BBC Good Food Show Winter, The NEC, November 2018

So here we are again, the annual visit to the Good Food Show. A compressed trip this year, as we had a discounted ticket which meant you couldn’t get in before 11am, and Mrs MOFAD had an appointment with an aircraft this afternoon (off to Munich for work).

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Luckily, the show was smaller this year, so we managed to do everything in 4 hours. There seems to be a trend towards shrinking over the last few years, and there were so many producers missing. No Port of Lancaster smokehouse, no Dean’s Shortbread, no Geeta’s, no Debbie & Andrew’s. No White’s, no Wild, no Saucy Fish, no Yorkshire Provender.

The most startling thing was the lack of breweries. I think 2016 was probably the high point for this, whilst this year there were only 5 or 6. Barely any cider makers this year too. Still lots of gin dominating the drinks village. Good to see our friends at the Curry Sauce Co back again (and they are now available in Ocado too!)

I met some fellow ministers:-

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and as usual we sampled some good food and drink, the standard random selection of beer, cheese, apples, gin, chocolate, sausages, pears, biscuits, chutneys, sauces and chicken teryaki. Definitely a much smaller show this year, but we still returned with a decent haul (some items not pictured for reasons).

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour selection box #5 – November 2018

The nights may be drawing in fast but there’s still a place in my beer store for some super zingy funky sours. Let’s see what’s in this sour box of delights this month, celebrating the first anniversary of sour smackers.

Brekeriet Beer AB – Uncle Brett IPA – 6.5%

A crisp and fruity Brettanomyces IPA with Citra, Centennial, Columbus, Mandarina Bavaria and Eldorado hops. The fermentation with different yeast strains adds a great complexity. Complexity for days. So much going on from the brett, even some vanilla. Hops are lurking somewhere. Clean and sour and dryer than a desert.

Brasserie de Blaugies – La Vermontoise – 6%

Collaboration with Hill Farmstead. A spelt saison (Saison d’Epeautre) with American hops (Amarillo). Looking forward to this lively little number.

Moor Beer Company, Left Handed Giant Brewing, Lost And Grounded Brewers – Berry Lush – 4%

An ode to Bristol as the original home of Ribena. Berry Lush is a tart and refreshing Blackcurrant Witbier. Pils malt, wheat malt, flaked wheat & oats have been combined with 300kg of blackcurrant puree to produce a beer that is slightly tart and refreshing with a magnificent red colour and pink foam.

Gipsy Hill – Moxie – Fruit Salad Sour – 4.5%

For this version of Moxie, Gipsy Hill added 200kg of raspberry and 200kg of pineapple to fermentation and cold side. A nod to an old, fruit salad, classic, gently tart, refreshing sour. Goes well with courage and spirit apparently.

Gipsy Hill – Dodger – Lemon Sherbert Sour – 5%

Dodger is a Lemon Sherbert Sour. A traditional kettle sour, with late citra hops in the boil and dry-hopped with lemongrass. Aroma hops are Citra, bittering hops are magnum, with lemongrass and lactose in the mix. Goes well with treats and sweets.

Union Craft Brewing, Stillwater Artisanal – Dust Rings – DDH Sour

On September 15th 2017 at 7:55:46 a.m. EDT NASA lost contact with the Cassini space probe as it made its final approach to Saturn. Approximately 420 minutes later, NASA received a strange message from the probe: “Yo! This is Strumke. Tell UNION I’ve got the dust for our collab.” Dust Rings was born, a very special Stillwater x UNION sour ale, dry-hopped with Lupulin space dust to commemorate the 9th Annual Baltimore Beer Week.

A nice sour with a citrus undertone, but NMHP. That’s “needs more hop powder”, a new variant on NMH (needs more hops).

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #14 – November 2018

The 30th box of beery delights to cross my threshold. Two familiar brews in here and four new ones, a couple of session beers, a few mid strengths, and a big DIPA beast.

Black Iris – East Midlands Pale – 6.0%

One that I had last month, a lovely clean hop bitterness to this one.

Cloudwater – DDH Pale Citra Ekuanot Mosaic – 5.5%

This 16 g/L double dry hopped pale features Citra BBC backed up by Ekuanot BBC and Mosaic BBC, whilst the malt base includes dextrin malt, flaked oats and wheat malt for body and texture. A classic Cloudwater hop profile and very easy drinking.

Cloudwater – System Failure – 9.0%

Here comes the big beast.

Brewed with Bagby Beer Co. in San Diego, this Imperial IPA is fully West Coast, using a staggered blend of classic US hops in the kettle for a complex flavour and bitterness, and a neutral West Coast ale yeast for a bright finish to let the hops shine. I’m looking forward to this one.

