Beer of the month – October 2017 – Un-Human Cannonball by Magic Rock Brewing

A holiday month often leads to difficult choices when it comes to beer of the month. However, this holiday was to Portugal, and the resort that we stayed in did not score well when it comes to beer. There are two Portugese beers here, but they were both bought at an off licence in Albufeira, the only redeeming feature of a rather horrible place. If I never go to Albufeira again, it will be too soon.

On with the beers. This is another of those months where all of the featured beers are cans or bottles that have been enjoyed outside of licensed venues.

We start with “Born In the IPA” by Cerveja Musa, a small brewery from Lisbon who like a beer name based on a musical theme. As well as the two featured here, I also had “Twist and Stout” and “Mick Lager”. Sadly I didn’t find any “Ale That She Wants” or “Psycho Pilsner”.

After days without hops, hoppy days arrived again in the form of Born in the IPA, which was a delight after so much bland Euro lager.

Next comes a Red Zeppelin Ale also by Cerveja Musa.

Caramel e lupulos. Bom! After 5 days without hoppiness I was starting to worry that I’d never find any in Portugal. This one intrigued some fellow drinkers who have not really strayed into the craft beer world, a slightly sweet red IPA was not something they had encountered before.

We come back home now for the rest of the beers, from three familiar breweries.

Our next beer is Patrons Project 7.01 // SÆSONER // DDH SAISON by Northern Monk. That weird capitalised naming is their choice, not mine. This double dry hopped (DDH) saison is a collaboration with Alefarm of Denmark.

This one is a proper hybrid. Hoppy nose, it looks and smells like an IPA but then turns into a saison on the palate. Very nice indeed.

No surpise to find Cloudwater in another monthly round up. Once again they nail a session IPA, the Spring + Summer Session IPA Citra Mosaic is another cracker, hoppiness but low enough ABV so that you can have more than one!

The same can’t be said of the NE DIPA Simcoe Citra BBC, another strong, thick and hoppy beast. This is what I missed most when in Portugal. Big NE flavours to delight the mouth.

In third place we have something which sounds almost identical, in the form of NW DIPA Citra BBC Simcoe, also by Cloudwater Brew Co.

After a week of largely Euro lager I needed something like a juicy dank murk bomb. Mission accomplished with this one, big bold flavours.

In second place we have something that I should have drunk a while ago, but when you have half a litre of 9.2% double IPA, you have to find the right time to savour it unless you are sharing with friends. Drinking fresh is better, but this one did stand up to being saved for a short while.

Human Cannonball (2017) by Magic Rock Brewing was older than the brewery would like you to enjoy it but was still good. Massive lavender coming through late on the palate and bitter orange flavours. Delightful hops and resin. I just love this style.

Keepting with the theme of very similar sounding beers, we have this month’s winner, also by Magic Rock. Un-Human Cannonball (2017).

Once a year Magic Rock receive the latest crop of hops from the US. Intensely aromatic and bursting with potential they’re begging to be put to work. With three times the quantity of hops of Cannonball and even more than flagship Double IPA Human Cannonball, Magic Rock have created a fitting tribute to the new hop release with their annual homage to the hop.

If half a litre of 9.2% double IPA needs the right time and place, then half a litre of 11% triple IPA needs that even more.

I didn’t drink this one fresh. I don’t care. It was still awesome. Insanely drinkable for 11% but its power reminds you of its heritage. Great stuff, pine and herbs and a worthy winner. Next year I’ll try and buy two and then try and see the difference between fresh and aged a little, just so that I know.

Pub of the month, October 2017

For the second time this year, and the second time ever, there is no pub of the month for this month. A few trips to very dull bars in Portugal and a couple of trips to functional pubs at the end of the month, and that leaves us with very little to choose from.

So I choose nothing, and we’re now down to just a potential ten pubs in the running for pub of the year. I’m pretty confident that November and December will have entries…


The Lansdowne, Leicester, October 2017

Leicester on a weeknight usually only means one thing. Showtime! Tonight was no exception, and we’ll get to that bit shortly. First the beer, and another chance to have a tasty pint from local brewery Très Bien. This was Private Eyes, a rye IPA full of malty bitterness, a sweet breadiness and a balanced bitterness.

We usually seem to have a burger when we are at The Lansdowne, as we are often on the clock (because showtime), and tonight we followed that usual pattern of a swift burger.

