Beer of the month, May 2017 – Blacklight Banana by Siren Craft Brew

Another of those months where all the beers in the shortlist for beer of the month were not sampled in a pub, bar or similar. This is partly the reason why there was no pub of the month in May 2017.

Let’s take a look at some of the beers in the running, sampled at home or at a campsite…

First up we have Flat White by Alphabet Brewing Company, a white coffee stout. Yes, white stout. This had a big coffee nose and a very smooth finish. My first white coffee stout and if they are all like this (which they probably won’t be) then it won’t be the last.

Next up, a Heathen by Northern Monk, full of Citra fruity hoppiness. Northern Monk are knocking out consistently good beers, I have several other cans in stock.

Off to pun land next, for a Viennese Cranberry Rye Pale Ale called This Means Nothing To Me by Alphabet Brewing Company. Oh Vienna! Hops, rye, green tea and cranberries. That’s a first. Good dryness and bitter/sourness from the fruits. A very interesting combination that I really liked. Mrs MOFAD was not so much of a fan.

A few Cloudwaters in quick succesion now. Motueka Pilsner had fruity, crisp, sweet bready notes and a nice hop profile. Cloudwater have nailed the lager market with some of their recent output.

Another May favourite was the Session IPA Chinook Mosaic, an all day IPA with hoppiness, bitterness and some resin. The Autumn + Winter IPL Vic Secret Comet had a piney nose, very lagery to start and a minty/lavender herbal finish.

We move to Weird Beard Brew for something a little different next. Out of Office Ethiopian Coffee IPA. Coffee and hops? Yes please!

Back to hoppiness with Fantasma by Magic Rock Brewing. The best gluten free beer that I’ve ever had. Hoppy, bitter, juicy, dank, orange and pineapple flavours. Lovely stuff, really easy drinking. If you have to avoid gluten, you don’t have to avoid enormous flavours.

We go back to the 2016 Rainbow Project for this month’s winner. Blacklight Banana by Siren Craft Brew. Big alcohol, big coffee, big roastiness. Yes, we have no bananas. It’s a really nice beer but I was actually hoping for a big banana flavour from this. If it’s in there, it’s very subtle (some others have tasted it).

banana.

This goes forward to beer of the year, the second dark beer in the pot.

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Pub of the month, May 2017

There isn’t one. For the first time since records began, I don’t feel able to award pub of the month this month.

A bland chain pub with no frills? Meh.

A quibble over an optional 10% service charge? Nope.

A dull pub paella? Narp.

So there is no pub of the month this month. This gives the other (probably) eleven pubs a statistically improved chance of taking the overall title at the end of the year.

Orange Tree, Loughborough, May 2017

A local post! It’s not often that such things appear here during the spring and summer months, but tonight there was a work birthday to celebrate, so we popped out to the Orange Tree in town. Adnams Ease Up IPA kicked things off, a tribute IPA which is better than the bottled version, but nothing to write home about.

Dinner next, an interesting take on a paella. Not something that you find in pubs very often (so hard to get right and easy to get wrong). This was kind of right and kind of wrong. Who puts a tuna steak on top of a paella? Who lobs some limp rocket on the top? It was not that bad, it’s just that my version is much better. That does sound like a bit of a humblebrag, but there you go.

This was accompanied by a Curious Brew lager, which is light and refreshing. Whilst they claim it is re-fermented with champagne yeast for a drier taste, it could be drier. It’s a little sweet, but that would go well with something spicier than this paella.

Not a bad town centre pub. It’s a bit battered around the edges (popular with students) but it does have a certain charm. Three cask lines with no cask ales on is not great though, particularly when there is a great choice not a few hundred yards away. Even the ‘spoons does better than this. Not bad, just not breathtaking.

Farndon Fields farm shop, Market Harborough, May 2017

As our Harborough exploration came to a close, we headed off to the final stop, Farndon Fields farm shop. We went by car as it was on our route back to the camp site. Sadly, they had run out of free samples (more bad planning as witnessed at our previous stop) so we had to make do with a wander round and a spot of shopping instead:-

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A classic modern farm shop this, blending produce that they have just harvested with lots of deli-style stuff, local meats, well known sauces, rubs and marinades and a good selection of local spirits, ales and ciders.

A lovely little farm shop, they even have their own loyalty card – no good to us as we live too far away!

Duncan Murray Wines, Market Harborough, May 2017

Our final stop was much better, Duncan Murray Wines. They hold regular tastings each Saturday, so they really knew what they were doing. We tasted Brynne Vineyard Phoenix, a white wine with “an English hedgerow and cutgrass nose, leading to a smooth, soft, citrus fruit finish.” We then had a couple more beers from Market Harborough Brewery, as well as some different ones from The Langton Brewery. There was also time for a bit more shopping…

My friend and former colleague Adrienne used to be a regular here when she lived in Harbs. She has since emigrated to Aberdeen and rather misses this place. It’s amazing that the granite city can have such an effect on a person that it would make them miss Market Harborough…

(Edit : three months on and I’ve only sampled one of these beers!)

The Oat Hill, Market Harborough, May 2017

A mini review. We visited as part of the Spirit of Harborough festival, so we didn’t sample the normal things at the pub, just the free beer (and vodka) tastings as part of the offering for the festival.

We arrived at the bar as the first festival visitors of the day, so the friendly bar staff cracked open four bottles of beer and shots of Bakewell Tart vodka for us to try. We took these out to the beer garden to sit and sip in the sunshine, ruminating on the beers and enjoying the surroundings.

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We tried a selection from The Langton Brewery, who are just down the road. You can see Bower, a decent session bitter, Bullseye Stout (probably better on cask), Welland Fox (some middle of the road refreshment) and Hop On, which delivered some pleasant fruity bitterness.

The pub itself looks lovely, with friendly staff, so I’m sure we’ll be back the next time that we are here. The beer garden is nice and secluded and would be perfect for a lazy lunch or summer evening meal – the food looks great too.

Emerson & Wests, Market Harborough, May 2017

Our next stop on the Harbs tour de food was Emerson & Wests, a delicatessen and bakery who had some sweet and savoury treats to sample, including the lesser known Harborough Cheesecake, a baked cake with a pastry base, curd and sultanas. I also stocked up on a few beers from Langton Brewery as well as a little something else for Mrs MOFAD 🙂

(Edit : sadly these beers were not as exciting as their excellent packaging might suggest)