The Lazy Trout, Meerbrook, May 2018

This was a hard earned dinner. We only just made it on time. We foolishly thought that we’d have plenty of time to get back to the camp site, have a cup of tea and some cake, and then have a shower and go to the pub. A 14 mile walk over 9 hours put paid to that idea. We just had enough time to get back to the car and drive back to The Lazy Trout, a pub we went to not one, not two, but three times in April 2017.

We fell into the little dining area at the back, exhausted, but glad that we had booked in advance (online, because it’s 2018!) A good start to the evening took the form of Indian Runner by Wincle Brewery, named after the comedy ducks, a decent pale ale with citrus hints. It didn’t last long!

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Mrs MOFAD had gone for the obvious curry choice and enjoyed it very much. I filled up on protein with this big beefy burger, which was absolutely gorgeous, I love a decent burger and this was definitely one of those, nice crisp bacon and big flavoured cheese added to the experience. Even the salad was more than the token limp iceberg found in other places.

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It’s fair to say that we had earned another beer and a pudding (or gin and a pudding if you are Karon or Mrs MOFAD). The beer was Black Grouse Stout by Staffordshire Brewery, smooth chocolate hints and very easy drinking. It matched well with the last bit of burger, and equally as well with the pudding.

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That pudding was this lovely pavlovian item, lots of lovely early season strawberries, perfectly whipped cream and crisp meringue nests.

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A delightful return to one of my pubs of the month from April last year (I still haven’t picked a winner as there were so many good ones). This is a fantastic pub with great food and drink and lovely people. Definitely worth a visit, even if you haven’t had a 14 mile walk beforehand!

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The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – sour selection box #3 – May 2018

We are already up to the third sour beer selection box, lots of interesting beers from home and much further afield coming up in this one. Pucker up buttercup!

Brasserie Trois Dames – Joyeuse – 5.6%

A pile of whole raspberries was co-fermented with a fresh saison. After which, a mature barrel aged sour saison was added to taste, creating this lush and alluring blend. Unlfitered, unpasteurised, unadulaterated, and ready for the celebration of the everyday.

Brekeriet Beer AB – Pink Passion – 4.7%

Another Scandinavian discovery for me this year, Sweden’s Brekeriet Beer AB are all about sours and wild ales. So far I’ve had Wild & Juicy (super juicy sour fizz) and the far more subtle Rhuboise (gentle raspberry and rhubarb flavours).

Pink Passion is a tart, refreshing and gluten free oat Berliner with passion fruit and hibiscus.

Founders Brewing Co. – Rübæus – 5.7%

Optimising the flavour of fresh raspberries added at several stages during fermentation, Rübæus is the perfect blend of sweet, tart and refreshing, not just another boring summer wheat beer or shandy. With a hefty malt bill, this beer is 100% Founders.

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Stillwater Artisanal – Shoegaze – 6%

‘Distorted Farmhouse Pale Ale’ is a New England style IPA that met a farmhouse pale ale down a darkened alley. Brewed with oats, spelt and lactose and then hopped with Simcoe, Citra and Pacific Gem.

One that I’ve had before, a very easy drinking spicy saison.

To Øl – Sur NEIPA: Citra & Mosaic – 5%

A sour mashed New England style IPA (yes, another one) with Citra and Mosaic, it does exactly what it says on the tin. Hoppy and sour, but not too much of either – a quick shot of hoppiness followed by citrus notes of lime and spice.

Wild Weather Ales – Ask Me About Loom – 4.8%

Wild Weather Ales are another of my favourite breweries at the minute. I think I’ve now had 15 of their beers, and they excel at fruity and sour beers such as Dark of Ages Past, Peach of a Weekend, Damn Dead Strawberry and the ever reliable Curse of Threepwood.

The Monkey Island theme continues here, with Ask Me About Loom. For those of you not into 1990s PC games, Cobb was a character found in the Scumm Bar on Mêlée Island, and he wore a badge reading, “Ask me about Loom(tm)”. He mostly answered questions from Guybrush Threepwood by saying “aye” until asked about Loom, when he would then advertise ‘Loom’ – another game made by LucasArts.

Back to the beer, which is an orange and passion fruit sour, in fact it is a forward thinking tart colossus of a beer. An under current of rich passion fruit gives way to the satsuma umbrella wrapped around a lip puckering sour wheat base.

The Needle & Pin Craft Beer Club – selection box #11 – May 2018

You know the drill by now, the latest selection of 6 beers from the “normal” club, a picture and some notes. Another different backdrop for this month’s photo too 🙂 And this time it’s all about the hop.

