Brentwood Brewing Company, May 2017

The next door neighbour of Calcott Hall Farm Shop (and hence I usually visit one after the other), Brentwood Brewing Company moved in to this, their third premises, during 2013. Not many breweries find themselves in an old potato barn, but this is a perfect site, with so much passing trade from the farm shop, where their beers are also on sale if the brewery is closed.

Their are tours and events on certain days, or you can just turn up and buy some bottles, like I did. The door might be locked, just ring the bell, there’s someone always lurking somewhere during opening hours.

Today I went to pick up some new bottles from their new “rebellious offspring” Elephant School Brewing. A British East India Company elephant training school was based in Brentwood and this remained an active army base as a depot for the Essex Regiment until 1959, when much of the site was redeveloped as the European headquarters of the Ford Motor Company.

The beers from this offspring are not your traditional cask ales, so there are plenty of different styles on offer, and they are always on the look out for new recipes…

Today’s haul contains:-

Sombrero – 4.5% – a burst of passion fruit and hint of mint start a fiesta in your mouth that you won’t want to stop. Tipping its wide brimmed hat to its European saison roots, its flavour transports you to Mexico for a party that lasts to the bottom of your glass.

Cheru Kol – 4.5% – a glorious embellishment of flavours brought together in this collaboration of styles from Belgium and England. The honeyed sweetness of the figs wrapped around the spicy, piney tang of the rosemary combine with the eccentricities of the Belgian yeast.

Porter in a Storm – 4.9% – for a taste that will have you singing in the rain, this rich porter showers your tastebuds with waves of chocolate, fruity and bitter with successive sips. Porter in a Storm is one to pour down your throat if you’re caught in a downpour or any time you want a great beer.

Looking forward to trying out this haul soon…

Calcott Hall Farm Shop, Brentwood, Essex, May 2017

People of Essex! You have an awesome farm shop on your doorstep.

The McTurks have been farming at Calcott Hall for nearly 40 years. Their former dairy farm is 120 acres. They started out selling potatoes and sweetcorn from crates in 1974, and renovated an old Essex barn in 1983, using more and more of it as their shop needs grew.

They sell almost all of their produce through the shop, with lots of fresh fruit and veg on display as you enter.

As you wander around, you discover more and more treasures. A meat counter, with pre-packed meat next door. Extensive ranges of sauces (I stocked up on some of my favourite Tiptree sauces), jams, chutneys and pickles follow, with freezers full of fruits, veg, potato products (chips, wedges) and even Yorkshire puddings.

Turn the corner and there’s an excellent range of frozen ready meals, with portions from 1-4 people, and lots of cuisines on offer. And then there are biscuits, crisps, sweets and more. And bird food.

Finally, we get to the booze section, with wines nestled next to ciders (lots of Aspalls from just across the border), and beers. Lots of beers, mostly from literal neighbours Brentwood Brewing Company, and some from other Essex brewers. Definitely keeping it local. I picked up some new (to me) ones from Billericay Brewing Co.

Nestled just next to the A12, this is a true gem. Perfect for all of your food and drink needs, so much under one (ever-expanding) roof.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #4 – May 2017

This is the fourth selection box from the N&P,  and the seventh overall. I’ve got one left from selection box #3 and one from box #2 that I need to drink up. Let’s dive in…

Abbeydale/Magic Rock/Northern/Monk/Siren – 4 Degrees of Separation – 7%

A collaboration and reunion rolled into one. Three brewers who began their careers at Abbeydale returned for one day only from their current posts at Magic rock, Siren, & Northern Monk to take full advantage of the brewery’s massive hopstore. This beer combines Amarillo, Nelson Sauvin, Cascade & Galaxy hops to create this big, bold and oh so juicy IPA. I knew I wanted to try this one, so I also bought a can last month whilst shopping in Beer District. Now I have two 🙂

Pig and Porter – Whispering Bob American IPA – 6.5%

A lesser known brewery who featured on #craftbeerhour just last night. This beer is named in honour of the legend that is “Whispering” Bob Harris, still whispering away after 71 years. This American IPA is packed full of Amarillo, Simcoe, EXP431 (catchy name) and Citra hops to give hints of peach, grapefruit and pine, all married with a gentle toffee background from Pig and Porter’s signature Belgian aromatic malt.