Magic Rock – Saucery – 3.9%

A supernatural session IPA made for drinking all day long. Lightly sweet and malty Golden Promise malt, a balanced bitterness and layers of tropical fruit filled Citra and Ekuanot hops in whirlpool and dry hop. Fermented with London Ale II yeast to add more fruity body, and enhance malt and hop profile…. Same again? Yes please! Lovely session bitterness and hoppiness.

North Brewing – Sputnik – 5.0%

Or “SPTK” if you just read the can through a fridge door with no access to further information. A gently hoppy pale ale that I first found in the Hawkshead beer hall, and you can also find it in Booths.

Tiny Rebel – Mosaic Milkshake – 4.2%

The second instalment of the Milkshake series, where the tropical and herbaceous notes of Mosaic are smoothed out by the creaminess of loads and loads and loads of lactose. Creamy, tropical, bitter, sweet. This milkshake brings all the hops to the yard.

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Hilton, Glasgow, November 2018

A sad hotel breakfast. Hilton was one of those names that you always used to associate with high quality hotels. The Glasgow one has lovely views of the M8 (you could drop a packet of UHT milk onto it from my bedroom window) and pretty tired rooms. If you’re arriving on foot (from the very convenient airport bus), it’s a pretty unpleasant experience.

The main reception area is quite impressive, but as soon as you step out of the lifts on the higher floors, the age begins to show. The breakfast area also feels more modern, but the sad mass catering stuff that is left out in heated dishes soon dispels that feeling. And the coffee is utterly terrible, burnt beyond recognition.

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Overdone beans, hash browns that have been hanging around for too long, sad eggs, anaemic bacon. The sausages were reasonable at best. Fodder for a day of work, no more. If you have the choice, stay elsewhere. There was equally unimpressive catering at lunchtime for the meeting that I was at.

The Bon Accord, Glasgow, November 2018

A pub that I know well from a Facebook group about whisky. A pub that former MOFAD drinking companion Bruce has been to many times. Former, as he fled back to the Shaky Isles 6 months ago, but he will be back for a short trip next year, so I’m sure we will raise a pint again. Members of that group frequent this pub. So when I found out a couple of weeks ago that I would be in Glasgow on business for 24 hours, and that my hotel was just a few minutes away from the pub, there was only one place I was coming for dinner tonight.

I only just got here in time, a few minutes before the kitchen was due to close. Luckily I’d already looked at the menu online, so I knew exactly what I was having, and ordered that and some drinks. I don’t have steak and chips as much as I used to, so when I do I want it to be good.

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It was good. The use of fries over the traditional fat chip might raise a few eyebrows, but it worked well here. Lovely bit of beefy business, nicely rare as requested. A good splodge of mustard was all the accompaniment that was required. There was even pudding (in the shape of that slice of orange peeking out from underneath the steak).

Another stroke of fortune was that there was football on, so I watched Scotland beat Israel 3-2 thanks to a James Forrest hat-trick. Watching a great game amongst passionate Glaswegians was a great expereience. Drinking well kept beer was also good. With a decent amount of cask ale, I made my own flight of a number of halves including Merchant City American pale (nice hoppiness and tea fruitiness), Ekuantot from Peerless (gentle pithiness), and Blackthorn Sloe Porter from the ever familiar Settle Brewery.

There’s also handy signage in case you get lost…

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Swally is “a swallow of” aka a drink.

A lovely night in a lovely pub. Definitely recommended.

Brewdog Camden, November 2018

At least my sixth visit to this Dog house, following three in the scorching hot summer of 2018, one this time last year, and another a good few years back.

Tonight it was time for a couple of relaxing drinks to unwind, after an evening of networking with the day job. After around five hours of talking shop, it was time just to kick back and chill for a bit. No football on tonight (this was my World Cup venue during my week here in June), so just time to unwind with a couple of interesting beers. This was Buck Craft by Moncada, a collaboration with this very bar.

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When was the last time that you had a kettle sour inspired by Buckfast Tonic Wine, brewed to the Flemish Red style? No, me neither. Loads of grapes mixed with lactic acid results in a refreshing kettle sour, although not as awesome as it should be given the description.

I also had another collaboration beer, Crossover by La Calavera, a Berliner Weisse sour with Lactobacillus, a pretty standard sour with not much on the finish. It was nice just to kick back here for an hour. Off to bed now as I’m an invited speaker at a conference tomorrow…

Perks coffee, Hyatt Regency, Denver, November 2018

A hotel coffee shop. Not the usual thing that you find featured here, but it’s where my lunch came from on my last day in Denver. A sandwich isn’t the most exciting of subjects, but this was a massive unit of a sandwich, stuffed with turkey and cheese and some token salad, with a pot of mustard garlic mayo for you to apply liberally across it.

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If you’re paying five quid for a sandwich, make sure you’re getting value for money. This was definitely value for money.