Asaya Thai, Keswick, December 2018

Our updated tradition is to have a Thai takeaway on NYE. For many years, we had a Chinese takeaway on New Year’s Eve. With the closure of Ambleside favourite Jade Garden, this tradition was threatened. We did try an alternative a few years ago, but it wasn’t so good. In 2014 and 2015 we switched to Thai, with visits to Jintana in Ambleside. We switched back to Chinese in 2016 at Lucky Dragon, but last year we were back with Thai at Star of Siam in Keswick, somewhere we’ve been pretty much every time we’ve been to Keswick.

This year we were switching again, trying Asaya Thai, which is not much more than a stone’s throw from our usual Keswick accommodation. The main issue was the lack of menu anywhere – none in a flat filled with a million irrelevant leaflets, and absolutely nothing online. It feels so weird in 2018 to not have an online presence with a menu, but they aren’t the only place lacking such a presence. I’ve had loads of hits from people searching for “Dinner Box (Chinese takeaway), Boroughbridge” (because I wrote a review about it which mentions that it also has no online presence).

The good news is that they do takeaways, and have a limited menu that they offer to take away. This is a good approach I think, as they can knock out more dishes to takeaway customers without over complicating things by offering over 100 dishes. They have many of the classics like chicken & cashew nuts, Pad Thai, chicken satay (pictured) and Massaman curry (chicken version pictured).

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A lovely dinner to close out the year, celebrating climbing 30 Wainwrights (plus 1 outlier) and so much more. Definitely a great Thai in Keswick.

We’re off to bed early since tomorrow is forecast to be a lovely day, and there are more Wainwrights to conquer.

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Thornton Nurseries, December 2018

What do you do when you go to the pub, only to find that it has shut down and is going to be turned into flats? We went to The Reservoir Inn in April, and had a lovely lunch. We had a pre-Christmas stroll around Thornton Reservoir this morning, with crisp winter skies presenting some good photo opportunities along the way.

As we knew the lovely pub was only a few minutes away, we decided to pop in for some lunch. Only to be greeted by a pub in darkness, and a planning application on the door. Another village pub that will no longer be a pub, just even more accommodation to attempt to satisfy a never ending demand.

So we needed emergency lunch. Just a few hundred yards back in the direction we came from sits Thornton Nurseries, a bit of a back to basics garden centre in a world of Dobbies and Wyevale who are hoovering up independent places faster than you can blink.

The cafe inside (just a small paved area with a counter and a few seats and tables) is very much along the lines of back to basics, with the simplest of menus from a bygone era. No superfood salads, smashed avocados or sriracha chicken wings here. Ham, cheese, tuna, bacon, sausage and not much else in a roll. Keep it simple is definitely the theme.

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Sausage bap, brown sauce. Can’t get much simpler than that, or much cheaper. Did the job for me today, along with a good old fashioned can of ginger beer. Mrs MOFAD was less impressed with her lunch, but as an emergency food stop it was ok by me.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #15 – December 2018

The final selection for 2018, and the 33rd box overall. Three session pales and a few stronger ones to see you through the Xmas period. Probably too late for any of them to get in to my selection for #12beersofxmas but perhaps a late substitution could occur. Let’s get on with it.

Almasty – IPA – 6%

A beer with few words to describe it, so a calculated gamble from the N&P, because they’ve never had a bad beer from Almasty. Neither have I, a lovely coffee stout, Passion Fruit pale and Camillo (a tribute to Negroni) being my favourites so far.

Gipsy Hill – Galaxy – 4.3%

Galaxy is a part of a single hop series. Built around the hops, the grist is simple, designed to pull out the nuanced flavours of Galaxy.

Siren – Vu Du Yu Lu – 7.3%

Siren have always celebrated brewing milestones with amped-up versions of their favourite flagship beers. This time Yu Lu gets the treatment, turning a delicate loose leaf pale ale into a fully fledged IPA. Big hitting citrus and fruity hops lead the charge, followed up with Earl Grey tea and bergamot notes echoing the quintessential Yu Lu flavours. The original Yu Lu was very light with hints of citrus, also well carbonated and refreshing.

Summer Wine – Pacer – 4.1%

Rides a relatively modest ABV yet still has a basket brimming full of aromatic American hops. I had a tasty pint of this on cask in September.

Verdant – Neal Gets Things Done – 6.5%

With lashings of Simcoe, Citra, Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops, Neal Gets Things Done is the latest juicy banger from juicy banger specialists Verdant. Everyone that I know who has had this tells me it’s an absolute classic.

Wilde Child – Beyond Redemption – 4.0%

A Pineapple Milkshake IPA. Yes, that is a thing nowadays. Big American hops are at the fore with a massive dose of lactose for that creamy mouthfeel. And so much concentrated Pineapple Juice that you will think you are sat on a Caribbean beach.

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Thornbridge night, The Needle & Pin, Loughborough, December 2018

Oh yes it’s Thornbridge night, and the feeling’s right, oh yes it’s Thornbridge night, oh what a night.

The annual Thornbridge night at The Needle & Pin. Now in its third year, but with a new host, as Meg has moved on to Beavertown (a gentle and fairly playful boo and hiss rippled around the room from the people who hadn’t already heard this news). We met James, field sales manager for Thornbridge.

We talked all things Thornbridge. Having (between us all) been to the previous two Thornbridge nights, been on the brewery tour, and been fairly regular attendees at Peakender (just me on that one), we had a fair bit of Thornbridge knowledge (we wiped the floor with everyone else in last year’s quiz) so bandied around a few topics for discussion, including the popularity of of good cask beer, getting so many beers into Tesco and future beer plans.

