The Needle & Pin, December 2016

It’s only 8 days since I was last here, at the great Thornbridge night. But after a nice dinner at Centro Lounge, we decided to pop down for a couple of drinks. You might have noticed that I’ve had plenty to say about The Needle & Pin this year, and that hadn’t gone unnoticed by our dining companions Karon & John, who were happy to come and sample the atmosphere (and the very well kept beer).

Karon & Mrs MOFAD went upstairs to bag a table whilst John & I ordered at the bar. We are still in the “Twelve days of Thornbridge” so there were three new Thornbridge beers on tonight. My first choice was Rattlesnake, a dangerously easy to drink 6.5% west coast IPA, strong, juicy and resinous.

Whilst enjoying our drinks we chatted about pubs, memories of the old electrical shop that was here before (Karon & John have lived in the area longer than us) and then had a quick attempt at playing one of the board games that sit invitingly in the corner of the room upstairs. We wanted Scrabble (well, I did, because I’m a wordsmith) but that was in use, so we had a few rounds of Yes/No and then went back to chat.

And back to the bar, this time for Thornbridge Lucaria, an ice cream porter brewed with lactose for a smooth finish. Essentially it is chocolate ice cream in a glass, delicious.

The pub was getting busier by this point, more people coming in for some tasty Thornbridge ales. As Mrs MOFAD and I are off to an Xmas party tomorrow night, we decided to call it a night. Karon & John were impressed by their first visit to the N&P so I’m sure they’ll be back.

I’ll be back next weekend (schedule permitting) to pick up the final selection box for this year 🙂

Centro Lounge, December 2016

Another night out at the cinema for us, it’s becoming a lovely regular thing. Another “based on a true story” film tonight, Sully, the story of the pilot who landed his Airbus A320 on the Hudson River in January 2009, saving all 155 passengers and crew after both engines were disabled by  bird strike.

We were with regular MOFAD companions (and now cinema companions) Karon & John, and opted for an early evening showing so that we could have something to eat straight after. We decided to come back to the Centro Lounge after a pleasant visit last month. It was much busier tonight, with at least a couple of Xmas parties in (spotted quite a few people who I know).

A table became free just after we arrived so we grabbed it, studied the menus and then toddled off to the bar to order.

Another pint of the Loungers Cruiser for me, refreshing with some hints of hoppiness and bitterness. John had the Bath Ales Dark Side which is always reliable.

Food next, and a festive special, turkey and bacon pie, which was crammed full of turkey with a few bits of bacon. Served with champ mash (not enough spring onions to call it champ) and seasonal vegetables. Sadly, at this time of the year, the prhase “seasonal vegetables” means running the gauntlet of the evil sprout. The devil’s vegetable. Sprouts arrived. Sprouts were duly segregated away from the real food.

A very tasty pie, decent mash, good carrots and gravy. But boo to sprouts.

Mrs MOFAD opted for a fishy Friday, sea bass with prawn and prosecco risotto. I was very tempted, but I had sea bass with tomato and pineapple salsa on Wednesday night, and I’m not all about that bass, about that bass, about that bass. It was very good, and certainly deserving of a place on the specials board. There’s not enough good fish in pubs.

Karon had bang bang chicken noodles, sweet chilli noodles with panko-crumbed chicken breast, pak choi, tenderstem broccoli, sugar snap peas and cashew nuts in a sesame, peanut & coconut sauce (with a few slices of fresh red chilli for the brave). John had beef chilli, chunky beef served with basmati rice, sour cream and mature cheddar. Very mild, but pleasant.

We finished our drinks and headed off to The Needle & Pin for another ale or two… Another pleasant night at Centro Lounge, it will probably be our regular post-film dining option…

Vessel, a great new bar in Plymouth…

This is another in the occasional series of preview posts – places that I’ve never been to, but that look good.

Opening tomorrow in Plymouth, Vessel is a new independent beer shop located a few minutes’ walk from Plymouth city centre. They will stock over 100 different beers from some of the best breweries in Britain and around the world. They will sell bottles, cans and draught beer for take away using growlers. If you’ve not heard of a growler, it’s a reusable vessel which allows you to take away draught beer to enjoy at home. They are designed to be filled by a special machine to ensure the that the beer never comes into contact with the air so that it stays fresh for longer.

Vessel has been set up by Sam and Katie Congdon who wanted to bring their love and knowledge of great beer, and enthusiasm about supporting small independent producers, back to the south west. So they moved back home from Leeds, and set up Vessel.

Here is their opening day tap list (photo from their Twitter feed):-

Tap list

They launch tomorrow, Saturday 10th December, at 11am and there will be lots more beers in the fridges.

Some extra information can be found on their web site including a few blog posts about finding their premises and a trip to Bristol to pick up some beer for the shop/bar.

Their opening hours are:

Monday – Closed
Tuesday – 11am – 8pm
Wednesday – 11am – 8pm
Thursday – 11am – 8pm
Friday – 11am – 11pm
Saturday – 11am – 11pm
Sunday – 11am – 8pm

During December you will be able to drink in the shop. They will also be offering a selection of wines, spirits, ciders and soft drinks. There will also be some interesting bar snacks, locally sourced charcuterie and cheese.

I won’t be able to get there any time soon (it would take around 4 and a half hours to drive and even longer on the train). But luckily MOFAD companions Tina & Sam live nearby so the opportunity to visit might just crop up one day 🙂

Christmas 2016 beer ideas continued – Bollington Brewing Co

It’s another in my December gift ideas series, drawing inspiration from places that I’ve been this year, or from products that I’ve tried (mostly beers!)

A birthday usually means a trip to the pub, and this year was no different. Since reopening in March 2005, the Vale Inn has made a name for itself as an ale and food pub at the heart of the friendly community. A real fire was a welcome sight on a cool night.

Rather handily, they have their own micro brewery in Bollington Brewing, which means there are always lots of their ales on tap, as well as two guest ales and several proper ciders. The menu changes with the seasons, and there’s also a specials board which changes more frequently.

I sampled several of their beers during the night, including Bollington Long Hop – delicious hoppy goodness, Bollington Dinner Ale – a classic session bitter but it needs more hops and Bollington White Nancy (named after the white sugar loaf monument that can be seen on the saddle of Kerridge above Bollington) – light, fruity and very drinkable.


I also came away with a mixed case of beer (birthday present to myself) for later tasting. Goldenthal is a Barley wine style beer, very flavoursome, sweet without being cloying. Dangerously drinkable for 7.4% – I could drink it all night. That would be a bad idea.

Endurance is described as an American IPA and is nice enough but just not an IPA. Hints of IPA like flavours are swirling around but where is the huge hop hit? Still a good pint though and one for those who are not fans of beastly hoppy IPAs.

Defiance is a black IPA/Cascadian Dark Ale with smokiness and coffee. Quite complex, but where are the hops? This is an IPA after all. NMH.

Eastern Nights is another IPA, not the hoppiest, but a well rounded IPA none the less. I really liked this one.

Bollington Best was formerly First Brew, their first beer and still the most popular, a classic best bitter that you could drink all day.

I’ll finish up with the Oat Mill Stout. The strength (5%) belies it, but I would call this a session stout. Very easy drinking but lacks a certain richness perhaps. Slight vanilla note.

A good portfolio of beers for the traditional beer fan and one who likes a few that are on the hoppy side of life.

You can do your shopping here:-