Pub of the month – September 2017 – The Narrowboat, Skipton

What a bumper month for pub visits! Twenty one in total, four pubs got two visits each, and one got four. Just like its 2015 counterpart, it is dominated by Skipton pubs, as we recreated the walking tour of Skipton. There’s also the same pub that we camped near to and pubs from a work trip. Very similar months.

We start with “work trip pub”, and an inclusion on exception criteria. Toilets. The most ornate pub toilets that I have ever encountered. This exceptional piece of work can be found in The Philharmonic Dining Rooms, in Liverpool.

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To the “camping pub” next, and it was nice to be back at The Beehive in Combs, where we have had some lovely meals, twice in September 2015, and twice already this year (July). It really is a great village pub, friendly atmosphere, lovely food and well kept beer. Once again it didn’t disappoint, with a couple of pints of Thornbridge Rattlesnake (dangerously easy drinking 6.5% west coast IPA), a classic fish’n’chips and a posher fish special.

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Another honourable mention to last year’s winner, The Needle & Pin. This month it was “Cloudwater night” and as I am a bit of a fanboy, I couldn’t not go. Featuring cans such as  ™ Life and Awkward Phase, it was a good Cloudwater celebration.

For the rest of this round up, we find ourselves in Skipton. Firstly, at the pub that wasn’t here when we last visited, the “Early Doors” micropub. Six cask ales on handpull and some other interesting things in the fridge. Much like a pub used to be, no Sky Sports, no fruit machine, just beer and good chat.

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Another favourite from our previous visit next, The Castle Inn. Not much has changed in 2 years, it wasn’t quite so sunny today but we sat outside again and had a pint of liquid and a pint of food. The liquid was Barista Stout from Theakston, a lovely sweet coffee stout. I remember having this one on a walking tour of Loughborough, and it’s still a lovely pint that could stand up to having a bit more coffee added. The second pint was a pint of chips.  We had pints of chips last time, so we had to have them again. Plates are always preferred, but the occasional quirky pint of chips is ok, especially when they are decent chips. It does make it hard to get the salt and vinegar evenly distributed though…

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To the September 2015 pub of the month next, The Beer Engine. This year there was no-one in talking about “London swearing” just lots of people enjoying good beer on a Saturday afternoon. It is a place that knows its market and caters to them. There’s not much point sticking 5 keg lines in here and trying to convince local drinkers to have thirds of double dry hopped triple IPAs.

There are 5 cask ales on hand pull, ideally suited to the local market. There are around 4 ciders and some good bottled beers including some nice Belgian numbers. The perfect place to enjoy a relaxed pint and a chat. Today that was Vale Ale by Three Castles Brewery from Pewsey in Wiltshire, a tasty caramel bitter.

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So, to this month’s winner, The Narrowboat. This was on 2015’s walking tour, but this year we had dinner here on the Friday night, and came back for a drink after dinner on the Saturday night, so it was not used on the 2017 walking tour. Declaring it the winner might be slightly controversial, because they did send out a burnt pie for Hazel to eat (it was eventually replaced with pizza, but they didn’t refund the difference). However, my pizza was fantastic, the beers were lovely, and Mrs MOFAD had her (to date) “best beer ever!” in the form of Passion Fruit Gose from Hawkshead.

A cask ale with Sorachi Ace hops, a Citra Star from Anarchy Brew Co and a Galaxy from Brewsmith – three excellent hoppy pints. Combine these with some lovely keg filth (the aforementioned Passion Fruit Gose from Hawkshead), Tiny Rebel Mojito Sour and Pogo by Wild Beer Co and you have the ingredients for a pub of the month.

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A worthy winner.

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Beer of the month – September 2017 – Even More Jesus

A nice rarity this month, as we start with a beer drunk in an actual pub. It’s one I’ve had before at home, in a can, but whilst out and about in Skipton we came across Pogo by Wild Beer at The Narrowboat, a fruit salad in a glass with a little hop character.

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A trip to Liverpool saw an absolutely cracking session IPA in the form of Penny Lane Pale by Mad Hatter Brewing Company, hoppy and easy drinking.

Fruitiness next, in the shape of of Key Lime Pie Gose by Westbrook Brewing Co. This one is packed full of limezzzzzzzzzzz! Refreshing sherbert lime flavours, full of fizzy fun. I love lime. Also lamp.

A previous winner next, in the form of Christmas Cake Imperial Stout from Cloudwater and To0l. It was beer of the month for December 2016, so how has it changed after 9 months in a cool, dark place? Pretty nicely, it has mellowed just a little but is still very much as schedule. This was the first of three beers from the same night when we had another of our mini camping beer festivals.

We stay with Cloudwater next, and the other pub visit to feature here, Cloudwater night at the Needle & Pin. The DDH IPA Citra was also in third place in July’s beer of the month, and it was nice to have it again. If only I’d brought my curry with me.

In runner up spot, from the camping beer fest, we have Imperial Biscotti Break by Evil Twin Brewing, Base, base, almondy biscuit base. Super tasty, coffee and vanilla, a very solid imperial stout.

It was beaten only by it stable mate, Even More Jesus by Evil Twin Brewing. Praise the lord! It rendered Steve speechless, Matt was impressed by the amount of flavour from malt alone and I was rather partial to the thick, oily, loveliness.

