750th post!

It’s another milestone post. It won’t be long before the next one either, as I still have 61 posts in draft format. To say I’m a bit behind is an understatement, but the best things come to those who wait.

Since the last milestone in September, we’ve been busy, which is one of the reasons why there are so many draft posts needing attention. The 2017 walking tour of Skipton accounts for 9 of those posts, as we sampled lots of lovely ales and visited lots of nice pubs.

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October saw us encounter the evil that is seitan, on an otherwise pleasant trip to Portugal. Their ability to use hops when creating beer was rather in doubt until we finally managed to track down some actual beers in the hell hole that is Albufeira.

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There have been more selections from the Needle & Pin craft beer club too, with a few reviews dotted around, although I’m very behind on that too. A couple of trips to the Poppy & Pint in Nottingham (more good beers to try and good food). A new curry house (to us) just across the M1. An incredibly bland pint of cask ale accompanied the blandest pulled pork burger at the King’s Arms in Hathern. Just a few days later, a posh fish finger sandwich repaired the damage to the reputation of pub food caused by that burger.

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A November highlight was the American craft beer night at The Needle & Pin, all IPAs, from a couple of regions of the USA. We crossed from New York City to San Diego with some interesting variations on IPA. I had to take my Founders Redankulous DIPA home (due to having to get up for work), and it’s still sitting in the beer cupboard awaiting attention. Alongside a lot of others. I’m glad that 2018 is set to be the year of session as it is nice to have a couple of beers of an evening.

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An overnight stay in Camden Town produced four posts, the customary BrewDog visit, some coloured water in a Tex Mex place, a rebadged Caledonian 80/- (why?) and finally a London Pale Ale from Southwark Brewing Co, just south of the river.

A trip to Manchester saw a return visit to Kro Bar with good beer and food again, but the highlight was the real purpose of our visit, Hacienda Classical at the Apollo (where the alcohol situation was appalling and the queues for the bar equally so!)

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Another good burger at Handmade Burger in Leicester rounded out November, with the last day seeing the usual pilgrimage to the Good Food Show at the NEC. November’s beer of the month caused a bit of a stir on Twitter as I was drinking Chubbles very close to its best before date. Chubbles was a 10.9% triple IPA with 100% English malt, a ton of flaked oats, fermented with a specific English yeast, and hopped intensely with Galaxy, Citra, and El Dorado.

A couple more craft beer club selections appeared on the horizon, and there was the second Thornbridge night at the Needle & Pin. Also known as “the one where we wiped the floor with everyone else in the pub quiz and won beer”.

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That brings us almost up to date, with some of our recent Lakes adventures having already made it on the the blog, and also accounting for another 10 posts that still need to be finished off. So I should stop procrastinating by writing a navel-gazing milestone post and get back to writing about our food and drink adventures.

Happy 750, we’ll be at 800 before you know it. I just need time to write some more!

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Framework Tryanuary Tap Takeover, The Needle & Pin, January 2018

One of a large number of events happening all over the country as part of #tryanuary. Tonight saw a “tap takeover” at The Needle & Pin, featuring Leicester based brewery Framework. This was also combined with a bit of meet the brewer action, the chance to chat to some members of the Framework team. Framework’s beer is brewed from a handsome Victorian red brick building in Leicester’s industrial heartland. They call their recipes “patterns” as this pays tribute to the patterns used by framework knitters who used to occupy the building. With each pattern number, the beer changes and develops to keep the drinker’s glass full of good beer – both twists on an established styles and boundary-pushing new brews.

Proceedings kicked off with a Jackpin Pale Ale, a nice bitter American pale ale which got the evening off to a good start.

Our “hosts” for the evening soon arrived, and there was a sudden influx of brewery staff from the area all having a chat. How many can you spot?

Another pale ale next, Centennial Pale Ale – Pattern #PA0015, a good showcase for the Centennial hop, which must be up there in my top 10 hops.

After 2 good cask ales, we switch our attention to keg, and Dr Dawson’s Magic Mix, a spiced stout based on the Yorkshire classic, Parkin. The addition of nutmeg, ginger, treacle and golden syrup makes for a rich, warming flavour.

Festive spices after epiphany are okay aren’t they? Lovely nose, hint of sweetness and easy drinking.

Afer a bit more chat, it was soon time to head off into the night, although there was just time for a #tryanuary gift, in the form of this magnificent bar blade, the best of breed bottle opener. It is pictured here opening a To 0l Tangerine Cream (subtle creamy citrus 🍊, lovely and refreshing).

A fun evening down the pub, talking all things beer. This is what #tryanuary is all about.

