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…

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.

Brew York 1st birthday party, April 2017

Brew York, so good they named it once. So good, that they are already celebrating their first birthday with a series of events at the brewery over the weekend. Today we have been exploring the city, via the city walls. York still has most of the walls that surrounded the city 700 years ago. The tops of these were partly rebuilt about 150 years ago so the public could walk along most of them, and “feel safer” by having a tall parapet on one side of them. They are usually just called “the walls” although locals also sometimes refer to them as “the bar walls”, after the four main fortified gateways or “bars” where you can access the walls.

It’s a great way to explore the edges of the city. And at many points, you can descend back down to street level, and explore more things in the middle.

This is how we came to our lunch stop, descending from the walls at Red Tower (where they finish for a while) and then making our way down to Brew York, on the banks of the Foss, where they just happened to be celebrating their first birthday.

Brew York was born when founders Wayne and Lee met on the stag do of a mutual friend. A few years later they met again, when Wayne’s home brew was served at a party hosted by that same friend. Soon, they started brewing together, gaining confidence from the feedback on their home brews. What if they could open a brewery? Well, they did.

In 2015 they started the admin work of opening a brewery, converting a warehouse by the Foss. In March 2016, Viking DNA was the first beer brewed on site. This beer was a nod to the heritage of the brewery’s location (where the Jorvik Viking centre was originally built).

The birthday weekend was in full swing when we arrived at lunchtime. Raffle tickets were being handed out at the door, a local band were just tuning up, and we grabbed a couple of seats inside. I went off to the bar to order some drinks and Mrs MOFAD stepped outside to check out the street food vendors in the yard, and order some lunch.

Let’s look at the drinks first. The murk bomb on the left hand side is a refreshing raspberry wheat beer called Razberet, and the hop bomb on the right is a classic session IPA called X-Panda, featuring Citra, Simcoe and Chinook hops.

Lunch soon appeared, some tasty pulled pork baps from Smokin’ Blues Street Food, some lovely rare breed pork shoulder, and not overpowered by a sickly sweet sauce. A nice crunchy slaw, much better than that supermarket stuff.

More murk next, in the form of Triple H, hoppy, hazy and heavenly, perfect with that pulled pork. This one combines Centennial, Citra and Mosaic hops to great effect, citrus and floral flavours. It went beautifully with the pork.

Whilst this was all going on, we were also doing some quizzes, identifying beers from labels and identifying breweries from bits of logos. Visitors were also invited to suggest a new beer to be brewed. My suggestion of Richard’s Third Hop, combining English, Australian and New Zealand hops with a Richard III based pun was not a winner. Maybe I’ll brew it myself when I retire!

There was more exploring to be done, but with the sun beating down outside (it was a glorious day) it was important to be properly hydrated, so I grabbed another beer from the bar. This was Big Eagle, an American IPA with four hops and four malts battling it out from dominance. I think the malts win the battle in this one, but it’s quite nicely balanced.

The Brew York Tap Room is a cracking place, a working brewery with enough space for a decent amount of visitors. With some good food and great beers on offer, it’s the perfect place to unwind in one corner of the city centre. You could stay all day. We had more to explore, so moved along. Whilst the scenery was just a little different, with the sunshine, live music and great food and beer, it also reminded us of last year’s trip to Fat Monk in New Zealand. We’ll definitely be back again one day!

Highly recommended!

Brewery outlet of the year, 2016 – Fat Monk Brewing Co, Bridge Pa, New Zealand

This is a round up of some of the breweries and brewery taps that we visited in 2016. There were quite a few visits across the year, and many camping trips ended with bringing home a box or two of bottled beer. So this is my brewery (outlet) of 2016, based on those visited, not based on their output alone. Pub of the year will follow shortly…

Adnams Cellar & Kitchen featured in last year’s round up. We enjoyed our time in Suffolk so much in 2015 that we returned for a week in 2016. That led to lots of pub trips and adventures, and a lot of Adnams beer. It’s still worth a trip to the home of the Southwold mafia for a spot of lunch and shopping though. After a lazy Sunday morning (I’d cooked the customary full English earlier on) we had a stroll around Southwold, along the beach, along the pier and just generally mooched about the place.

If you want to know more about Adnams Cellar & Kitchen, then you can read the 2015 post. It’s pretty much identical to when we visited last year, with a few new beers and wines on offer.

