Pub of the month, November 2016 – The Poppy and Pint, West Bridgford

A quieter month this time, after all of the Suffolk hostelries in October. In fact it was so quiet, there’s only one pub in the running for pub of the month, because we only went to one pub. The Poppy and Pint in West Bridgford.

We were off to a little film festival being held above the pub, so it was the perfect location for a spot of dinner beforehand. Nestled between the Lady Bay tennis club and bowling green, the Poppy, a former British Legion venue, has become a firm favourite amongst the Lady Bay community and visitors alike, and it has very much a community centre feel to it.

Given that we visited just after Halloween, it was no suprise to find a pumpkin beer, Most Haunted by Castle Rock brewery, in Nottingham. It only had a 2 mile journey to get here – travelling fewer miles than we did tonight!

It was a tasty light porter, a mix of light and dark, with warming spices like a pumpkin pie.

Lots of menu options in the pub too, either the “standard” menu on the table, or lots of choice from the specials board on the wall. Mrs MOFAD and I both turned to the wall for our choices. For me it was this chicken in peppery cream sauce, with good pub chips and a decent salad on the side. It was really tasty, a great pub dish.

Mrs MOFAD went for this sweet potato curry with chickpeas, rice, mini naan, mango chutney and raita – a great pub curry.

A lovely pub with good food and a great selection of beer, both local and from further afield. It really is the heart of this community and well worth a visit if you can navigate your way through the streets full of parked cars.

It may have won by default, but it’s a good pub which deserves its place in the POTM line up.

Beer of the month, November 2016 – Universal Mind by Beavertown

There were lots of beers that nearly made the shortlist this month, such as  Mosaic Pale Ale by London Beer Lab, Bloody Notorious by Beavertown, Comfortably Numb by BAD Co, and BrewDog’s Jet Black Heart.

Here are the top five for this month. It’s been another month for home beers, nothing that I’ve had whilst out and about has made the list. And there’s no IPA in the list either. I’m as shocked as you.

We start with one that does exactly what it says on the tin (bottle). Old Engine Oil by Harviestoun Brewery. If it’s called that, you’d expect it to be thick, dark and delicious. And it is. Exactly that. Smooth and creamy with coffee, toffee and chocolate.

Something a lot lighter up next, in the form of Atlantic APA by Brixton Brewery from a Needle & Pin selection box. Hoppy and properly pale loveliness makes for a very good ale.

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Into cans next for a Pride & Joy by Vocation brewery. I’d only seen these in Booths until recently, but you can now find some of their cans in Tesco. Pride & Joy is a super hoppy APA much like the Atlantic APA above.

We go dark again, for Holy Cowbell India Stout by Beavertown brewery.  This one features heavy malts, lots of fruits and plenty of hops. There are hints of lavender in here too. It’s very drinkable indeed.

We stay with Beavertown for our winner, Universal Mind by Beavertown, their Rainbow Project 2016 collaboration with ParrotDog, a take on the old German style called Adambier.

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Oak. Smoke. Sweetness. Marsala. Creaminess. A strong sipper. Good complexity. My favourite Rainbow Project beer so far. It goes forward to beer of the year…

Turn your lives back 75 years for Churchill Night at The Churchill Arms, Kensington

Tomorrow night (30th November 2016) sees Churchill Night returning to the eponymously named pub in Kensington Church Street, Notting Hill – bringing 1941 back to life. The Churchill Arms has been hosting “Churchill Night” since 1985. Each year, in honour of Winston Churchill’s birthday, they black out the windows, turn up the Glen Miller and hosts a birthday party to remember for the man voted as the Greatest Briton in the 2002 BBC poll.

This year’s event will feature renowned fiddle player, Brendan Mulcare, who will be playing a violin made from Winston Churchill’s cigar box. The “rustic” violin, which was recently purchased by landlord Gerry O’Brien at a Sotheby’s auction for £6,600, was made by self-taught English maker and former master saddler William Robinson, and was played by Yehudi Menuhin in an American radio broadcast in April 1958. It is branded with ‘Made in Havana – Cuba’, on the front and on the back, ‘Selección Privada, Fabrica Tabacos Don Joaquin, Habana’.

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The Churchill Night festivities will kick off from 6pm, with speeches from a few notable Churchill experts and marks the start of the festive period for the pub. On Tuesday 6th December the 20,000 lights on Gerry’s 80 Christmas trees (a record for the pub) will be switched on.

Gerry has this to say:-

“I’m 65 years old now – and this is my thirty-first Churchill Night.  It’s always an occasion to remember and I’m so pleased with my new piece of Churchill memorabilia – a fantastic violin made from one of the great man’s cigar boxes. It’s even more exciting to have a kindred spirit from County Clare, Brendan Mulcare, to play it on the night.

I know lots of my usual Churchill Night customers will be there for the event – but I hope that some new ones will come and visit us too. It’s a great night for all and the highlight of my calendar year. Every year, it gets better and better – and I think this year is going to be the icing on the cake and definitely my best ever. There will be music and dancing – but no moonlight. That is firmly blacked out in true Blitz style!”

BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2016

We have been visiting the Good Food show since at least 1999. It is an annual pilgrimage. A great chance to pick up lots of interesting food and drink from smaller producers, some familiar, some new. There are big names there, such as the usual giant Lakeland shop:-

Most of the stalls are much smaller though, for small producers to sell direct to the public. Each year you try and work out who was there last year, who is new, and who is returning after a year off. One of my favourites from last year, Renegade Brewery from Berkshire were there again, with the same beers on show. L’Atypique craft cidre (nothing to do with that Stella nonsense) were also another returner.