Roosters – Baby-Faced Assassin – 6.1%

I had this one a couple of times last year, as these are available in Booths. Brewed with 100% Citra hops that create aromas of mango, apricot, grapefruit & mandarin orange, along with a lasting, juicy, tropical fruit bitterness, the Baby-Faced Assassin is a deceptively quaffable India Pale Ale that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Siren – Ten Dollar Shake – 6.6%

Another one that I had last year, this beer was originally brewed in collaboration with Brewdog Shepherds Bush. Siren and the Brewdog team put their heads together to create a fruit smoothie of a beer, a juice-packed IPA with the most fruit they’ve ever used in a brew (mango, papaya and passion fruit). Add to that a huge hit of lactose for a thick and smooth body and you have something as smooth as silk. A silk woven from hops and a calippo. This is a juice bomb.

Weird Beard – Little Things That Kill – 3.8%

With a low ABV beer it is difficult to smack you over the head with hops, however Weird Beard have thought of a way around this. Little Things that Kill will sneak round behind you, cut your hamstrings, then when you are on the ground, smack you over the head with hops. A session IPA hopped with Citra, Summit and Mosaic? Yes please!

This beer will have the same malt and body each time, but the hops will change depending on the whim of the brewers.

Wild Weather – Great British Opaque Off – 5.2%

With help from their friends at Bad Seed brewery, Wild Weather have tried to create their own juicy murk bomb. They think they’ve done it. I’ll soon find out. On your marks. Get set. Opaque! It will be appearing on cask at the N&P soon, alongside Skadoosh, their new 11% DIPA. I already have a can of that 🙂

600th post!

Another 4 months have passed, and another milestone has arrived, in the form of the 600th post. The end of 2016 saw a load of round up posts, including beer of the year and brewery outlet of the year, which always bump up the numbers.

January began with Wainwrights’ Inn in Chapel Stile, swiftly followed by a visit to one of our Lakeland favourites, The Mortal Man in Troutbeck.

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There was also something new, a rant about a bus. How on earth can you justify a bus fare of £3.50 for a journey of 3 miles/6 minutes on the 555 alongside Thirlmere? After that, we had a couple of trips to the same pub, which lacked beer on both occasions. And those were followed by another pub lacking in beer.

You might have expected this lack of beer to have put a dent in #tryanuary but thankfully it didn’t. Over the course of the month I sampled 44 different beers, with Cloudwater Brew Co’s Autumn + Winter IPA Mosaic Exp 431 coming out as the beer of the month for January 2017.

February started with some shopping at the Needle & Pin, picking up the inaugural dark beer selection as well as some other things that I’d reserved since Xmas. I think there are three beers that I’ve not yet opened in this photo…

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We opted for a spot of culture with a trip to the King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester, and then a few trips to Leicester for the comedy festival and various pubs. Next up was the first dark beer night at the Needle & Pin. This one turned out to have a little twist on all of the previous beer tasting events. There was a little bit of food involved, pairing some little nibbles with a selection of 5 dark beers. It was another one that felt like one of those events that you expect to find in London bars and brewery taps, so it was really great to have it in our sleepy little market town.

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February ended with an underwhelming trip to Pizza Express. March soon cheered things up with the arrival of the next craft beer selection box. All of these (except for the Double Chin) have now been sampled.

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There was a special birthday trip up The Shard for a lovely afternoon tea, and then another Leicester trip saw another visit to The Lansdowne, and then there were two consecutive trips to The Needle & Pin. First up we held a “halfway between birthdays event” with some friends, and the following night saw the first Belgian beer night, which was brilliant. Sean handed over the reins for this one to the N&P’s resident Belgian beer expert Iain, who was to guide us through the landscape of Belgian brewing past and present.

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We took a journey through some delicious Belgian beers, with a brief stop for some hot and salty fries and mayonnaise.