Saveway Chinese Takeaway, Nuneaton, January 2018

Another one in the series of “quick takeaway” posts. We’d been with regular MOFAD supplier (and more importantly sister-in-law) Jo this afternoon, catching up on some bits and pieces. We didn’t have time or inclination to cook anything, so entrusted our dinner to a takeaway. A change of Chinese from our last visit, so once again I tested them out with my usual order of Kung Po Chicken, which is how I judge all Chinese takeaways.

They were not to be found lacking, a decent effort with pineapple, cashew nuts and plenty of chilli.

Dog & Gun, Keswick, January 2018

What am I doing in a Greene King pub for #tryanuary? Visits to Greene King pubs during last year’s #tryanuary ended up with lime and soda, because they had no decent beer on.  A sad affair indeed.

No such problems here. The Dog & Gun is a Keswick institution. Mention its name, and you’ll always get one word back. Goulash. Despite the recent refit and refurb, it has retained some of its former character but it’s not quite what it was.

Thankfully, they still have good beer and not just Greene King “IPA”. First up was Wai-iti from Allendale Brewery in Northumberland. This was a cracking cask pale ale with a lovely little hop profile.

Dinner next, and no goulash for me tonight. The rest of the menu is pretty standard pub fare, and lasagne with garlice bread and salad is now part of that definition, since you’ll find it in so many pubs nowadays.

It was pretty standard stuff, nothing earth shattering but enough to make a pleasant meal. It was accompanied by a pint of Monumental from Kirkby Lonsdale Brewery, a simple blonde ale that hits the spot.

A pleasant pub trip but it’s not what it once was, and it’s in no way the best pub in Keswick nowadays. That honour definitely goes to The Wainwright.

Kingfisher Fish and Chips, Keswick, January 2018

We do love a bit of classic fish’n’chips. In Keswick, you are spoilt for choice, with three to choose from. This year we opted for The Kingfisher, as they are top of the Tripadvisor pops.

It was a good choice. Look at that lovely big lump of cod. Freshly cooked to order, and really nice. Juicy flakes of fish, crisp batter and lovely chips. And enormous portions. Mrs MOFAD opted for scampi as usual (no chance of a Yorkshire fishcake in Cumbria).

Cracking fish’n’chips and we’ll be back when we’re next in town.

Rheged Centre, Redhills, Cumbria, January 2018

When is Tebay services not Tebay services? When it’s the Rheged Centre, which is operated by the same people and looks almost identical in many ways.

Rheged is one of the largest visitor attractions ever to open in Cumbria, an all weather, all year round visitor centre that is situated in Britain’s largest grass covered building. It has a six storey high cinema screen, the biggest 3D cinema screen in the northwest. There are a selection of cafes offering fresh food with a distinct Cumbrian flavour made using the best local ingredients, including lamb and beef from Rheged’s farm. There are 9 individual shops within Rheged who aim to include the best of the region, its activities, crafts people and food producers, and offer a varied collection of gift ideas both from Cumbria and further afield.

Rheged was one of the kingdoms of the Hen Ogledd (“Old North”), the Brittonic-speaking region of northern England and southern Scotland, during the post-Roman era and early middle ages. It is recorded in several poetic and bardic sources, although its borders are not described in any of them. Some modern scholars have suggested that it included Cumbria and possibly extended into Lancashire and Scotland. Its inhabitants spoke Cumbric, a Brittonic dialect closely related to Old Welsh. There’s your history lesson.

Today we were here because the pub was shut and the weather was awful. We took a detour from where our walk had finished because we knew that Rheged would be open and serving warm food. We needed warm food.

We got warm food.

Mrs MOFAD had a tasty soup du jour and I had an interesting interpretation of a steak sandwich. It should really be served on a big chunk of bloomer, this kind of wrap thing is not what I call a steak sandwich. The steak was good, the lambs lettuce was welcome (much better than sad iceberg). The pre-crumbled stilton was also a bit strange. A decent lunch, with some odd bits. It was warm and warmed us up.

We then went wandering off around the shops and bought some more local produce (beer) to take home.

The Rheged Centre is not convenient for any walks in the area, but it is very handy if you are nearby with your car and there’s no pub…

Troutbeck Inn, Troutbeck, January 2018

You may already have spotted on social media that I am taking part in #tryanuary 2018 (read more on my blog post). A big part of this is supporting local pubs during January, which can be a tricky month as many people over indulge in December and then stay away in January.

We had been out walking this morning, ticking off Wainwright number 90 in our list, Great Mell Fell. Not the most pleasant of days due to low cloud and drizzle, so we were looking forward to warming up in the pub with some hot food and maybe a pint.

However, when we got there, the front door was locked and there was nobody about. Cars in the car park, lights on, but nobody (apparently) home. This makes it rather hard to support a local pub, so we headed off up the A66 to the Rheged Centre, which was absolutely packed, but crucially open and serving food.