Anderson Valley – Hop Ottin – 7%

A new brewery to me, and an interesting sounding IPA. Brilliant copper colour with a lingering, lacy white head. The nose sings of grapefruit, pine needles, citron, roses and bergamot. The flavor is rich in the citrusy, resiny flavours from Columbus and Cascade hops packed into this beer balanced artfully with a solid, honey-drenched malt character and crisp bitterness leading to a beautifully dry, light herbal finish. Apparently it bites like a cankicky bluetail (a rattlesnake looking for a fight).

Arbor – Large Hop Collider – 8%

A double India Pale Ale, brewed with Citra & Mosaic hops. Big flavours and aromas of mango, passion fruit, lychee and sweet citrus. I’m a big Arbor fan, having had many of their excellently named (and brewed!) beers in the last 12 months, including Mega Mega White Thing, Lime in the Coconut, The Devil Made Me Brew It, Smac My Brew Up, Super Yakima, Piccolina and Oz Bomb. Look forward to trying some more at this month’s meet the brewer night at The Needle & Pin.

Black Iris – Cosmic Cream – 5.0%

A familiar beer this one, sampled at February’s meet the brewer event at The Needle & Pin. Smoothly creamed fruits come through from the mix of lactose and Vic Secret, Citra, Simcoe and Rakau hops.

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Dry and Bitter – Dank and Juicy – 6.2%

Denmark’s Dry & Bitter are one of my favourite discoveries this year. As Seen on TV is a cracking session IPA, Citra Bale Ale is a lovely session ale full of Citra goodness (I could drink it for days), Simcoe Bale Ale is similar, and Fat & Fruity has soft pine and a little fruit.

Dank and Juicy is a full blown West Coast IPA with Citra, Equinox and Mosaic hops, to give loads of tropical fruit on the nose and a resinous hop backbone.

Marble – Pint – 3.9%

AKA the beer that moaning minnies grassed them up to Trading Standards over. A cracking pint, whatever the measure, a pale malt bill and a blend of NZ and US hops combine to make a 3.9% session ale with zesty aromas, grapefruit and subtle lemongrass.

Melvin – Melvin IPA – 7.5%

You can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get lucky. It’s all about the right hops, at the right time. This is how Melvin grew up. Fruity, intense, but not bitter like the rest of them. As long as you don’t take advantage, Melvin think that this is the hoppiest relationship you could ask for. I’ll be the judge of that!

Brewdog Fanzine issue 2, May 2018

Fanzine is a completely new type of beer club, “for the fans, the dreamers, the die-hards and the geeks” apparently. Three new cans delivered every couple of weeks, and you can opt-in or out whenever you want – no annual subscription fees or long‑term commitment. Apparently we can “expect crazy fresh East & West Coast IPAs, huge Imperial Stouts, single hop pale ales, experimental lagers and fruit‑infused sours”. Brewdog will also be raiding their back catalogue of brews and bringing back some of of their biggest hits.

Here’s what’s in the first box and I’ve already made my way through them.

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Fool’s Gold – 6% – Lager

A citrus-forward lager – punchy hop bitterness and malt sweetness in perfect balance.

The gold road’s sure a long road. Winds on through the hills for fifteen days. Decent lager style.

King of Eights – 6.9% – IPA

This juicy, smooth Citra NE IPA will evolve & feature double and triple dry-hopping.

Ooh, a NEIPA, what a novelty. Murky stone fruits and low bitterness. Bjorn Again instead of Abba.

Jinx – 4.7% – Pale Ale

A light biscuity base with a hint of toasty Munich malt acts as a simple canvas for the hop expressions to shine; here, Washington hop varieties Simcoe and Centennial (two of Brewdog’s favourite hops) provide a broad palate of pithy grapefruit and pungent pine.

Intriguing nose but it delivers very little. Another Indie Pale Ale (that’s not a good thing).

The Head of Steam is coming to Leicester

On Thursday April 5th, a new pub is opening in Leicester, replacing the Reynard on Market Street (which I never visited and didn’t particularly want to). The Head of Steam is the fifteenth pub of that name to be opened by Hartlepool-based Camerons Brewery, and I’ve heard good things about the other ones around the country.

Like other pubs in the chain, it will be presenting beers from local breweries such as Framework, Charnwood, Langton and Brewsters, alongside some of the best beers and ciders from around the world, which will be pouring from its 30 lines. With cans and bottles also available, there should be around 120 different beers/ciders available at any one time.

The HoS team pride themselves on hand-selecting the perfect range of beer for customers using expert knowledge from their team of passionate beer sommeliers.

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There will also be food available, served from 11am until 9pm, including breakfasts until 3pm (full English, pancakes, porridge and a veggie breakfast). Sandwiches and wraps are available until 5pm, with pulled pork and fish fingers among the fillings alongside light bites such as soup and nachos. There are eight burgers to choose from including vegetarian and vegan ones, as well as three foot long hot dogs, including Homer’s favourite “foot long chilli dog”.