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A fourth dark beer makes it through to the end of year final.

Skipton Park Guest O’tel, September 2017

On our previous visit to Skipton, we stayed at Fawlty Towers. This was due to the late nature of our booking, so we didn’t have a lot of choice.

This time, we had choice. We booked Skipton Park Guest O’tel (their abuse of English, not mine), back in October 2016 whilst we were in Southwold. It looked quirky, but in a good way.

We arrived not long after lunch on Friday afternoon, and were met by Jenny, one of the owners, who gave us an effusive welcome and explained everything about the hotel in forensic detail.

We were out for most of the day, and then up for breakfast on Saturday morning. Hazel & Mrs MOFAD needed fuel for their Yarndale exploits, Matt & I needed fuel for our walking tour of Skipton. This was a decent hotel fry up (a bit more colour on that sausage wouldn’t have gone amiss, but nothing to complain about).

Fast forward a day, and you get something very similar, just with some lightly toastesd toast on the side. All cooked by Ken, who is heard but seldom seen throughout your stay. Lots of very flavoursome ingredients make a cracking hotel breakfast.

After the craziness of Fawlty Towers in 2015, this was an enormous improvement. Lovely breakfasts, perfectly located for Skipton town centre (just  a short walk away, but far enough to be quiet at night) and friendly owners make for a lovely stay. I think we’ll be back next time we come to Skipton for a walking tour.

The Narrowboat #2, Skipton, September 2017

A trip back here for a drink, with regular MOFAD companions Matt & Hazel. Mrs MOFAD was hoping that they had found some more Passion Fruit Gose from Hawkshead (she has declared it her favourite beer ever, in the history of the world, ever).

Sadly it had definitely run out this time, so she was out of luck.

My final Skipton pint for this year’s visit was Galaxy by Brewsmith, from across the border in Lancashire. Full of fruity Galaxy hops, a quality cask pint.

Mrs MOFAD opted for the Tiny Rebel Mojito Sour, a heavy mint sour which for me needs loads more lime and hence some more sour. It was too dry for Mrs MOFAD but Hazel liked this one.

Nice to finish our Skipton visit in this good pub, it’s equally suited for drinkers and diners (despite their pie problems last night).

The Woolly Sheep, Skipton, September 2017

The walking tour of Skipton is over for another year. During the 2015 walking tour, we liked the look of this pub, and had wanted to eat here back then, but it was fully booked. We didn’t make the same mistake this time, we got ourselves booked in so we could guarantee our table for dinner tonight.

We strolled over from our hotel and made ourselves comfy, ordering drinks and perusing the menu. The evening started with a surprise, a new beer from Timothy Taylor, Knowle Spring, a gentle golden ale.

Lots of interesting things on the menu, pub classics such as gammon, sausage and mash, fish and chips, steak pie and steak and chips.

I opted for the burger, a really lovely effort in ciabatta with redcurrant, grape & port chutney. A burger is not always considered the highest of art forms but when it is done well it is a thing of beauty. I’ve had a few crackers this year, and this was right up there with them. Look at those lovely chunky chips too, none of this skinny fries nonsense with not enough potato inside them.

Mrs MOFAD chose from the specials board, with this lovely mediterranean lamb dish which was full of flavour, but a touch heavy on the salt.

Despite all of the effort expended as part of our earlier walking tour, we skipped pudding and moved on to another pub for another drink.

The Woolly Sheep is a lovely town pub, good standard local beers paired up with honest pub grub. If you’re looking for a nice meal in a town full of choices, you won’t go far wrong with the Woolly Sheep. Lovely stuff.

Filmore and Union, Skipton, September 2017

The walking tour of Skipton is drawing to a close. We’ve got a couple of pubs to visit later on, so for now a coffee and cake break. Filmore and Union are a small northern cafe chain, who started out in York in 2012 and have opened another ten sites since then.

There’s quite a lot of what might be termed “weird hippy food” on the menu in here, but this chocolate brownie and latte were very nice.

It’s the kind of place were you’d expect to find “smashed avocado on vegan toast”, “egg white omelette” and a bowl of granola for 7 quid. So yes, you’ll find all of those, but if you just want a decent coffee and a bit of cake, this will do nicely. Makes a nice change from Costa.

Wine Rack, Skipton, September 2017

The next stop on the walking tour of Skipton saw us take a small detour for a spot of shopping. Despite being called Wine Rack, there’s a decent range of beer in here, lots of local stuff in cans and bottles, alongside some big names from home and abroad.

This photo was originally taken to taunt missing MOFAD drinking companion Steve, who had to pull out of the weekend at the last minute due to illness. So we merely wanted to show him what he was missing, and encourage him to get well soon, and enjoy some delicious beer.

Some tasty Belgians ilustrated above, alongside appropriate glassware. I picked up some good cans from Roosters and North Brewing, as well as an interesting cranberry sour from Cascade in the US. This was courtesy of Matt, who got it free with his purchase of  some of the rather wonderful Brooklyn Intensified Barrel Aged Coffee Porter.

Both that and the cranberry sour are not the kind of things I’d expect to find in a shop like this, the target market for those beers would not be many of the locals I suspect. Which explains why the cranberry sour was free – it just hadn’t sold.

So next time you see a branch of Wine Rack, take a trip back to 1987 (yes it is an 80s icon) and step inside. Invigorating surprises await.