And of course there was beer. One of the new variations of Lucaria, Salted Caramel Lucaria, full of toffee, coffee, chocolate and creaminess. A lovely pint to savour.

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Whilst that was going down, so was Thornbridge bingo, Sean’s latest game. Pretty much as you would imagine, bingo cards with names of Thornbridge beers on, and then beer names drawn out of a box to tick off on your card. We had time for a couple of rounds, and we won a couple of lines on our table, with prizes on all of the other tables too. Great fun.

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More chat, and then James remembered something. He disappeared downstairs and returned with two bottles of Serpent to share around. Serpent was the subject of our first Thornbridge night, so once again I think we scared James a bit with our knowledge of it. I bought a bottle that night, and we had it on New Year’s Eve last year. It had aged well.

We had some more tonight, surprised that there was still some in existence. It has continued to age well, still dominated by apple, with some bourbon smoothness in the background. It continues to be the beer that is not a beer.

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There was time to sample Necessary Evil, an absolute malt bomb full of all the malts.

Another great night out at The Needle & Pin. Great fun with lovely people, and perfectly kept beers as usual. Looking forward to the 2019 version already!

The Royal Redgate, December 2018

The pub is in Warwickshire, the pub car park is in Leicestershire (according to the boundary signts outside at least). It describes itself as the most central pub in England, and was awarded the “Country pub of the year” award by the “Living in the Shires” magazine.

It was our destination for Sunday lunch today, as we had taken some plants over to Mrs MOFAD’s sister’s new house, after her recent stay with us. It was also a chance to say hello to our former feline house guest Holly, who is adjusting to her third house in as many months.

As the pub is only a mile and a half away, it was the ideal choice for lunch. They serve the full menu on a Sunday lunchime alongside a choice of roasts (beef or chicken today). Between us we chose pies and a chicken burger, from the rather mucky menus (they really need a clean folks).

Five beer engines available, although only two populated, with Hobgoblin, and a Ringwood beer. This tells you that this is a Marston’s pub, which tells you that the beer will be meh. Lime and soda it was then, although this turned out to be £3 a pint – ouch!

The food arrived, and it was very nice. All of the pies came on plates, with chips and veg. My chicken burger came on a silly bread board. Maybe they only had 3 plates, so didn’t have one for me. It was very tasty, as were the pies that everyone else had (although they all left their greens!) Proper good pub chips too.

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We decided to have pudding, and as ever, the chocolate torte was the right choice, which Mrs MOFAD and I shared. Rich and dense, with a nice blob of pistachio ice cream, a hazelnut tuille sort of thing, and some crushed nuts too. And some saucy cheffy squiggles.

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A pleasant Sunday lunch, but clean up those menus please, and check your lime and soda pricing 🙂

The Needle & Pin craft beer club – dark beer selection box #12 – December 2018

Selection box number 32 and some big dark beasts for the festive period. As the nights get darker (for the next 19 days anyway), so do the beers. Let’s enter the black hole…

Amundsen – Chocolate Marshmellow – 11.5%

Which idiot came up with the idea that you should pair your beer with a dessert? Why not just make a beer that would be dessert in itself? Save yourself making dessert and just crack one of these open. Amundsen decided to pick out three of their favourite dessert flavours to incorporate in a flagship imperial stout. Dark, sweet and delicious. This version brings back memories of marshmallows and hot chocolate around a camp fire. Will probably go well with smores. Although it’s probably not the season for them.

Left Handed Giant – Woodland Creatures V2 – 6.9%

Pistachio & Honeycomb Milk Stout collab with Uiltje Brewing Company with Bramling Cross hops, Maris Otter, Carafa III, Caramalt, Chocolate, Crystal in the malt bill and pistachios, honeycomb and lactose added in order to turn this into liquid Crunchie.

Moor – Old Freddy Walker – 7.4%

Moor, from Bristol, are celebrating their 11th birthday this year. Old Freddy Walker was Champion Winter Beer of Britain in 2004, and is one of Roger Protz’s “300 beers to try before you die”. A cult ale, described as “one for the connoisseur”, it’s a rich, dark, and full bodied old ale that really has to be tasted to be appreciated. This beer is usually the first to sell out at beer festivals, thanks to its blend of Pale, Lager, Crystal, Wheat and Black malts that are fermented with an English yeast. Bramling Cross hops are added to provide a hint of orange and a balancing dose of bitterness.

If these words sound familiar, it’s because this is the first beer to make a second appearance in the craft beer club, this time in a can instead of the large bottle of April 2017. It really is a classic old ale.

It seems to have creeped up by 0.1% since last time too…

Stillwater – Big Bunny – 8.0%

Imperial chocolate milk stout, a collaboration with Arizona Wilderness. Aromas of cocoa nibs, burnt toast and dark, roasted coffee followed by an intense, smooth chocolate flavour. It finishes with a terrifically smooth roastiness.

Weird Beard – Dirrty Hands – 9.8%

Imperial Schwarzbier. Those loveable rogues at Weird Beard collaborated with Haand Bryggeriet to make a dark, sticky, filthy beer worthy of getting your hands dirty. Being an Imperial Black Pilsner, they wanted to get those dark malts pumping, getting just a little naughty at 9.8%

Westbrook – 7th Anniversary Chocolate and Sea Salt – 10%

For their 7th Anniversary Beer, they went big on the chocolate and added a little salt to make it interesting. Luscious notes of liquid cocoa and a smooth salinity make this beer deliciously decadent.

Sean adds: I bought this beer in January and have kept it all year for this beer club. A one off brew to celebrate Westbrook’s 7th Birthday and imported from South Carolina.

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