On to some of the new. Absolutely loads of cider and gin producers this year, way more than breweries. I think that’s a first. In the Northern Ireland producers village there were lots of new stalls to look around, several breweries, cider producers and lots of interesting foods.

We also found out about the Appkettle – a nice looking piece of shiny designed and developed by some fellow Loughborough graduates. A kettle that is controlled by an app. You can change temperatures, monitor water levels, boil it remotely and keep it warm for 30 minutes. It is a kettle that costs £130.

Now that sounds a lot for a kettle, but when you consider that this one will set you back the same amount:-

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and it does nothing other than boil water, or that you could pay over 2 grand for this coffee machine:-

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then it doesn’t sound quite so crazy after all. But we didn’t buy one. We did have a nice chat with the team behind it though.

We carried on trundling around, picking up some of our favourites (Dean’s biscuits, Spice’n’Tice chutneys, cheeses) as well as some new things (lots of interesting new canned beers and some Irish cider).

You’ll also spot a selection of ales from elsewhere, my annual refresh of herbs and spices from Fox’s spices, lots of garlic things from the Isle of Wight garlic farm, some tasty fish from Port of Lancaster smokehouse and some other bits and pieces. There are also a few gifts (not pictured) 🙂

Another great day out at the Good Food show. Not even the weirdness of Christmas cake cheese (yes, really) could put a downer on it. Well worth it.

Beavertown x Heretic – Peacher Man Peach Cobbler witbier

The third beer review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box, and the sixth overall from both boxes. Let’s look through the beer blurb…

Beavertown / Heretic – Peacher Man Peach Cobbler witbier – two things you probably already know – Herectic love hops, and Beavertown love hops. However, that seemed a little obvious of a choice when constructing theirr collab, and would definitely have been the easy way out. So they started thinking about the classic dessert, the peach cobbler. 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.

Enter the “Peacher Man.” A silence falls on the bar as his distinctive Peacher garb sweeps over the dusty saloon doors. Outwardly a strict man of the cobbler, but there are murmurs on the warm prairie winds of his dubious morals and heavy-handed sweet justice. His drink is already poured, and without a word it is slid down the bar to a waiting palm. The quick wit of the barman renders not a quiver on the Peacher Man’s face. The young bandit reaches for his revolver but The Peacher Man has already fired. Another convert.

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Those are their words. What about mine? Well, there are certainly peachy and vanilla notes in here, much heavier on the nose than the palate, as well as some yeasty and hoppy notes. I was expecting some huge flavours from this one (Beavertown never skimp on flavour) but they were rather muted. It is crisp and refreshing (thank the lemon zest for that) but just lacking that certain something.

There will be a sequel, as 50% of the wort was taken over to their Tempus Barrel Programme where the fermentation has been pulled into the wild world of Brettanomyces and its other funky bacterial cousins. The Peacher Man will return…

Surely it has to be Son of a Peacher Man?

Centro Lounge, Loughborough, November 2016

When is a Cosy Club not a Cosy Club? When it is a Loungers Lounge. The Cosy Club franchise is operated by Loungers who also own the “Lounge” neighbourhood café/bar franchise. So if some or all of this looks familiar, it’s because it is. We’ve been to the Cosy Club in Leicester a couple of times already (both almost exactly a year ago).

The Centro Lounge in Loughborough opened up this summer, as part of the new Cineworld development, and is one of a number of pre or post cinema dining options now available. Tonight we had an earlier screening to attend, so we needed some post cinema dining and decided to try the Centro Lounge.

There are a couple of decent beers on, as well as ciders and lots of cocktails. This Loungers Cruiser is brewed by Bristol Beer Factory specifically for the chain, cool and refreshing with some hints of hoppiness and bitterness.

On to food. Mrs MOFAD opted for the chicken, bacon and avocado burger with sweet potato fries, a grilled herb-marinated chicken breast with smoked streaky bacon, avocado, tomato, iceberg lettuce, garlic mayo and burger sauce:-

And I had the harissa-spiced chicken burger, chicken breast with red pepper mayo, pimento soft cheese and iceberg lettuce, which required a little deconstruction to get rid of the silly tin cup:-

This is what it should look like when there’s no silly cup, much better:-

Both of these were very tasty, but once again, the “house slaw” is way too heavy on the onion in fact it’s probably >75% onion. Iceberg lettuce is a bit of a cheap addition to the burgers with so many much better flavoured leaves now available. But they both make a nice dinner, and just what we needed as a quick bite to eat after a night out at the cinema. Quick and friendly service, very unfussy. We’ll be back!

London Beer Lab – Mosaic Pale Ale

The third beer review from the Needle & Pin craft beer club selection box #2 (and the fifth overall from both boxes). Let’s look through the beer blurb as usual…

A single hopped Mosaic American Pale Ale (APA) with a gentle fizz promosing scents of tangerine, pale malts and zesty hops. The palate suggests melon, marmalade and malt sugars with a grassy pine aftertaste.

Now a little about the brewery behind this. From their site in Brixton in 2012, London Beer Lab aimed to teach Londoners how to make beer, expadning to offer home brew supplies and bottled beers from London breweries, with their own commercial brewing operations located just around the corner.

Back on to the beer.

All the hallmarks of the classic modern pale ale, bitter, clean, crisp. Fruitiness coming through from the Mosaic hops. There’s a hint of smokiness in there somewhere. Pine and tropical fruit. #obvs

All in all, a really good pale ale. If you’re wondering if that stripe on the label is really an elastic band, well yes it is. Why is this? Too cheap to afford glue? Far from it. If you remove the label then you’ll find a little tick list on the back for tasting notes, and somewhere to jot down your improvements to the recipe.

A great idea, and they want you to start a conversation about the beer. Perhaps while drinking another one. Yes please!