Simple, quick and tasty. Lovely chips again, decent coleslaw and a juicy burger. It just looks a bit weird with the chips sitting in their funny little bowl. My usual moan that you can’t get a decent bit of salt and vinegar on them, so the first thing that you have to do is tip them on to the plate and discard the silly little bowl. Apart from that, I’m sure we’ll be back when we’re next at a show.

Tonight’s was something a little bit different, Ray Mears telling survival and wildlife stories, with clips from some of his TV work, and live fire lighting on stage.

Queens Head, Watnall, October 2017

A glorious mid-autumn day. We’ve been spoilt for October sunshine this year, having spent 8 days in the Algarve, but it has been nice to get back out in the great British countryside in some lovely sun.

We finished our walk around lunchtime, and had already spotted and planned some lunch at a nearby pub. The choice was helped by the fact that the Queens Head serves food from 12-8 on a Sunday, and around a year ago took the (difficult, but correct in my opinion) decision to stop doing Sunday roasts on Sundays, reverting to the normal menu. This is perfect for us, since I cook our roast on Sunday evenings, and we pretty much never have a pub roast.

I know many people love a pub roast, and good luck to them, but I’m happy to do my own. As it happens, a couple of customers did come in enquiring about the Sunday roast whilst we were there. They seemed a little perturbed that they didn’t already know about this change, but stayed for lunch anyway.

As did we, and Mr Obvious chose the pulled pork baguette, which was very nice and a lovely hearty reward after our walk. Excellent chip shop style chips too. The salad was a bit rubbish, three slivers of carrot, an eighth of tomato, a slice of cucumber, a sprinkling of cress, and my salad nemesis, limp iceberg.

As long as you ignore that salad, a lovely lunch. We also had a bonus surprise of our walking companions joining us after about 20 minutes, having decided to stop in for a drink instead of going straight home after eating their sandwiches in the layby where we had parked up earlier on.

A lovely 18th century village pub that deserves a visit, not too far from junction 26 of the M1.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – dark beer selection box #5 – October 2017

Here it is. The twelfth selection box from the N&P, which is the fifth from the dark beer club. With the nights drawing in, more people turn to dark beer, but it can be enjoyed all year round. I’ve still got one bottle left from the first box (Buxton Rainshadow), two from the second (Mutiny and Old Freddy Walker) and two from the third (Omnipollo Noa and Buxton/Stillwater Subliminal Imperial Stout). These are all big beasts, not for when you are keeping it session. There are also three left from August’s box.

Here we go with this month’s selection.

Anchor – Porter – 5.6%

With a deep black colour, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavours, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter is described by its brewer as “the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer, the definitive American Porter”.

A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with their top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness. The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.

Anchor Porter became the first modern American porter style beer when it was introduced in 1972. Over 40 years later, it continues to reward those who look beyond its intimidating appearance to discover its smooth, full-bodied drinkability.

Ayinger – Celebrator Doppelbock – 6.7%

originally brewed at a monastery in northern Italy, “double bock” was quickly introduced by Bavarian brewers to compete with bock. Doppelbock names end with the suffix “-ator.”

A rich, dark elixir with cascading layers of malt complexity balanced by elegant hops. Notes of toffee, caramel, elegant dark-malt roastiness, and pure malt. Pinpoint conditioning and semi-dry finish.

Celebrator has a creamy head of tight bubbles contrasting beautifully with its profound dark robe. It is full-bodied and velvety from half a year’s aging. Although it is strong, it is not overpowering. There is a wonderful and complex balance between the various malts, the alcohol and the subtle hops. A complex fruitiness of roasted malt and whole hop flowers make Celebrator great as a party drink with friends and family at celebrations. Despite its richness, it has a faintly smoky dryness in the finish.

Oh, and it comes with a small plastic goat attached. Obvs.

Brussels Beer Project – Dark Sister – 6.6%

Like many more beers, the idea behind this beer started off with a joke. In the winter of 2013 BBP were looking to make a Christmas beer without the classic herbs and high alcohol content. They came up with the “evil twin” of the Delta with a variety of roasted and toasted malts to darken his soul. The community’s reaction was clear : don’t stop making this beer. The Vox Populi reigned and the beer has risen from the dead!

A robust black IPA with flavours of grapefruit and citrus on top of deep roasted bitter malts.

Fierce Beer – Imperial Cafe Racer – 8.5%

Devil’s Peak brewery have taken Fierce’s deep and dark coffee porter to another level with rich roasted Kenyan espresso and Madagascan bourbon vanilla for a sweet little lift. The Café Racer name is inspired by the dangerous edge of leather-clad bikers, making an imperial porter to satisfy even the hardiest of tastes.