On this visit, I opted for the Jack Brand Dry Hopped lager, something I’ve had in bottles before. From the keg it was certainly an improvement on the bottled version. It doesn’t live up to the hoppy promises of its blurb, “a super hoppy aroma of tropical fruits, citrus and passionfruit”, but it’s a decent effort that needs more hops.

Let’s quickly step back to 2015. Here is the smoked fish brewer’s board I had then:-

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And now here is the October 2016 version:-

Not a lot has changed, in fact it could still be the same board, with more scratches and scrapes after 14 months of going through the dishwasher every day. The difference is the addition of shrimps and the switch of the horseradish and capers for a dill mayonaisse. The horseradish was very good with the mackerel and it was missed, but the 2016 board was still very tasty, very good fish and the bread was good too.

After lunch we went shopping…

The Beer Hall, Hawkshead Brewery, Staveley bookended the year. We visited in January for the full experience, and again today, New Year’s Eve, for a quick spot of shopping.

Even though the surrounding environment is perhaps less pleasing than some of the other contenders here (an industrial estate in Staveley), the great food and brilliant beer on offer ensure that it gets on to the list.

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Hawkshead Brewery started life in 2002, just outside Hawkshead where they could brew around 8,500 pints of beer a week. In 2006 they moved over to Staveley, where they have been expanding ever since, increasing their brewing capacity and developing The Beer Hall.

We sampled several beers on our visit in January, as well as having the “Brewer’s lunch”, huntsman’s pie (pork, chicken and stuffing), Brodie’s Prime sausages (made with the beer of that name), parma ham, slices of local ham, black pudding, sticky bbq ribs, a pickled onion, piccalilli, salad, sourdough bread and butter. Great food and great beer. The lack of beers for Mrs MOFAD turned our December visit into just a shopping one. A shame, as it would have been nice to eat there again too.

Another pub/brewery combination comes next, with a trip to The Vale Inn, Bollington in April. For my birthday. Because it’s a pub with a brewery. There are always lots of Bollington Brewery ales on tap, as well as two guest ales and several proper ciders. The menu changes with the seasons, and there’s also a specials board which changes more frequently.

A feast of food and drink began with sticky oriental ribs, sweet and spicy and delightful. It’s not often I have ribs whilst out, but with triple pork nirvana at stake, it had to be some tasty pork.

Mrs MOFAD had very tasty halloumi starter, it is so often just lightly cooked and bland, this was perfectly cooked whilst retaining the essential squeak of the squeakiest of cheeses.

My ribs were accompanied by a pint of Bollington Long Hop, delicious hoppy goodness and a perfect opener.

The main course was a juicy and moist fried chicken breast burger, with a very nice (and spicy) mayonnaise and some crisp potato wedges. Very tasty and very filling, with some token salad inside the bun.

I  had the Bollington Dinner Ale to accompany, a classic session bitter but it needs more hops.

There was something a bit different lined up for pudding. First it was time for another drink, this time a Bollington White Nancy (named after the white sugar loaf monument that can be seen on the saddle of Kerridge above Bollington). The beer was light, fruity and very drinkable.

The pub knew I was coming, so they added some artwork in honour of my birthday.

Time for the final flourish, Mrs MOFAD’s cake creation, which tasted as good as it looked. We all enoyed some chocolatey goodness, whilst attraction jealous looks from other tables.

And if all of that wasn’t good enough, I left with a box of beers, because they have a range of bottled Bollington beers for sale. A pub with great beer, great food, a brewery and beer to take away? You can’t get much better than that!

However, the first three are about to get blown out of the water by the last three. It’s a slightly unfair fight, as the last three are all on the north island of New Zealand, where we were lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks in February/March.

The Shakespeare in Auckland is a hotel, a pub, a restaurant and a brewery all rolled into one, and was just a few hundred yards from our hotel. Everything has a Shakespeare theme, from The Bard pale ale to The Jester pilsner and “The Works of Shakespeare” burger….

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That’s a burger, with a fried egg, bacon, beetroot, tomato, lettuce and a pineapple ring. Definitely the complete works of Mr S. A proper hand made burger, perfectly cooked, juicy and delicious. It lived up to their “best burger in Auckland” claim. We visited twice, on two separate stays in Auckland, and although the beer line ups didn’t rotate between visits, the beers were good. And there’s plenty of competition within walking distance, so they have to be on top of their game.

