Sunset Bar visit 2, Vidamar Resort Hotel, Algarve, October 2017

Our last visit to this hotel bar. In a few hours we will be at a wedding just a few yards away, but we needed some lunch first. Much like last weekend, the club sandwich appeared on a silly board again, with another slightly waxed replica of an old London newspaper underneath, which is still an odd thing to see in the Algarve.

Today’s mix up was over drinks, as we ordered one thing and ended up with another. What we wanted wasn’t available, so they brought us these strawberry lemonades instead, rather than coming back to ask what we would like instead. Too hungry and thirsty to argue, we just accepted them.

My  “queremos placas” hasn’t gained much traction in the last 7 days, it might take a more sustained campaign of action to get plates back to Portugal…


Harry’s Bar, Albufeira, Algarve, October 2017

When visiting a new place, do you like to sit in the town square and drink cheap lager whilst weeping inside about what it probably once was? If so, this is the kind of place to do that. Cheap fizzy Euro lager all round, and a comedy pan pipe band playing 70s and 80s covers for your “entertainment”.

If you’re wondering why we usually spend our holidays walking in the hills and mountains, this is the answer. At least we had some people to talk to, as we were meeting friends here. As I said in my earlier post, don’t come to Albufeira.

BrewDog Newcastle, June 2017

I can’t really visit a city without popping in to BrewDog. In many cities, it is an oasis in a desert of Greene King IPA. In Newcastle, it’s just another great beer vendor that is well worth a visit.

There is always a good line up of guest beers at BrewDog, and this is where I turned tonight, for Knowledge by Rhinegeist Brewery.

Despite being advertised as a double IPA, this was more of a strong fruit beer. Massive peach flavours, the fruit really trounces the hops but it really works very well indeed.

No time to linger tonight, so it was back out in to the rain, and back down towards the station to meet a few friends for a catch up.

BrewDog York, April 2017

BrewDog have been in the social media news recently for all the wrong reasons. They claim that their over-zealous lawyers were totally responsible for going after a bar who had the same name as their soon to be released spirit range. I’m not sure how these lawyers managed to do all of this by themselves without anyone from the company being involved at any point. They have attempted to repair some of the damage, but there’s some bad feeling still around.

All of this aside, they have lots of good beers available in their bars, which all have consistencies and differences. BrewDog York was very conveniently located between our hotel and the city centre, so it was perfectly placed for stopping off for a drink. We did just that after our meal at Walmgate Ale House. As with many BrewDog bars you can choose your own flight of beers handily contained in four 1/3rd pint measures. If you’re not sure what you want, you can ask for some help, but I knew exactly what I wanted to try.

You can see (bathed in an eerie red light from the neon sign just above our table in the window):-

Silver Branch by The White Hag Irish Brewing Company (this was Mrs MOFAD’s favourite)
Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Passion Fruit by Mikkeller
Bergamot Sour by Cloudwater Brew Co. (too hoppy for Mrs MOFAD, but not too hoppy for me)
Small Batch: Double IPA by BrewDog

Silver Branch was full of sour apple goodness, an alternative to a good cider.

Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse Passion Fruit was a tart and tropical wheat beer.

I have a can of the Bergamot Sour at home, but it was good to try it on keg. Definitely good bergamot notes, zingy lemon and surprisingly easy drinking. Some bitterness too.

I had to finish off with Small Batch: Double IPA from BrewDog, as I do love an IPA. This one was full of big bitter grapefruit flavours! Yes please!

A relaxing trip to BrewDog in York. Whatever you think of the company and the politics, their bars always have a great line up of interesting beers.


John Cooper’s Restaurant & Bar (JCs), December 2016

A student bar? Whatever next?

During the years 1992 to 1996, I spent a great deal of time in this particular one. It looked quite a bit different. There were certainly no craft beers back then, just Woodpecker cider and Harp lager (99p a pint!), and things like Castaway and Diamond White (that could be combined to form a “Blastaway”). I could spend a lot of time talking about the past (K “Cider”, the purple nasty, Hooch, Two Dogs, Mad Dog 20/20 and other nastiness) but this is all about now.

There was much uproar in 2016 when JCs was refurbished to wipe away any trace of the old cheap student bar that once stood here. There’s no horseshoe bar any more. There’s still a slight feel of spit and sawdust about it, and any visit to the facilities will soon remind you that you are in a Student Union bar, but they have tried to glam it up a bit with some “pre-distressed” panels.