Redchurch – Old Ford Export Stout – 7.5%

Rich dark and deep black export stout. A complex malt base providing burnt chocolate, espresso coffee, molasses and leather aromas. The complexity of the malts is perfectly balanced by the warmth of the alcohol, with punchy bitterness and earthy spice provided by the Columbus hops.

If you’d like some and you can’t get the N&P, you can find it in Waitrose.

Wild Beer – Jambo – Imperial Stout + Chocolate + Raspberries – 8.5%

An imperial stout brewed with raspberries and Valrhona cocoa nibs. Rich flavours of chocolate and fruit collide with boozy heat.

Building on the Wild Beer repertoire of wild stouts they have combined our love of locally foraged fruits with their penchant for sweet dark beers. The combination of fruit and chocolate is always amazing and what better way to combat the cold nights of the changing seasons than with a rich warming stout? Specially packaged in 750ml bottles to encourage sharing, it’s a beer to be savoured and divvied out to those you deem fit.

Fenways, Loughborough, October 2017

Another night out at the cinema. A new dining option tonight. Quite a few people have been telling me about Fenways, since its combination of smoked meats (or related meaty dishes) and some alleged interesting beers would appear to be right up my street.

We have to walk past Fenways every time we go to the cinema, and a running joke of “oh, so that’s where Fenways is” has started up.

On to tonight’s visit. Beer first. Well sort of beer. Monteith’s is another of these world beer brands owned by Heineken, which owns Heineken Asia Pacific, which owns DB, which owns Monteith’s. It’s supposed to sound like a family owned New Zealand brewery, but at the end of the day, it’s just a subisdiary of a subsidiary of a subsidiary.

What does it taste like? Ginger and honey, no hops, not a “beery beer” as Mrs MOFAD would say. She tried some and liked it, but was drinking Belgian White by Blue Moon.

On to the food. Lots of smokey goodness to choose from, I could keep coming back for a couple of weeks and have something different every time. A tasty burger was the choice for tonight, you can’t go wrong when it’s done right. Nice home made pickles too. I definitely want to come back for more smoked delights soon. Although I’d quite like a plate next time 🙂

On to the cinema. We watched The Snowman, based on the seventh novel in Norwegian author Jo Nesbø’s eleven book Harry Hole series It’s trying too hard to be Se7en, and failing to tell the story in a coherent manner, with mixed use of flashbacks ending up leading the viewer all over the place.

“Barrel aged” – a definition

If you haven’t been reading beer-related news this week, then you’ve probably missed the bare faced lies that Innis & Gunn (a beer brewer) have been trying to get away with.

Back in around 2010, they had to stop barrel aging their beers, due to a shortage of barrels. Instead they were referred to as “oak aged” as oak chips were added to the beer to impart flavour. No-one had any problem with that.

This week they have decided to stick two fingers up to beer drinkers. Their beers will be called barrel aged again. Are they going to be aged in barrels?

No, they are not. Instead of using oak chips, they are now going to be using chopped up bits of barrels and putting them into the beer. This is not barrel aging! Putting bits of barrel into beer does not a barrel aged beer make.

Here is a barrel:-


If you put beer in it, that beer is barrel aged. If you smash it up and put the bits into a beer in another vessel (usually some kind of metal tank), that beer is not barrel aged. At best it is “wood aged” but you can sod right off if you think you can call it barrel aged.

I’ve read a lot or articles and comments about this, and not one of them has agreed with I&G’s new “definition” of barrel aging. Because it’s not barrel aging. To call it that is pure deception. No-one should really be shocked at a company trying to deceive customers in this day and age, but this utterly cynical marketing ploy is just nasty. Publicity stunts like this remind me of the sage words from one of my favourite pieces from Bill Hicks (abridged):-

By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing. Kill yourself. It’s just a little thought; I’m just trying to plant seeds. Maybe one day they’ll take root – I don’t know. You try, you do what you can.

(Kill yourself.)

Seriously though, if you are, do. Aaah, no really. There’s no rationalisation for what you do and you are Satan’s little helpers. You are the ruiner of all things good. You are Satan’s spawn filling the world with bile and garbage.

I know all the marketing people are going, “He’s doing a joke…” There’s no joke here whatsoever. “Oh, you know what Bill’s doing? He’s going for that anti-marketing dollar. That’s a good market. He’s very smart.”

How do you live like that? And I bet you sleep like babies at night, don’t you?