We now hit the road (in our motorhome) and find ourselves down at Crafty Trout Brewing Co in Taupo. This was somewhere I had been looking forward to visiting, and after a long day of walking (we’d been up to Huka Falls and Craters of the Moon), we walked a bit more to get back down in to Taupo and the Trout, to have some great pizzas and good beer.

As with many good brewery tap outlets, they keep their menu simple, with a choice of 8 pizzas, a schnitzel, pie, spare ribs, fish’n’chips, pasta or a cheese’n’meat platter (brewery taps love these) as well as a few other snacks. My “Wild Thing” pizza with venison, olives and spiced grape jelly was very good. As were the beers.

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A lovely place in downtown Taupo.

We move on to our winner, Fat Monk Brewery in Bridge Pa, Hastings. That’s not the Hastings of King Harold getting an arrow in the eye. It’s the one in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. It was without doubt one of the highlights of the Great New Zealand Road Trip 2016. Here are a few words to explain why.

Great ales. Simple pizza. Sunshine. Tunes. Wines. Vines. Blue skies.

I’ll try and expand on that a bit. Back in March we did our version of the “Wineries ride” which is set out in the Hawkes Bay cycling guide. We came up with a modified version (as we pretty much always do), by starting our ride from our camp site in Hastings. This involved cycling through Hastings “city centre” (another New Zealand town abusing the word city), which was surprisingly quiet. There is plenty of well segregated cycling around, although it’s not all perfect. Once you leave Hastings, the paths start to separate from the road, and well packed gravel tracks soon take over, and are the dominant feature for the majority of the ride around the wineries.

Around 10 miles later, you are out of the “city” and well into wine territory. We made our first stop of the day at Abbey Cellars, which incorporates Fat Monk Brewery. You can probably guess why we wanted to come here.

We started off with a wine tasting (after a couple of glasses of water to rehydrate). We sampled a nice riesling, the “passion” rose, and a sweet Gabriel Chardonnay and dessert Malbec (both of which came home with us). A friendly and relaxed tasting.

Things don’t stop there. Further ingredients for the perfect lunchtime rest stop are now added to the mix. During the summer, Abbey put on the “summer sessions”. This involves local acts playing live music out in the back garden. You can sit out and listen whilst enjoying a glass of wine or two, a selection of food or some beers from their brewery.

Today was the turn of Ian Munro, a local act, with a mixture of his own songs and then acoustic covers of Layla, New Kid in Town, Waiting in Vain, Losing My Religion and that antipodean classic “Down Under”. We would have loved to have stayed to listen to it all, but there were more wineries to visit.

Lovely views all around…

So, on to the beer. Today there were four of their beers on tap, so we picked up a “flight” to enjoy out in the sun.

From left to right we have:-

Pilsner – citra hops in a pilsner – a first for me, and a perfect start in the blazing sunshine.

Pacific pale – a better IPA than the IPA, a tropical hoppy delight, utterly delicious.

American IPA – not pale enough (typical of anything classed as an American IPA), and the hops come through very late. A few more wouldn’t go amiss🙂

Raspberry wheat – good raspberry sourness, but suffers in comparison to the lovely hoppy hits from the others.

A lovely line up of beers, and there were more bottles available inside, but with other places to visit on the ride, you have to draw the line somewhere.

These alcoholic beverages need some food to accompany, and there are a few selections to choose from. We opted for some simple margharita pizzas – a simple food done well is a joy, and these were just perfect with a hoppy ale. Thin, crispy, delicious.

Look at all of the ingredients here. They all combine to make the perfect visit. This was a perfect few hours. If you are anywhere in the area, get here and spend some quality time in the sunshine with great food and drink, the combination of which make it my brewery outlet of 2016.

The Beer Hall, Staveley, December 2016

A flying visit this time. We had originally planned to have lunch here and sample a few brews but the lack of availability of beers for Mrs MOFAD when we arrived led to a change of plan. We decided to head elsewhere for some food, but paid a quick visit to the shop to stock up on a few beers for me. Darkness was the theme this time, with one exception.

That exception is the Oat Wine, brewed in collaboration with Wild Beer Co. A take on the classic Barley Wine style but dominated by oats not barley. Brewed with 50% oats, rye, barley and wheat, double mashed and hopped with English hop varieties Admiral and First Gold then matured in cask for 12 months.

