific jade and a sprinkling of botanicals – lavender, orange blossom and jasmine. Quite unusual for a beer.


Orange, honey and lovely warming Autumn flavours. Dangerously drinkable for 10%, it tastes nowhere near that. A slight bready character often associated with sparkling wine too. Really delicious stuff, this would make a great Christmas day ale.

We step outside of the holiday bubble for a moment to try a Three’s Company by Cloudwater Brew Co. A three way collaboration with Magic Rock and JW Lees, using the latter’s 4709th generation yeast culture.


Boom! A hop bomb has been dropped from a great height. Massive NZ hop flavours and something to tide everyone over until Cloudwater’s DIPA v8 gets out into the wild.

We stay hoppy with an Imperial Red IPA Special Edition by Vibrant Forest Brewery which is “built” on their “RadicAle Imperial Red IPA”.  This is what they have to say about it. “The aroma now sits on a maltier backing with reduced hops and the giant citrus and tropical notes have replaced by thick fortified waves of cherry, plum and deep woody syrups. The boozy aftertaste has mellowed and the whole experience is utterly different to how we initially presented it.”


This is what I have to say about it. Boooooooom! Massive caramel malts, hoppy happiness. Very very good. A special edition indeed. As you can tell, I liked this one.

We return to our collage (bottom left) for this month’s winner, Bourbon Oktober, again by Vibrant Forest Brewery. This is”Black Oktober” but aged in a fresh bourbon barrel for nearly 6 months.


This produces a big bourbon vanilla beast which was quite stunning. Vibrant took their existing full bodied strong stout (with aromas of dark chocolate and liquorice) and the barrel aging process has added spicy notes and vanilla. It was certainly worth that extra work and wait. Bourbon barrel brilliance and a worthy winner.

Wild Beer Co – Pogo – boing!

The second beer review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box. Let’s look through the beer blurb…

A draught only release earlier this year which was such a hit with both customers and staff that Wild Beer decided that 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…

I’ve been enjoying the work of Wild Beer Co since last summer, when I first had a can of their fruity pale ale “Bibble”. I picked up a few more cans in Booths at the start of the year, liking both “Fresh” and “Madness IPA” (the latter in particular had a very hoppy nose and delivered around 90% of what that nose promised!) During that same visit I also grabbed some bottles of Wild Goose Chase (fizzy, tart, sweet and sour), Sourdough (like a cider without the sweetness), Somerset Wild (another cider that’s not a cider, as it’s a beer) and Modus Operandi (sweet, sour, blueberry, blackberry, red wine).

On to today’s offering then…

Pogo is super fruity on the nose, definitely passion fruit coming through. The palate is more relaxed, but a very tasty and hoppy pale ale that I could drink a lot of. Very easy to #keepitsession with this one. A very good pale ale.

The Tea Merchant in Canary Wharf opens

This is another in that occasional series of previews of places that look nice but I’ve not been to yet.

The Tea Merchant in Canary Wharf has opened its doors following a big refurbishment.


Formerly known as The Cat and Canary, The Tea Merchant claims to “bring sophisticated al fresco dining to Canary Wharf, from brunch through to evening.” Celebrating the area’s rich history, the Tea Merchant serves meals throughout the day and has a heated outside area with 80 seats overlooking the North Dock.  The private dining area is available for business meetings, private food events and drinks receptions.

A well-crafted menu offers high-quality dishes prepared using the best seasonal ingredients from hand-selected suppliers, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday roasts. The open kitchen allows customers to watch the team showcase their culinary skills. Dishes on offer at the moment include rabbit loin, lemon sole, ox cheeks, sea trout, Dorset lamb and the classic cod and chips.


The Tea Merchant’s new name is homage to the local area’s rich heritage. Canary Wharf was once one of the busiest docks in the world, bringing tea, sugar, grain, and produce to London from around the world. For a preview of the refurbishment, please visit the pub’s website and use the 360 tour:

Kara Alderin, Fuller’s “Head of Premium Dining”, said: “The opening of The Tea Merchant has marked a new chapter in the site’s history. Together with a complete transformation and of course a new name, this business has an exciting new lease of life. It brings to the area the best in pub dining, with high quality wines, craft beers and some exceptional freshly prepared gin infusions to tempt even the hardiest tea drinker.”