Back to me now. All I am saying is don’t lie and then try and defend that lie every day in the face of overwhelming criticism. Just because there is no definition of barrel aging by Trading Standards doesn’t mean that you can just make up your own which goes against everyone else’s.

Even if you had never heard of barrel aging until reading this, if I’d have asked you to define it, I’m pretty certain you would have come up with this:-

“barrel aged” – any liquid that has been aged inside a wooden barrel.

End of.

Seitan is the food of Satan

Let me start by saying that I have nothing against vegans. If you choose (or need to choose) a vegan diet for yourself, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life. If you invite me to your vegan wedding breakfast, I would like to comment on it. It’s a novel experience, probably the first time that I’ve had a completely vegan four course meal.

The guests sat down. We looked at the menu. And then most of us looked at each other in confusion. What on earth is seitan? I’ve been cooking for 20+ years and I had no idea. So I did what any modern confused person does. I Googled it.

Satan is wheat gluten. According to Wikipedia, it is made by washing wheat flour dough with water until all the starch granules have been removed, leaving the sticky insoluble gluten as an elastic mass which is then cooked before being eaten. Sounds appetising doesn’t it? Looks that way too. It looks like this:-


This was not how it was served at the weekend, but it was similar. It was like dry pork fillet medallions. As a meat substitute, it was an awful substitute. I don’t have lots of experiences of vegan and vegetarian food, but in my limited ones, it often seems that attempts to substitute meat fall flat.

Sweet potato, chickpea and spinach curry. No meat substitute – no problem.

Mushroom risotto. No meat substitute – no problem.

Seitan replacing meat. Problem.

You get the point. The other point is that this stuff was foul. It was late, and I was hungry so I was eating it, but it was an utterly joyless experience.

Mrs MOFAD and I talked about this over dinner tonight (tasty venison pie/steak and ale pie). If you are going to do a vegan wedding breakfast, you need a really good kitchen team to do it justice. The hotel kitchen team where we were (more blog posts to come about them) could not do it justice. They struggled with various dishes on their international buffets each night, so we weren’t confident that they would be able to pull this off. There will be more about the hotel later, but for now you can take it from me that it’s no coincidence that seitan sounds like satan. The devil’s food.

Mamma Mia, Vidamar Resort Hotel, Algarve, October 2017

We always like to finish a holiday with a meal out. The hotel that we’ve been staying at all week has an Italian restaurant attached (not quite what you’d expect in Portugal, but there we go). Hotel guests can dine there at a discount, and they accept non-residents too, so a group of us decided to make this our dinner place for tonight.

We booked a table for 8pm, arrived on time, ordered drinks and food.

At 9:17pm the first part of our dinner arrived, for those of us that had chosen starters. We had a few preferences between us that needed to be accommodated, but we had already discussed these in advance when making our booking, and were assured there would be no problems.

There were problems. They were just unable to cope with more than 2 customers at a time. When you are absolutely starving, this is absolutely the worst.

The eternal dilemma over starters reared its head, some of us ordered one, others didn’t. Those that didn’t really regretted it, as they needed some kind of sustenace whilst waiting for almost 90 minutes for the main course to arrive.

Eventually it did, and mine was a rather average calzone, lots of dough and not a lot of filling. Others weren’t even this lucky, as not everything arrived as we had requested, and a few things were cold/undercooked.

All in all a very underwhelming experience for a pizza restaurant attached to a 5 star hotel. At least there was a nice view of the pool on our way back to the hotel.

An underwhelming end to a bit of an underwhelming stay at a place that promises much on its website.

Pedro’s Bar, Armação de Pêra, Algarve, October 2017

This is another of those “quick posts about places that we went” posts. It’s not going to be a long and in-depth review, it’s more for the record. We have been staying a few miles up the beach in Praia dos Salgados all week, and fancied something a bit different. It was a windy day but we walked along the beach to Armação de Pêra, which did involve a leap of faith across a tidal bar (the tide hadn’t quite gone out enough). Armação de Pêra is an old fashioned fishing village, where they still launch boats from the beach, so all the pots and paraphernalia are all out on the beach as you walk by.

We strolled around a bit and settled on a cheap beach side cafe where we had some toasties and salads and chips between us. Nothing out of this world and no photo for once.

So instead you’ll have to make do with a photo I took on the beach on the walk back. Into a head wind. Where we all got sandblasted. Forget micro beads. If you want exfoliation, just walk along a sandy beach into a head wind.

A lovely stroll to a quiet little village, despite the wind. It’s no Albufeira, and thank goodness for that. A simple no frills cafe on the beach, and that will do nicely.