There are still several outstanding posts for April, and it didn’t start brilliantly with “labelgate” at The Field Head. Things soon improved with our trip to York, which got off to a great start at the York Tap:-

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and saw visits to the Pavement Vaults, Walmgate Ale House, BrewDog, the Brew York 1st birthday party and a few more. The rest of April was dominated by our trip to Hope, and there are lots of posts from that trip still to write up, although Beer District in Buxton was just one of the many highlights:-

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There are also a few May posts to catch up with, but that has already brought us up to 600. As with all milestone posts, a quick stats peek shows new visitors from Romania, Puerto Rico and Taiwan, as well as plenty from the commonwealth as usual. There are another 33 posts still in draft, so I’ll be tapping away at this keyboard for a while yet 🙂

The Tea Junction, Hulme End, May 2017

The Tea Junction at Hulme End opened in 2009 after much controversy over the costs of refurbishing the former railway shed, even though the railway that it served closed in 1934!

We first came across it in 2013 when we were camping just a few hundred yards away. It’s the perfect place for some food and drink at the start or end of your journey up or down the Manifold Way, which runs along the old railway bed from Hulme End to Waterhouses (near Leek). If you start at Waterhouses, then it’s perfectly placed in the middle of your “there and back” route.

There’s the usual selection of hot drinks including several teas, various soft drinks and plenty of home made cakes to accompany them. Savoury options too, including soup, Staffordshire oatcakes and sandwiches.

Today we dropped in at the end of our walk to Wetton Mill and back (via Ecton Hill and the Manifold Way). A well earned cup of tea and some cake was our reward for a lovely walk. An added bonus is the delightful mish mash of crockery that you are presented with:-

There’s always the opportunity for a chat with the lovely owner Rebecca, who is genuinely interested in everyone who comes in, what they’ve been up to, what they’ve encountered whilst out and about and anything else you want to talk about.

This quirky little cafe is a delight, and a great place to stop for refreshments on the Manifold Way.

The Hanging Gate, Higher Sutton, April 2017

We had a bit of a longer stay in this pub than we had planned. Today we had a linear walk, which started out just next to the Wincle Brewery, and finished here at The Hanging Gate. This was all carefully planned out. We had two cars. Mark parked his car here at the Hanging Gate (with permission from the lovely staff), and John drove Mark back to the start point for us to begin our walk.

We arrived here at the end of the walk as planned. However, the best laid plans don’t always work out. Mark had left his keys in John’s car, back at the start point. We ordered some drinks and then tried to order a taxi to go and retrieve the keys. That proved too tricky, so one of the lovely bar staff offered a lift back down to the starting point, and the keys and cars were retrieved. Above and beyond the call of duty, and most welcome!

Whilst we were waiting I was enjoying a pint of Yeaster from Hydes brewery, a bitter red ale.

We will be back tomorrow when we are doing the same thing in reverse, starting here and finishing down at Wincle. Let’s just hope there are no more key related issues.

A lovely little pub up on the moorland, well worth a visit if you are passing. There are fantastic views all around.

Wincle Brewery, April 2017

What’s the best way to start a walk? By visiting a brewery to sample some beer, and then buy some beer. It’s not every day that you manage to achieve this, but today we did. Our walk started just over the road from Wincle Brewery, and whilst we waited for some logistics to fall into place, we popped over the road to chat to John “the butcher” in the brewery.

I’ve encountered their beers before, at Bakewell market back in July 2015, enjoying Old Oak and Old Hag the most, but they have all been good.

We had a good chat with John, talking about beer, and then sampling some, as well as some cider (Mrs MOFAD particularly enjoyed that). The team were working away in the background, preparing some new beer. I departed with 4 bottles of beer that I’d not had before, and walking and drinking companion Mark also picked up some bottles to take away. Looking forward to sampling these soon.

Wincle open every day except Christmas day, from 10am until 4pm. Unfortunately we got back to the brewery too late the next day, so couldn’t do any more shopping. You can always buy online if you want to try some out.