It would be nice to show you a photo from 1992, but we didn’t have camera phones permanently attached to our fingers back then, so photographic records are sparse.

Back to the present day, and a glance through the menu shows plenty of lunch options, such as a selection of sandwiches (BLT, cheese, ham & cheese, club, steak), as well as burgers and pizzas.

Before we get on to the food (and the wait won’t be as long as the wait that we had), here is one of those aforementioned craft beers.

Nice glass, although the IPL (India Pale Lager) didn’t really live up to its name. Still the nicest lager I’ve ever drunk in 24 years of visiting this establishment though. About four times what I used to pay though!

On to the wait.

Still waiting.

We were dining in a large group (12). We were asked to pre-order. We did that. Once again, that seems to have served no purpose, as the food took ages to arrive, with big gaps between dishes coming out, a confusion over a couple of pizzas, and the longest wait was for my crispy duck pizza. I think they were trying to catch the duck.

I do like a crispy duck pizza, but so often they skimp on the duck. That was the case here, and they skimped on the hoisin too. Sprinkling the green bits over the top at the last minute doesn’t really work either, because they fall off when you pick up each slice.

It’s a student bar, so set your expectations accordingly. I think we expected too much.

Brewdog Edinburgh

Like a moth to a flame, I am drawn to a Brewdog bar. Much has been written about them in recent years, they are certainly not shy about courting publicity. Whatever you may think of them and their media outpourings, I think it’s fair to say that they make good beer.

Although often known for their hoppy ales, they make lots of different styles of beer. And their “modern industrial” style bars are a very good bet as somewhere to go for a good beer in an unfamiliar city (or even a familiar city, as Edinburgh is to me).

BrewDog Edinburgh does a small range of food (a few pizzas and a few other options). But the most important thing is the beer – lots of taps of Brewdog brews and five or six guest ales available too. The fridge is absolutely stuffed with bottles and cans, both Brewdog and guest.

First up, BrewDog Hop Fiction, an American pale ale full of grapefruity, hoppy goodness – pure fact, no fiction. Delicious and it sold out soon afterwards.

And finally tonight, a BrewDog Doodlebug, a hopped up session pale ale, with all of the hoppy flavours and just 2.8% #keepitsession

One final note – Ironman pinball machine!!!

OX184, Cowgate, Edinburgh 

It’s 8pm. You’ve recently got off a plane. You’ve travelled from the airport on the tram. It’s not a myth, the Edinburgh tram, the butt of so many Festival jokes in recent years actually exists, and is a great way to get into the city from the airport. You’ve got off the tram and walked down to your hotel and checked in. What you want is some tasty food and great beer just a couple of minutes away from your hotel.

For me, that was Ox184. It was buzzing when I entered, a huge group had been dining. Unfortunately, they misinformed me that their queue was the queue to order food, when it wasn’t. This misunderstanding cleared up, I was shown to a table, ordered some food and a beer.

Unfortunately, the beer took ages to arrive, despite sitting on the bar for at least 5 minutes. I think that they were still a bit flustered from the large group leaving and hadn’t quite worked out how to return to normal again.

When it did arrive, the waitress was full of apologies, and the beer itself was full of hops, a Long White Cloud from Tempest brewery, which was a delicious start to the night.

Very shortly afterwards, dinner arrived, a chicken long boy, smoked chicken with roasted peppers and mushrooms, a chilli mayo and rocket, with skinny fries. You will note that plates are not in evidence, with the food being served on waxed brown paper on a tray. The photo is a little blurry as I was ravenous by this point, and didn’t want to wait much longer to get it in my belly.

Speaking of waiting, I ordered another drink, a Tempest Armadillo pale ale, which was a pleasant and hoppy pale ale. Whilst enjoying this, I observed a pair of drunkards at the bar who were a bit of a mess, falling off of the bar stool and generally being a bit rowdy. They provided brief amusement whilst I waited for the bill, which also took a while to arrive.

I think I caught them on an off night, so it’s probably worth another visit at a later date to have another go. The smell of smoking meat as you walk past is a very tempting one. Nice little touch when your bill arrives – a sweetie!

As Arnie says, I’ll be back.