Brodie’s Prime Export is a new version of Brodie’s Prime, brewed to export strength to create a rich, complex, strong dark ale. English Maris Otter malted barley, dark malts and a medley of English and American hops produce aromas of dark chocolate, treacle sweet flavours, roasted bitterness, a surprising fruitiness and a long dry finish.

Hop Black is a black IPA or Cascadian Dark Ale. Clean, restrained malt flavours come from de-husked dark malt, which lays a platform for the sort of hoppiness usually found not in a dark ale but in an American-style IPA. Aromas of tropical fruit, resinous pine, and more, emerge from a medley of highly flavoured American hops.

Northern Imperial Stout is exactly that, a full bodied, deep, rich, complex, intense, strong black beer. Chocolate, coffee and roasted flavours are at the forefront, dark stone fruit is in the background. The finish is bitter-sweet and warming. Read Less

The Bourbon barrel aged version is the same, but aged in barrels that previously held Buffalo Trace bourbon to bring more notes of vanilla and spice.

Tonka is a deep, dark, unfiltered, velvety ale, aged with a smattering of tonka beans (often used as a vanilla substitute) and cacao nibs to give luscious layers of flavour: chocolate, vanilla, coconut, almond, bitter cherry, rolling into the richness of dark malts – a sumptuous beer.

Christmas 2016 gift guide – Tiny Rebel Brewing Co

It all began in a garage in 2008 where Brad and Gazz were weekend homebrewers. In 2010 the idea for Tiny Rebel was born, with a few thousand pounds investment into some decent 50 litre homebrewing equipment and a pallet load of ingredients to kick start things. They made lots of test brews, and launched in 2012 with FUBAR and Urban IPA. Cwtch and Dirty Stop Out followed soon afterwards.

In April 2013 they decided to go global and began exporting to Denmark and Australia. They also created Hadouken, an “amplified IPA”, and entered the Great Welsh Beer Festival for the first time, taking gold, silver and bronze. In January 2015 the brewery expanded to allow them to produce 850,000 litres annually. And then in August, the big one – Cwtch became Overall Supreme Champion Beer of Britain.

In 2016 they also picked up a few trophies at the Intentional Beer Challenge Awards, including UK brewery of the year 2016, gold medals for Cwtch and Cali and a Bronze for Dirty Stop Out.

I’ve had many of these already. Dirty Stop Out is smoky, oaty, malty and gently hoppy. The Urban IPA is bursting with citrus hoppiness and it’s not hard to see why Cwtch was champion beer of Britain, great hoppiness with a red malt backbone.

Cali American Pale Ale is a classic modern American pale ale, full of good hop flavours. Clwb Tropicana is essentially Lilt with hops. Tropical fruit IPA happiness. Clwb Tropicana drinks may not be free but they are very tasty!

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If you want some, you have just over 24 hours to get your order in.

https://www.beermerchants.com/tinyrebel/

Christmas gift ideas 2016 – Springhead brewery

Time is running out for my Christmas 2016 beer ideas, because there are not many delivery days left before Christmas.

Springhead are a relatively local brewery to me, over the border in Nottinghamshire. In September 2014, we were camping just down the road from The Bees Knees in Laneham, which just happens to be their brewery tap. There’s good food as well as the chance to sample their beers at the freshest. You can also pick up lots of beer to take home. Which we did, of course.

You can also e-mail or phone your orders through, and then pop in to the brewery for your beers, collect from their central Nottingham pick up point, or they can deliver the beers straight to your door within their normal delivery area, which includes most of the Midlands and South Yorkshire. They also ship canned and bottled beers nationally.

Here are some of their beers that I’ve had recently.  Outlawed was a well flavoured pale ale, whilst The Leveller is a Trappist style ale, a dark Belgian beer full of coffee, toffee and chocolate flavours. The Bees Knees is a golden beer made with local wildflower honey, golden and mellow and very easy drinking.

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Roaring Meg is their flagship beer that they have been brewing for over 20 years. A strong pale ale with a sweet citrus and honey aroma and a long dry finish. Maid Marian was first brewed in 2010 in honour of the new Robin Hood film, another pale ale with hoppy and fruity aromas. Ginger Pig is one that has divided opinion a bit. A pale beer based on a 13th century recipe that includes rosemary. It has subtle flavours of ginger, rosemary and lime. I loved it.

You can find some of these, and other beers, here:-

http://www.springhead.co.uk/beer-to-take-home