(All images copyright Fuller, Smith & Turner P.L.C.)

The Marquis Wellington, Leicester – never again!

Oh dear. This is the first time that somewhere that gained MOFAD approval is having it revoked. Six visits in the last 2 years before today, although it’s fair to say that during the last one, the cracks were showing with this tragic mushy pea affair.


It wasn’t the first time we’d had issues, after lots of mix ups with our order in June 2015. Here comes the story of the evening…

We met up with regular dining, camping and walking companions Karon and John for some pre-show eats. We placed our order eventually (initial choices of pie were unavailable, and the limited menu has not changed for months, so it took a bit of time to get the order sorted).

A decent pint of Pekko Pale ale started things off well, but that was about it for tonight.

Even though we ordered second (separate orders for our table), our food arrived first, with the barman promising to check on the other order.

My “Rodeo burger” was a decent effort, a good (if a little small) home made burger, with a nice BBQ sauce, good brioche bun and very crispy onion rings.

Mrs MOFAD’s chicken Caesar salad was less impressive, and not very filling either.

We’d finished our dinner, but Karon & John were still waiting. After they’d reached the 45 minute mark, our time was up, as we had to be round the corner for our evening entertainment. Luckily, the staff were understanding and issued a refund, with the food turning up just as we were walking out of the door. A very poor show indeed, and we won’t be back.

Luckily the entertainment was not a poor show, Brian Cox and Robin Ince with a mixture of space, science, comedy and Brian Blessed anecdotes. There was also a live edition of #briancoxbillionwatch and #briancoxstaaaaaaarswatch with an unassailable record of 46 uses of billions and 25 uses of staaaaaaarrrrssss.

Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co. needs your help

It’s another brewery post!

After backing a couple of successful brewery projects earlier this year (Wildcraft and Wibblers) it’s time to dive in with another.

Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co was set up by head brewer Paul Greetham in 2015, with the aim of making interesting beer that’s packed full of flavour. They make very hoppy IPAs; fruity pale ales; funky saisons; imperial coffee porters; English old ales, as well as anything else that takes their fancy. These things also take my fancy as you’ll know from reading this blog for a while!


Generation IPA (Chinook, Citra & Vic Secret hops) poured into their branded 2/3 pint stemmed beer glass

However, being a small 100% independent brewing company has its drawbacks. They currently do not own their own brewing system or have their own premises, and have so far been “cuckoo brewing” on other breweries’ kits. However, this means they are at the whims of other breweries’ available capacity – which can be very unpredictable and infrequent and might leave them unable to furnish trade and wholesale customers with a regular supply of beer.

They plan to use pledges to buy their own brewing system that will allow them to make 1,000 litres of beer per brew, up to 3 times per week, to meet current demand as well as giving them capacity to increase their distribution.

Why pledge?

1) You will be supporting UK based manufacturers: as well as the brewery manufacturer and installation firm being UK based, they source the vast majority of their ingredients and packaging from local and UK wide companies where possible.

2) Contributing to the growth and success of a burgeoning craft beer scene: there has very rarely been a more exciting time in the history of UK and global beer. Your support will directly contribute to the continued innovation of beer.

3) The rewards on offer are either of greater financial value than your pledge, or are exclusive to this crowdfunding project.


You can find out lots more details and pledge here:-

I’ve pledged. Can you?

(All images copyright Beatnikz Republic Brewing Co)

#BadgeQuest2016 – Big Beery Night 2016

A great way to drink beer, earn Untappd badges and raise money for charity at the same time. I’m in!