Wait, there’s more. Five pizzas including pulled pork and chicken tikka varieties. There are three pies, served with mash, peas and gravy. Then we get to the main courses, with classics such as fish’n’chips, sausage’n’mash and steak’n’chips. There are also more international offerings in the form of Moroccan harissa marinated salmon, boeuf bourguignon, chicken tikka masala, mussels and chicken Milanese. There are puddings too. And many of these dishes come with suggested beer pairings too.

They have already become a verified venue on Untappd, which helps you to see what beer will be available when you visit. There will also be regular events such as quiz nights and live music, and the VIP floor can be reserved for your function. If it ever warms up, there’s a beer garden too.

Looking forward to checking it out on a future trip to Leicester.

The Devonshire Arms, Kensington, March 2018

We decided not to back into central London tonight. After a day out in Bermondsey we came back to the hotel to unwind with a cup of tea, and then headed out just around the corner for a hearty pub dinner.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that we are in Derbyshire, given that is full of pubs called The Devonshire Arms (the various Dukes of Devonshire having owned much of the land in the area), but we are still in Kensington.

This was another pub taking part in the Thornbridge “craft beer residency” and once again my Thornbridge polo shirt caused a little confusion, as I was mistaken for an employee again 🙂 However, I didn’t have any Thornbridge tonight, because they were approaching the end of their residency, and I’d already had the one that they had left on keg. “What about these bottles” came the reply from the lady behind the bar. “Nope, had them too.” In fact I’ve had 58 different Thornbridge beers according to Untappd, so it was statistically unlikely that they would have one in stock that I hadn’t had.

Although perhaps I should have just had one anyway, as my first pint of Adnams Fat Sprat proved to be nothing more than a bog standard malty bitter.

On to the food, and a rare sight in a pub, a “fish pie for 2” served with beans and broccolini. Given that it has been freezing cold all day, and with snow swirling around outside as we arrived, a warm and hearty fish pie was just the thing, presented in this big cast iron pan to allow you to serve yourself.

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It was suitably delicious, very much hearty and warming, and certainly just what we needed on this bitterly cold night. Mrs MOFAD accompanied hers with a Stiegl-Weisse Naturtrüb by Stieglbrauerei zu Salzburg, a very nice herbal wheat beer from Salzburg in Austria.

I decided to risk an ABInbev subsidiary, Blue Point’s Toasted Lager, which was not toasted in any way, but was a perfectly pleasant amber lager, certainly a change from the general cold fizz that you might find in a London pub.

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A lovely dinner at The Devonshire Arms, well worth a visit if you’re in the area, and very handy if you’re staying in the nearby Holiday Inn. Lots of posh houses/flats to have a nose at on the way there and back too.

Become a Five Points funder

The Five Points Brewing Co, an independent brewery in the heart of Hackney has launched its first round of crowdfunded investment, offering you the chance to become a Five Points Funder and receive shares in the business. The funds raised will be used to meet growing demand, accelerate growth and bring everything back to where it all began; the brewery based on the landmark ‘Five Points’ of Hackney.

The crowdfunding campaign is live on Crowdcube, with a target to raise £750,000 of investment. The money will be used to open the first Five Points Taproom at the iconic Pembury Tavern, as well as investing in state-of-the-art new brewhouse equipment and fermentation tanks which will triple production capacity volume, and which they hope will allow them to meet their ambitious plans to increase sales from 2 million to 6 million pints a year (34,000 hectolitres). A new research and development brew-kit at The Pembury Tavern will also be used to develop new recipes and research innovative brewing processes.

The fundraising will also mean investing in their growing team as well as expanding UK distribution and developing their growing export business. The Five Points Brewing Co was founded by two local Hackney residents who have always strived to invest in their local community as well as their business. Five Points was the first brewery in the UK to be an accredited Living Wage employer, it sources electricity from 100% renewable sources and helped set up an apprenticeship scheme for young, aspiring brewers at Hackney Community College. This is what the Five Points team have continuously aimed to create; tasty beer brewed with the highest standards of quality and a company ethos which is accessible and inclusive to everyone.

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The decision to seek investment comes as the brewery is struggling to keep up with high demand. They reached capacity in late 2016 and have since been brewing some of their beer with an independent family-owned brewery in Belgium. This investment will enable the brewery to treble production capacity in Hackney and bring back all brewing production to London. Crowdfunding will also allow Five Points to open their first taproom, allowing this long-cherished ambition to become a reality.

As part of the crowdfunding campaign, Five Points is offering a number of exclusive rewards for investors, ranging from free birthday pints, to up to 25% discount in their taproom and online, and exclusive shareholder invites to brewery recipe development and hop-picking experiences, as well as investors receiving shares in the company.

The minimum investment is just £10, and the campaign is open until until Sunday 8th April.