The Half Pint Gentleman


#BadgeQuest is back… 2016 and we are in the run up to 2016’s Big Beery Night. Last year was a massive success raising just under £4,000, with £292 being donated by your wonderful badge wankers out there who took part in last year’s #BadgeQuest. We couldn’t let Andy Parker not have a chance to defend his title this year though, so we are returning back for 2016 for another action packed #BadgeQuest2016, last year we had some quadruple and triple badge check-ins, a weekend in Belgian with 15 badges and who can forget Myles Lambert’s mighty 6 badge check-in. This year we are going to be running from 1st November to end of Sunday 13th, with the Big Beery Night being held on Friday 11th.

For those who didn’t take part last year then the rules are simple, drink, check-in on Untappd, if you get…

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Attenborough Nature Reserve cafe, Nottinghamshire, October 2016

A relaxed day today. After the shock of a week back at work, we had a quiet weekend at home. Yesterday we waved goodbye to our greenhouse, dismantling it and moving it on to a new forever home. Today we wanted a little stroll and a spot of bird nerding, as we’d enjoyed it a lot at Minsmere the previous week. Our local nerding spot is the Attenborough Nature Reserve, not too far over the border in Nottinghamshire. Several bird hides and lots of paths to stroll around. We’ve been here a few times for walks and bike rides.

We arrived at the cafe towards the end of lunch time, and soon found a table and then ordered at the counter. Simple things to choose from, sandwiches, soups, a stew, a choice of panini and some other bits and pieces.

A cheese and bacon panino for me, simple and tasty, and just the sort of thing you would expect from a nice little cafe like this. Token salad on the side, just enough to add some interest. I also had a packet of crisps, and they were “posh crisps” not just Golden Wonder cheese’n’onion.


Suitably satisfied, we set off for a stroll in the afternoon sunshine and around a few of the hides to spot some birds. Some of our best spotting came from the hide just outside the cafe, where lots of juvenile lapwing were sunning themselves on the shores of one of the lakes.

A lovely little cafe and a lovely day out. Only £2 to park for the whole day too.

Clwb Tropicana – drinks are free?

The time has come for the first brief review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box, and we start with probably the best named one from the box, Clwb Tropicana, top quality punnage from Tiny Rebel.

After last year’s champion beer of Britain, they have kept on producing great beers. This “grown up fruit salad” is described thus:-

“as colourful as the most hideous Hawaiian shirt you’ve ever seen, super juicy and crammed full of fruity hop flavours that will have your mouth watering.”

You will know that’s just the kind of beer I’m looking for, packed full of American hops, amplified by peach, passion fruit, pineapple and mango flavours. Yes please!

Imagine a glass of Lilt, with the addition of hops. That’s Clwb Tropicana. Delicious dankness and more hoppy tropical fruit goodness than a kangaroo carrying a bag of pineapples in its pouch. If you want tropical hoppiness, this will do nicely!

#RainbowProject16 – beer #1 – Orange – Descent into the Maelstrom

Here it is, the first of seven posts from my #RainbowProject16 box of beers. Actually, make that eight because I’ll have to do a post ranking them all. #obvs

For more about #RainbowProject16, read my earlier post…

First to make an appearance in my Rainbow Project glass was a collaboration between Burning Sky Beer from Sussex, who are based about 10 miles away from where we spent many childhood holidays, although I’ve never had one of their beers, and Liberty Brewing Co, who are based about 11,500 miles away, north west of Auckland in New Zealand. I had one of their beers in March.

This collaboration was the colour orange, named Descent into the Maelstrom and described as a “borderless” ale aged in white Burgundy barrels with orange zest & pink grapefruit.

It can’t make up its mind what it wants to be. A sour wit (wheat beer)? A fruity IPA? Some kind of Belgian yeasty, winey thing? An interesting confusion. The fruitiness is there at the start and on the nose, and then makes a final appearance at the end of the finish. Not getting the hoppiness that you’d expect from a New Zealand pale. Kind of a zesty saison really, and I’m not sure I could taste much grapefruit.

It was good to be confounded by this one, but it’s not going to make it into beer of the month because their have been some strong candidates this month. Looking forward to more #RainbowProject16 beers…